Here, Steph Fiala, COO of e-commerce site Flubit.com shares her top tips on what it takes to succeed as a woman in tech.
There are many preconceptions about what it means to work in tech, so first and foremost you need to understand the different sides of the industry and find a role that works to your strengths. Being in tech doesn’t have to mean being a developer (unless you want to be, and I would encourage you to try!). Tech companies have sales, marketing, PR, finance, and HR teams like all other businesses – so understanding the technology that your company uses, is an asset in a rising number of jobs, no matter the industry.
Understanding technology is only going to be more and more important as companies turn to using fast evolving technical solutions to improve efficiencies and scale at the pace that our modern business landscape requires. Thus, entering the space now, even though it might seem less enticing (with it being a bit of boys club at the moment), has every potential to enhance your career prospects and ensure you have a better understanding of the world we live in.
So what does it take to succeed in a business that is very gendered and quite young, with most managers being in their positions for being great at their work, as opposed to great at HR? Here’s my advice to help grow your career…
Mentors, advocates & victors
Find a mentor who can give career advice, constructive criticism, and cares about your growth. Don’t be scared of finding mentors, no matter where they come from – whilst your boss or an investor might be what you are looking for, your parent’s friend might be more obtainable and a better fit.
Advocates are the people in your life who don’t doubt your ability to do anything; the people who don’t even consider that you might be incapable of something no matter how challenging it is. We all doubt ourselves from time to time, so having people around you with unquestionable faith in your potential is priceless.
Victors will keep you motivated, so set out by finding a few females in your field who’ve made it to where you want to be. Whenever there’s a list of women in tech, I follow them all on twitter; giving me an endless stream of role models who have beaten the odds and are just going on with their lives, showing that not only is it possible, but it’s business as normal too.
Confidence – fake it till you make it
Tech (along with politics and many other sectors) is filled with big egos and loud, strong opinions. If you’ve come from a less testosterone driven or ego-centric industry, this can feel alien and make you feel inadequate, because you simply aren’t filled with confidence and are less certain of your opinions. Being able to listen to others, taking the time to consider different courses of action and being able to acknowledge when you’ve made a wrong decision (this does happen, it’s painful and it’s important to get used to it) are all important attributes of leaders, team members and human beings. Don’t let the ego trips throw you. Fake confidence in order to get heard if you must, but whatever your style is, be true to it. Stand in your own corner; you have every right to be here.
Questions are more important than answers
When an industry is filled with people who think the same it’s sometimes difficult to break away from “group think” – with everybody blindingly agreeing to a course of action that makes sense to all. As a potential outsider, your biggest strength may be to think differently. Examining why something is being done, what we’re trying to achieve, or who we’re trying to target etc. are all questions that can save your company endless amounts of resources and make the difference between failure and success.
Study hard & exercise
True in any field and potentially any fulfilling life. Learning new skills is what makes life exciting and full of endless opportunities, so never forget to make the time to study and try new stuff. Read; take an online course; take singing classes or go dancing; learn how to play a keyboard. It all comes together; this is the food of creativity, happiness and success. Feed your mind and body with knowledge, fun, understanding and laughter and it will bring you more ideas and success in other areas of your life.
Don’t stand for it
If you’re a woman in tech, you are unfortunately one of few. The one advantage that this does bring is that there are many companies trying to bring more females into their organizations. Thus, if you are somewhere where there is no chance of success because of management’s mentality, or if you are being mistreated in any way – don’t stand for it. There are many organizations that will gladly bring you in, so first try to resolve your situation if possible, and do the right thing for you.
Flubit.com is the largest UK owned marketplace, offering 60 million products from over 88,000 big name brands. www.flubit.com