Digital tech industries in the UK are outperforming the rest of the UK economy, according to Tech Nation, with more than 328,000 jobs in London, and a total of 1.56 million jobs. Job creation is 2.8 times faster than the rest of the economy.
It makes sense then doesn’t it that the sector should be doing everything to ensure it recruits and retains the best talent, male or female.#
Despite the many STEM programmes in place to address the IT diversity gap, the proportion of women in the sector obstinately remains around 16%. So frustrating, isn’t it?
For more fascinating data (it’s ok, I’m a data geek too) check out this article at Computer Weekly.
Women in technology want to make a bigger impact
The women in technology that I often talk to DO want to make a bigger impact at work and get the recognition that they deserve. They want more career success. They want to lead in a bigger way – more people, bigger projects, more responsibility or the more challenging clients.
However often they feel that their career is stalling. Even though they are ambitious. Even though they work hard. Even though they are fully committed.
What holds women back?
Why is that many women in technology find it difficult to make a bigger impact in order to get that career success? What’s holding them back or getting in the way? Is it simply the inherent gender bias in technology?
What I notice is that a women’s instinctive natural leadership style is different to a man’s. Organisations benefit from both styles. It’s not that one is wrong and one is right. They’re just different.
As we progress in our careers, there are fewer female role models. When we compare ourselves to our (male) peers, often we don’t feel that we come off as well (because we are different and we aren’t valuing those differences) or we find ourselves adopting a leadership style that doesn’t play to our strengths.
Your career success happens when you have the confidence to lead in a way that makes the most of your natural strengths and style. When you lead authentically without trying to be something or somebody else.
Based on my 25+ years of personal experience as a woman in technology and the combined experience of my clients, here are five ideas to get more career success.
Five ideas for your career success
1 – Look after No 1 first
Looking after yourself first is so important for women in leadership. So important in fact that it’s the topic of my signature keynote because I believe it is absolutely essential to get the recognition you deserve.
It’s about not selling yourself short. Making sure the right people know you and what you have achieved. Be the very best version of you. It’s saying no to projects that don’t play to your strengths.
Don’t push away praise and compliments. Be aware if you are always responding “it was a team effort”. It may have been a team effort but every team has a leader, and if you are the leader, YOU made that team effort happen.
Don’t get caught up being busy in work that the business doesn’t value. Be strategic about your career and your career goals. Who do you need to influence? Who do you need to connect with?
Express your skills and ambitions. Don’t expect people to read your mind. Speak up. What’s the point of being at the table if you don’t contribute?
Looking after yourself is also about self-care which is one of the easiest things to drop. However for your career success, it’s essential that you value your self-care.
2 – Clarity of purpose
If you want career success (to get that promotion, get the recognition you deserve, or to make a bigger impact), you need clarity of purpose.
It’s important to know what you want, how you are going to get there and who will support you.
It’s not about knowing the exact job title or the specific firm you want to work for. However it is important to understand what is important to you about work. What is your purpose? Maybe that sounds a bit woo-woo but if you don’t get clear on what you want and where you are headed, how will you get there?
Your purpose might be that you want your expertise to be recognised. For you, flexibility might be absolutely essential. Or opportunities to be creative.
3 – Self-knowledge
Career success demands that you are the very best version of you. For that, you need self-knowledge.
Self-knowledge is about being crystal clear on your skills, your strengths, your innate talents and your unique experience. Combine this with understanding your values, your terms and conditions for living life. We all have different values and beliefs. You might value honesty, loyalty, creativity or expertise. I’ve got a fabulous activity you can download that takes just 15 minutes to help you get clear on your values.
Many of the women that I work with have taken a career break or experienced redundancy. This can knock your confidence however never forget that you are still you. The same unique you with the same unique blend of talents and experiences.
Oddly many women struggle to tell me their skills and strengths. What do you find easy and straightforward? What is ‘common sense’ to you? What do others say about you? What comes up in your performance reviews? Often we take our innate skills for granted because well, it’s just what we do.
4 – Mindset
What do I mean by mindset?
Your mindset is your thoughts and beliefs. Whatever you think and believe affects your feelings. How you feel leads to your behaviour. How you behave (how you act, what you say, what you do) gives you results.
No doubt, you’ve already noticed that men and women behave and communicate differently. The workplace has been ‘designed’ for men. That doesn’t mean I’m suggesting that behave and communicate like a man, however it’s useful to have awareness of how you might be perceived because of our differences.
To develop a confident mindset, you need to become more aware of your thoughts and beliefs. Often our beliefs are held at an unconscious level i.e. we don’t know that’s what we believe. Some beliefs might be unhelpful (aka ‘limiting beliefs’ in ‘coachy’ language).
First you need to bring your beliefs to the surface so that you can identify which one might be limiting your career. What beliefs do you hold which affect what you think you are capable of?
Figure that out and then you can choose a more positive and empowering belief. When you know what you want your new belief to be, take action in accordance with that belief.
The brilliant thing about the brain and its neuroplasticity. Act and behave in accordance with a belief often enough, and your brain will reprogramme itself. (Works both ways of course).
5 – Celebrate your achievements
So often we get so caught up in the busyness of trying to balance work and life, that we forget to celebrate and acknowledge our achievements and successes.
We tend to remember the 2% that we didn’t achieve rather than the 98% that we did. I encourage my clients to journal to reflect on their daily successes. OK so you are not going to win a new client or negotiate a 23% discount on the new practice management software every day. However every day you WILL be successful in some way. Think back to that clarity of purpose. What’s important to you and what’s important to celebrate.
As one client said to me “I have learned that I need to take time to look back down the mountain and see how far I have come“.
If you have not journalled before and this doesn’t appeal, at least keep a record of your achievements. This is useful when it comes to performance review time because you can state factually and authentically what you have achieved. (And for goodness sake, don’t underplay your achievements in your performance review!)
Next steps for your career success
Now that you have explored my five ideas on what you can do differently for your career success, your next step is to decide what actions you will take. Your career success does not happen by accident. It happens on purpose. Your purpose.
The ideas that I shared will allow you to make a bigger impact at work and get the recognition that you deserve, however you now have to take action. If you like these ideas, please share this post so that other women in technology benefit too. Together let’s make a difference to gender diversity in technology.
p.s. Still not sure about how to you are going to get career success?
If you feel you could do with some help to get career success, let’s talk. Maybe a simple conversation is all you need. Book your conversation with me today and we’ll figure out your next steps together.