Women in tech: Advice from Pluralsight's leading female technology pros
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It doesn't take much to see that the tech industry is quickly becoming the go-to career choice for recent grads. IT professionals, developers and data geeks are finding more relevance and importance in nearly every organization. However, a study conducted by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) revealed that, in 2009, there was drastic 79 percent decline in the number of incoming female undergraduates pursing a degree in computer science.
Fast-forward to 2015, and that translates to a graduating female class grossly underrepresented in the technology industry. It's never been more important to encourage the development of tech skills-regardless of gender. For women starting a career in technology, and professionals looking to learn the skills needed to excel in their careers, there are many ways to stand out and get noticed in this growing industry.
Pluralsight recently hosted the tech industry's brightest minds at our annual Author Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, where we interviewed some of our female authors to find out more about this gender gap. They shared advice from their own careers, offered tips on how to get started and discussed what they love most about working in tech. If you're considering a career in technology, we invite you to listen to what they had to say and check out their career tips:
Walking into a classroom, conference hall or a new office for the first time can be intimidating. When you're outnumbered and relatively unknown, you may hesitate to be yourself. Don't. Deborah Kurata, a 20 year software developer veteran and owner of her own consulting business suggests, “I know that a lot of women, especially, feel like they can't be themselves … They have to be something different than who they are. Try to be comfortable in your own skin.” Putting on a mask is usually very unsustainable and can lead to burnout; embrace who you are and so will others.
Change happens. Roll with it
A career in technology is a bit like the weather. If you don't like it, just wait a minute. Software languages change and evolve, IT looks nothing like it did 10 years ago, and data storage is (apparently) levitating to the cloud. If you're the kind of person who enjoys mixing it up, this is a great industry for you. And, if you're not, well…good luck. Julie Yack puts it this way, “Technology is always changing. If you get into technology and you don't like change, you're in the wrong business … I'm continually learning new things and love sharing that with people.”
Find your people
Chances are you have more advocates than you think. Just because you know you're the only woman speaking at next month's conference, it doesn't mean the men in the room even noticed. Speak up and be heard. You may be surprised to learn that a general lack of awareness is contributing to the disconnect you feel. Curriculum Director of Open Source Content, Jen Myers advises women to “Find the people who understand where you're coming from and who will back you up no matter what.” Let your colleagues know what you're interested in and ask them to be your advocate.
Confidence is key
You know you've worked hard to get here. You deserve to be here. So, start acting like it. It may sound a little cheesy, but exuding an air of confidence truly can make you appear more confident. And it's a powerful tool for building up real confidence, which will come in time. Professional geek and Pluralsight author Julie Lerman puts it best, “Forget it. You're a geek. You belong.”
Do what you love
Don't choose a career path because it feels like a safe choice. Finding something you love to do and that keeps you interested is much more fulfilling. If you have a drive and a passion to learn something new, there has never been a better time to go for it. Additionally, a career defined by purpose can be a powerful motivator and can help you overcome challenges. Software developer and Code School author Alyssa Nicoll puts it best, “If you love what you're doing no matter what comes your way, or what problems you run into, you're going to be resilient and get through it.”
Be a mentor
Watching people learn and experience those light-bulb moments is rewarding in so many ways. Helping others grow and gain skills can give you credibility and confidence. Plus, “you'll learn just as much by mentoring,” according to Juliette Reinders Folmer. Sharing, collaborating and educating are the keys to expanding your own knowledge.
Access to technology training is available to anyone who has the drive or passion to learn more. Whether you're preparing for your first job, looking for a career change or just interested in learning something new, it's a good time to get started. Share your experiences working in the tech industry in the comments and let us know how you overcame a challenge, learned a new skill, or discovered a career that changed your life.
Hear more from our authors: