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How is it being a female in a male-dominated career?

I am majoring in Computer Science and it is clear to me that there is a huge gender-gap. I am a bit worried about being over-looked because I will be a female in a male-dominated career. Any tips on how to stand-out and how to not let the gender-gap affect you?

Thank you so much for your guidance.

#expertise #career #stem #women #technology

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Christa’s Answer

Hey Alexandra!

This is a valid concern considering women in the workforce haven’t always had equal treatment. We have made great strides. I am privileged to work for a leading technology company that goes out of their way to ensure women are treated just as equally as men. My tips for you:

Start doing your research now on potential employers. How to they stack up in equal pay treatment and benefits? (As an example, do they have benefits for working mothers?)  Do they have a good representation of women in leadership? These are great indicators that your business doesn’t see worth based on gender, so much as skillsets.

Another piece of advice would be to focus on your skillsets and being proactive with strengthening them. Find some mentors in the field and interview them on what their career path was and what skillsets they are strong in to get where they are currently.  


Going in, focus less on your gender and more about showing them what you bring to the table.

You’ve got this! :)

Christa recommends the following next steps:

Do your research now on potential employers
Seek career mentors.
Thank you comment icon Hi Christa: I like your advice to Alexandra; something I would tell my young nieces that are still in high school. Sheila Jordan
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Rachel’s Answer

Something I've found as a woman who's worked in male-dominated spaces is that:

1: Sometimes it really sucks. Sometimes you will be in situations where you are discriminated against because of who you are. Just know that you don't want to work in an environment where differences are perceived as weaknesses. That is a stagnant, rotting environment.
2: It can be challenging at times to not conform to the culture around you. Humans are told, both implicitly and explicitly, that traditionally "female" traits (collaboration, humility, empathy, etc.) are a liability in the corporate world. In my career, I've found that it's these traits (in addition to others in my personality) that have actually helped me professionally. What it boils down to is be yourself. If you're aggressive, go ahead and be appropriately aggressive. If you're inquisitive, ask questions without fear of being perceived as "stupid." Not only will it make you happier in your job, but your unique perspective may also result in faster problem solving, increased creativity, boosts in team morale, or a new way to think about leadership.
3. Protect yourself as much as you can against bias (unconscious or otherwise) by tracking your own performance. You are responsible for your own growth, make sure you can defend a request for a promotion or other ask by being able to give your manager hard numbers, positive feedback from your colleagues, and anecdotal evidence of your outstanding performance.
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Rosalind’s Answer

Sad to say Computer Science is a male dominated field, but as someone who has worked in the field for the last 32 years I can say that if it's what you love doing it is worth it. One good thing was the recent creation of the Hidden Figures movie. It along with a number of activities reminding people that computer science actually started as a field for women, helping remind the entire industry that there is nothing about the industry that means it should be male dominated.

First and foremost be yourself, don't try to be like other people as it will make it much harder to enjoy what you are doing. Secondly, stand up for yourself, simple things like sitting at the table for a team meeting, not sitting to the side. Speak up when you have something to contribute. Don't be the one to take notes just because you are the female, let that be a rotation and/or ask if they are asking you just because you are the only women.

Don't underestimate your skills, generally speaking men apply for jobs or take assignments if they know just one of the required capabilities, women don't unless they have all of them. I am not saying exaggerate your skills but understand what you know and clearly articulate it. Just because you don't have all of the required skills do you have related skills? Can you use them to do what is required, make it clear but don't not apply because you are not 100% covering all the skills listed.

Be open to continuous learning, stay current with your skills. Get involved with activities that provide support, such WITI and SWE. Find mentors, both men and women to help you go through your career.

Don't assume someone else is taking care of your career, pay attention ask for what you want. Make it clear what your goals are to your manager, they can't guess.

Don't be pushed into project management or management if that is not what you want to do. If you want to stay a developer do it. One reason we have fewer female developers is they many times also make good managers and project managers so they get pushed that way. If you want to stay technical do it.

And last but not least, pay attention to the reputation of the company you are joining. There are some companies that are better than others, look for a good fit for what you want to do and your personality.

Software development is a great career, I have enjoyed my time so far, though at times there are challenges, at times I am pushing back, listing to others take credit for what I have done, or the idea I had, but over the long term, continually doing a good job, doing the right thing, and making it clear what you want can give you a long and successful career.
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Rita’s Answer

I would say be yourself, and do not let anyone make you feel incompetent. Know your worth! Alot of times women feel they have to be humble and downplay their knowledge....don't be that way! Also, if you have mentors in your industry that you can leverage to have your back...that helps.

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Denitsa’s Answer

Hi!

You can go through this article:

You rarely see another soul in the ladies room. On too many occasions, you’ve been mistaken for someone’s assistant. Sound familiar? For many young, successful women, “making it” professionally means learning to master male-dominated workplaces where boys’ clubs still somehow pervade.

In college, I lived with seven girls. And so, perhaps it was no surprise that I found the transition to investment banking—where I was the only female analyst in my group’s class—to be rather challenging. But from finance, I jumped into sports, and I have yet to look back.

And along the way, I picked up some practical tips for thriving in the office—even when the gender ratio isn’t in your favor.

1. The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

Chances are, your male colleagues are constantly vocalizing which opportunities and projects they want—and you might be sitting there, working hard, and waiting to get what is rightfully yours.

Sadly, most bosses are too busy to figure out what the most equitable project allocation is, and it often comes down to who yapped last to them about that hot media deal or the new partnership your company is launching. If you aren’t good at grabbing your boss in the hall or during your morning coffee break and bringing up the projects that excite you, then schedule formal time to check in at least once a month and let your boss know what you’d like to work on.

2. Beer is for Bonding

The best career opportunities often come out of interactions outside the office—often over a beer. The guys I’ve worked with would grab beers all the time—and I quickly learned to join them, whether or not I felt like drinking that particular night. And if you’re not invited (yes, this happened to me), create your own happy hour invitation—who can turn down a cold brewski?

3. Avoid Being Too Easily Offended

Guys have this thing at work called the Circle of Trust. You gain entry when they know they can be themselves around you, without being reported to HR. In the banking analyst bullpen, I heard every disgusting story there is to tell—but I stayed cool. And as a result, I eventually became part of the group and was included in the nights of ordering dinner in or going out for beers.

Note: There is a line, and “staying cool” doesn’t mean letting the guys cross it—sexual harassment is never OK.

4. Don’t Be Anyone’s Coffee or Lunch Getter

How many successful men in the workplace do you see picking up their boss’s lunch or coffee? If you’re not someone’s assistant, do not get in the habit of acting like one. Sure, maybe there are special exceptions when your boss is in fire drill mode or decides to treat a group for getting his coffee—but don’t make it a regular thing. And if your male peers aren’t chipping in—then you shouldn’t be doing it, either.

5. Don’t Be the “Yes” Woman

In the industries I’ve worked in, there’s tremendous pressure to work hard and keep an overflowing plate. Lunch and coffee runs aside, it’s all too easy to say yes to every project as you strive to “be a good employee”—but if you never say no, you’ll ultimately just hurt both yourself and your company. It’s important to stand up for the projects you really want to work on (see #1), and then push back at other times when you don’t have capacity. You can bet many of the guys say no—and you should, too.

6. Play to Your Strengths (Even When They’re Stereotypes)

The first week of my banking internship, my managing director asked me how the interns were doing and feeling. I’m willing to bet he asked me partly because I was the only woman there, and he assumed I was therefore most likely to know about people’s “feelings.” But you know what? I did. And thus started our mutually beneficial relationship: I gave him a live read of the pulse of the group he was managing, and he gave me the opportunity for senior exposure. Whether it’s listening, emotional aptitude, empathy, socializing or just being the den mother—if you have these strengths, play to them. They’re good qualities to demonstrate as a rising future leader, and, particularly in a workplace where those skills are in short supply, they’re also not a bad way to get noticed.

7. Get a Sponsor

A sponsor is a mentor who will promote you within your organization, who has your back, and who will tell the rest of organization—including the senior leaders—how great you are and how much you deserve recognition (and promotions). And like it or not, it can be nearly impossible to advance as a woman in a male-dominated workplace without a sponsor. Dr. Sylvia Ann Hewlett has written quite a bit about sponsorship, including its importance for women. What does it all mean for you? Start building relationships with your boss and other senior leaders from the beginning, and pay particular attention to cultivate those relationships with the individuals who believe in you and publicly support you—they are going to be your best advocates.


Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/7-ways-to-excel-in-a-maledominated-workplace

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Wendy’s Answer

Hello Alexandra,

I work in a technology industry where the majority of the senior leaders are male. Within my organization I have been lucky enough to be part of a program that helps develop female leaders and have received some amazing feedback that I would like to pass on. First, remember that you have a voice and a voice that should be heard. Men will speak up even when they only have a percentage of the answer/information and women tend wait until they are at 100% . If you have value to add add it! Second, no one is given a seat at the table you have earn it and take it. Be your own advocate. Make sure others know your value and worth. This is not being “braggy” or conceited this is being strong and taking the seat that belongs to you. Lastly, (I have heard this in many answers) be true to yourself. As a woman you bring a perspective and skill set that is unique and as you you bring so much more. Own that.


Good luck!



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Ken’s Answer

When you are involved in a career field, you are judged by the contribution that you are making to the accomplishment of the company's goal. As long as you do all that you can do to assist in that direction, you will do fine and will be treated based upon your accomplishments.


However, the most important thing for you to determine for yourself is if this area is the most suitable career field for you. Many people have the most problem with their career when they become involved in an area for which they are not well suited, as it affects their ability to perform and contribute to the company's goals.


Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .

Ken recommends the following next steps:

The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
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Anu M’s Answer

I totally get where you're coming from. I've been part of an industry for the past 10 years where at any given time, there are more men in a meeting room than women. Initially, I didn't really notice the difference, but the more time you spend in such environments, you become more conscious of this fact.

Trust me when I say this, once it comes down to the work that needs to be done, there is mostly never any bias. The only way to have people take you seriously is being the best at what you do. If you are, you will be the one they call on for anything that is important. It is crucial to block out the noise and keep doing what you do. Join all diversity related conversations that targets making changes and stand at the front line to make it happen.

Most importantly, mentor other women in your field and empower them - share stories that inspire them to reach their full potential. Do this frequently, because when more women rise up and feel empowered, we will be closer to achieving equality in the technology space.
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Divya’s Answer

Hi Alexandra,

First of all Congratulations on your achievement so far. Do not classify your dream job as a male dominant industry !! You will find all kinds of people in your life males who support you and oppose you females who support and oppose you . The way people deal with you showcases their personality and it should not influence you . I working in IT Networking field and trust me the world is filled with lot of people who will choose to support you. Focus on self improvement and skills see if things beyond the gender and see if there is really something you can do to improve yourself to achieve your goal. The more you focus on your development and goals the more you will see people supporting you in your path and the rest of the world who do not require your attention will fade away. You can climb up the career ladder like any other counter part.Join the industry and walk the path and make it your own.
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Linda’s Answer

It's a good question.

People may think it's very hard and quite challenging at the very beginning, and indeed it requires courage for females to start in a male dominated career.

The good thing is many leading companies are aware of the importance of diversity(e.g. gender equality), it's an advantage being a female engineer at times. For example, we have "connected women" and "women in Cisco" in my organization which I am very proud of, we have lots of community activities to help female engineers grow.


Linda recommends the following next steps:

I would also like to recommend a book " Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead" written by Sheryl Sandberg, who is chief operating officer (COO) of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org. This book is very inspiring and hope you can get something from there.
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Divya’s Answer

Hi Alexandra,

First of all Congratulations on your achievement so far. Do not classify your dream job as a male dominant industry !! You will find all kinds of people in your life males who support you and oppose you females who support and oppose you . The way people deal with you showcases their personality and it should not influence you . I working in IT Networking field and trust me the world is filled with lot of people who will choose to support you. Focus on self improvement and skills see if things beyond the gender and see if there is really something you can do to improve yourself to achieve your goal. The more you focus on your development and goals the more you will see people supporting you in your path and the rest of the world who do not require your attention will fade away. You can climb up the career ladder like any other counter part.Join the industry and walk the path and make it your own.
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Christina’s Answer

Hi Alexandra,


There are definitely challenges but I still find working in tech to be a rewarding career. My advice to you would be to not let imposter syndrome get the best of you.  Be prepared to deal with things like being talked over or having your ideas ignored by practicing how to combat those kind of situations and build relationships to help amplify your voice and successes. Research companies which are working to hire a diverse workforce. Look at their board of directors and senior management to see if how the diversity looks in leadership.  Network at local events and talk to people who work at the companies you’re interested in and ask questions about the culture and office environment. Networking can also help you get your foot in the door for an interview. ALWAYS negotiate your compensation. It’s very difficult to make up for a low starting salary without changing jobs to a new company. Research salaries and opportunities at least once a year. It’s always nice to see what else is out there and if you’re getting paid what you’re worth even if you think you’re happy where you are. Set and track measurable goals so you can provide quantitative data when it comes time to request a promotion or a raise.

Christina recommends the following next steps:

research companies
build skills
network
always negotiate compensation
smash the patriarchy
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Sarah’s Answer

I am coming at this from a different direction to most, but am in a lucky position that I speak with women in technology almost every day as candidates looking to join our organisation. In fact, I am proud to say the majority of my senior stakeholders are actually women, and I work for one of the biggest technology companies in the world.
My advice would be that if you are working in the right company, you don't need to prove yourself any harder 'because you are a woman', but you should want to prove yourself because you love what you do and it's the right attitude to have as a technologist.
You may encounter prejudices or other negative issues, so try to be resilient, and frankly, call out poor behaviours as there is no excuse for it.
- Be visible in your organisation.
- Don't be afraid to make mistakes, but always learn from them.
- Always be learning and growing - stay ahead.
Good luck!

Sarah recommends the following next steps:

Feel free to reach out directly for a more detailed conversation if you like
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Angie’s Answer

Confidence is key. Being able to prove that just because you are female you, are as good I'd not better than your peers. Work everyday to prove you got that career because you deserve it!

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Shikha’s Answer

I work in a networking domain and the ratio is less as compare to men but if you know your job well no one will question you no matter what.

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Maureen’s Answer

Hi there! I'm a software engineer, and I look around my workplace, and see statistics that remind me of this almost every day. Good news is, more women are working in tech than ever before and there are great organizations that will help you connect with your peers. One organization is ChickTech https://chicktech.org/, which has chapters across the US and hosts local and annual conferences. When I've attended ChickTech events, and other women in tech events, I've found it easy to find people who look like me, have similar backgrounds to me, and were struggling with similar problems. It felt good to have people to talk to! And it's taught me the importance of helping others in their careers too. We are so strong when we work together!

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