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Caitlin B.





What should you study if you're a girl and want to work in tech?

Is it harder for girls to work in technology than boys? #technology #tech #women-in-tech

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28 answers

Hi Caitlin,

I love your question! In my perspective (having worked at Dell for over 12 years) I think most of this gap is perception based and not really in reality. However there are a few things you should think about - I used to be in tech. support and then corporate sales which was mostly males, you need to understand how to communicate assertively and hone in on your command skills. If you can communicate your ideas clearly and back it up with great knowledge and performance, being a girl should be no issue at all. Good luck!

Last updated May 31 '16 at 03:06 PM

It depends on what you want to do. There are many different technical roles, some are more welcoming to females than others. However, never let that stop you if tech is your passion. Technology is an exciting place to work and it is always changing, there is always something new to learn. When you find a place that embraces that learning, that's a great place to be. I will tell you in addition to the technical courses and math, finding courses that can help you understand the human side of tech and to develop critical thinking skills can be an advantage as well.

Last updated May 31 '16 at 03:03 PM

come on, now nobody cares about your gender, but qualification. Completely don't worry about it. My case is a pretty long story. During my childhood my conservative environment tried to persuade I can't study anything scientific because of my gender. In the very beginning I believed in it and gave up all my interests about high-tech (even though I spent most of my free time on sitting in front of PC or video games). After many years of higher education I found my dream studies (information management) and I understood it's better to find your path later than never. I got another close friend who experienced the same (from English literature studies to PhD in advanced materials). Today it's much easier to achieve whatever you want than 100years ago ;) Remember, never give up because of others' opinion. Do what you love and compare yourself in prism of your achievements.

Last updated Sep 27 '16 at 11:40 AM

Best of the Village

Caitlin - I'm so glad you are interested in this!

I've worked in a variety of tech related jobs, from doing customer support for AOL dial up (yes, I'm a dinosaur) to working on mid-range computer programming (I was a business analyst, not a programmer), to working in process improvement (CMMI and Six Sigma) and database development, and now I've ended up way over here in Regulatory Compliance which has little to do with technology per se, but I am constantly doing IT development projects, as we use software all the time and need to improve it regularly.

I think, as women, we actually have an advantage in technology.My 'official' background is in technical theatre (I have a B.A. in theatre from a small women's college) and I have an MBA with a concentration in technology management. However, because I am flexible and able to make connections between things in ways that a lot of men are not, I've been promoted and given opportunities that others haven't for that reason.

You don't have to be a coder to work in tech - there are lots and lots of other positions where understanding the way the tech works and how it should be developed are critical and SDLC (software development life cycle) is a whole discipline in itself, and requires no coding, just an understanding of tech. Women are typically better at the human interaction side of software as well - and if you have an artistic or creative side, GUI design is critical to a decent software product.

Don't look at being the only girl in the room as an impediment. You are getting in on the the ground floor of a movement, and there is a lot of chance to learn new things and be the new expert. That's not a bad thing. Also, if you aren't afraid to speak up, it's been studied that women's voices (in terms of the tone of them) are actually more attention-getting in a noisy room. That's why women's voices are so often used for emergency announcements, etc. in public places. Don't be afraid to use your voice!

The other fun perks are being able to get in and out of the ladies room faster (men are often actually lined up to get in the mens room at tech conferences while women breeze in and out, believe it or not), getting preferential treatment when it comes to being stuck crawling under a desk to hook up a monitor, or carrying heavy stuff. I know darn well that I CAN do all those physical things, but it's nice to have an out - and it helps to keep your 'in charge' image intact, believe it or not. I wear skirts and dresses exclusively, am not afraid to use a pretty pen or have feminine accessories, but no one takes me any less seriously because of it. You can still be YOU and be in technology. Enjoy it!

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 03:15 PM

It has really changed over the years. When I started there were not a lot of Women in technical fields and even in programming. But I think even back in the 80's that this was more of a perception that women did not work in that field and thus there were not a lot. So it has been a gradual growth over the years. As far as suggestions and what you should study, It really depends on what area that you want to go into. So depending on your passion, Technology can cover vast areas. Telecommunications, Programming and new industry. I have been doing telecom since 1984 and I have constant learned something new. Be willing to accept change and to constantly think outside of the box or the bubble. Always strive to grow your skills and knowledge. Strong Math, project management and planning skills are a big PLUS.

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 03:24 PM

Best of the Village

Caitlin, this is a great question. I recently attended a summit in NYC addressing how we get more women in the technology field. I have been in the workforce for 10 years since college. My major was English and my minor was history. I also have a graduate degree in Creative Writing. However, my interest in technology began long before college. My parents used to keep me very up-to-date with technologies coming out because they never wanted me to be at a learning curve for anything. As a result, I was able to market and sell (with a creative background) and also train on technology products. Companies like Verizon and many others are looking for people just like you. If you have an interest, you should pursue it! It's true that the technology field is a predominantly male space, but we are seeing many more women step into positions that are more technical every day. As for things to study, that depends on what you would like to accomplish in the field. I began my interest with wanting to understand technologies and help others to incorporate those technologies into their lives and their businesses. That's why I went into sales. But you may have more of an interest into the interworkings of products and services and for that, you would want to have more of a technical study route. Engineering, Computer Science, Programing, and Information Security and Information Technology are all areas to take a look at. I hope this helps and best of luck!

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 03:24 PM

My step daughter is top of her class at Linfield College in Oregon. She is a double major - math and physics and yes there are very few females in her department. With more young women pursuing technical and science people will be more accustomed to seeing them in those roles. I started in IT when I was 37 - after years of being in the administrative field. I don't feel that my being female made it more difficult, but what I did do was prepare. I gained Microsoft and Cisco certifications since I did not have a heavy work background to fall back on. I started out on a technical helpdesk and shot up from there. Confidence in your abilities and projecting that goes a long way in any field.

Last updated Oct 07 '16 at 12:50 AM

It shouldn't be any harder to find a position. however, if you find resistance, I suggest focusing on: Math classes. This is a key foundation for programming jobs. Any experience you can get programming. It doesn't matter what it is. If, for example, you build a web page, show off your strengths in what you build.

Many firms are following the advice of of people who study successful companies, who say it is always better to have a diverse workforce. History has shown that these companies do better. So, in an odd way, if you are in a group under-represented in a company, you might have an advantage! At least for companies that are forward thinking.

It is a great career for everyone!


Last updated May 31 '16 at 03:03 PM

Hi- It depends on what type of position you're most interested in! There are many different doesn't all have to be technical-roles. From operations to marketing, sales to enablement, there are many important functions that make a tech company successful. Math, engineering, computer science are good options for more technical functions. I have a background in Business, which allows you to go for other roles that are equally important to many industries, especially tech!

Last updated May 31 '16 at 03:06 PM

Best of the Village

Hi, Caitlin!

I've worked in information technology for my entire career, so close to 20 years now. I started as a UNIX/Linux Systems Administrator and then moved into Network Planning and finally Cybersecurity. I didn't have a technical degree when I started (BA in Political Science), but I've since gone on to pick up an MS in Project Management, an MS in Information Systems Security, and I'm currently working on an MS in Information Security and Assurance (graduating June 2017). I also hold the CISSP and CISM certifications.

If you like hard sciences and math, then I definitely would suggest that you take programming classes in college. If you want more of a higher overview of technology, then going with information management or information security might be a good choice. Either way, remember that getting experience is key, so keep yourself open to opportunities to learn from people who know what they're doing. Enthusiasm for your topic is a definite bonus.

These are still very male-dominated fields. Currently I'm the only woman on a team of 6 men (including the manager). The most women I've ever worked with was 4, and that was for a team of about 15 people. I've encountered prejudice before, but as time has gone on things have gotten much better. It definitely gives you an opportunity for practicing your soft skills and keeping an even balance no matter what gets thrown at you!

Good luck!

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 03:54 PM

Cailtin this is an awesome question. Ive been working in telecommunication for 15+ years. It was never an industry I was drawn to, just one I was good at. I loved math in high school. My recommendation is to study what you love and the rest will fall into place. The 'tech' world is wide open to your dreams and imaginations. Outside of school I would recommend participating in STEM groups and find local resources that you can partner with. My career has spanned many different opportunities but it was always doing something I loved. And lastly, take risks! Don't be afraid to try something new. Even if you fail, which I have done many times, it was always an opportunity to learn, grow and try again.

Good luck.

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 07:51 PM

Great question - so glad you are considering a career in technology as it's a rewarding industry. First I would consider what areas of technology most interest you. You can do that by subscribing to some news sources like tech target. Then you can further think about what roles are available in that technology field. Remember not all roles require major math or science. Sales, marketing, human resources, and many other areas allow you to be in tech without being a scientist!

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 02:56 PM

This is a great question and I'm going to give you the most honest answer - yes it can be. As a woman working on a male dominant field, we have to work harder to gain respect and fit into the "boys club." This is one of the reasons I like this field, because it's challenging. Woman have to show compassion but also need to work smarter. Once you have gained the respect of your colleagues and proven yourself, it becomes easier. I recommend that you focus on your area of expertise and learn it better than anyone. I also find that my experience in other fields help bridge the gap and make me valuable to my team. A huge challenge women face is the perception of power. It is ok for a man to be powerful and make decisions but when a woman challenges in the same way, they are thought of as difficult. Because of this, I have taken courses on critical thinking, leadership and psychology. Woman always feel they have something to prove, and we do, but approached the right way you can learn to become a valuable player on any team. I find many men think linear while women tend to think outside the box, this is a valuable skill. Good luck!

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 03:15 PM


I don't think for Girls its difficult to work in the IT industries or any other industries if they could mange both personal and professional life, I have been working in Dell for 6 years and in that I had worked with tech support for 4 years and in the team most of then were males including mangers and I dint face any issues.

Last updated Aug 24 '16 at 07:20 AM

Perhaps it continues to be a little bit harder for women in the workplace. But, that said, women are succeeding and rising higher and higher in all careers, so pursue what you like and excel!! Be persistent, be resilient, be interested and creative, be engaged in the areas that you enjoy, and think out of the box. :-)

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 02:56 PM

Hey Caitlin!

I think it's awesome that you want to pursue work in a technology role. You'll find that a lot of the IT world is male dominated but don't let that discourage you. You'll find that there are a ton of opportunities working in IT, these can range from trouble shooting, programming, web design, among many others. I would suggest that whatever you have a passion for, go after it. If that means you want to write code and develop software, then start programming in your free time and focus on math in school. If you find that you like to automate things, or try to come up with solutions to prevent problems before they occur you might want to start looking at ways you can get experience in a system administrator role.

Once you get immersed in the world of information technology, you'll see that there are always going to be opportunities for those who want to work hard and never stop learning. If you have any further questions, feel free to comment and I will do my best to help answer them. If I had to give you one piece of advice, it would be to never lose the desire to learn new things. Technology is constantly changing and the desire to learn new things will always give you a boost in whatever you do. I hope this helps!

Last updated Sep 11 '16 at 09:25 PM

If you like to be a techie, you should study science or engineering as the first step (IMO). There are also people with non-tech background in the tech such as HR or sales but they don't do engineering work. I am a female engineer and have been always fascinated by figuring things out and design and build new gadgets, and so do tech work. I got a job in the tech world when I was about to graduate by attending job fairs in school. I don't think it was harder for me to get a job because of my gender. To be frank, I was never focused on my gender and never saw myself any different, rather focused on my learning and qualifications. I studied physics and mechanical engineering. I hope it helps.

Last updated Sep 21 '16 at 06:35 PM

Hi, there is nothing deferent you need to do just because you are a girl. for Example, in computer we only have 0s and 1s, there is nothing deferent if you are a girl. tech is a very genric word, if you could make it more narrow things will be easy to answer. i would suggest you to keep yourself updated with latest technology.

Last updated Oct 10 '16 at 01:11 PM

Hello Caitlin, looks like you got a good interest in technology, here's what I got to say: you are a boy or a girl it doesn't matter until when you got confidence in you to achieve things.

"Pamela Reed was the first woman to win the 135-mile Bad water Ultra marathon, coming in first in both 2002 and 2003. She was also the first person ever to run 300 miles without sleeping."

see anything is possible in today's world and for what to study is it not the same curriculum that boys have, right!

so based on the technology you need to pursue there are different courses.. first of all take some time have a look at what all technologies are present there, talk to your elder brother/sister they might have a good knowledge about what all are good now-a-days, then make your own Google searches on those things try to understand what those are and see what technology excites you the most, and that's how you should do it.

Once you get a understanding of what to do, finding the appropriate courses isn't that a difficult task.

All the best buddy.

Last updated Oct 07 '16 at 04:08 AM

I do not think that women has to study some thing in specific to get into the tech filed that the regular courses, it only depends on the passion. There is nothing when men can do and women cannot, we are all the same.

Last updated Oct 24 '16 at 03:11 PM

Hey Caitlin!

You can always go the traditional route - study computer science and get an emphasis in anything you like - coding, machine learning, etc. I have been in tech for 6 years now and had a degree in Business Administration. That being said, I always had a knack/love for math and science, and I entered the tech world as a tech salesperson. From there, I worked my way up the ladder to be a pre-sales specialist in the Big Data and Hyperscale field, and now I am a Senior Technical Trainer for Dell EMC and help to run our onsite datacenter. So while I never went the IT admin route, I have had a lot of hands on experience in tech and I love my job. You have a lot of great tech companies located in Austin, I would advise you to set up as many tours and meet with as many people as you can.

As far as being a woman in tech, I've actually seen more advantages than disadvantages. We are few and far between (though that number is growing!) which means we can stand out in a pack a little bit more. And like Alicia says in her answer, as long as you are standing out as hard working, intelligent, and confident in yourself and your abilities, being a woman in tech is awesome and not a problem at all. I've had i think one customer in my 6 year career who has given me flack for my gender, and myself and the rest of my team was quick to set him straight. Best of luck!

Last updated Jan 27 '17 at 04:51 PM

Engineering, math, statistics or some type of science will be a great start because it helps you innovate by solving problems. There are also a lot of companies that are looking for diversity in gender in their company so if you have a good background in science as a female you will have a good chance. But also make sure you keep you interests open to learning the creative side of the business to understand how technology works with creative, marketing, emotions and sales.

Engineering and science can sounds boring, but please check this video. it's inspiring and it speaks to different aspects of engineering that affects human lives in a real way. and it can be very powerful.

Last updated Oct 13 '16 at 01:03 AM

First of all girls have the same opportunity for picking a school aimed at marketing or any field. There are no preferences. Example - The rate of pay (male/female) is more equal than other more traditional sectors such as banking/finance. There's also a lot more equal opportunity for female's in the Tech sector, and the skills can be used worldwide. Sum it all, IT is to our opinion a great place to be for a girl in nowadays world.

Last updated Nov 18 '16 at 04:01 PM

There are lots of different majors if you want to work in technology. A degree in computer science, information technology, software engineering, engineering in general, etc. Of course, you can always study in other areas such as marketing, finance, etc. as technology companies need people in these areas too.

Being a girl doesn't make a difference... Schools and companies want diverse applicants, students and employees.

Last updated Oct 18 '16 at 01:36 PM

First since you'd like to pursue your future career & development in IT or tech we'd recommend to pick study field in IT technology such as e.g. programming, applied mathematics or online technology in general. You have number of options to sign up for online courses & trainings some of them are free while some of them are for monthly fee. This will get you started to continue later in any of the filed study / schools.

Last updated Jun 08 '17 at 08:10 AM

It's not about your gender, its about what you love to do. since you are starting your career 'assuming' it's always fun to try few things here and there from support, implementation, sales & marketing in the tech world then you can see where your heart goes too .. It essential that you love the career that you will pick by the end of the day because this will make you thrive, creative and shine ... Best of luck

Last updated Oct 07 '16 at 07:46 AM

I love your question! In my perspective (having worked at Dell for over 12 years) I think most of this gap is perception based and not really in reality. However there are a few things you should think about - I used to be in tech. support and then corporate sales which was mostly males, you need to understand how to communicate assertively and hone in on your command skills. If you can communicate your ideas clearly and back it up with great knowledge and performance, being a girl should be no issue at all. Good luck!

Last updated Oct 28 '16 at 07:20 PM

Hi Caitlin, I am excited that you are interested in tech! My advice would be to focus on higher-level math and coding. There are tons of free coding apps and websites available to get you started and keep you well versed in tech. Depending on which flavor of tech that you want to purse, there are a lot of free resources available for application development, tech security, network management and game development to name a few. At the end of the day, tech can use girls and boys to innovate and discover unlimited possibilities. Perhaps you are the next legendary tech leader. Find something in tech that you love, share your vision and be great at it!

Last updated Oct 07 '16 at 02:59 PM
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