Remember back in the day when we were little girls and spoke about the things we wanted to be when we "grew up"? Professions like teacher, nurse and movie star were put out there, but roles in technology? Those were never a part of the fairytale.
Two decades after these tea party discussions, I find myself grabbing my coffee on-the-go whilst working in one of the most innovative and forward-thinking industries in the world. It's clear that times have changed. More and more women are involved in the tech space, and they're making an impact; technology firms including Google, Yahoo and HP have all appointed female CEOs.
But wait a minute. Look past the girl boss headlines, and you'll see that, in 2017, a whopping 68% of start-ups surveyed admitted they had no women on their board of directors. 53% of the companies didn't have a single woman in a C-suite position. Equally disturbing is that 27% of female-founded companies said the current environment was "extremely challenging".
Eva Murray, the Tableau Evangelist at Exasol, understands the dynamics of the industry (and the accompanying gender gap challenges) better than most. A specialist in Visualization Tools with a strong focus on technology and a background in Tableau, Eva is passionate about supporting tech and the women who work (and want to work) in the sector. At the recent Women + Data event, Eva shared her experience working in a male-dominated industry. She candidly described the struggles brought about by the gender bias but was clear that women should not be intimidated by the challenges. Instead, they should be inspired to rise to meet them. Her passionate, smart and candid presentation left a strong impression on me. Today, I am sharing the five things I learned to do as I forge my pathway to success.
Don't be intimidated by what you don't know.
Not everybody stepping into technology has a tech background. What they do have is the smarts to do the job. Think about it; managers only hire those they feel can do the job. Rise to the challenge by sharpening your skill set and show plenty of enthusiasm as you own your new role.
Kill condescension with kindness.
It's unrealistic to think you're going to get along with everyone you work with. Different personality types will cause conflict and there may even be people who suggest you're not able to do your job properly. Sometimes this idea will be based solely on the fact that you're a woman. Unfair? Yes. A reason to quit? Never. Instead of trying to prove your worth to every colleague in the office, focus on doing your very best work. Build support through small wins by going beyond your job description and using all of your skills to support your team.
Find a mentor and pay attention.
It may be hard to find a female role model within your company, so get social. There is a large network of women in technology on social media who would be happy to support you. Seek out and engage with people who will challenge you to work harder. Ask them how to sharpen your skills and then put their advice into practice.
Your attitude matters, so think about what you do and how you come across to others. Don't simply react to things, but be proactive. Walk into the office with a smile and be deliberate in how you schedule and work through your day. If someone is rude to you, don't engage them and don't take it personally. Maintain a positive and professional demeanor and don't allow yourself to be pulled in unnecessary corners.
Be so good they can't ignore you
Comedian, Steve Martin was on point with this great advice and it stretches into every industry. Your work will speak for itself and when you focus on doing a great job, you have an undeniable edge. People may try and distract you with negativity and noise, but to get distracted is to let them win. Be the very best you can be, stay positive and draw clear boundaries while you make your mark in an industry that needs your skills and expertise.
Are you a Woman In Tech? Share your advice with us by tweeting to us @EXASOLAG