How Women in Tech Can Confront Bias
By Priyanka Jain
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – Although there has been significant progress, cultural and societal norms still hurt the proportion of women in leadership roles. Less representation at the board and executive levels create unique challenges for women. This is accentuated in the tech industry, where there have historically been substantially fewer women in positions of high management. As per reports, 50 percent of women working in STEM fields report workplace discrimination. If the search is limited to women who work in computer jobs, that number rises to 74 percent. A large part of this can be ascribed to a lack of representation, particularly in computer science disciplines where men predominate.
While some organizations today are actively addressing this imbalance, many women still struggle to overcome obstacles like unfounded worries about their technical aptitude, being overlooked for opportunities due to their gender or biases based on age, race, or appearance, and imposter syndrome, which prevents marginalized but knowledgeable female experts from engaging with peers.
Why the void in technology?
There are many roles in technology besides programming, such as product management, product marketing, solutions engineering, and solution architecture. These positions call for a special mix of technological expertise together with prowess in teamwork, management, written and verbal communication, presentation, and negotiation. With the emergence of DevOps, AIOps, DevSecOps, MLOps, and other approaches, programming itself is also becoming more social.
Even though there are now more employment options in technology, two important reasons prevent the number of “women in tech” from increasing. The first problem is that not enough women in the pipeline are being considered for these positions. The other factor comes down to retention: Not enough women stick around with long-term aspirations of moving up the “tech ladder”, which further contributes to the lower proportion of women in the top echelons of tech businesses.
In addition, women frequently must decide between pursuing a job and being a “good mother.” Due to antiquated societal and professional norms, women have historically been socialized to believe they cannot balance work and family. However, it is possible for women to balance a fulfilling profession with time for family and friends.
Women frequently find themselves in a vicious loop where they lack the resources or opportunities to succeed and then lack support once they do. Being their own biggest advocate is one of the finest strategies to break the cycle. Here are a few practical techniques to overcome the bias in tech:
Women often prepare, research, and compensate excessively. They may believe that to succeed at anything, they must first have complete knowledge of it. They want to give their all to anything they undertake. Contrarily, their male counterparts would apply for a job or a promotion when they believe they have only fulfilled 60 percent of the qualifications. Women need to stop assuming that to raise their hands, they must meet 100 percent of the criteria. If they wait until they are perfect before applying for the desired position, asking for a promotion, or deciding to launch the business, they risk reaching the next level of success.
Get a mentor
With the right guidance, women have a much better opportunity to transform their careers. To achieve this, it’s critical to deliberately look for a mentorship arrangement that suits their requirements. This might be an employee of the company, such as a manager they respect, a professional they run into at a networking event, or even someone they’ve previously worked with. They can openly discuss their professional aspirations with a mentor, who can also serve as a sounding board for ideas on how to balance work and personal life.
Work in the right place
It is important for women to invest time in an organization that focuses on getting more women into leadership positions and retaining the women leaders they already have. Specifically, women must look at organizations that offer a constellation of benefits to improve women’s day-to-day work experiences including, emergency childcare benefits, flexibility, and mental-health support.
Learn to command
The key is confidence. Women’s peers will pay attention if they don’t hesitate to demonstrate their skills. At first, it could seem overwhelming, but as they continue, it becomes less difficult. When there aren’t many women present in the team or in the organization, it can be scary. However, if they persevere and keep honing those skills, people will pay attention.
Women in technology need to speak up for themselves and understand that, with the help of supportive mentors and a business that shares their values, stepping outside of their comfort zone will lead to great success. While there have been significant advancements in getting women into tech leadership roles, women still face significant obstacles in overcoming prejudice due to preconceptions and discrimination. There is undoubtedly a lot of work to be done, and companies need to do more to ensure that women feel supported in all facets of their employment.