- Ragna Gerretsen
- 5 min
This summer, 5000+ global leaders, disruptors and decision makers came together during the European Women in Tech Event. 6 keynotes, 250+ sessions and 40+ strategic workshops left us inspired to make a change in the world of tech. Women from all over the world shared their struggles and journeys and showed us that women do belong in the tech industry. In this blog, you'll find 5 tips to career progression for women in tech.
There was one central theme to the conference: resilience.
“Women in tech have been demonstrating the meaning of resilience since long before the pandemic. Our belief is that resilient team members from diverse backgrounds, building and implementing resilient tech, for resilient businesses, is the key to driving the tech sector forward successfully.” – European Women in Technology
Every speaker has had to exhibit some form of resilience in their (working) life. They had to overcome all kinds of gender barriers in tech, like gender bias, discrimination and unequal growth opportunities. The passion with which every speaker was sharing their life’s journey and work, and how they overcame different barriers, was truly inspiring. There were a few messages that stood out to us, which we’ve summarized in 5 tips to career progression within this blog, that everyone, especially women, can and should adhere to.
1. If you fall down, get up again
No career journey is a straight line. The field of tech is no different. Many keynote speakers mentioned that they never studied for, or ever thought to work in, tech. Moreover, the role they are currently fulfilling didn’t even exist back then. Every journey is different. You might change your mind about what you want to be, or you will make detours. This is normal and is a great way to learn. It’s all about falling down and getting up again. It’s about continuously choosing the next career move to see where it takes you.
Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.
2. Be authentic
Women in tech – but also in other fields – often feel the pressure to adapt themselves to the (male) standard. Whether it’s their choice of clothing, language, their appearance, or the skills and personality traits they show at work. By doing this, everyone loses. Only by using your unique skills and qualities, you can complement those of your colleagues and add value. This way, you bring in new perspectives that drive innovation and faster problem solving.
3. Find a mentor and/or sponsor
Getting a successful career as a woman in tech isn’t easy. Doing it on your own is even harder. Mentorship and sponsorship are key to women’s career progress. Therefore, having a mentor is always a good idea. A mentor is able to guide you and give their perspective on matters. You will not only be able to learn from them and their mistakes, but they will also learn from you as everyone is unique and has a different perspective. Where a mentor can help you with how you work and what you should do, a sponsor can help you reach the next level in your career, as they will advocate for you. A sponsor roots for you and can put you on the radar, for example by putting your name in for a promotion.
4. Search for a role model
You cannot be it if you cannot see it! Female role models are immensely important in order to inspire (young) women to get into the world of tech. It’s even one of the best forms of motivation. They give reassurance that you’re not alone and prove that you too can achieve your dreams. Actively search for a role model or better yet become one, like these female tech leaders.
5. Create a support network
Having people in your life that support you in achieving your professional goals is immensely important for career growth. This could be your partner, a good friend or a family member, that takes care of the children when you have a deadline. Having, or not having, a support network might be something you do not realize as it’s so natural and not often talked about. Women tend to support their partners’ career which helps them to reach their goals, but the other way around is a lot less common. Even more so, it’s often not even a point of discussion. Having a support network is extremely important and should be natural for women as well.
Use these 5 tips to career progression to help yourself and to help other women. Right now, women are still a minority in the tech industry. This won’t change overnight. However, we can change the minds of young women out there that could join our industry in the future. Be their role model, show them that tech is not only for men and most importantly: do it for yourself.
One of the speakers at the European Women in Tech event mentioned “it couldn’t be a better time to be a woman” and we totally agree. Even though we still have a long way to go to equity, it’s the best time in history to be a woman. Women in tech are on the rise and the time is now. So, stop doubting yourself, wondering if you’re good enough or if tech suits you. Just fricking do it!
About the author
Ragna is a backend developer, actively involved in many different communities, and an advocate for women in tech. For the last two years, she has worked on the Digital Connect platform as part of the insurance tribe. Within this platform she, together with her team, creates a generic backend solution for connecting any and all insurances to the platform.