The IT sector can definitely look like an old boys’ club i.e. a world ruled by men for men, especially if you are on the outside looking in. Such stereotypes are not completely false since oceans of men keep flooding a marketplace that’s already saturated with testosterone.
Perception often begets stereotyping, which is why it is understandable that fewer women are willing to venture into the field: competitive imbalances, seemingly fewer opportunities, unfriendly colleagues, ostracization, and so on.
Fortunately, the tides are shifting in the modern technology sector that will make the industry far more accessible and attractive to women. If you are a woman that wants to pursue an IT career, here are 5 tips guaranteed to help with your decision-making.
1. Highlight Your Non-Technical Skills
The coffee-obsessed, pit-stained, retainer-wearing computer geek is a thing of the past. The socially awkward, isolated database genius that barks at fellow humans isn’t the most cherished employee in the department any longer. One-dimensional assets are a thing of the past. Irene McConnell from Arielle Executive says that a great resume is the best way for women to get noticed for an interview. By selling people skills they are set apart.
The modern world of IT is founded on the backs of multi-talented, softer-skilled personnel capable of providing a human aspect to matters that are increasingly technical. It, therefore, means that resources with strong communication and interpersonal skills are highly coveted in the IT world of today. Women should feel encouraged to highlight such skills above everything else.
2. Understand the Industry
IT jobs today are much more business-oriented than technology-oriented. IT services are so interwoven into the fabric of major industries and employees in the IT sector have been thrust into the business’s inner workings and now have the mandate of effecting change within the organization.
An in-depth understanding of the market is therefore essential since no tech skills might actually be needed for the challenge of problem-solving across an entire enterprise. IT professionals today increasingly have some form of background or education in something besides technology. The loosening of definitions has opened up the possibility of attracting a workforce that’s far more diverse.
3. Equality Rules
If you watch an episode of Mad Men, you can clearly see how much the modern workplace has evolved in the last 50 years or so. That said, you can probably guess that most women picture the modern IT environment as closely resembling an advertising firm of the 1960s as opposed to the dynamic and diverse field it actually is currently.
Fortunately, that’s really not the case. IT isn’t a fringe department of a company with a rogue group of nerds managing it, but rather an integral unit of the business that provides an invaluable service. As is the case with other core functions, any reputable company will staff such positions with the best candidates available, irrespective of gender, color, or creed. The old boys’ club model would find it hard to thrive in the marketplace of today.
4. Dispel Outdated Notions
Let’s face it, there could be a stigma attached to women that work in IT, perhaps similar to men that work as nurses. While both are completely gender-neutral, the notion still persists nonetheless. The IT industry should work on redefining its image as a critical and progressive business function that’s founded on the backs of a multi-disciplinary workforce.
Companies should also advertise their IT careers to a wider range of potential candidates. Instead of spending recruiting budgets searching exclusively for Computer Science graduates, people with Management or Arts backgrounds can be just as valuable if not more valuable to an organization.
5. Establish a Career Path
The strongest motivating factor when choosing a career path is perhaps the predicted success rate. The global IT sector might be competitive, but it is still growing and will keep growing for the foreseeable future. It is important to evaluate your chosen path, regardless of your gender, based on factors relating to your financial and professional prosperity as opposed to an outdated perception.