From Underrepresented to Unstoppable: A Guide to being an Unstoppable Woman in STEM
In the dynamic and ever changing landscape of tech, women have historically encountered significant challenges and barriers in a field dominated by men. However, things are finally starting to change as more and more women are breaking through these barriers and making their mark. In this article, we’ll be exploring practical insights and strategies for girls and women pursuing a career in ICT, so that they can surpass limitations and emerge as trailblazers and changemakers.
Tip 1: Beyond the Classroom – Turning Subjects into Passions
Gone are the days where traditional lectures and courses are sufficient for staying updated with the latest ICT trends. If you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to pursue extracurricular activities and side projects that spark your interest and provide opportunities for continuous learning.
From MOOCs, hackathons, workshops, clubs & societies, to online resources, there are so many ways to explore your interests, work on your terms, and set your own rules. Plus, these projects are perfect for your portfolio.
Tip 2: Cultivating Mentorship, Support & Community
Being part of a community of like-minded women in tech is invaluable for cultivating mentorship and support systems. Look for (or found) groups and communities where you can connect both with women in ICT and women in the same position as you. If you’re a student, a student organisation is a great place to start.
Mentors offer career guidance, knowledge, experience, and networking opportunities. Attend conferences, workshops, get involved in tech organisations, and connect with professionals on LinkedIn to build professional relationships.
It takes courage to take the first step, but once you do, you’ll be grateful that you were brave enough to do it!
Tip 3: Achieving Work-Life Balance & Avoiding Burnout
Achieving work-life balance isn’t always easy, but setting clear boundaries between work and personal life is essential. Practice self-discipline to maintain them. Take breaks and engage in self care activities to promote physical and mental wellbeing. This could mean reading a book, engaging in physical activity or something creative – as long as it’s something you enjoy.
Effective time management, prioritising tasks, and nurturing connections with those closest to you are key to protecting your wellbeing.
Tip 4: Advocating for Yourself & Negotiating Your Worth
Remember, when you’re preparing for an interview, you’re interviewing the company just as much as they’re interviewing you. Research the company culture and make sure it aligns with your goals. Resources like 50inTech can provide insight into a company’s diversity and equality practices.
Research salary benchmarks and market trends to inform negotiations. Build a strong case for promotions and raises using concrete examples of your accomplishments. Develop a clear sense of your personal and professional values and most importantly, be assertive and confident when advocating for yourself and your worth.
Insights from Changemakers in Tech
Dora Palfi (Co-founder & CEO at imagi): “It is better to follow your own path imperfectly than following the path that someone else set for you perfectly. Let your curiosity guide you!”
Caroline Ramade (Founder & CEO at 50inTech): “Coding is like having a superpower. You create your own enterprise or contribute to solving a big problem and create the solution. It’s a wonderful sector to create your career on your own terms.”
Paulina Gryn-Jablonska (Tech Consultant at EY, Polish representative: ELA SS ’21): “Remember that your uniqueness makes you an asset, be proud of it. Don’t get discouraged by not ticking every single box on a job description. Many, particularly hard skills can be taught. Lead with a positive attitude and always showcase your strengths.”
Anna Veselá (Co-founder & CEO at Spectoda, Czech representative: ELA SS ’21): “Get into problem solving that really matters to you – passion is often the only thing that makes a person not give up.”
Izzy Lapidus (Education Influencer, Student & Senior STEAM Student Educational Experience Designer at Barnard College): “Just go for it. Go online, see what’s happening around you, connect with people who share something in common with you, and get yourself out there. It’s never too late to explore a career in tech, but you have to take the initiative. Opportunities won’t just fall into your lap; you need to seek them out.”
Didem Un Ates (Head of Applied Strategy, Data & AI at Microsoft Customer and Partner Solutions): “Break your own mental glass ceiling.”
In conclusion, let International Girls in ICT Day and every other day remind you to stay curious, connect with like-minded women, advocate for yourself, and most importantly, break your own mental glass ceiling. You have the potential to surpass limitations and reach new heights and the duty to support the next generation of women as you do it!