On March 28 we sat down with a group of fearless female tech leaders to talk through their experience of being a woman in the tech industry. We covered struggles, successes, and the advice that helped them break into leadership roles that they want to pass along to the next generation. Not only were we inspired beyond belief, but this conversation also confirmed something we strongly believe: we need more women in tech.
You can watch the full conversation here, but we also want to provide you with our main takeaways from the event. And if you’re interested in following the exciting careers of our panelists, you can check them out on LinkedIn:
Alison Accavitti, Co-Founder & CMO @ RIVET Work
Julia Winter, Founder & CEO @ Alchemie
Chevonne James, Director of Projects @ Lightship Foundation
Elizabeth Heaton, Director of Career Services @ Grand Circus
Five Lessons from Female Tech Leaders
Build Your Network
Find other founders/leaders and build a network with like-minded women in similar roles. Even in a situation where you’re competing for funding or information on a product release, it’s better to go in not knowing together to figure it out together. Connect with people you know, even if you didn’t know they work in tech. Allies and support will pop up in the most unsuspecting of places.
Overcome Your Insecurities with a Business Case
Unfortunately, everything requires a business case if you’re a woman. And if you don’t have one, ask for time to make one. You need data and research to back up your ideas and sometimes this does take time.
It’s also important to not let stereotypes and preconceived ideas of how the industry works determine your choices. There’s a stigma that you need an engineering degree to be in tech, but there are so many other roles. Don’t feel insecure about not having an engineering degree — you can succeed in tech without one.
Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor will make your experience of breaking into tech so much easier. Leverage community groups, even if they aren’t tech groups, and find powerhouse groups of women.
Joining a co-working space will open the opportunities to meet so many great people, and attend events, and professional development workshops. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Just try to meet one person.
Attend Industry Conferences
Find topics within the industry that you specialize in or want to break into and find conferences that pertain to that topic. Not only will you meet people and stretch your networking skills, but you’ll also learn so much valuable information on the topic and be exposed to new perspectives and ways of solving problems. Here are a few conferences that could be of value:
Figure Out Your Why
Why are you interested in tech? What’s drawing you to the industry and that type of work? It’s important to figure out the why behind your desire to be in the tech industry and build a career there. Knowing the why will help you bridge your past life to where you want to go. This is a major key to success in tech.
Supporting Women in The Workplace
Support for one another is vital for women in tech. It’s imperative to be a united front of women and have male allies. Here are a few ideas for how to support your fellow tech ladies:
Avoid isolating language
Focus on team building
Give women credit, call attention to them, and watch for women who are overlooked or not included
Give everyone a seat at the table and make space for the opportunity for women to share their voice
Advice to Men — Don’t wait to be asked! Be an active advocate
Looking to join a Midwest tech company or startup that supports women in tech? Check out our Great Workplaces for Women list and their open roles.