Young Women in Tech: Venturing into the Tech Industry
Around the world, women are increasingly taking the leap into male-dominated industries. Particularly the tech industry, which is central to our lives in an age of remote and blended work and learning. Nonetheless, it is unsurprising that women feel daunted when navigating unfamiliar terrains; especially when there are few female role models within the trade.
Despite being talented, empowered and motivated, young women struggle to find their voice in the early phases of pursuing their passions and ambitions within this field.
Chua Zhiying and Tan Litong, YWLC members, share their personal journeys and some tips to navigate your tech journey at the Tech Take-Off Program webinar, in collaboration with Kinobi and SGTech.
Here are the summarised recommendations for you to feel more confident and prepared in your pursuit of a tech career (and/or any traditional executive roles, really).
#1 Leverage on your soft skills
While women may possess technical skills on par with their male counterparts, it may prove challenging at first to find your footing in the organisation. Yet, one of the main reasons women thrive in the tech industry is because they are strong at connecting with people and are nurturing leaders. Even if the opportunities do not present themselves at the beginning, stay curious, and know when to put your foot down and speak up. The different perspectives you bring to the table are valued and critical, use these traits to bring out the best for the organisation.
#2 Use the power of collective wisdom
Never feel like you need to journey alone. There are plenty of mentorship opportunities available, you just need to take the initiative to seek mentors out. There are many women figures who are strong, logical, and nurturing. Sometimes, this could be a previous boss that you can reach out to, or even one of the mentors in YWLC. Seek out connections who are slightly ahead in the journey than you via LinkedIn, or even friends and family. Be daring to ask, nobody would know you need guidance otherwise!
#3 Get ahead by being aligned with the company goals
To be valuable to the company, you need to plan for your company in your role. For example, if you take on a finance role in a tech company, you can plan for new financial systems and processes, in addition to your main job scope. Some may question why they would need to go the extra mile if it is not their own company. However, by taking ownership and roles beyond your job scope, bosses will recognise that you are invested in the company, and that will increase your chances of promotion.
#4 All relationships take time.
Don’t take it too hard if you do not build strong work relationships at the start. Start by building trust with your boss and team. Notice what they need and offer to help in your own small ways. Especially since teams operating across countries and different cultural contexts are increasingly common, take the time to observe if your work mates prefer to casually chat first, or to jump straight into work. Tailor your communications styles accordingly to achieve your goals. Especially during this time when everyone is caught up in virtual work and has less face time, try to connect on a personal level first before talking about work, if it fits the culture.
#5 You don’t need to code to be in tech.
The most fundamental skill in tech is design thinking. It is a human-centred approach that puts framing the issue at the forefront of the process; sees the team mapping an understanding of opportunities and needs; drives solutioning in an iterative manner; and trains you to be more agile, adaptable, and collaborative. Learning by doing is important, you can join hackathons to learn more about design thinking through an embodied experience.
In addition, the tech industry is very data-driven. So understanding how numbers work, knowing the story behind numbers, and learning Excel or SQL would be helpful.
#6 Understand the basics of Project Management
Due to the rapid nature of the industry, much of the work in tech is project-based, and these projects can even be measured daily to see whether objectives are being met. While some may feel scrutinised with this way of working, it is commonplace in the tech world as small aims lead to bigger goals. It gets tricky when there is a mismatch in expectations, even on seemingly small matters, so it is good practice to ensure alignment from the start and to nip any problems in the bud.
As industries see a shift to focus on improving gender diversity, it is our time to step up and own our place. There is no better time than now for women to take our seat at the table and find our voice by anchoring on the skills that we already possess. Regardless of the industry you are in, remember to stay curious, reflect often and find people who are willing to support you in your growth journey.
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Organising Committee: Business Development Subcommittee
Organising Team: Evelyn Chew
Author: Kristin Loo
Editor: Chew Jia Ying