As a corporate consultant for an IT managed services provider, I am a woman working in a male dominated industry. Quite often, I don’t even notice this. I don’t expect to be treated any differently from my co-workers, my employers, or my clients. I work just as hard as my male counterparts, and expect to be mentored, coached, rewarded and disciplined in the exact same ways that they are. It is usually other people, including friends and family, that point out to me, or ask me what it is like being a women in a “boys club.” They ask me if I find it difficult, or they ask me if I have to do anything differently to be taken as seriously, or have my voice heard as loud as the man sitting beside me, or in front of me. The answer is no. I am a woman working in the technology industry and I choose to see it as an advantage, rather than a disadvantage. There are many ways in which I focus my energy in order to make the most of my career so far, and strive to make being a “woman in tech,” my competitive advantage:
1. I choose to take advantage of, rather than get defensive towards traditional gender biases. Women are historically known for being better listeners, as well as more empathetic than our male counterparts. Technology is an area of most businesses that is extremely complex and often not very well understood- in some cases even feared. When we pair these two facts together, the truth is that women working in technology have a better chance of being able to create a partnership where the end goal is solving a problem, and therefore satisfying a need. By striving to understand client issues and working with them through the entire process, it becomes a partnership rather than an annoying aspect of their business that they don’t understand, or don’t want to deal with.
2. I choose to take advantage of industry events and networking opportunities specifically dedicated towards women. There are tons of opportunities out there if you look for them. More so than ever, there is a push to attract women into the field of technology, and many vendors and organizations and focusing time and effort in putting on events for women in tech. These events are often not as well attended as traditional conferences and events, and provide a more intimate opportunity to create closer relationships with vendors and distributors alike.
3. I choose to take advantage of mentorship opportunities within the industry. Mentorship from both males and females is extremely important to me. Being female in technology, it is often easy to relate to and connect with other women in technology. They have faced (and often overcome) similar obstacles specific to being a female in a male dominated industry. Some of the most fascinating women I have met in my career so far are women who have been working in the tech world for many years. They are always extremely successful and happy to share their stories and offer advice.
There many aspects to not only my job, but my entire industry that I can choose to have work to my disadvantage, or my advantage. It is my personal choice to choose to see all of the opportunity available to women working in technology, and I will continue to strive to uncover all of the personal and professional development opportunities that are and will become available to me in the future!
Laura Wittig is a corporate consultant at Clear Concepts of Winnipeg, Man. Wittig became CDN’s first ever Rising Star award winner at the annual CDN Women of the IT Channel Recognition event. Clear Concepts won the Solution Provider of the Year award at the 2014 CDN Channel Elite Awards.