How Leaders Can Pave the Way for Women in Tech

Girl power, tech style

Key Takeaways

  • The 2021 Women In Tech Summit is happening this week. 
  • During a Wednesday panel at the WITS, women leaders in the tech industry talked about their responsibility in paving the way for future women entering the workforce.
  • Panel experts said companies in the tech space need to address issues of equal pay and imposter syndrome.
Two women discussing code on a computer screen in an office setting.
Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

At the 2021 Women In Tech Summit (WITS), female professionals in the tech industry have their chance to shine and pave the way for future women to enter a more equitable space. 

The women who work in tech are unfortunately a small number compared to other industries: women hold only 26% of computing jobs, and only 12% of engineers at Silicon Valley tech startups are women. But the women in the tech space have unique points of view on what it means to be a female leader in tech in 2021. 

"This is what I owe to women who are in technology and women who are coming up in technology—you have to pull them up, you have to make sure their voices are heard in a conversation," said Jenny Gray, senior director of application development at Power Home Remodeling, during a WITS panel on Wednesday. 

Breaking the Stigma 

The WITS has been around for almost a decade. Each summit focuses on women who work in, or with, tech in technical and non-technical roles. The bi-annual conference includes trends in technology, hands-on workshops, and ways for attendees to innovate and develop additional tech skills. 

During Wednesday’s fireside panel chat, Gray joined in conversation with TechGirlz director Amy Cliett on being a female tech leader and talked about the stigma of being a woman in tech. 

"Find yourself a group of other women in tech that you can grow with, push each other, and confide in each other."

"The only stigma that should be associated with girls in tech is that they’re bad-asses," Gray said. 

"I talk about [the stigma] a lot because I do want that stigma to go away. If we have young women that are interested in technology, it's something we should be pushing. It’s something we should be lifting up." 

Gray and Cliett agreed that there’s still inequality in the tech space, especially when it comes to equal pay. Recent data from the US Census shows that women earn about 82 cents for every dollar their male coworkers make. 

"Compensation should be equal, there shouldn't be any question about that, and so as a leader, I find that compensation might be the easiest part of helping women rise up because I sit in a very fortunate spot of being able to influence that," Gray said. 

Gray added that women bring the same skills to the table as men in the tech field, and that women need to remember their individual value.

"Being able to be analytical, being able to be logical, being able to be empathetic, those are things that I do really well, and that most women do really well, and so we just have to remind ourselves that, that whole person is equally valued; all those different traits are equally valued," she said. 

Advice for Other Women in Tech 

Everyone experiences imposter syndrome at some point in their career, but it significantly affects women in a male-dominated workforce like the tech space. When looking at the origin of the term imposter syndrome, it was coined specifically as a women-only experience. 

A woman, working on a tablet in a server room.
Erik Isakson / Getty Images

"[Imposter syndrome] was actually designed as a way to label women in a dismissive way, kind of like back in the day when they diagnosed women with hysteria," Cliett said during the panel. 

Even women in high-up positions still experience feelings of not belonging in their careers. Gray said that she experiences imposter syndrome almost daily and tries to remind herself to be authentic to herself and her skills. 

"I try to put myself out there as much as possible because I know if I'm suffering from that impostor syndrome or I'm not understanding something, there's probably five or six other people around who also are in that same state," she said. 

For women looking to enter the tech space for the first time, Cliett left panel attendees with some insight into finding support in the industry.

"One bit of advice that can work for everybody is to find yourself a tribe," Cliett said. "Find yourself a group of other women in tech that you can grow with, push each other, and confide in each other."

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