Tips for Women Returning to a Career in Tech

Women returning to a career in tech, are ready to blaze a path into the tech industry, here is what they need to do

What better way to get women returning to a career in tech other than taking advice from women who have succeeded in finding meaning technical work after extended career breaks.

The culture of today’s tech companies is collaborative and flexible. The power of influence will take you much further than the power of authority. Women returning to a career in tech, are ready to blaze a path into the tech industry, here is what they need to do :

1. Earn Respect:

It’s a universal rule: people who wish to succeed in a group environment must earn the respect of group members. Women returning to a career in the tech industry is no exception. 

You know your stuff, you deliver and you work for the team, not for yourself. When you show up to a meeting, you are prepared to speak about the subject and ask helpful questions. Your goal is to figure out how you can deliver value to your team and your organization. Then deliver, even if it’s something you currently do not know how to do. 

You’ll earn praise by learning and using a skill your team members might not have. You’ll earn respect by sharing that skill with others. As author and computer scientist Cal Newport recommends, be “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”.

2. Be Yourself:

Nothing is easier to smell than inauthenticity. Just because women are returning to a career in the tech industry, it doesn’t mean they have something to prove. You do not have to analyze each move and compete with your male peers or weave illusions around your co-workers. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and use them to your advantage by reading other people, which happens to be the focus of the third trip.

3. Be Aware of Other People:

Can you take constructive criticism? Can you give constructive criticism? Do you know which of your team members needs recognition? Do you know which ones want to be left alone or need more autonomy? Knowing when to let others thrive and when to intercept is key to leading successfully.

Your sensitivity to other people can make you an extraordinary asset to a team. The men and women who start and lead tech companies are not necessarily the best coders — more often, they’re decent coders with exceptional soft skills.

You do have to be able to answer two questions about the people around you: How does this person work best? How can I help this person succeed?

4. Know Your Stuff:

This was touched on in the first tip, and it merits some elaboration: To know your stuff means that you must keep learning as much about the industry as possible and accept change. A prestigious tech degree may very well be irrelevant in a decade thanks to the pace of technology and the nature of classroom education. Therefore, what you currently know can only be bolstered by what you can learn, and your ability to sustain curiosity is highly relevant. Be a catalyst for change, always increase your knowledge and bring your team along for the ride.

You have to ask questions, you have to learn from others and you have to be comfortable failing and being wrong. Consult some great books on learning –Josh Waitzkin’s “The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance,” Timothy Ferris’ “4-Hour” books, or Daniel Coyle’s “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.” — if you need a refresher on how much risk, failure, and deliberate action you must invest in knowing your stuff.

5. Speak Up:

Voice is what divides leaders from followers. Those who have a voice — and use it — influence people around them. This does not mean you should command with your voice; rather, listen closely to your team and guide them with your knowledge. The business knowledge you gain in a company is priceless and you can use it to lead your team. You don’t necessarily need to be an extrovert to have a voice. According to Forbes, Albert Einstein, Warren Buffet, Steve Wozniak and Larry Page are or were all introverts, and I think we can agree that they each have a tremendous voice.

Read the statistics: 

Just don’t let the idea that the tech industry is male-dominated prevent you from sharing in that world. Don’t let the myth that “tech isn’t for women” steer you away from doing something you love and doing something you could be great at. Earn respect, behave genuinely, know your co-workers, know your stuff, have a voice in an organization, and then watch as career doors open to you.

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