Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult for female engineers to get ahead in the tech industry?
We know it’s a male dominated industry and for every woman going for a job promotion there are typically at least six men competing for the same role.
I’m a firm believer in getting the right person for the job regardless of gender, age, disability or sexual orientation but there are a few tips I would like to share with female engineers who are looking to climb up the career ladder.
1 – Promote your accomplishments
Being a team player is an important quality every employee needs if they are looking for promotion. Women are especially good at recognising team accomplishments but sometimes female engineers need to speak up and highlight their own contributions in order to get ahead.
I am not saying pass off the accomplishments of others as your own but when the success of a project or an element of it was indeed down to you then you shouldn’t shy away from saying so and being clear about it.
It’s really important that you are seen as a confident individual who owns their successes so you should focus on saying ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ when talking about your professional achievements.
2 – Speak up
When you are in a group discussion sometimes it takes a lot of courage to speak up and oppose the points of view being expressed by others. However, the benefits of doing so can be considerable.
Two things happen when you do this:
- It shows confidence in your own knowledge and demonstrates that you are one of the few people in the room willing to speak up
- You are expressing an alternate view point so you are helping the people in the room to see the issue through a different lens
If you are the only woman in the room, then this can be a great advantage to have because your voice will naturally be heard. When your colleagues start repeating what you’ve said, using your language and publically agreeing with you then this is an indication that they are supporting you.
It’s important when you speak up in these scenarios that you deliver your message in a firm but non-confrontational manner. This way when your colleagues hear the certainty in your voice it tells them that you are confident in your understanding and your approach to particular problems. However, don’t oppose a view just for the sake of it only oppose it if professionally you disagree with the point being made.
3 – Make sure you keep learning
What would have happened to Apple if Steve Jobs had never taken that calligraphy class?
Be inspired to continue to learn and build your skillsets.
When you continue to develop your knowledge and understanding both inside and outside the industry you work in you become an increasingly valuable resource for employers. It’s likely that you’ll also become more creative in the way that you approach problems because you’ll be exposed to different ways of thinking.
So make sure your read, follow industry leaders, find out what is happening on social media, network with your peers, attend seminars, talks and conferences etc. All of this will help you become a more versatile and valuable professional and someone who can be consistently great contributor to your team.
4 – Express appreciation
Routinely expressing appreciation to others is a positive habit to get into as a professional but also in the rest of your life as well.
It is surprising how very few people actually express gratitude, yet it is one of the most powerful things you can do. People always remember someone who has expressed gratitude towards them.
As Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Remember to express your gratitude to anyone who gave you a great opportunity, picked you to be part of their team, gave you guidance and direction, stood up and presented to you or handed you a bonus, an extra holiday or some extra training.
By doing so you will leave a positive impression on the people you come into contact with and if your colleagues are not doing the same then you will stand out from your peers in an important way.
5 – Get a coach
All the best business leaders in the world have a coach or a mentor, someone they can lean on to learn and grow.
What these savvy leaders understand is that your career is your responsibility so you need to take control and make sure it’s going in the direction you want.
Different job roles and companies will provide you with different learning experiences and if you want to climb the career ladder and get that promotion then you need a coach to help you get there.
Coaching is an expensive service in terms of both time and money. But if you find the right coach to work with then your career can really take off because they will help you make consistently good professional decisions.
But before you embark upon working with a coach, it is important to do your homework. You should find out what coaching is all about and what you need to look for in a good coach. Make sure you know what training they undertook to become a coach and where they trained. In the UK, anyone can set themselves up as a coach as it’s not a regulated profession.
So make sure you get references and speak to the people named. Don’t just work with the first coach you meet. It’s always good to talk to and meet three different coaches before making the decision to work with one particular coach.
I hope these tips prove helpful for some of you. I know how challenging it can be to be a woman making their way in a male-dominated industry. With the right attitude though there’s no reason why you can’t compete for every promotion and every new opportunity that opens up for you.
And with that in mind – I’m sponsoring the 2016 Best Business Women Award for Technology, which aims to promote some of the best work being done and examples being set by women in our field today.
To find out more about the awards and to enter, click here.