It’s been a big year for women in the tech industry. On one hand, it’s easy to see the downside in widespread reports of sexual harassment and all-too-common stories about the gender pay gap. But the very fact that these pitfalls—which any woman technologist will tell you are anything but new — are finally making headlines shows how deeply women are changing the way tech businesses work.
But women can’t just sit back and wait for a seat at the table. We need to be proactive advocates for our own advancement in the male-dominated world of startups and tech companies. After all, a lack of upward mobility is a major reason why women leave technology careers, and they leave the industry almost twice as quickly as men.
The National Center for Women and Information Technology tells us that women hold only 26% of computing jobs in the United States; the percentages for women of color don’t even crack double digits. And as we move up the chain of command, women’s representation drops from 27% in entry-level positions to just 14% in the executive suite.
So what can you do to make sure you’re not one of the statistics? Here are three key tools to help you shatter that persistent glass ceiling.
1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
If you want to get ahead — especially in a workplace where you don’t look like the majority — you need to get outside your comfort zone. Whether your goal is to land an overdue promotion or expand your technical skills, embracing opportunity is part of the journey.
You can’t be afraid to tackle new tasks or challenges. And you shouldn’t let imperfect qualifications or a lack of experience prevent you from raising your hand. Remember that discomfort is often a good sign that you’re on the right track.
And don’t be scared to share your goals openly with your boss and your colleagues. Let people know what you want and need to be successful. Don’t keep your dreams to yourself.
2. Find a mentor, then be a mentor
When you’re a woman in a male-dominated industry, it’s easy to imagine that your struggles are unique. But many others before you have gone through similar experiences. The trick is finding those people and allowing them to help boost your confidence.