5 women leaders in tech share their best advice
On this International Women’s Day week, we place the focus on some of the amazing women working in our R&D department at Dynatrace.
Following up on my previous blog post, where I asked women in tech to share their best advice to other women pursuing a career in the field, I thought it would be valuable to shift the focus also on the female leaders of Dynatrace.
Only around 25% of the tech workforce worldwide is made up of women, but this percentage decreases to 22% in leadership positions. Thankfully, we are seeing an upwards trend, and this is great news for women who want to raise through the ranks and reach higher roles.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
In my opinion, the reasons why we need more women in leadership positions in tech are largely the same as why we need more women in tech in general: more equality in the workforce, increased innovation, and more role models for future generations.
Leaders have the opportunity to directly influence hiring processes and make gender diversity a priority. And at the same time, they are in the perfect position to become role models and support other women to grow into leadership positions.
Women bring skills, different perspective, and structural and cultural difference to drive effective solutions. These qualities are key for the success of any organization, not only in tech.
For this blog post, I asked 5 women leaders at Dynatrace, from team leaders to directors and heads, to share what their best advice is for women in tech who want to become leaders.
Here’s what they had to say:
Use being a woman to your advantage
There are three things I usually recommend to other women I work with:
1. Become aware of yourself, understand what your strengths are and then build upon them. You cannot become great by building upon your weaknesses and focusing on that. Do a 360-degree feedback session and ask your peers to focus on your strengths. Or do a DISC assessment to learn about your natural behaviors. If something comes natural to you it will be easier for you to work on it.
2. Women behave in a different way to men. Being in a men-dominated field can make us less confident and doubt ourselves more because of this. That’s why I always advise people to watch these two TED talks about confidence and turning being a woman to your advantage:
- Amy Cuddy: Your body language may shape who you are
- Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders
3. Find a mentor and be a mentor. It’s important to find somebody who pushes you of your box and can see your potential and bring it out. On the other side, it’s important also to give back and mentor others, with the added benefit that mentoring others can make you aware of your own value that you bring to the table.
Ewa Fijolek, Director of Software Development
Try out many things to figure out what you like
Having more opportunities can also make it more difficult to decide what you want to do. Don’t be afraid to try out something new, especially if it is “unusual for women”. Only by trying out many things you can figure out what you really like, and you are passionate about.
I did not know from the beginning what exactly I want to do. I was interested in how computers work so I decided to go to technical high school (although I was made aware of that there are many boys compared to other schools).
During school and university, I tried to do extra courses which are not in the default curriculum which helped me think outside the box, for example I did a Japanese course. I also did extracurricular activities like being a leader in the “Jungschar” (Austrian Catholic youth organization) because I really enjoyed it.
In summer I did internships in various companies with the aim to figure out what I would like to do long term. I started with accounting, later built solar panels and waitressed at a bar. I got the chance for a software engineering internship, and I got stuck there — very happily.
I am really glad I had all these opportunities — they helped me become the person I am today. I am looking forward to all future opportunities!
If you are interested in taking on a leading role I recommend reaching out to other (female) leads to talk to them, ask them about the job, their journey… all questions you may have. It can show you what it means to be a lead and if this is what you want to do.
It also helps you to figure out what kind of a leader you want to be
Magdalena Radinger, Senior Software Engineer and Team Captain
It’s all about people
Make yourself aware of the impact you have on people surrounding you — both directly and indirectly. In our busy day-to-day agenda, we often focus strictly on getting the next feature implemented, the next career goal achieved and so on. Although all these tasks might be a necessity, what my experience taught me is to never forget that we act and operate in a social system and your network and business relationships are your deal breaker.
Recognizing individuals, taking time to get to know and understand people’s cultural backgrounds, ambitions, challenges, goals etc. is in my opinion one of the most underestimated pieces of advice. Especially in fast-paced environments trust in you as a leader/individual makes the difference.
If you are already a leader or it’s your goal to become one, putting your people first would be another piece of advice I want to share. Within my journey of scaling an international team from 1 to +15 within four years, seeing people thrive and further develop their skills was by far the most motivating experience I was gifted with.
Leaders focusing on glorified career destinations and individual accomplishments are too self-centered to foster their teams’ potential and turn a group of individuals into a high-performing team. If you are mainly interested in being a leader because of money, power, influence, a more senior title, or any form of status, you are missing out on making others thrive.
And don’t forget to stay true to yourself
None of us is immune to the voice that tells us “you are not good enough”, or “you are not performing as good as XYZ”, or “you are not fast enough in taking the next career step”. Paired with the social pressure to do work that makes a genuine, tangible difference in the world and adding the pressure of needing to work twice as hard because you’re a woman, it all creates a dangerous trap of only worrying about the fastest way to success, more responsibility, and the next promotion, in my opinion.
What do you risk losing? Yourself. I’m convinced that knowing and taking care of yourself together with being patient makes a key difference. To clarify: by “patience” I’m not talking about waiting and seeing or not having high ambitions, expectations, or visions. For me it’s staying in a calm, confident, and self-aware state of mind. Safe from the created hassle and stress of the outside world. Going your own way.
I would recommend taking time to reflect upon yourself, your goals, your current career/life stage, your motivators — considering both your professional and personal life actively and regularly. Why? Taking a step back, reviewing and adapting patterns offers you not only a holistic perspective, but it also prevents you from ending up in a frustrating hamster wheel.
Eva-Maria Meyr, Head of R&D Employer Branding
Bring your A-Game to the table
Untangle your competence and confidence.
I find this to be particular true for women, but we all have this on some level. Especially when you’re just starting your career — motivation is at peak high, competence is grounded, and confidence is hanging off the cliff.
Invest time in self-development and hold yourself to higher standards.
Be confident in the skills and abilities you bring to the table, leave the self-doubt outside the door.
Be courageous to say, ‘I don’t know, but I will learn’ and you will grow into the big shoes until some day they will feel small.
Take charge and own your career.
Challenge yourself to look at things from ten thousand feet above the ground. You will see a playfield of opportunities.
Naturally gravitate towards your interests and those, in turn, will lead you to your ‘dream job’.
You might not know from the start what it is you ‘meant to be’ or ‘meant to do’, but IT industry is highly dynamic and ever evolving, each skill and experience you collect along the way will get you there. Even if you started a new role last month, those who joined last week will look up to you.
Lead by example
Be an ‘implicit’ mentor and promote environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their perspectives. We all have that voice in our head saying, ‘I’m not sure if it’s going to work’, ‘they are more experienced’, they know better, I should just smile and nod’.
Uniformity diminishes the power of diversity. Besides, who wants to see that movie where everyone always agrees on everything? A role model is someone people notice, not something one can self-proclaim. Share your thoughts, empower others to speak up and don’t be afraid to ‘disagree and commit’.
In a nutshell,
Bring your A-Game to the table, create your own opportunities and be a role model (even if nobody is looking. yet.)
Tatiana Gottlib, Dynatrace One Manager
If a baby would be afraid of falling it would never learn to walk
For a long time, girls and women have been told they need to strive for perfection, look perfect, have the best grades at school, be the perfect caretaker, etc. This behavior and pressure made a lot of women feel like they are not good enough, resulting in missing out on career opportunities and sometimes causing very unhappy lives. It is critical for people of all genders and ages to understand that perfection is not important at all. We live in a day and age where change is the only constant and adapting is key to success in personal life and at work. What the definition for perfection today might be could very likely change tomorrow. A good starting point is to embrace the concept of “minimum viable product” and think about what that means for yourself! Because that is all that matters!
Expand your mind!
Open-mindedness, a genuine interest in other beliefs and opinions, as well as a continuous learning mindset are key skills for successful leadership in the 21st century. Stay curious and grow your mind by looking out for great conversations! This opens a gateway to new opportunities and better decision-making. Apply the beginner’s mindset and always ask more questions than provide answers and listen actively. Advancing as a leader, the time will come when you will no longer have all the answers. The beginner’s mindset helps you and your team to find the best solutions through active listening and asking a lot of questions. You are not expected to know it all, but to always look out for an opportunity to learn and stay curious!
Embrace your potential!
As leaders we are always weighing risk against potential. I’ve seen it countless times that the risk gets in way of great opportunities and more women than men restrain themselves from advancing by heavily focusing on what could go wrong.
My advice is to mitigate risk, but — even more — embrace its potential! If you believe in the idea, be bold and take the risk! Always remember, if a baby would be afraid of falling it would never learn to walk 😊
Being a leader & a mum — go for it!
I agree, it is not easy to manage a healthy work-life-balance especially with kids. Take it from a mother of 2 that the saying is true: it takes a village to raise a child! Having a family and a career is doable with a good support network of family and friends, and even better organizational skills and management. Not only are we chefs, event planners, drivers, motivational coaches, nurses, mediators, executives and role models, motherhood makes us excel at key skills that are looked for in agile organizations: the ability to adapt, empathy and great communication skills, just to mention a few.
Being a great source of inspiration to me, I would like to share with you a quote from Michele Obama:
“For me, being a mother made me a better professional, because coming home every night to my girls reminded me what I was working for. And being a professional made me a better mother, because by pursuing my dreams, I was modeling for my girls how to pursue their dreams.” Michele Obama
Eva Olipitz, Business Partner Office of the CTO
Happy International Women’s Day to all women, both in and not in tech!
If you’d like to join our team, check out all our open positions on the Dynatrace careers website.