From Women in Tech to Women in Tech
On this International Women’s Day, I want to place the focus on some of the amazing women working in our R&D department at Dynatrace.
According to recent statistics, only around 25% of the tech workforce in the US is female, and although we are making strides worldwide to even this number, we can all agree that there’s still a long way to go.
Many thriving communities and initiatives are working hard to encourage women to enter a tech career, but there is no silver bullet for a problem that is so broad and complex (and doesn’t just affect tech, but other industries too). It’s definitely an issue that needs solving at a societal scale (I can also recommend this interesting guide on empowering women in tech), but every little step we do can bring us closer to the goal.
Why should we care about women in tech?
This is definitely not an easy question to answer. But in my opinion, it all comes down to three key points:
1. Equality of possibility and economic ability
At a societal level, we have achieved a lot already in terms of equality between all men and women. However, women are still unable to access the same amount of jobs as men and are often paid less for the same type of job (even worse for women of color).
The tech industry opens many possibilities for growth and economic stability, and more women working in the field would also impact the equality of society at a greater scale.
2. Innovation and better software products
In the past decade, most of the developed world has become dependent on software products, used by both men and women. But more often than not, these same software products were developed by teams made of 80–90% men for a user base that is 50–50 male and female.
One gender is by nature blind to the needs of the other gender, and this may have an effect on your software products. By incorporating more women into your teams, you get the benefit of a different point of view that can help you improve your products for half of the population. And we also all know that different views can boost tech-driven innovation.
3. More role models and mentors
Encouraging women to pursue a career in tech is not enough. We need more women that are successful in STEM to be their role models and mentors, so that career-starting women can flourish and grow by example.
So, on this International Women’s Day, I ventured out to look into the topic of women in tech and interviewed some of the amazing women working in our R&D department at Dynatrace. As a woman, I recognize that we play a part in creating a more equal future in tech. That’s why I think it’s important to share our career and personal advice to all women who are interested in joining the industry.
Start small and build upon it
I can recommend anyone starting this career path to start small to be able to achieve multiple small successful achievements and get motivated to continue learning and progressing.
Programming might seem overwhelming at first. But once you understand the building components of any language or technology, you realize that any solution is nothing more than a set of smaller solutions that are relatively easy to implement.
Divide and conquer is the key here. The more you practice solving programming problems, the easier it gets to know what parts you divide your issue into and how to tackle them one by one successfully. Also keep in mind that there are usually multiple ways to solve any problem, so don’t be afraid of starting and keep improving over time.
Reem Hourieh, Software Engineer in the Linz Lab
Everything can be learned, even if it seems too complex
I have the feeling that girls especially are intimidated by the complexity and vast variety that Information Technology offers. So, when it comes to the decision of which career path to take, it often is not a STEM topic — which is a pity.
I had the advantage of growing up in a very technology-affine family — my first computer was in our shared room when I was 5. But still, it was not my direct choice that led me to be a Software Engineer. To be honest — I wanted to be a designer, but over the years I recognized that I am better at the technical side of things. I gained confidence in my abilities but also never let go of design topics — and today I work as a Software Engineer that also handles UX (User Experience) design for our product. So, for me, I got the best of both worlds.
My takeaway from the education and career path I took is that everything can be learned, even if it seems too complex at a first glance. Also, choose something that you can really identify with, and you love to do — like for me it came to be frontend development and UX.
Elisabeth Lang, Software Engineer in the Klagenfurt Lab
Don’t be afraid to give your input
Everyone has different traits. You’ll meet a lot of different personalities, but whether you’re quiet and reflective or loud and outspoken, your input is always valuable, and you should always trust yourself to give it. It’s often the case that the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.
Just remember that what you get out should match what you want, not what others tell you that you should want.
Niamh Akerman, Software Engineer in the Graz Lab
Plan your career
The best advice I ever got from my manager was to plan my career. He said:
“People spend weeks planning their vacation but give little thought to planning their careers.”
Give yourself time to think what you would like to do in life. Learn your strengths and preferences. Set yourself a goal.
For me it was keeping up with latest cloud technologies and working on the product that is actually used by people (as opposed to R&D projects). Having an attractive goal will give you motivation to learn and courage to make good career-wise decisions. Take the risk, go for the job offer you like, change teams and projects until you find your place in IT world.
Maria Rolbiecka, Software Engineer in the Gdansk Lab
Learn how to deal with impostor syndrome
When I first started programming, I was already late to the game, and starting a career in a field where you stand out from the crowd can be pretty scary. Being in tech means you will start a lifelong journey of learning, however, learning also means making mistakes along the way.
That’s a good thing, actually, but when you are the only woman in the room, in your team or even in the company, it feels like your mistakes are being pushed into the spotlight and might make you question if you even deserve a seat at the table.
I think it would have helped me to be aware of a psychological phenomenon called impostor syndrome already early in my career. As women, we often tend not to recognize our own success and even fear we are a fraud. As a result, we are more susceptible to overworking, perfectionism, not asking for help, setting exceedingly high goals and thinking that our level of expertise is inadequate. At a point in my career, I was also feeling this way. Realizing this and celebrating also tiny successes helped me overcome it.
Building a support system is crucial because the right environment, great colleges and mentors will help to accomplish your goals. This leads me to events and programs that are created especially for women. For a long time, I could not make up my mind about them. I wondered if it was fair to give one group advantages that others do not have. Now I know that we don’t get opportunities just fill a gender quote. We get them because being different brings value: a fresh mindset, different dynamics, innovation, and productivity. So, take advantage of those programs that aim to support women and don’t feel bad about it.
Rainbows would be pretty dull if they consisted of one color.
Cornelia Rauch, Software Engineer in the Graz lab
Embrace your uniqueness and take advantage of it
As a woman in tech that isn’t technical (I studied journalism), I have encountered a few times people thinking I don’t deserve to be here or prejudices that I cannot add value. But I certainly do bring value.
The best career advice I’ve ever got was from my brother:
There are things you have and things you can learn.
- The things you have come with your own personality, skills, life events. In short: you being you.
- The things you can learn could be limitless and they should not stop you. Not knowing something or not having a skill yet can’t stop you from being hungry and feeling worthy of a job. Nobody is born a CEO.
Sometimes, as women we feel like if we don’t fulfill certain criteria at 100%, we don’t deserve to get something, like a job or a raise. We are more conscious of ticking all the boxes than men. When you strive for a job, focus on the skills you already have and are great at. The rest, you can always learn it later.
What I find essential and makes the difference is your own attitude towards life. For me, that’s the key to convincing the world you deserve a certain job, salary or gain trust from a customer, stakeholders, etc. Putting the emphasis on what you already have and not what you lack.
Being confident about all the good things you already bring and acknowledging the ones you can learn. Not everybody is self-confident in what they already have or know, so, in the meantime, fake it until you make it. Everybody is shy or feels like an impostor at some point, and it’s fine.
Somebody has to do the job you want, why not you?
Marta Lopez Sanchez, Customer Success Manager D1 in the Barcelona Lab
Start with yourself
You should not be treated differently because of your gender. But start with yourself! Never consider yourself as inferior just because of your gender, don’t put yourself in a separate category.
People differ from each other, every single one is unique and that’s ok.
Value yourself, but also embrace the fact that you’re not perfect. No one is! Everyone has some weaknesses; discovering your own gives you the chance to grow and improve. Everyone has some strengths; find yours and start making use of them.
The most important thing to learn is that each problem can be solved! The solution is in your mind, just believe you can solve it.
Do what you enjoy, enjoy what you do! Don’t forget to work though
Good luck, have fun!
Dorota Zaranska, Senior Software Engineer in the Gdansk Lab
Don’t think of it as us vs. them
Don’t hesitate to try new things.
If you find a field no longer interests you, do try other things, learn, experiment. Make sure you keep yourself motivated and happy at work. Don’t choose a field that pays well or is in high demand if that does not interest you. Don’t be afraid to say no if you are offered a position/challenge that does not motivate you just because “it’s a good opportunity”.
To fit in a team of men.
Don’t think you will not fit in due to being a woman. Don’t think binary as us vs. them but more like what do I have in common with each person? Which are the common interests? Don’t hesitate to try “traditionally male” activities you may find you like them but also don’t be afraid to say you don’t like them and see if there are other common grounds between you and the other members of the team.
Don’t be afraid, ask and ask again. Nobody will think you are stupid for asking and asking questions is another way to communicate with other people within an organization. You will learn a lot more by asking questions and may save you some time and avoid making mistakes. Of course, it’s important to be autonomous but don’t be afraid to ask for help from a colleague.
Valeria Rogatschevskikh, Senior Software Engineer in the Barcelona Lab
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.