What women in tech want to know

Should I talk about being a woman-in tech?

I know lots of women-in-tech who won’t talk about being a woman-in-tech. And I applaud and cheer them on all the way. And then I read posts with lots of good reasons for why I shouldn’t talk about being a woman-in-tech. I spend a lot of time thinking about it. Then I go ahead and talk about diversity and do interviews about being a woman-in-tech. I guess I just enjoy it. Maybe one day I will write more about tech here but today isn’t that day.

So this is not a post about my hardware patents on FPGAs.

And this is not a post about multithreading issues with integrating Java and Python.

And it certainly is not a post about my take on quantum computing.

This is about my recent talk to a corporate women-in-tech group. I got to share my personal journey in tech, then get to the good bit: the questions.  And this is what women in tech want to know from me:

Who are your mentors?

I have an amazing mentor at the moment – Paula Kennedy. After speaking with her I am always ready to take on the world. Like me she is a working parent, who manages a team and travels a lot so it is always tricky finding time to talk.  So I am also lucky enough to have ‘go-to’ people who can help with different things. Finding and keeping good mentors is not easy and I have worked at it a lot. Like a lot. There are times I have gone crazy trying to find the right mentor to help me get to the next stage of my career.  For marginalised folks in tech this is important, having a mentor is the biggest career hack of all. It’s worth investing the effort to get good at it. Here’s a good starting point: 7 steps to finding and keeping a mentor.

How do you deal with feeling you got a promotion not on merit but because you are a woman?

Seize the opportunity with both hands and don’t look back. Seriously this is such nonsense, every time I see a woman get a promotion or a seat on the board I always think the same thing: they are overqualified. You might not think this is true about yourself but it is. We exist in environments set up to make us doubt ourselves. Look, even today the entire high energy physics community has to call out this garbage.  It can feel never ending. So here’s how I think about it. My job isn’t to ask if they are right or questions myself. My job is to meet my goals and seize power where I can get it so I can help others to meet their goals. Make that your job too.

Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash

 

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