International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world every year on March 8. It’s a day to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also marking a call to action to address barriers that women still face.
As the percentage of employed women across all job sectors in the US has grown to 47%, the five largest tech companies on the planet (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft) only have a workforce of about 34.4% women (June 2021).
Given this, how can companies support women in tech? A 2021 Trustradius Women in Tech Report surveyed women to find out. Women surveyed shared that equal maternity and paternity leave, flexibility in location and schedule, mentorship opportunities, unconscious bias training, and seeing women promoted into leadership roles are some of the ways that companies can better support women and people of all gender identities in the tech industry.
This International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting women in tech from various StackAdapt teams to learn about their experiences working in tech. We connected with the following women to hear their insights:
- Tessa – Senior Account Executive
- Christiana – Senior Director, Digital Marketing
- Myriam – Manager, Creative Studio
- Lindsay – Account Executive
- Amika – Sales Director
- Carly – Sales Director
- Queeny – Director, Financial Planning and Analysis
- Jessica – Director, Creative Services
- Meredith – Director, Learning and Development
- Anna – Director, Business Operations
Read on to learn their advice for starting a career in tech, who’s inspired them, and the important role of mentorship in lifting women up into senior and leadership roles.
What advice would you give to women who want to pursue careers in tech?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network. Find someone you look up to or respect and ask to take them for coffee, or meet virtually. Use that time to ask them questions about their work and their path into their career. Often when you open up conversations and lean into your connections, things naturally fall into place. That one connection might lead you to a whole new network of people and mentors, especially women, who may be able to help you find your entry into tech.
If you have experience working in tech and you have a passion for it, it’s so great that you are pursuing a career in it. If you don’t, but you have an interest in the industry and the desire and drive to learn something new, there is absolutely nothing stopping you. There are so many ways to get involved in tech, and you can begin your journey even by talking to someone who works in the space.
I think it’s important to be open to learning, and not be afraid to ask questions because there is a lot to learn in this industry. I’ve been in it for a few years, and I’m still learning every single day, because it’s impossible to know it all. Leveraging your network around you, allowing yourself to be curious, and asking questions are very key aspects to working in tech.
Just do it! There are more and more women getting into the industry every day, and it’s possible to see that in the continued growth of women in senior and management roles. One thing that I think is important to note is that not all roles in tech involve engineering or coding. It’s possible to pursue other career paths within the tech sector, like in sales, creative services, or marketing. The possibilities are endless!
Looking back on your first day working in your career, what advice would you give yourself?
Looking back, I would tell myself to stop being the “yes” woman because in retrospect, that approach didn’t get me anywhere. The amount of work you take on, or how late you work, isn’t what will drive your career growth. Your colleagues will see value in your tangible contributions to the company, so focus on that instead.
I would’ve told myself to not be afraid to speak up and share my ideas. When I started my career, I was scared of the word “no,” and often felt anxious that my ideas would be rejected. I’ve since learned it’s okay to hear the word no. It’s better to pitch all of your ideas and have some rejected than to not pitch at all.
I think it can be tough when you’re starting your career to be vocal. But, it’s important to try to gain that confidence to speak up early on because being willing to speak up is part of how you’ll shape your career path. For example, if there’s a project that you’re interested in working on, or a skill you’d like to learn, be vocal about that!
I think it’s important to know on your first day that learning the ropes takes time. When you’re starting out in a new role, learning is part of the process. From that first day on, you’ll only continue to grow. Embrace the process and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!
Try not to second guess yourself, you got this! When I first started in my career I was often unsure of my decisions. It took time, experience and the support of amazing leaders to get to a place where I now trust myself, the work I do, and the team I work with. So, don’t worry if you don’t feel confident when you’re starting out. That confidence will come with experience.
Are there any women in tech who you look up to, aspire to, or have mentored you?
My first two bosses, Kristy Wieber and Lisa Owen. They were co-founders of an online rental dress company called Rent Frock Repeat. They pushed the envelope on developing tech outside of the typical e-commerce backend and focused on creating a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way for women to dress. Kristy and Lisa both have qualities I admire. They are complete opposites but balance each other out in the perfect way. They taught me necessary skills that now help me craft client relationships, and they encouraged me to be solutions-oriented.
This is a personal shoutout but my mom, Bonnie Gordon, has been in marketing for three decades and is still breaking ceilings and kicking major butt. She graduated from college with a degree in Art and used that to go from a Graphic Designer, to a Director of Marketing at Walgreens! And she continues to inspire me to this day with her digital marketing contributions toward nonprofit organizations. One important thing my mom taught me early in my career was to recognize that there will always be people in the room who are smarter than you. So listen well, and remember that your attitude is what people will remember.
Mary Broadfoot is a woman that I have, and continue to look up to. She always worked in such male dominated roles in tech. She has such a relentless attitude, and talks the talk, but also walks the walk. As a woman in tech, she is someone that has worn many hats and navigated so gracefully when people have tried to undermine her knowledge. I aspire to be as smart as Mary, and keep shaking the room like she’s done for me and the many others that have had the privilege of knowing her.
So many! And some of them I’ve never even spoken to. I look at some of the work engineers do, and the creative women who design and I can’t believe how incredibly smart and talented they all are. Often you think you’re only making an impact on the people you speak to, but when I see a woman who is a master of her craft and executes with such passion, I’m inspired to do the same in my work.
What achievements are you most proud of in your career in tech so far?
I’m proud of my ability to operate within a high level of uncertainty. And, I’m proud of how I’m able to bring important ideas to life, and help companies run implementation projects in any team, on any scale. Running multi-million dollar projects by myself, I have built the confidence needed to keep momentum going while retaining personal efficiency, and helping the people around me.
Having the opportunity to mentor others around me is something I’m very proud of. I’ve learned so many great lessons from those that I’ve worked with, and I’m happy to have the chance to share what I’ve learned—and what I wish I learned. Supporting my colleagues and now my own team is very rewarding and I take so much pride knowing that I can have a positive impact on the success of those around me.
I am proud of all the work I do at StackAdapt in my current role as the Director of Learning and Development. Any project where I can bring people together and help them learn something new is a win in my books. And of course, I love that I often have the opportunity to learn something new, too.
Here at StackAdapt, I’m proud of the fact that I know I’ve proved myself by contributing new ideas to the organization. It feels good to know that I’ve contributed to the development of new features and processes which have positively impacted the entire company.
How has mentorship supported your career, so far?
It’s through mentorship that I’ve been able to grow the confidence to dream up and pursue my future goals. Being seen and supported by confident strong women who are leaders in their careers is so important to help you see your own future and envision the path you’re creating for yourself.
My first manager was a PhD professor who was teaching business analysis at a local university. She taught me core business analysis skills, as well as the importance of a professional attitude. She supported all of her employees with love, surrounded us with a great sense of humour, and provided a hand when things didn’t work out as per our expectations. She led us in projects demonstrating core values and leading the way as a professional. I continue to admire her, and almost 15 years later I still visit her every time I’m in town. Throughout my career, mentorship has transitioned my perspectives from the theory of problem, to the reality of balancing life and work.
Mentorship is so important because it creates space for you to bounce ideas off another person, gain insight into other perspectives, and learn from people who have more experience. Having the ability to learn from leaders has helped me to carve my own path in my career.
In my previous job I was the most junior person on the team and the senior folks helped shape my career. They were patient with me but they also challenged me to do better. They didn’t hold my hand but they did give me the confidence to know I could figure anything out.
I have had great mentors who have given me numerous opportunities to take ownership of new projects, be creative in the type of work I do, and build skills to produce bigger and better content and processes. And it’s because of that trust in my abilities that has given me the confidence to always voice my opinion and advocate for myself. When I see passion, I respond with it, just like my mentors always did for me.