If you are a woman working in Information Technology you will find the information in this special report invaluable. Outlined below are three of the most powerful strategies for overcoming obstacles and propelling you forward so that you get the recognition, respect, and salary you deserve.
By our very nature, women have personality traits that serve us well in the field of technology. We tend to have a higher EI (Emotional Intelligence) than our male counterparts and excellent interpersonal skills that enable us to relate to all levels of personnel, regardless of their status or technical expertise. Yet we often find that women are being passed over for promotions and advancement opportunities. When it comes to training, sharing information, and acting as mentors, there is still an old boy’s network that in many corporate cultures discriminates against women in favor of frequently younger, less experienced men. According to Emily Goligoski, marketing manager at Federated Media, young women are not being encouraged to enter the field. The ratio of women trained in computer science is even lower now than it was in the 1980s. In 2008, girls made up just 17% of Advanced Placement test takers in computer science (the lowest percentage of any subject) and held less than 20% of Computer Science degrees. This loss of young women in the field of technology costs priceless brainpower and for women already in the profession, the loss of millions of dollars in salaries.
The good news is that there are ways to overcome these obstacles and with smart, strategic planning, women can still thrive and rise to the top of this dynamic and exciting profession.
1. Specialize. Having in-depth knowledge in a specific area will give you a competitive edge. If the specialty you are interested in is used by your current employer, ask for then for training in that area. If not it would be a good investment to go out of pocket and get the training. (Keep receipts; professionally related training and materials may be tax deductible.) If your location or ability to take time off from work is a problem, there are excellent self guided training manuals and on-line courses.
Some of the hottest up and coming areas in IT are:
- Microsoft’s Cloud. You’ve seen the TV commercials and there is a good chance your company already uses it in some form. Recent surveys show that at least 50% of organizations are already using some form of cloud computing and the adoption rate is increasing by 17% per year. According to Dice.com, the number of jobs for cloud computing has grown by 344% over the last two years!
- Virtualization. The foundation of cloud computing has been hot for a while. Companies are jumping in to take advantage of the cost and management benefits of delivering virtualized desktops, applications and consolidating their servers. Those with expertise in these areas will be very much in demand. Dice.com’s stats show a 78% growth rate in the number of jobs related to server virtualization.
- Mobile computing. Of all the technology explosions in the last decade this is the most pervasive. There is a very good chance you are reading this report using a mobile device. Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, eReaders, laptops, Androids, notebooks; the list is long and expanding all the time. Developing expertise in configuring these devices so that they seamlessly connect to the company network is a skill that will be in demand.
These are just three examples of IT specialties that promise to be hot in the coming years. Programing applications for mobile devices, network security and social networking are also high demand specialties. Research the one that most appeals to you. Become an expert in one of these areas and you will be highly sought after and well compensated.
2. Networking. Join and actively participate in at least one IT Professional Association. In response to the need to mentor young women and support women already working in IT careers, many professional associations and organizations have been created in the last several years. Advantages: you keep up to date with the latest trends and it provides an educational platform for broadening your knowledge base. This is important in any profession but in IT, not keeping up to date with state of the art technology means you’re moving backyard.
Networking related tips and benefits:
- Keep in touch with former colleagues. All it takes is an occasional e-mail or phone call. Make a point of meeting for lunch at least a couple times a year. Schedule at least one networking event per month. It will pay huge dividends in the future.
- To accelerate your progress in an IT career it is frequently necessary to change companies. When promoted from within co-workers may resent you, think your advancement was achieved unfairly, and if given the chance possibly even sabotage you. However coming into a new organization at the higher level will give you instant credibility. The new company’s employee’s first and only impression of you will be as a manager (or whatever title you have achieved), so they will automatically accept your status and credentials.
The networking contacts cultivated over time will be priceless when looking to move to a new firm. Instead of posting your resume in response to on-line ads where you will be competing with hundreds if not thousands of other applicants, use your networking resources to learn about jobs before they have been posted. Typically with word of mouth job openings you will be competing with six to 10 other applicants.
3. Move to the Public Sector: Finding employment in a government job can take longer than in the private sector because of layers of bureaucracy in the system. However these same layers of bureaucratic regulations are designed to eliminate discrimination of any kind, including gender so there is more of a level playing field. Salaries for government jobs are sometimes smaller than those in the private sector are compensated for with increased benefits and annual leave. It usually has the added benefit of being a less pressured work environment.
Some state and local governments are cutting back on their budgets and laying off personnel, however all government agencies are depending more and more on technology to perform functions more efficiently with fewer people. That means specialists in public sector computing are very likely to find a job in one of the many thousands of town, city, county, state or federal government agencies in the United States.
Bottom Line: Decide where you want to go in your career, take strategic action toward your goal and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. Making savvy decisions and staying motivated will land you in a career position that will be satisfying, secure and lucrative!