Today I would like to talk about a complex question – women in IT. In this article I would like to tell about my experience and give some examples and thoughts on this matter.
Women in IT in general
First of all let’s talk about attitude towards women in IT in general. The IT world is still quite mannish. Every team I have ever worked in included 1-2 women among 10-30 members in total. Yes, the amount of females in this area is growing, but we are still curiosity rather than common phenomenon.
Some male co-workers can change their jokes into something more acceptable when having a woman around. Others open a door or bring you a chair if there is none in the meeting room. When I just started learning coding, totally male group surrounded me at my chosen course. Once my program didn’t start and a man minimized my effort by saying that it’s because I was a woman and couldn’t code. You may not face the same attitude, but you will be treated differently in comparison with your male co-workers. Surely, it’s not universal and there are teams where all the members are equal without any segregation by gender.
I think that this kind of gender differentiation ruins a working process and will cause some inconvenience, especially for a woman. Thus, I always try to start working with a new team without creating gender boundaries. Sometimes people can be ignorant and do not understand that they are causing any discomfort for you. In this case you should clearly state that such attitude is not comfortable for you and you would like to change it.
However, some cases are more difficult. I had a colleague who thought that he is a pick-up master and was practicing on his team members. Polite request did not help. His plan was to bring up negative response and transform it into sympathy. This kind of behaviour should always be discouraged, as the polite response will not work (on the contrary, it will worsen the whole situation). The most important is to be serious about your decision and channel it. Show him that you are not going to play this game and build some boundaries. Don’t let this person cross them. Talk with your/his superior about it and with HR employee. They will help you to fix this problem. The most important is not to be afraid to implicate a person, as it’s his choice to behave like this. He has already made it by acting wrongly without your permission. You have your right to feel comfortable at your workplace and set some boundaries.
Surely there are women who use gender difference as an advantage. Sometimes you can see that a woman can get any resources for her department by flirting with people in charge (and at the same time her male colleagues have been trying to het this for months). This approach can help to achieve some aims. It’s your choice whether to use it.
There are also people who do not perceive women, men or any other groups in general. You can’t change such people without their wish. Be attentive during your job interview and assess whether you are ready to work with such people or how they treat you initially. If their behavior is uncomfortable for you and this position is far from your dream job, don’t risk your comfort by trying to get along, reject this offer, company and a prospective colleague. It’s easier than trying to fix it internally when working there. If you are already working in such conditions, think about changing your job and finding a place where you will be treated as a professional (regardless of your gender). There is a huge employee demand in IT, you’ll find something you’re going to like.
The next aspect I wanted to discuss is a woman’s self-perception. I often notice lack of self-confidence among my female colleagues. It seems that they don’t believe that they are in the right place. It seems that we always try to show that we are not worse and that we can work in IT. Often enough women try to behave abruptly and mimic men’s behavior so they could be more like them. I have a simple solution for you – work on your self-confidence, don’t be inefficient because of your indecisiveness. We don’t have to be like men as we are not they. We can be softer and work as well them at the same time. We are as unique as them. When you start valuing this, it helps you to open up (professionally as well). Women are not worse at IT job then men. You don’t need to constantly show it to everyone. Believe in yourself, augment your knowledge, and work on your professional skills. No one is going to doubt you after that.
When you state your position clearly in your team, bond with your colleagues and start feeling positively confident in your abilities, your career is going to be successful no matter what field you’re in. Even if you’re such a rare find as a woman in IT.
If you have any questions or comments, you can use the feedback form to contact us: