In preparation for the release of my forthcoming book “The Professional Woman’s Guide to Getting Promoted,” I’m chatting with women in a wide variety of industries about their experiences.
I sat down with developer Kayla Daniels to explore why more women don’t go into technical fields and to get her thoughts on how women can be better empowered and encouraged to do so.
Watch the video or scroll for highlights
On why more women don’t enter technical fields …
I think a lot of the reason why we are not seeing more girls coming into the field has to do with the encouragement that we’re not giving them … that we should be giving them.
There are a lot of young girls who present an interest young … but somehow between that time and high school they end up filtering out… There is a very low percentage of high school girls who are looking at [tech]. The perception that has been held for a long time — a lot of times subconsciously — is that coding and messing around with computers — that’s boy stuff. That’s nerdy boy stuff. And it’s not. Obviously. I do it. I love it. It’s really fun!
There are a lot of systemic issues as far as respect, the way we’re treated, and culture … that really affects the women who are just starting and deters them from staying or the women who are already here and decide to leave because of those issues.
On how self-criticism impacts women in tech fields …
It’s difficult. You have to overcome the voice inside of you that’s saying ‘you can’t do this’ and then the voices outside of you saying ‘you can’t do this’, and it’s a bit [hard] to ignore and say ‘I’m going to do this anyway!’ I think the women who are in the field are extremely passionate about what we do. We love this. I personally live and breathe code.
On self-promotion and the advancement of women in tech fields …
A lot of the loud voices, a lot of the predominant voices in the community are male voices. Is that a result of women not being as apt to self-promote? It could be. It could be the result of Impostor Syndrome and not feeling that your ideas and your code is good enough or worth being put out there. That could be some of it. Fear of feedback could be some of it. Or it could just be the result of the statistically lower number of women in technology.
Whether you are a man or a woman you need to be able to ask for what you want, you need to be able to promote yourself … to have a realistic understanding of your skills and your talents. That means both not overestimating them but not underestimating them. I think a lot of people — not just women, but a lot of women — underestimate their skills and their talents or just don’t talk about them as much. A lot of building a reputation, building a name for yourself professionally, has to do with being able to self-promote.
On what inspired her to create the Code Manifesto (a vision of inclusivity in the tech community) …
I firmly believe that the systemic, cultural issues that we have in the tech community apply to all people…. We all suffer when people are being discriminatory. We all suffer when people are discriminated against. We all suffer when people are disrespected… Disqualifying half of the population out of the gate is insane. It’s ridiculous! Or, not necessarily disqualifying but [presenting] such huge discouragement to get in — to stay in — it does a disservice to everyone. We would be a much better community, we would create much better products, we would all learn better and grow better, if we all came to the table from a place of respect, if we all treated each other with respect, and used that to fuel what we do professionally.
On how men can encourage and empower women to pursue careers in tech fields …
Stop right now with the idea that this is boy stuff. Don’t ever say that. It’s not boy stuff. Stop perpetuating the idea that girls aren’t good here, aren’t welcome here.
Stop doing weird, creepy, gross things that make us not want to be here and not feel welcome. I can’t go a week without reading an article on some tech blog talking about some start-up or founder or developer who said or did something that was sexist or misogynist or sleazy or just really gross. You have to realize that this isn’t a gentleman’s club. This isn’t a boy’s club. This isn’t where dudes hang out. Girls need to be welcome too.
On asking for a promotion or a raise as a woman …
I’m pretty sure my voice broke a bit when I said the number. It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of pumping myself up to do it, because I didn’t want to be perceived as greedy or money-hungry or anything like that, and I felt that I might be [perceived that way]. But in the end, it came down to: this is what I want, this is what I need … and no one is ever going to just give it to you…. If you want it, you have to ask for it.
On advice for women thinking about entering a tech industry…
If you love it, do it. Don’t ever let anyone stop you. If they tell you that you can’t or that you’re not good at this or this is boy stuff, prove them wrong. Prove them very, very wrong.
Learn as much as you can. Never stop learning…. As long as you are always growing and always getting and as long as you love it, do it!
Kayla is eager to help any women interested in pursuing a tech career or connect with those already navigating the industry. Please feel free to connect with her on Twitter. And, of course, feel free to connect with me, too!
Need a stellar resume, cover letter, or interview skills? Contact HugSpeak for a quote!
What do you think about Kayla’s insights? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!