Michelle Marcus, a developer at Datix, Inc., shares more about her career choices in part 2 of her women in tech blog series. See part 1 here.
Over my career, I have found that working for a variety of companies has worked to my advantage because I now have a large network in the IT field whether it be coworkers, bosses, or recruiters. Thanks to this large network, I have been able to find new opportunities very easily. I have even been able to turn my networking skills into a small side business of helping others find jobs in IT.
How do you feel about “Lean In” or Marissa Mayer’s views on women in the workplace?
While I haven’t read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg or know all of Marissa Mayer’s views, I do agree with the overall point that not enough of the leaders are women, especially in technology. I feel that you have to be one of the best as well as be willing to put the time a lot of time in order to be respected by men and given more opportunities. I have always believed that you have to go over and above what everyone else is doing because women are just not automatically accepted. In our culture, women have not been encouraged to be aggressive, risk takers, or leaders, but I feel these skills are necessary if we want to be considered as equals.
Have you had any challenges as a women in a more traditionally male dominate field?
When I was younger, I used to get asked out on dates by my coworkers. Once I got past that phase, I would say it has been a little difficult at times to get respected for my work and recognized for advancement or leadership roles. Yet at the same time, you have to be willing to volunteer and take on more responsibility in order to get that notice and recognition. As women, we need to toot our own horn a lot more and put ourselves out there more instead of just allowing men to take the lead.
What would you do or are you doing to encourage other women and young women to pursue tech jobs?
Whether its technology or any career path, my advice is to make sure you are passionate enough about it to be willing to put in the time if you want to be successful. This is definitely a field where you need a degree or certification and then you have to continue to learn on your own. Technology is constantly changing at a rapid pace and you always have to keep up. I started out reading thick Wrox books and PC Magazines, but now everything is online so it is even easier. I used to order Visual Studio Magazine and now I get articles by email twice a week. Microsoft’s BUILD event now posts their sessions on their website. I go to the monthly .NET User Group meetings and volunteer for Days of Dot Net, an annual .NET developers’ conference held in St. Louis.
Also, I encourage women to rely on their strengths. While I do still work to increase my programming skills, I have found that my attention to detail in code or process is a way for me to stand out and excel. Women tend to be stronger in communications and so I try to volunteer to write documentation and train others. Use your strengths to lead and teach others what you know and what you are good at. This will earn you respect and you will become seen as an expert.
Let us know what you think and if you agree with Michelle about your experience in tech. Find us @datixinc or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and share your comments.