“As we know, women in IT are a minority, but rather than seeing this as a negative, I think the overriding message is one of hope. I believe we can turn things around through the influence of strong role models, mentoring of talented women and providing appropriate education in schools, universities, TAFE and the workplace.” – Suzanne Campbell, CEO, Australian Information Industry Association
Once perceived as a back office function, visitionary digital leaders are impactors of the decade as digital disruption sweeps across sectors. Their role is only projected to grow.
Women currently only represent 28%, studies show. Since 2001, female IT undergraduate enrollments have declined by 65%. What’s more alarming is that more than half of women in technology leave their jobs by mid-career, and half of these again leave the industry completely.
The high rate of withdrawal is attributed to factors such as a “macho culture, isolation in the workforce, unclear and/ or stalled career paths, inferior systems of rewards and extreme work pressures,” according to a study by Harvard Business Review.
There are learnings you can take from the greatest leaders in history to apply to your journey as a woman leader in ICT and digital:
“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” – Confucius
Surround yourself with people who are great at what they do. Mentorship is a blossoming trend and an invaluable tool for progressing in your career. Many great leaders attribute their success to a (leader) who took them under their wing to share their knowledge, skills and life experience.
Networks are crucial at any stage of your career- but don’t limit yourself to your organisation. These people can open doors to new opportunities, as well as be a source of knowledge, feedback and support.
“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King
Upon starting a new job the learning comes thick and fast. The first few weeks in a new position can feel like the most tiring of our careers, but once we’ve adjusted and feel like we’re succeeding we tend to stagnate. It may be because we lack time to develop ourselves further. It may be because additional skills don’t seem crucial to our roles. It may be because we are happy feeling adequate.
While niche skills such as embroidery may not aid you as you ascend to CIO or Head of ICT, but cross-functional skills follow you as you move up the ladder. Seize opportunities to engage in public speaking, work on projects outside your comfort zone and ask for additional tasks (if your workload allows).
“The only constant is change.” – Heraclitus
While true of any industry, the pace of evolution in the ICT industry is incomparable. New technologies, trends and innovations appear daily- a threat to businesses but an opportunity to you. Consider which ones will add value to your clients or customers and which ones will fizzle before the end of the week.
Stay active on social media, listen to industry podcasts and read content from sector channels. If you see potential, lead from the front to integrate them with your portfolio.
“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters
Don’t sit back and wait to be noticed. Report back to management on your successes and measurable results in your weekly meetings. Show them your ROI, your project delivery time and exceptional quality assurance with pie charts, percentages or just be vocal. The only person who’s going to look after you is you.
Create actionable goals for yourself and let your manager know you’ve hit them. Growth can be hard even for us to see without the criteria to recognise success.
The Advancing Women’s Leadership in ICT & Digital Roles two day masterclass is specifically designed for female leaders and male champions of change in ICT & digital. Through this interactive course, learn the necessary skills and strategies to overcome obstacles and adversity, to develop influential communication skills, and foster the resilience and productivity you need to thrive in the industry.