The IT Industry and Women

I'm a woman in an industry dominated by men and at times your voice can get lost so how do you manage to stay relevant and ensure you're heard? Within the tech sector, only 24% of the jobs are currently filled by women and of those 24% over one third  38% to be exact are considering leaving. It's a phenomenon that has been consistent since I've began my career over 15 years ago. Is the job demanding? YES! However it's also extremely rewarding because you are solving problems consistently. In essence as an IT professional, we use the analogy of "fighting fires" quite often. When there is an issue you are the first line of defense and it's time sensitive in most cases but when the tables turn and you're able to solve those issues, you feel a sense of both relief and satisfaction. It's rewarding and the pay is good. 

So what's the driving force behind the mass exodus of women looking to leave if it's so rewarding? There are a multitude of reasons why anyone would leave a profession and the most common is that you feel your voice isn't heard. This is especially true for some women within the male dominated IT industry. If you feel that your contributions are suppressed or worse, not even heard then it can start to wear on your motivation to contribute. You'll start to reprioritize your life and it's only natural to gravitate towards areas within your life where you feel valued and mentally you'll start to reshuffle the deck of priorities in your head and that job can start to look more like a burden. 

IT centric issues are factors as well. Mainly the fact that IT encompasses many different areas which grow at an exponential rate. It's easy to feel lost or overwhelmed when you're trying to balance a personal life that may include family planning or parenting with your professional life that requires constant retraining and endless learning. To stay relevant within IT, you'll definitely need to stay engaged in some form of self-paced learning or courses. It's not an industry where you can coast through with the same skillset that you originally started with. Your career and knowledge will evolve and grow naturally within IT. If it does not and you start to feel stagnant then that is a sign that you're working at the wrong company and not a sign that you're in the wrong industry. 

Deciding where you want to focus your attention too may add pressure and can be a bit overwhelming when trying to juggle multiple things within ones life. Again it requires focus and a clear plan of action that can be tricky to navigate alone. This is where having a mentor can be the most impactful for those who may be wondering about getting out of the industry. A mentor can provide guidance and can be an advocate for you and assist with your growth. It's advised to have multiple mentors to assist with different growth plans. For example a mentor within your current company can be an advocate for you within those meetings where you're not in attendance and a mentor within the industry as a whole can help with awareness of other options and growth potential that you may not be immediately aware of.