Blog August 25th, 2022
What it's like being a woman in technology
Women in technology has become much more common, although that doesn’t change the fact that it remains, a male-dominated space. There has been progress in the field, but according to many studies female representation in the technology industry has plateaued in the last decade.
Our team sat down with Michelle Miller, Sr. Software Development Engineer, and Rene Jones, Technical Product Owner, to discuss their success in the industry despite the adversity that women consistently face.
How did you get into the technology industry?
Rene: I’ve been in the IT space for over 20 years. I had no desire to get into technology since I was planning on getting a degree in communications, but a school counselor suggested I look into it. Instead, I looked into what jobs were projected to be the “top jobs” in the next 10-20 years and many of them had something to do with computer science or a role in the technology field. Over 20 years later, here I am!
Michelle: Like most younger developers, I fell in love with technology through computer games. I remember playing on my dad’s laptop when I was 3 years old and just wanting more and more. Growing up with games, I always had ideas on how to make the game better and that had such a large impact on me wanting to get into the space. In middle school, my school offered a “Fundamentals of Computer Science” course, and it sealed the deal on my passions. We spoofed emails, coded for the first time, designed video game levels, edited photos and sound, and even did our first pass on a database. It was such an incredible opportunity, and I’m convinced that the industry would look very different if every child had the resources to do something along the same lines.
What’s been the hardest part of being a woman in this industry?
M: I’ve been privileged enough to have found jobs that treat me well. I have continued to feel supported and uplifted here at Nortal. The hardest part about technology for me has been the lack of representation in higher level roles overall throughout the industry. It is rare to find a female CTO who also has a significant other, children, friendships, and hobbies. There aren’t a lot of examples of wearing the many hats that come with being a woman. I would love to continue to see more women be highly successful spouses, parents, daughters, friends, animal lovers, etc. all while being in tech.
R: Unlike Michelle, I have been shown the opposite of privilege. As a black woman, the standards have been doubled or even tripled in this male-dominated profession. In many past companies I’ve been in, there have been many times where respect has been an issue. There were unsaid biases toward me in my roles that I had to fight through in order to do my job successfully. I had to partner with a few female co-workers, and we committed to one another to stick together and look out for each other.
How do you deal with competition among women in this field?
R: I had a former co-worker who told me, “When we get promoted into growth roles, we want to make sure when we look back, we have people cheering us on and pushing us forward. We do not want to look back and see many folks that were trampled over and are trying to pull us backward instead of forward.” Her words stuck with me. She played such an instrumental role in my professional career; always reminding me that no one should diminish my value or my worth. I am grateful for the role she played.
M: I don’t necessarily find myself competing in the workplace with women, although, I do think I unintentionally hold women to a different standard than I hold men. I am fine not being the “best woman”, but I find that I put that pressure on others. I sometimes expect women to hold themselves to a higher standard in the industry since there can be different expectations put on women, it can get frustrating if I feel other women aren’t “holding their own weight.” This is something I am working on constantly. The pressures that I would never want to have put on me, I sometimes put them on others unknowingly. It never comes from a malicious mindset; it always is that I know women have such large capacities and I want them to be the best they can be. I’m committed to continuing to push people to be the best version of themselves, although, I want to be cautious of the way I do it.
What is your favorite thing about working at Nortal?
M: Nortal has always prioritized my career needs. Every new step in the company has been quite large leaps for me which has resulted in fast-moving growth. At a company that is growing rapidly, there are a lot of gaps that need to be filled. I like those challenges and learning new skills. The work we do is interesting and fast-paced, but truly, the people are top notch. It’s hard to find a company that is filled with excellent people, but I scored when finding Nortal.
R: Since being at Nortal for a few short months, I have seen the culture first-hand. At my previous job, I wore too many hats and burned out quickly leaving me searching for something new. In my recruitment process, Nortal respected my desire to focus on a smaller number of projects and be able to deliver well. Nortal looked at me for my value that I had to offer them, and I still feel that same care since joining.
What is your advice for young women entering the tech space?
M: It’s okay to take the pressure off yourself and other women, too. I’m constantly working on this daily.
R: Do not let other people or failed prior work define you or your worth. Technology always is introducing challenges, if you have the desire to learn, that is half the battle!
At Nortal, we are grateful for women like Rene and Michelle who continue to execute high-quality, above standard work. We are committed to continue to give opportunities to all people in this industry. To learn more about Nortal visit our website or LinkedIn page.
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