IT is a man’s world – but there are plenty of opportunities for women

By Marta Kępa, Executive Director at SoDA.

  • 1 year ago Posted in

It’s long been a stereotype that the IT industry is a playground for men. While many organisations across the sector are creating a more inclusive work environment there is a lack of balance, and the scales are still tipped in the favour of men in IT. During my career, I’ve experienced some of the difficulties facing women entering the workforce, but there’s a great deal of potential as we look to the future.

The IT industry is truly at the cutting edge. From developing new technologies to setting trends in the workplace, IT is leading the way for businesses and employees alike across the globe, providing solutions that genuinely changes how the world functions. For people that care about having a meaningful job where they can make a real impact, it’s the ideal industry to work in.

These are just some of the reasons that I pivoted my career towards tech and IT. I studied linguistics before taking on a role as a help desk aide in IT, before studying Public Affairs and European Politics in France. I had initially wanted to work within the human rights space, but after a short time at the Council of Europe, I decided to make the move towards IT.

I had the opportunity to build a brand new organisation in the Polish market – Software Development Association Poland (SoDA). IT was a completely different industry filled with open-minded people that wanted to collaboration with other companies with similar values. In particular, other industries in Poland are not as collaborative as IT and within SoDA, so it really is a unique space to work in. While it was a real challenge in the beginning, it was fascinating too.

It’s been four years since I joined SoDA, and now I’m an executive director. I’m responsible for business strategy, process development, team management and SoDA’s growth. I really enjoy the dynamic nature of my work, setting trends and being involved in innovative projects across medtech, fintech, IoT and more.

I’m fortunate to work in an organisation that values diversity, and it’s essential that businesses create an environment that fosters growth for women in IT. However, some of the age old stereotypes about working in IT and tech do still exist.

The challenges facing women in IT

IT is a man’s world. This has shifted significantly in the past 10 years, but there’s still a great deal of work to be done to unlearn past behaviours and create a welcoming, inclusive environment that enables women to not only get a foot on the ladder but thrive within an IT company.

There are very few women in management and technical roles within IT, and often, it’s difficult for women to be heard as a result. Women are a minority, so we have to work a lot harder to be taken seriously or listened to. This all depends on an organisation’s culture of

course, but in my opinion, there are still more men than women in leadership and senior positions within the industry at large.

It seems ironic that IT is such an open-minded, creative and explorative industry that sets trends and yet it still has a long way to go towards becoming inclusive. When this is realised, it’s my hope that it will set an example for businesses and organisations across the globe.

The opportunities for a more diverse future

Despite the barriers still facing women who are working in or want to work in IT, there are a great deal of opportunities out there. More likely than not, a woman working in IT is likely to be found in the Human Resources department, in charge of office management or part of the marketing team.

This not only highlights the fact that women should also be found in technical roles, but it also means that there are opportunities for women who want to pivot to roles to such as testers, UX designers and project managers are in a prime position to do so. Women have all the skills that are needed for these roles, and businesses must be willing to support people that want to direct their career towards technical roles. Additionally, it’s essential that education at all levels encourages and supports young women and girls to pursue a career in technical IT roles. As a result, in years to come there will be a talented pool of senior women that are working in IT now or are entering the sector and will work their way up, plus a whole new cohort of talented coders, project managers, designers and more.

A supportive community

A foundation of encouragement and support is vital for any woman entering the IT sector. Holding an executive role is a result of my own hard work and skill set, but without the support of the SoDA board, I know it wouldn’t be as easy.

It’s unfortunate that it still needs to be said in 2022, but men in leadership roles must be open to diversity in the workplace and recognise that women should be sat around the table too. Not only do women bring a great deal of value to leadership roles, but it’s common sense to have representation at a board level that is based on the merit of the individual. Only with a change of perspective for many male leaders in IT will more women have the opportunity to sit at the top of IT companies.

For any woman that’s considering entering the IT industry, my advice is to not be afraid to showcase your skills and broaden your network. It might be more challenging to be heard at first in such a male dominated industry, so don’t wait for someone to notice you. Make them notice you. Show your work to your managers and senior leaders, and don’t be afraid to offer up bold and brave ideas and solutions. Whether you feel it or not, harnessing confidence and self-belief can go a long way to putting you in a position of power.

In the meantime, it’s my hope that more and more organisations remove barriers for women entering the IT sector to unlock the potential of a diverse, talented workforce.

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