A few weeks ago, I was honored to accept the BusinessWomen First Award, given by the Pittsburgh Business Times to the top 25 business women in the region. Not only was it a proud moment for me but it was also a time for reflection on what it means to find success as a woman in the technology industry.
It is so easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle and lose track of how much we’ve all accomplished in our lives and careers. This is especially true for women. After all, life is busy - startup life, even more so. But, the truth is that all of the chaos and hard work can add up to be something that makes us deeply proud. It’s important to take time to acknowledge that.
I recently read an article by Donna Payne, CEO of a legal technology company, about work/life balance for women, where she concludes there is no such a thing. And I tend to agree, although I don’t see it like a need to balance things, I see it as the new reality for working women in this age.
My personal exercise in reflection led to several realizations, which I am sharing with you here in hopes of starting an important conversation of how we can achieve more success as women in tech.
#1: Success is a team sport.
We cannot get anywhere or achieve success without others. Each of us have encountered several people along the way that have helped us, believed in us and provided opportunities for growth and development. I’m sure you can think of at least one person that has changed your life by providing their support. We should never forget their help and always be grateful to all those people. Success is not something that we can achieve on our own, therefore we can’t get away with taking all of the credit.
#2: Women in tech have come so far, but still have far to go.
Women in tech have more opportunities than ever before, but there is still more work to do. It is no longer simply a matter of equal opportunity; the economy is depending on more women to join tech/pursue STEM careers.
#3: No one told me how much fun and how fulfilling this career path can be.
If my future self would have told my young self that I would enjoy an exciting and interesting career in legal tech, I wouldn’t have believed her. We need to do a better job of illustrating the beautiful and fulfilling career possibilities that exist in STEM.
#4: As women, we are truly capable of anything.
There is something I want young girls and women to know about STEM careers of the future: We are as capable and talented as our male counterparts in the areas of STEM. There is much that is unknown and unfamiliar about this field to girls. Therefore, discovering what STEM is all about can erase common preconceived notions that it is too hard, too boring, or for geeks. STEM careers offer an amazing opportunity for a great future that will really make a difference in the world.
#5 Capability is born from confidence.
Be confident. Don’t underestimate yourself. There is plenty of research that reminds us that as women, we have a tendency to underestimate our performance and therefore miss great opportunities. Everything worth anything in life comes with a great amount of work, dedication, and commitment. There are no shortcuts. Believe you can do it and you will.
#6 Embrace your handicaps, challenges, or adversities.
When I came to this country, almost 20 years I could barely speak English (although I could read and write proficiently). I was young, so it was a big culture shock. On top of that, I was a Latin American woman joining the male-dominated tech world. Never get discouraged by how many obstacles are presented on the path to accomplishing your life goals. Overcoming adversity will only make you stronger at the end of the day.
Thank you to the Pittsburgh Business Times for this award and for the many individuals that I’ve encountered in my career that have helped me along the way. To the future women in my field, I look forward to celebrating your future success.
What have you learned from reflecting on your career? Share your comments below.