Levelling the playing field: 3 tips for women on breaking into tech

Britain’s tech industry is booming, but women remain underrepresented. In fact, women make up just 17% of the UK tech workforce, and even worse, the number of women in tech has barely changed in a decade.

In an era defined by battling the gender pay gap, empowering mothers at work and inspiring more girls to study STEM subjects, women can’t be excluded from one of the most exciting, thriving, (and well paid) sectors going.

The time for talk is over – whether you’re a new graduate, looking for a career change or simply want to boost your tech skills and give coding a go, here’s how women can start breaking into the tech industry.

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1. Take the plunge: Do you worry over work decisions? Do you negatively compare your work to others? Chances are you’ve experienced imposter syndrome. And you’re far from alone — 90% of women in the UK experience it too. As Kim Diep from Trainline mentioned at Code Fest: “No matter what level you are in, in your tech career, I think everyone has some moments of self-doubt where they feel like they’re not good enough.” When you feel insecure, it’s easy to bottle those feelings up and keep your head down. To combat this, step out of your comfort zone and face these insecurities head-on. Remember, you were hired because of skills, talent and experience — not by luck!

You don’t have to dive straight into delivering your next company all-hands. However, trying something as simple as active participation in meetings can help boost confidence. Over time, you will find your voice and your confidence will grow, making it easier to speak up about your achievements, ask for that promotion or pay rise, and lead new projects.

2. Find a mentor: Whether you’re looking to transition into a tech-based career or have worked in the industry for years, mentors are an invaluable source of wisdom, experience and relationships. Look to your managers for advice — that’s what they are there for. Join webinars or virtual events, ask questions and don’t be afraid to drop someone you admire a friendly LinkedIn note to see if they’d be up for sharing any tips.

Don’t wait around for a mentor to find you. The women in the tech community are vibrant and welcoming, and when you’re in a male-dominated industry, it’s more important than ever to forge those links beyond your direct network. One day, you can return the favour and mentor another up-and-comer. If you need inspiration, at Code First Girls, we hold regular events, and have built a community of 20,000+ collectively supporting women to break into and excel in the industry!

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3. Be mindful of yourself and others: Building confidence and learning is about self-empowerment, not ‘winning’ over others. There is no need to compare and compete with coworkers; in the blossoming tech sector, there is space for everyone. Instead, celebrate your strengths and champion your coworkers too, while working to address things you find challenging.

By recognising where your skills lie you can excel, and your colleagues will look to you for your advice and guidance. Nevertheless, don’t limit your growth, but look to the strengths in your team and learn from them too. Seek opportunities outside of your comfort zone but be mindful of others. Push yourself, never push others around!

It’s time to get more women into technology. Build confidence, network with those already in the sector, and approach the challenge with an open mindset. And, once you’ve taken those first steps and broken through, it only gets easier for future generations of women to follow.

Written by Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls

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