How Women Can Survive and Thrive in the Tech’s “Boy’s Club”

After the tech boom women still remain second class citizens

Whispers resound that Silicon Valley is sliding back into ‘Bro Culture’ – that is, of course, if you believe that the tech industry ever actually rid itself of bro culture in the first place. And, despite women outperforming men in coding, interpersonal, and leadership skills, surging firings by technology companies late last year disproportionately affected women and mid-career talent. 

The scale of this cultural crisis runs deep, as laid barren by McKinsey’s recent report on Women in the Workplace. According to their analysis, women leaders are leaving their companies at the highest rate in years, and the gap between women and men leaders leaving is the largest we’ve ever seen. The scale of the problem is so dire that, for every one woman at the director level who gets promoted to the next level, two women directors are choosing to leave their company. The old “boys club” of the tech industry is still well in place.

What can be done?

For starters, at least, the general public is much more aware of these imbalances than they were five years ago. And some progress has been made through industry pledges to add women to senior leadership positions at venture capital firms and newer technology companies. But there’s still a long way to go. Even after the latest technology boom, gender equality was supposed to be a reality in 2022. Sadly, it’s not. Twenty-five percent of board seats are held by women, up from 17.4% in 2018 and currently, women represent only 25% of computing-related jobs. (Source: Deloitte Insights Report). It may seem negligible, but it’s a step in the right direction!

While women have made great strides in tech careers, there’s still a long way to go to achieve equity. At Women Impact Tech, we’re changing the way women are viewed in the tech industry and the tech space as a whole by promoting equity in the tech space.

Though it’s a societal issue at large, women in tech don’t have to feel helpless: with the right tools and guidance, women are capable of rising above. Here are the top six tips for women in tech roles to navigate for their career advancement and success (or any male-dominated field):

  1. Speak up. Women tend to be much more quiet and passive than men, who tend to be assertive. Ask your employer for equity, ask for a seat at the table where major decisions are being made; confidence is key. 
  2. Take a personal inventory. Take stock of your career and experience, as well as your passions and motivations. Don’t let yourself burn out – 53% of working moms get less than 6 hours of sleep per night, and almost a quarter of working moms have no time for self-care, including healthy eating, exercise, or connecting with friends. 
  3. Find community. The most important thing to remember on your tech journey is that you aren’t alone. There are other junior, mid-career, and senior-level women in tech facing the same challenges and navigating the same terrain. Finding and tapping into that community of women for support, guidance, and resources is one of the best ways to accelerate your career. 
  4. Never settle for less. Too often, women take the first offer and don’t negotiate raises. Pause to check Glassdoor to see if you’re being paid at the right level for your industry standard and experience level– and if the data tells you otherwise, have the courage to 
  5. Mentorship is major. In order to bring our best selves to work, we need to feel heard and included. By aligning with the right people, you can be supported and enabled in a way you wouldn’t otherwise.
  6. Get comfortable with self-advocating. No matter how uncomfortable or unnatural it may feel, it is important and necessary for you to self-advocate. Men often exaggerate their outcomes while traditionally women underplay their value and input. 

Until more women are in power will the culture truly shift. Until then, women need the tools to navigate the industry to the best of their ability. 

About the Author

Paula Bratcher Ratliff  is the President & CEO of Women Impact Tech where she leads strategic direction and daily operations. Paula has spent the past 20 years architecting and leading teams that provide workforce solutions for staffing, RPO, MSP and consulting services for Fortune 500 companies in North America and globally. She has led corporate supplier diversity, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout her career. Women Impact Tech has allowed Paula to bridge her industry expertise and passion for diversity and inclusion into one leadership role. Paula loves to live life to the fullest with her wife and their young daughter and son.