The tech industry has long been dominated by men – however, there are many powerful and influential women who have climbed the ladder to top positions in tech. The second week of June hosted the 2022 Women in Tech Global Conference where many of the influential women in tech spoke about their experiences and where they see tech going for women. SolarWinds sponsored attendance for a group of employees in alignment with the dedication to CARE and empowering employees to explore the tech industry and grow their skills and knowledge.
I had the privilege of attending the event and brought back several key lessons that I shared in this blog and this one. However, I wanted to put together another piece to bring the key lessons into one article for quick reference. The tips and knowledge shared during the conference were incredible and are relevant to everyone – not just women
The path into tech isn’t always linear
The Great Resignation saw many employees leave their previous jobs, but it also saw an increased number of people upskilling and reskilling to jump industries. The trend has seen many employees move across disparate industries into the tech industry specifically. This trend is continuing as a potential recession approaches and tech remains a strong industry as tech transformations continue to be a key business goal for many companies.
“Not every path to the summit takes the most obvious route.” Angela Robertson
At SolarWinds, we have seen many employees come to us through a non-traditional path into tech from a variety of backgrounds. You may recall I had a non-traditional path into tech. Because it is such a relevant topic, the conference featured speakers providing advice, sharing their own stories, and encouraging the transition to tech – even if on a non-linear path.
“If you can see her, you can be her.” Desiree Young
Desiree not only promoted learning and embracing challenges – no matter your field, but she also talked about ways we can help others through allyship, mentorship, and sponsorship. These are relationships we can use to improve ourselves, but they can also be built to assist those looking to break into tech or looking to improve themselves. Even if your intent, or theirs, is not to stay in tech, Ewa Balazinska emphasized one year in tech is like five in a different industry because everything moves so fast.
Key tips for a transition into tech:
- Make sure your title accurately describes what you do – this will help recruiters find you.
- Use a bio to describe what you want and not just what you do.
- Look for opportunities adjacent to what you currently do to expand your skillset towards what you want.
- Network with people in your desired industry and make your network work for you.
- Make sure you highlight non-technical (or soft) skills too – they are critical to being a well-rounded employee.
- Be honest with yourself and others about your limits and boundaries.
Digital and physical access control for greater network security
If you didn’t already know, cybersecurity is an incredibly hot topic currently. KPMG found that 62% of businesses experienced a cyber incident in 2021, with 77% of businesses expecting cyber incident risk will increase over the next 12 months. With this in mind, Ruchira Pokhriyal’s conversation on digital access control is incredibly relevant today.
Pokhriyal broke digital and physical access control down into an understandable concept, even for those with no security background. She emphasized the importance of both digital and physical access control in both our work environments and home environments to protect ourselves against attacks. Like a house with unlocked doors and open windows, by leaving holes and weaknesses in your network, you are inviting a cyber incident – that can result in serious issues and revenue loss.
Digital access issues to look out for:
Accessibility and DE&I in tech
Another important topic covered by many speakers during the conference was accessibility, empathy, equity, and inclusion. Specifically, speaker Natalie Egan shared a personal story to emphasize we cannot understand others until we understand ourselves – looking at how unconscious biases and perspectives can inform our behavior and impression of others incorrectly. Brittany Sherell highlighted how biases affect us with a discussion on group attribution theory and spotlight effect reminding the audience, “Every thought is not a fact.”
Jess Vice continued the conversation and spoke about emerging trends that have impacted accessibility. A key concept she discussed to showcase the improvements in accessibility was the curb-cut effect. The curb-cut effect speaks to the wider impact that something built and designed specifically for one purpose or disability can lend itself to the broader population.
Finally, Amy June Hineline outlined the differences between diversity and inclusivity. She explained diversity is human differences, but inclusivity is the intent of individuals or systems to actively include. She encouraged those in a position to influence the hires and transitions within their team or company to consider actively improving the language of those job postings to reflect truth and use more inclusive terminology. We can all benefit from improved diversity in our lives and workplaces.Knowledge is power – conferences promote knowledge
I have discussed, with our Technical Content Manager for Community Kevin Sparenberg in our TechPod, how important attending conferences and workshops is to career development. In that TechPod we were speaking specifically about THWACKcamp, but the point remains. Even when you think you know everything there is to know about a topic, a speaker may present it in a different way or have an alternate take on it than you do. There is a limit to how much knowledge we can draw upon at any moment so even if the content is review, you can always glean some new tidbit from it.
Therefore, continuing to invest time and energy into continued education through events like the Women in Tech Conference can be incredibly helpful to career development for all, men and women alike. But for women specifically, owning your place at the table can be done by showing you have the knowledge and advocating for yourself through effective communication. Attending conferences and learning sessions is helpful for this and can also help develop your communication and interpersonal skills – those non-technical skills that can help propel your career forward.