Ask SheCanCode Anything: “How can I be more assertive?”

Ask SheCanCode Anything Series


Ever felt like your voice isn't heard at work? Feel like you need to be more assertive, but don't know where to start? SheCanCode's resident coach, Fiona has got just the advice for you.

To help us answer these questions is coach, Fiona Hatton.

As a coach, Fiona supports women to live a happier life: through prioritising their wellbeing, doing more of what they love, and focusing on what really matters to them. She has worked with women who’ve gone on to change career, leave a toxic workplace, and make big life decisions about where (and how) they want to live. 

Join the Yoco Studio community for free resources, useful tips and offers. Find out more about her coaching and yoga packages at http://www.yoco.studio.


If you have any questions for us – whether it be about work relationships, gaining confidence, or taking the leap into tech – you can ask us anything.

Hi SheCanCode,

I’m relatively new to my career in tech and finding my way in a male-dominated environment. I’m enthusiastic about my work, but I often feel like my voice isn’t heard as much as my male colleagues. How can I assert myself more effectively without compromising who I am? Do you have any advice on navigating these dynamics and making a lasting impact in the tech industry?

Hey there,

Finding your voice when you’re starting out in a career and especially if you feel like you stand out as different can be daunting. It’s wonderful that you don’t want to compromise who you are though: being assertive certainly doesn’t mean being aggressive. 

I have some questions that might be helpful as you work through your next steps.

I’ve noticed that you’re asking about making a lasting impact in the tech industry and I think that’s where we start! 

What is important to you?

    Although it might seem like this isn’t related to your question, it’s really useful to know what drives you and what you want to be known for. It can help you decide where to put your energy when it comes to learning and career choices, and it can also help you to decide when it’s important to assert yourself (particularly if it feels uncomfortable).

    So take some time to think about what you value and what your own priorities are. Consider the way you want to communicate 

    What does being assertive look like to you?

      There are lots of different interpretations of assertiveness, and the idea of being assertive can get completely tangled up with aggression. When it comes down to it though, assertiveness is about advocating for yourself in a positive and constructive way. And that can be in a way that feels comfortable for you, without feeling that you’ve compromised yourself. 

      Think back to what’s important to you, and what you want to be known for. How can that shape the way you put forward your views and ideas? Perhaps you know someone who already does this really well – what can you learn from them?

      When do you find yourself wishing you were more assertive?

        Start to notice when you feel unheard. Is it all the time or do you experience it more in certain situations or with particular people? And what is stopping you from getting your point across? It could be that your ideas aren’t taken seriously, or it could be that you don’t get a chance to speak at all. 

        Now think about when you do feel assertive and that you have a voice. What’s happening? Who are you with and what are you doing? Can you spot any patterns? 

        Use what you discover to think about your next steps. Is it a case of feeling more confident? Or do you need to try something new to get your point across? 

        Where could you get support?

          We could all do with a cheerleader every now and again – someone to run our ideas by and give us a sense check. It can be a massive confidence booster, and can also help us to see other perspectives (which can be useful when it comes to speaking out).

          Where could you get that support? Your workplace may have networks for women, or for people starting out in their careers. And SheCanCode’s new community platform where more women can connect, learn, and grow in their tech careers could also be a great place to look.




          In this episode, join us as we delve into the dynamic world of female tech engineers. Tania Zagorskaia, Engineering Manager at Bloom & Wild, shares...
          Gillian Whelan is Managing Director of emagine in Ireland. As an experienced MD leading the Irish arm of emagine’s international operation, Gillian has built up...
          Neha Srivastava, a seasoned software engineer, highlights the pivotal role effective communication plays in securing coveted tech positions. She provides invaluable insights to excel beyond...
          Standing out can be difficult in an imbalanced job market. Jen Fenner, co-founder and managing director of DefProc Engineering, shares her experience and advice on...