The privilege and pressure of being the only woman in the room: the power of community

Diverse group of women in tech supporting each other


Women in tech often know all too well the pressure that comes from being the only female in a room full of men, with the added responsibility of representing a minority group in a male dominated industry.

The feeling that there’s little room for error, otherwise it’s just another reason why women can’t code, or why women shouldn’t be developers or why women aren’t cut out for a career in tech.

But despite this, there’s also a sense of power, and pride, that comes from belonging to this inspiring community of women. Rightly or wrongly, women are having to balance learning to live with this pressure whilst excelling in their careers, and not letting negative perceptions hold them back. 


Aimee Smith

Aimee graduated with a maths degree from Swansea University after which she went on to work in data analysis for charities including CLIC Sargent, where she managed the Supporter Insight Team. She then retrained and undertook a conversion Masters in Computer Science, following which she secured her first junior full-stack developer role for Wood for Trees. Today she works for Great State within the MyNavy team, developing new functionality and features for the MyNavy companion app. Aimee is also a part of the D&I workgroup to tackle issues around diversity.


Often all it takes is for someone to take a chance on you and before you know it – you’re working as a data analyst or a full stack coder. The thing about being a junior in the tech world is it can often be a sink or swim situation and lead to feelings of imposter syndrome. Working in a fast-paced agency setting on top of being a woman in the industry only adds to these feelings. Having a mentor, or someone who backs you from the start builds a foundation of support and a network of people to whom you can turn when in need – an essential part in helping lighten the sometimes heavy-burden of being a woman starting out in tech.  

Roles such as full-stack engineers, for example, that revolve around working at pace (often in short sprints) can afford you little time to flounder. Naturally, this working environment is at odds with inevitably becoming stuck from time to time. Having a team who give you the space and allow you to voice when struggles arise is key to gaining confidence and not becoming lost amongst the other voices in the room.  The fear we can sometimes feel over asking for help– for being judged unworthy or incompetent is just one of the unfair disadvantages women are having to fight against from the get-go.


It’s natural that with age, you learn to speak up more. And it’s essential that more people talk about the way women can be perceived or treated in the tech world as it can often be all too easily written off with plausible deniability. It’s harder to call things out on your own, and niggling self-doubt can all too quickly paralyse any action. But it’s important the responsibility doesn’t just fall on women – men too must play a part in expanding the conversation and addressing these situations. People make mistakes, and they have off days. But all too often, us women are left with that familiar niggling thought in the back of our heads that quietly but clearly questions: ‘if I weren’t a woman, would they have said that?’ Or ‘if I weren’t the only female in the room, would they have acted in that way’

The answer, sadly, is probably no.  

The negative assumptions that come with being a female in the tech industry must be called out. For this, practice makes perfect, and the more you speak up, the more comfortable and less daunting it becomes over time. It’s a domino effect: the more women see other women speak up, and the more men see other men speak up – the more everyone will in time.  


The most joyous thing about being in a woman in tech means automatically belonging to an incredible community – and one that is brimming over with inspiring blog posts, testimonies, tips, tricks and providing an essential sounding board function. It’s crucial that more women in tech have access to role models as it’s often the case women experience a lack of this function in their youth. Now as adults, female role models in tech can encourage others to try roles or career paths they might never have thought to.   

Community offers a place for women in tech to thrive, not only at work but in all facets of life. The backdrop of a supportive community also provides an environment which can drive positive change – with women at the helm.  

Ultimately, the more diversity in a team the more creative and productive that team will be – and that doesn’t just mean adding more women to the mix – although it’s one good place to start. There’s even been research about how companies make more money when they have a higher number of women working for them. So, selling ourselves short as women in the tech field is the last thing we should be doing. Instead, coming together, sharing, talking and challenging feelings of insecurity and imposter syndrome that can crop up from time to time will only make for a stronger community, and inevitably pull in more women into orbit of the wonderful world of tech.  


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