Amanda Whicher is a Director at Hays, specialising in Public Services Technology.
With over 12 years of experience in the recruitment sector, Amanda has a wealth of insights when it comes to the challenges employers face accessing and retaining talent. She has a particular interest in encouraging more women into tech, to expand their career opportunities and create more diverse and inclusive tech teams.
Amanda is passionate about matching the top technology experts to organisations, through life-long partnerships and workplace solutions, to support both clients and candidates to meet their ambitions and thrive in the ever-changing world of tech.
According to our latest research, which received close to 700 responses from technology professionals and employers, the majority (72%) of those in management, director and c-suite level roles across the sector are men, and only a quarter (25%) are women.
Female leaders are clearly underrepresented in the market, hence the importance of empowering women in tech to strive towards leadership roles, in order to shift the narrative and shape a more diverse and equal future. Here are three valuable ways women in tech can access, and thrive in, senior roles:
Find your voice
I believe many women working in tech do not feel as comfortable vocalising that they have a desire to progress into leadership roles as their male counterparts. As women, sometimes the need for certainty that we’ll be successful in a particular role can make us reluctant to take the plunge, but growth and success are found outside of our comfort zones.
In order to help minimise the gender gap, it’s crucial for determined women in tech to own their ambitions, believe in their abilities and make them known to a current or prospective employer to get to where they want to be.
More women in tech must express their goals to move into senior roles and ensure they apply for such jobs, regardless of the seniority gender gap across the sector. As female representation in leadership roles across technology grows and the number of female role models increases, this will spur on more women to aspire to progress into high places within the industry, and crucially be assured that it is possible.
It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with different job descriptions for leadership roles and ensure you’re constantly progressing and upskilling to meet the requirements of senior level roles. It’s worth mentioning that employers rarely need all the criteria they include in a job description and are often flexible when it comes to their requirements, but it’s important to tick some of the boxes and have a willingness to learn on the job.
It’s difficult to define what makes a great leader, as this can look different for everybody depending on their preference of leadership style. Some of the qualities thought to make a successful leader include emotional intelligence, authenticity, strong communication skills and an ability to problem-solve, which are traits that many women excel at.
Some of these skills can be learnt through training and development programmes, whilst others are acquired through hands-on experience, but as long as you’re progressing as a person and as a leader, you’re moving in the right direction to fulfil senior technology roles.
Notably, not all leadership roles involve people management, so even if you don’t feel as though managing other people would be your strong point, this doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in a leadership role. There are many senior roles which require you to influence decisions, lead projects and manage different scenarios rather than directly manage a team of people, which has been my personal experience here at Hays. To best prepare yourself for any type of leadership role, it’s important to develop skills such as strategic-thinking, creativity and adaptability along the way.
Another top tip for women looking to enter leadership roles within technology is to build a valuable network. The more people you know across a range of organisations, the greater job opportunities you will find out about, which will also help build your profile across the sector you currently work in.
Use social media channels such as LinkedIn to connect with like-minded people and follow role models who will inspire and empower you to reach your full potential. Attending industry events is another good way of making relevant contacts and getting your name out there, to help you to progress into senior roles.
Mentoring is also a great way to help build your network and you will be surprised how many senior females are happy to support and mentor other females in their area of expertise, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask people in your network for mentoring support.
Through a combination of mentoring, online and in-person networking, you’ll gradually create a platform to establish your voice across the technology sector, which will certainly help open doors to leadership positions.
Although it can be a challenge in such a male-dominated area, it’s essential for women to develop the resilience and confidence necessary to take up space within technology leadership roles. This, in turn, will inspire more female talent to do the same, to one day make the seniority gender gap a thing of the past. In addition, we all have an important role to play in terms of challenging employers to think differently and look at the attributes females can bring to leadership roles across organisations. It’s crucial to encourage employers far and wide, within tech and beyond, to acknowledge how having a balanced, diverse and inclusive workforce can drive new thinking, innovation and success within their organisation.