I studied computer science at the university, and with the overwhelming majority of classmates being male, acting like just "one of the guys" worked to my advantage.
When I started working, I tried to continue to change myself to fit other people's views of what I should be to develop my career.
Though, in the end, this was all just exhausting and challenging while also not being true to my personality.
Cecy Correa@cecycorreaWoman presenting at tech conference: "Hello, I have a BSE in Computer Science and getting my Master's in Data Science."
[The talk in question: youtube.com/watch?v=Te5ICg…]21:07 PM - 27 Sep 2019
I understood that I will be more successful just by being myself—not being "one of the boys" on the team. I wish I knew a few things more before joining the tech world:
In the beginning, you may feel compelled to change parts of your lifestyle at some point: wardrobe, hobbies, conversational topics, and how you spend your spare time.
The truth, the tech industry is only part of your life. If you have to change yourself just to fit in, it's not worth it.
As French say: Vive la difference! Smart people appreciate other smart people, regardless of style or gender.
You can learn how to recognize what you need before you learn how to integrate that knowledge properly to what you are working on.
Be patient and never stop learning.
Just because your first attempts at building working features are failures, it doesn't mean you are a failure. Keep at it.
A lot of people are just good at saying things and doing things confidently. Fake it 'til you make it. Chances are you deserve to be one of those people too.
No matter how great the product is, if the team working on it is not good, you will not be happy.
Likewise, a team with great people succeeds in building great products, and you may enjoy it there even more if the team is not working on the latest "hot" tech.
Obviously, having a combination of both — great team and the product you love working on is the dream, but if it comes down to choosing between both: always choose a great team!
You have to keep on learning new stuff to survive in tech.
Sometimes it is easier to just stay in one place forever and do the same thing forever, but it's probably not the best path.
Till now, women do get paid less for the same roles, but women also don't usually ask for more money, either.
You need to be honest with yourself about money.
I didn't know this and didn't negotiate my job offers in the beginning. I only learned because I found out that the new company joiners with the same position as mine are going to earn more than I did.
If you are not happy about what you are being paid, you need to speak up.
Companies will always try to shell out as little as possible, but you should know what the market rates are and value yourself as such.
In my experience, it's relatively easy to find experienced men who can give advice about personal growth or career choices.
However, a woman mentor can give a different perspective, like experiences as a woman in tech, advice about running into sexism, mental health, work-life balance, and other resources.
A good woman mentor will make you believe that you belong to the tech industry, inhale confidence, and encourage you to perceive your career in tech.
Women in tech like to support other women in tech. Join the club!
This goes for both men and women.
Don't allow others to scrutinize simply your knowledge or skills because you are a woman. It's always exhausting to continually think about proving yourself in a setting that keeps pushing you down.
Surround yourself with people who care and want to help you grow.
Detach yourself from the harmful environment as soon as possible. Work with people who value you for your knowledge, skills, and perspective.
A lot of women who graduated with CS-diploma do not end up working in tech at all. Again, this is a personal decision.
A lot of them go on to great things such as design or product or entrepreneurship, but they decided that writing code is not for them.
I am basically saying that it's okay to switch gears.
Don't be locked down into a software engineering career just because you got a degree in it, and you feel like you got something to prove.
Do what makes you excited and challenge yourself. Even in tech, eventually, you got to decide whether you want to go into management and give up being an engineer.
Realize that there are so many possibilities and wonderful ways in this world to use your talent, and to create great things.
Make an active choice. Figure out where your interests and ability to impact are most significant for you, and go do it!
It may well be that what you are really excited about: nanotechnology, computational biology, geophysics, cloud computing, cybersecurity. These will be the next hot thing that has "too few women."
"I have very personally felt the overwhelming loneliness, self-doubt, and frustration that often comes with the minority status of a woman in engineering. As much as I can help others get through or avoid those difficult stretches that I myself had to weather, I'd like to. As a bonus, the more women (and minorities) that enter and don't leave the field, the better it all gets for everyone, including me!" — Tracy Chou, Software Engineer at Pinterest
Don't be a follower, listen to yourself. Strive to be the best version of yourself and make career choices that support that.
Thank you for reading! 🙏
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Code your best life,
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash