Career advice for women in IT from technology-savvy female leaders

Career advice for women in IT from technology-savvy female leaders

Date: Mar 13, 2013

In TechTarget's IT Salary Survey 2012, less than a quarter of North American respondents identified themselves as female. That's a fairly accurate representation of the gender ratio one typically finds in IT shops, and it suggests that women in IT have some ground to make up.

SearchCIO-Midmarket.com Senior Site Editor Wendy Schuchart sat down with three female leaders at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2012 in Orlando, Fla., in October and asked them, "What tips would you have for young women who are looking to either advance in the IT leadership role or perhaps approach the IT leadership role?"

These female leaders advised that young women not only understand business management but also project self-confidence in order to take steps toward salary equality and closing the gender gap. Read the transcript from Schuchart's interviews below, and watch the video to hear these leaders' career advice for women pursuing a future in IT.

What tips would you have for young women who are looking to either advance in the IT leadership role or perhaps approach the IT leadership role?

Tammy Barr, director of IT, Continental Mills Inc.: I think having that business knowledge, business background, and really working on the self-confidence to present yourself. A lot of it isn't just having the technical knowledge and being in the background working on it quietly. You really have to make yourself visible. You have to volunteer for projects. You have to take on high-visibility roles even though they're scary a lot of times. There's a lot of risk involved in that.

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It's getting out of the safe zone. Especially for women who like technology, and anybody who likes technology, you're often not the most outgoing and demonstrative person in the room. You really have to work on those soft skills of selling yourself and taking on riskier projects, and really getting out and showing what you already know. I think the knowledge and the talent is there. It's really selling that knowledge and talent to the rest of the organization.

Sallie Moore, director of IT, Texas Health Resources Inc.: I think probably the same advice I got, which is to follow your passion and things will fall into place. I think following your passion, always making sure that you're staying current with the latest technologies and what's going on with the field. Reach out and create a broad network so you have mentors that can help you in your development and provide advice.

Suzanne Niedzielska, CEO, Tide Pool LLC: Good question you asked me because I have a niece that did that, and she was contemplating medical school. I have a different niece in medical school. This one, April, decided to go into IT. I guess the advice I would give is it's an excellent career. I mean, [in this morning's keynote], I think it was indicated that the job opportunities by 2015 alone are 1.9 million jobs, of which only one-third will be filled. There are not the skills out there to do that.

I would say it's a tremendously open career, and there are many, many opportunities if somebody appreciates being expert, likes being a knowledge worker. It's an excellent field, and there are so many different directions to go in.

Let us know what you think of this video; email Wendy Schuchart, senior site editor.

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