"At the end of the day, I’m a woman tech, but this doesn’t define me. My drive, talent, and skill set make me who I am. Your drive, talent, and skill set make you who you are. Get out there and start paving your way!"
WRITTEN BY: SHARON REEDS
As a woman in tech, I'm inspired every day to continue paving the way for other women who decide to pursue a career in this male-dominated industry. I've been fortunate to have had a pretty smooth road in my journey, but there have still been times when I've been treated or viewed differently because I'm a woman.
The following are three strategies I’ve learned over the years to successfully navigate the tech industry.
Use it to Your Advantage
While the fact that we are sometimes perceived differently than our male counterparts is certainly problematic, in some cases we can use it to our advantage. For instance, the first time I knowingly experienced gender bias was at Shopify’s 2018 Unite conference, where both men and women were surprised to learn that I co-founded an app.
What I learned very quickly was that when people make inaccurate assumptions about you, it can actually help you leverage the conversation in your favour, because it makes you memorable. People are much more likely to remember a woman who co-founded a complex app than the dozens of men they spoke to precisely because it goes against their expectations.
In male-dominated industries like tech, it’s easy to feel like you’re in competition with other women who have similar goals and aspirations. This doesn’t have to be the case. You’re no more in competition with your fellow women than you are with the men in your field. No two experiences are the same, and sometimes a different approach to a problem is what you need. There's plenty of room at the top, so let’s help each other up.
Leverage Your Resources
Pioneering women in tech have worked tirelessly to provide us with the opportunities, resources, and support necessary to balance the scales. It’s up to us to take advantage of these opportunities ourselves and to pay it forward by opening doors for future women in tech.
There are plenty of women’s-only events and programs in the Niagara Region and across Ontario designed to help us break the glass ceiling. Two fantastic programs are the Fierce Founders Bootcamp, and the Fierce Founders Accelerator. The bootcamp is only open to women in tech, and the accelerator requires that at least 50% of the executive team be female. Both programs encourage women to push their boundaries and just go for it.
At the end of the day, I’m a woman tech, but this doesn’t define me. My drive, talent, and skill set make me who I am. Your drive, talent, and skill set make you who you are. Get out there and start paving your way!
Sharon Reeds is the co-founder of Intuitive Shipping, a shipping calculation app for Shopify that lets merchants fully customize how their shipping is calculated and displayed at checkout. She is passionate about educating e-commerce entrepreneurs on the impact that a well thought out shipping strategy can have on their success in the e-commerce space.
Connect with Sharon on LinkedIn.
This article originally appeared in Business Link Niagara.