The 5 Biggest Challenges Women in Tech Face, and How to Overcome Them

May 31, 2019 | Daisy Bernard

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After Women of Silicon Roundabout 2018, we asked attendees to describe the biggest challenge they face as a woman in the industry. 

We kept these challenges in mind when shaping our 2019 event, crafting interactive workshops, technical classes and discussions led by industry trailblazers to help solve them.

The biggest issue? For 32% of women asked, maintaining a work/home-life balance was their biggest challenge. Whether it's making it home for family dinner or taking time for self-care, maintaining a balance can seem impossible. That's what Namrata Sarmah, Senior Director of Product at Viacom, discusses in Demystifying Having it All: Is Work/Life Balance Simply a Myth? Using case studies of alternative approaches she'll talk about prioritisation, boundaries and the importance of self-review systems. How to Stay Relevant During a Career Break is ideal for anyone on maternity leave or taking time for themselves. Led by Doina Popa, CIO, Salesforce at Barclays, the session will provide practical strategies to hit the ground running if you decide to return.  

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25% of women said confidence and visibility was the next biggest barrier to achieving success in the tech sector. Research shows that two-thirds of women in the UK suffer from imposter syndrome at work, struggling to have the confidence to speak up or be heard. For someone lacking in confidence, 'presenting' yourself as confident is the first step. Personal Branding: First Impressions is an interactive workshop led by Leila Singh, The Authentic Leadership Coach at Success Redefined Limited. Based on presentation skills, her technical class will leave you with techniques and strategies that can be applied immediately, delivering yourself with confidence. 

Visibility for women or people in colour in the tech sector is still low, especially when it comes to senior roles. One of the most effective skills of leadership, even if you're not a leader, is having the ability to influence others. This will be taught in a technical workshop by Aimee Cardwell, Vice President, Consumer Product Development Global Consumer Service Technology at American Express, Exerting Influence Without Authority. 

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Equal to those who cited confidence and visibility, 25% of women said they struggled mainly with career development and progression. The tech industry has changed its attitude towards female workers, with more opportunities to help women enter and progress in the tech industry. Companies like IBM and American Express have put career development programmes and employee networks in place and leadership initiatives to identify and break unconscious bias. While corporations need to create opportunities for employees to progress, individuals can take action too. The 10 Things You Should be Doing in 2019 to Advance Your Tech Career provides insight into the top career-boosting resources. Stacey O'Connor, Project Manager, Team Lead & Account Principle at Adobe, will help you discover "the untapped silver linings of the role you're currently in", as well as guiding you on how to progress. 

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If you're looking for a mentor for guidance on progression, Finding Your Ideal Mentor: What You Need to Know will run through the process. Led by Joanne Rose, Head of Mobile User Computing at Centrica, the session will identify what makes a great mentor, explain how to find them and how to utilise the relationship to each other's benefit.

Unconscious bias came up as the fourth biggest challenge by 20%. Many described it as "almost impossible to escape", with many men unaware of the absence of stigma they face in comparison. Educating men on these behaviours can help, an idea crucial to Expedia Group's Mindset Shift: Igniting Inclusion Through Allyship.  Chris Burgess, Global Vice President at Expedia IT and Rehana Nanji, Programme Manager, People Engagement at Expedia Group will demonstrate everyone's role in inclusion, giving takeaways on how to be an ally. For tackling unconscious bias from a management level, How to Avoid Unconscious Bias in Your Job Specs by EIU's Chief Digital Officer Sharon Cooper explains. 

In an industry that's constantly progressing it can be hard to stay on track, which is why 16% of women said their biggest challenge was keeping up with industry trends and learning new skills. As well as focusing on D&I, Women of Silicon Roundabout will cover industry trends, teach career-boosting skills and deliver important insights on the state of the tech sector. Questions about new technologies will be asked, like LetGo's Denise Jones' session, Has AI Given Rise to New and Distinctive Ethical Issues? Joanna Chwastowska, Engineering Lead at Google DeepMind Health, will look into the future of tech, asking, Will Coding be Relevant in the Future? 

 

Join 6,000+ tech leaders and professionals at Women of Silicon Roundabout, 25-26 June 2019 at ExCeL London. Learn from the best speakers in the industry, enhance your entire skills portfolio and celebrate gender diversity in the world's fastest growing industry. 

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