As of 2018, only 28% of people working in tech are female. Sadly, that puts us as the second-highest country for female tech workers, but it’s a pretty shabby number.

Why the huge gender disparity? Honestly, all those same dumb reasons a gender wage gap still exists – outdated notions of gender roles. Hoever, just because it’s harder to break into the tech industry as a woman, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.

Anna Pomroy, a Senior Engineer at PayPal Australia, has shared her top five tips for breaking into the still very much male-dominated tech field.

1. Have confidence in yourself

Not quite a ‘fake it ’til you make it’ sitch, but certainly Anna believes you should be backing yourself, even when it feels pretty intimidating to do so.

“While gender stereotyping might still exist in the tech industry, your competency to do the job is what matters. If you’re confident in yourself and your skills, it doesn’t matter that you may be the minority in the room.”

2. Know your own worth

“In a previous role, I didn’t get a promotion despite my male peer getting one. I had the confidence to bring it up with HR and my boss, explaining that I knew I had the skills for the role. The response? That I didn’t smile enough,” recalls Anna.

“I knew this wasn’t relevant to my success and immediately started looking for a new role where I would be valued for the work I could do.”

“Do your research and don’t be afraid to come to your superiors armed with the facts. If you’re still not being heard, consider whether it’s time to move to a role where you are valued and where your remuneration reflects your capabilities, not gender.”

3. Diversify your skillset

Success in the tech world requires more than just being good with gadgets. The more variety of skills you can display, the better, according to Anna.

“In the tech industry, there is no shortage of technical skills. To set yourself apart, it is worth honing your human skills, or ‘soft skills’. Being able to collaborate, problem-solve and communicate is fundamental.”

4. Find yourself a mentor

What better way to learn and grow in a role than finding a strong mentor in the same industry? But do they need to be female?

“I believe you don’t necessarily need to find a mentor that is female, or from your workplace,” Anna explains. “It is most important to find someone you can count on to listen to you and offer solutions to the challenges you’re facing.”

5. Become a star networker

Networking can be so daunting, no matter what field you’re in – but the payoff of successful networking is so beneficial.

“It’s daunting when you’re new to the industry, but reach out to people who are already in the position or field that you want to be in. You might be surprised just how valuable that connection could become,” recommends Anna.

Image: Black Panther