10 Tips for Amplifying Women’s Voices in the World of Technology
Being a woman in the world of technology can be intimidating. I’m no doubt in the minority, and even more so because I have the title of Vice President of Marketing. Yes, even on the marketing side of things, executive positions are dominated by men.
Speaking my mind in a mostly male workplace can be challenging. I’m not ashamed to say that sometimes I feel nervous or doubtful. The important thing is to find ways to overcome those fears, speak up even when it isn’t encouraged, and ensure I will be heard.
Ladies: every one of us has the potential to do great things and all of us have power, even in a landscape dominated by men. The advice below is a starting point.
1. Get the facts
Before you enter a conversation, gather all the facts you need to support your point of view. Do your research and come prepared. Engaging people in a constructive, fact-based way makes you infinitely more persuasive.
There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about an issue. However, backing up your statements with data will transform your words from simply emotional speeches to powerful, convincing presentations.
2. Act confident
Notice I didn’t say, “Be confident.” You may be confident, but you may also be shy or nervous or scared. I know sometimes I am. But I also know how to put on a good face even when my insides feel like jelly, and that’s important for convincing others to listen to what I have to say.
Acknowledge your challenges — and then work through them. Here are some easy things you can do to change the way people view you:
- Walk tall: Look up when you walk and meet your colleagues’ eyes.
- Sit with good posture: Sit with a straight back, don’t round your shoulders, and keep your chin up.
- Be proud of your accomplishments: Introduce yourself with your title.
- Stand your ground: If people interrupt you, let them calmly know that it’s not acceptable. Keep your cool and say what you have to say.
3. Sit at the head of the table
You may want to sit on the outskirts of a meeting so as to avoid having all eyes on you. Recognize that if you do so, your words are more likely to be ignored.
If you want to be heard, place yourself in the center of the action, not the edges. Sit next to the main decision maker and speak up when you have something to say. Your views are important.
4. Don’t apologize out of habit
When you do something that hurts someone else, saying, “I’m sorry” makes sense. But apologizing for speaking up, having a contrary idea, or bringing a different view to the table is something else entirely.
You don’t have to justify speaking up. Your views are valid.
5. Fail fast and move on
Don’t let fear of being wrong stop you from speaking up. Failure is a natural part of innovation. Finding out what doesn’t work is often equally, if not more, important than sticking to what does. Learn from what doesn’t work and use that information to improve your next steps.
Stop self-editing. Instead, take risks, speak your mind, and let others know what you think. If you never ask questions or make mistakes, you’ll never grow.
6. Leave your comfort zone
Keep your career and your life interesting by pushing yourself to go beyond your self-imposed barriers. Make a conscious effort to grow yourself.
Here are some things you can try:
- Go to a conference.
- Introduce yourself to a person you’ve always wanted to meet.
- Learn new skills.
- Try meditation.
- Make some art.
Then bring what you’ve learned back to the table and show your associates your new ideas. Self growth is great for stretching your mind, your business prospects, and your company’s improvement.
7. Get help
No person will have every skill in every area. There’s a reason different people have different jobs and specialties.
Having a good support system is critical whether you’re dealing with challenges, experiencing success, or blazing a trail.
- Depend on your team to enable you to successfully complete projects.
- Look for mentors to help you grow.
- Build relationships with people who might help you in the future.
- Find allies to open new doors.
8. Advocate for yourself
At the same time, don’t depend on others for everything. Speak up, even if it’s somewhat nerve wracking to do so.
Remember, courage isn’t about not being afraid. It’s about moving forward even if you are afraid. Moreover, you won’t get what you don’t ask for. Request a raise, a new title, a spot on a committee, a chance to become a decision maker.
You are smart and motivated. You deserve to be treated as such.
9. Build your brand
Answer the following questions:
- How are you perceived?
- How do you want to be perceived?
- How can you close that gap?
Your personal brand isn’t something that’s inflicted on you — you can control it. Be very intentional about your choices and make sure they align with what you stand for.
10. Tell your story
When you see injustice, speak up. By doing so, you will inspire others to share their stories too. Sharing your knowledge and challenges helps others (and you) feel like they are not alone.
And always know that you are not alone, even if equality challenges make you feel lonely.
Ready to take on the world? Go for it! Let me know about your challenges and triumphs in the comments below or on Twitter at Holly Chessman.
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About Holly Chessman
Named one of New England’s Top 40 Influencers in Content and Digital Marketing, Holly fully understands the power of online engagement. She is passionate about implementing marketing strategies that result in quick growth, rapid revenue, and happy customers. She currently runs marketing for Glance Networks, whose integrated cobrowse, screen share, and agent video platform Panorama has taken the customer experience industry by storm. She has been quoted in a variety of major publications and is a regular contributor to Maximize Social Business, Business2Community, and VentureFizz. In the past, she has worked for a variety of high tech companies, as well as spearheaded her own marketing consulting firm. She’s also not afraid to embrace her nerdy side (as evidenced by her love of Neil Gaiman and her “talking” TARDIS).