A Woman’s Guide to Finding Your Inner Geek

Women’s Day Guest Post by Claire Grant – Lead Disruptor

So, I’ve been wondering – why are there so few women in the technology field?

I went through a few careers before finally finding my perfect match in software development, all of which were understandably male dominated industries, but coming into IT there seemed to be no obvious barriers to entry for women.

There are certainly no physical barriers, women are both logical and creative by nature, seemingly the perfect match for the tech industry. So, I’ve come to the conclusion that women are just not discovering their inner geek!

Before I start letting you in on HOW to access your inner geek, you’re probably wondering why on earth would you WANT to discover your inner geek?

Here’s what made me fall in love with software development:

It’s creative. Not the pretty painting sort of creative, but creative in that you’re actually creating something, very literally, out of nothing. You can produce products that make people’s lives easier and more productive. Anything can be created – you’re only limited by your imagination.

There’s a low barrier to entry. By this, I mean all you really need is a computer and an internet connection. Now I’m not suggesting that getting a university degree is not a great achievement, but in the IT industry, it’s not a requirement. For girls leaving school without funding, an expensive degree could take many years to achieve. There are, however, reasonable online courses available. In fact, right at this moment, I’m expanding my knowledge with three courses, none of which cost more than R150 each.

Whether you’re leaving school or considering changing career, have you considered how your career decisions will affect your lifestyle choices?

IT is one of those careers where you can literally work from anywhere. Whether you’re picturing yourself working from the beach or you would like to be at home with your children while they’re young, then this is the perfect choice for you.

For me, being able to be around for my young children and not having to sacrifice my career for this choice was a big plus. In fact, I didn’t even bother taking maternity leave as I didn’t feel that having a baby affected my work.

These are my top tips for getting in touch with your inner geek:

Be motivated and have a clear goal. What do you want to achieve? Maybe you have an idea for a product, perhaps you want to be the first woman on Mars?

  • Find out what drives you. I love creating something out of nothing. The technology industry changes at a rapid pace, we keep learning, keep improving and keep growing. If you don’t have the drive to keep learning, you will get left behind. Don’t worry, this is not as daunting as it sounds, when you see the amazing things that are being created and developed and discovered, you will find that keeping up is exciting and alleviates boredom.
  • Harness your creativity. This doesn’t have to be artistic kind of creativity. It could be your passion for creating something new or discovering more efficient methods for doing something. Not feeling very creative? Be open to new ideas and experiences and creativity will follow.
  • Find a mentor. Getting started can be rough, like ‘riding a bicycle for the first time’ rough. Sometimes it helps to have someone to show you the basics, give you a little push and be there when you fall and think you’ll never get back on again. I’m not going to sugarcoat the difficulty, but if you push through the pain, eventually it clicks and you will be flying.
  • And last but not least, be confident in the skills you’ve acquired. Other people’s confidence in you is often a reflection of your confidence in yourself.

I think the impression that women are not as competent as men in many cases comes from the way women carry themselves. Women tend to be more honest and open about their feelings, while men pretend to know everything. No one can know everything, just have confidence in the knowledge and skills you have acquired and never stop learning.

Now go be geeky, even if it’s just on the inside!

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