Top seven tips for women in tech
Being a woman with more than 17 years' experience in the constantly evolving technology industry, Lynette Hundermark, MD of mobile solutions consultancy company Useful & Beautiful, says she has had a "fair share" of learning experiences.
These are Hundermark's top tips for women who want to not only survive - but to climb to the top - in the world of tech.
1. Follow your passion: "I am passionate about what I do. The moment I stop feeling that excitement, I look for other areas in the field that are able to challenge me and keep my mind working," says Hundermark.
2. Learn to integrate work and family life: Circumstances will change as you progress in life. Hundermark's advice is not to strike a "work-life balance" as it is not a scale, she says, but to roll with the punches and make the best of a situation. "The best part of integration is that things change and you adapt. Just like integrating an application program interface to an app, changes always have to be made."
3. Find a mentor: The importance of mentorship cannot be overstated, says Hundermark. She suggests women identify a mentor that can support and invest in them. "Senior managers will be more likely to take you under their wing if it is apparent that you love what you do and don't really see it as a job, but rather as a passion and growth opportunity. This attitude will make the process of seeking support easier."
4. Chat to like-minded women who are true role models: "Although there aren't very many, you would be surprised at the response if you reached out for advice. The Internet is full of so many awesome, talented women in the tech space who are constantly providing insights. Sift through the public relations and hype, and find people of true substance, who you can identify with in terms of having similar backgrounds or family situations."
5. Work on your negotiation skills: "Society and tradition has taught women to be thankful for what we get, but throughout my career I often found that some of my male peers were on a higher salary scale than I was." Hundermark says, on further investigation, she found this was not because they were more skilled - but rather because they did not just accept the salaries or increases they were initially offered.
6. Learn from negative experiences. Hundermark recommends women treat negative experiences as character-building episodes and move on - quickly. "While I've had really awesome mentors and managers, I have also had to deal with the unfortunate situation where I had the odd male chauvinist line manager who would question my authority. If anything, it made me stronger and helped build confidence."
7. Fight your fear of failure: "Women in particular hate failing and this can be a career inhibitor if you are always afraid to take risks. As a business owner, I am continually learning how to manage this and to see failure as an opportunity. In the words of author Eloise Ristad, 'When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel'."
To sum up, says Hundermark, "being a woman in tech is not easy, but confidence in your abilities, the willingness to seek out advice when necessary, and the seamless integration of your work and personal life are the stepping stones to success".