Women in Tech: Getting Started as a Beginner

by Maryann Opatola
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women in Tech

Year after year, the level of participation of women in the tech space has remained stagnant. As much as there is numerous encouragement and advocacy for women to join the tech industry, they are less widespread in the field than expected.

Deloitte Global projected that in 2022, the presence of women in large tech companies would be around 33%, which is just about a 2% increase since 2019. In 2021, women employees working with Apple increased by 5% since 2014, and only 10% of tech women work in a female-majority team.

These stats explain the reason for less speed in the participation of women in tech. However, this does not imply that women are not excelling in technology. There are diverse women in tech who are breaking barriers and serving as a means of inspiration to women who desire to be like them.

Women like; Kimberly Bryant – founder of Black Girl’s Code, Susan Wojcicki – CEO of YouTube; and Tope Omotolani – founder and CEO of Crowdyvest, represent women and prove the capability of women.

It’s also significant to know these great women mentioned above started somewhere as beginners. Back then, it must have been difficult due to women’s poor participation and encouragement in tech. Now, it is less difficult – there are numerous women out there serving as motivation, countless free tutorials, women in tech groups, and lots more.

How ‘Women in Tech’ Became a Term

Have you ever wondered how women in tech came to be a term? Back then, women stayed home as housewives, while men went to work to fund the family. So where and how did women rise from working as clerks and typewriters to being in tech – a field ‘too difficult for women’ to be in? Who started it?

Here are five women in history who changed the tech world:

  1. Ada Lovelace

Ada’s father was a romantic poet named Lord Byron and his wife, Anna Isabella-Byron. She had mathematical skills since she was little, and her passion for machines led to a working relationship with Charles Babbage. As a result of her work with Charles, Ada is often called the “world’s first computer programmer”. 

  1. Hedy Lamarr: The inventor of WiFi

Hedy was a self-taught inventor and film actress who was awarded a patent in 1942 for her “secret communication system”, designed with the help of the composer George Antheil. This frequency hopping system was initially set as a radio-guided torpedo off course during the war, but the idea eventually inspired WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth technology that we use today.

  1. Radia Perlman: The mother of the Internet

Radia is Nicknamed the “Mother of the Internet.” Her invention of the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) was instrumental in making today’s internet possible. Her work made a great representation of the way networks are self-arranged and the movement of data and put the basic rules of internet traffic in place.

Radia has delivered keynote speeches worldwide and is still a computer programmer and engineer for Dell EMC.

  1. Kike Oniwinde: The founder & CEO of the BYP network 

“Being a woman in tech means breaking barriers so that those who come after me won’t have to struggle the same way. It means showing the world my ability and believing in myself wholeheartedly.” 

  1. Chelsea Brown: The Security Guru

CEO & Founder, Digital Mom Talk, and Certified Cyber Security Consultant for Families and Businesses.

“Being a woman in tech means educating parents and businesses on what they should have been taught from the beginning: how to protect themselves and their assets online. Too many people and businesses are losing what matters most to them simply because they didn’t learn how to secure their online environments properly. They won’t do it because they think, “It’s too complicated!” Or “I don’t need it. I’m not at risk!” The truth is it’s as complicated as you make it, and everyone is at a bigger risk than they believe.”

Read also: Nigerian Women in Business (Challenges and success stories).

10 Steps to Getting Started in Tech as a Woman 

Below, I’ll share with you ten steps into starting your journey as a woman in tech. Let’s dive in.

  1. Choose a specific role in tech

Tech roles aren’t all about coding. As a beginner, tech might sound like it’s all about coding but it isn’t. There are non-coding roles such as; designing, data analysis, content management and strategy, customer services, product management, technical writing, and many others.

If you are interested in coding roles, there are also diverse roles to choose from, such as; programming, web development, engineering, system development, and others. The role to choose as a beginner – either coding or non-coding entirely depends on your interest and determination.

Also, before specifying a role as a beginner, it will be advisable to take note of past skills and abilities before venturing into any skill. This is to ensure long-term and enjoyable learning.

  1. Take your time in learning the tech role

Don’t rush it and don’t learn it haphazardly. Be consistent, dedicated, willing to fail, and unlearn and relearn. Learning a skill, especially in tech, can be nerve-racking. The tool might be hidden on your path, or the tutorials might be too fast or cumbersome to follow; however, keep going.

Let the tutorial run at a slow pace. If not, feel free to watch, rewind, pause, and follow along. Subscribe to various YouTube channels tutoring the skill you want to learn and apply for similar Coursera, EdX, Udemy, or LinkedIn courses. Some courses might take up to six months; do not be discouraged or tired.

Instead, on LinkedIn or Twitter, find testimonials of people who were once in your shoes but are doing well and earning from their skillset.

  1. Practice often, practice more

This is where the phrase, ‘never give up,’ should be applied. This stage is demanding. You must practice every day while learning new methods and advanced settings. You will need to compare your work to role models in your speciality, so you can know what area you need to improve.

  1. Connect with other women in tech

Join a group of women in tech, connect with lots of them, share your journey with them, and listen to theirs. Create a relationship; it will be a source of motivation and determination. Go on LinkedIn, search for women in tech, and follow each one you come across doing a great job; from time to time, go through their posts and learn new things.

  1. Get experience and monetise your skill

The tech industry has become saturated. Aside from that, getting a grand job offer as a woman would need excellence – to prove your capability. Therefore, you can’t apply for a gig after obtaining a certificate. You need experience. How? By applying for internships or volunteering to offer your skill to a company in exchange for a review and a company experience.

You can do this for three or more companies and include them on your resume or cv. Also, after you complete any internship, post the work on your social media as part of your portfolio. This will enable people to see your work, engage with it, and share it, and real clients will come for your service in exchange for cash.

Read also: Benefits of Internship and how to get them.

  1. Become a pro

Don’t relax because you are now getting clients. Become professional! Build your brand. How do you do this? By creating a name that everyone will know and be able to address. For instance, Damilola Olokesusi, a woman in tech Nigeria and Co-founder and CEO of Shuttlers, has built her brand in the past few years.

Thus, anywhere you mention her name, people always recognise her as a genius behind Shuttlers. Once your name is branded, you can apply for significant roles and get accepted, and you can even propose a job for companies like Dangote and Apple.Inc or Samsung and get taken just because your name is known and you are a pro.

  1. Attend tech seminars

Attending tech seminars is also a way to connect with other women in tech and learn new techniques on how to start your tech journey. Conferences in Nigeria such as; Smart Africa, Meta Conference, Nigerian Fintech forum, and others are a few of the many seminars you can attend.

If you are searching for free ones, you can attend Zoom meetings organised by someone in your area of speciality from Twitter space, LinkedIn, or any job-based social media. You can also join related groups on Telegram or WhatsApp and participate in any of their discussions.

  1. Become versatile in the knowledge of tech

Hey, expand your knowledge beyond just one area in tech. I’m not saying you should be a master of all; widen your knowledge in other sectors, learn their basic elements, and apply them to your speciality if possible. For instance, if your speciality is content strategy, you should widen your knowledge of SEO, video ads creation, and affiliate marketing because it will help perfect your content.

Likewise, as a programmer, widening your knowledge of UI/UX design and technical writing will be beneficial. This is not to bombard you with all the work in web development; it is for perfect teamwork. If you know the basics of copywriting, tech writing, and web design, you will be able to find the best team for web development, and then your programming skills will not be blotted by an inexperienced team. 

Read also: Top 7 new technologies you should learn in 2023.

  1. Share your knowledge

Once you have experience and have gathered as much insight from other women in tech who are greater than you are, it is advisable to teach others. You gain more knowledge by teaching others. Aside from that, you gain exposure and more income. You can start by creating a course on a particular aspect of your speciality and sharing it on platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare, Vimeo, Coursera, Edx, and LinkedIn.

You can create your own platform and post tutorials from time to time. You can also share tips and tricks to achieve an efficient result in your speciality on YouTube shorts or Instagram.

  1. You are groomed now; explore!

With the steps above duly followed, I would like to congratulate you. You have passed the stage of being a beginner. When applying for jobs, be confident to apply for intermediate or professional positions. Think out of the box, apply for thousands of jobs and propose different ideas to business owners and clients.

Skills Needed to Become a Woman in Tech

As reports have stated, starting in tech can be very unsuitable, especially for women. First, you must be determined because you will want to give up at some point because of societal pressure and your instinct. However, if you are highly determined, your doubts and fear will always lead you to stand firm and keep learning.

Other features you must possess are;

  1. Consistency

You must not skip days, jump the learning procedures, or divert from the initial focus. One thing about tech is that no matter how professional you are in skill, if you are not consistent, the tools in the software used will become unfamiliar. So you must practise always. If you must skip, don’t skip more than two days without practising as a beginner.

  1. Patience

Patience is also needed. When starting as a beginner in tech, following up with the tutorials can be challenging, either because of the fast pace of the tutorial or because of your unfamiliarity with some tools. You should learn to follow beginners’ tutorials, and firstly, know all the use of tools on the software you will be utilising.

And as I wrote a few paragraphs above, don’t be lazy to pause, rewind, play, and fast-forward your tutorial. That’s the way all beginners learn.

  1. Connectivity

You will need to connect with other people in your speciality, thus, you must learn how to build relationships. Start a conversation, ask questions, share your journey, uplift other women, and stay connected to people

  1. Courage

Kimberly Bryant –the founder of Black Girl’s Code, always teaches bravery rather than perfection. As women in tech, there’s a lot of pressure because we try to prove our worth. If you choose courage, you will go farther.

Read also: A complete guide to technical writing and how to become a technical writer.

Cheers to You as You Begin in Tech! 

There are many inspirational stories from female role models, past and present, who have changed the world. If louder voices are heard celebrating the achievements of women in tech, and STEM(science, technology, engineering, and maths), in general, more women will feel empowered in their career choices, and young people will be inspired to consider a future in STEM.

Also, as a beginner in tech, remember that these women once started as a beginner and ended up great. So you too can become like them, and even more than that. Cheers to you as a woman in STEM!

I believe this inspired you. Let’s know your thoughts in the comment section or speak to us on Whatsapp. So you won’t miss out on our other enlightening and value-filled posts, subscribe to our newsletter.

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