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Women in Technology: Developing Collaborative Skills

Women in Technology: Developing Collaborative Skills
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This article focuses on the need for collaboration among women in technology. It further offers tips for ensuring cooperative efforts towards the achievement of gender equality and female leadership.

The Gender Equality Journey

Today’s world of information technology (IT) and digital transformation is gradually embracing gender equality – at last! In the past, female gender inclusion was more of a challenge, where the IT profession had just a few women representation. This engendered a masculine work environment because greater attention was given to the sex in the statistical majority.

In 2018, the Pew Research Centre highlighted this unfair treatment at majority-male workplaces. Unfortunately, such environments estranged female professionals from their male counterparts to the extent that the women become demoralised to take part.

Gender imbalance is still extensive, little wonder the 2022 International Women’s Day concentrated on this. I discovered recently that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the inclusion of gender equality as part of international human rights law by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Achieving gender equality has taken a long time coming, yet an unfinished business. The journey of this age-old cause is still in progress.

 

Promoting Gender Equality

Negative experiences in their career have made women take the back bench. At gatherings where IT experts discuss problem resolution, women technology professionals are unable to contribute, and when they do, they are ignored.

Even amongst their dismal representation, women often engage themselves in unhealthy rivalries. This hinders their career progression and their elevation in the profession. The men take advantage of the weaknesses of the women, and the workplace, to climb the echelons in the technology career. Consequently, growth in leadership became a rare privilege for female IT professionals.

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To this end, many women have disengaged themselves from the technology profession. This narrative has changed over the years and there is still much room for improvement. Gender fairness in new employees and greater impartiality in executive roles now have increased attention.

 

Uplifting Women in Technology

McKinsey’s recent report informs that women were promoted at a slower rate than men across all industries. Organizations need to improve gender parity but women themselves are making this possible. Women must come together to improve their valuableness in the IT profession. This unified front requires much collaboration with their female peers and other supportive organizations. The partnerships are expected to cut across gender divides, irrespective of personalities, age, and other demographics.

All-round skills acquisition mixed with peer and team bonding will shape women into leaders and improve their number in the C-Suite. Nowadays, organizations promote this cooperative approach to leadership development. Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN) is devoted to the advancement of women and girls in Nigeria. The AnitaB.org social enterprise supports women in technical fields, their employers and learning institutions, and the next generation.

Act Now!

Importantly, the individual technology woman must strive to improve to be a better version of herself continually. She must harness a rich blend of technical and soft skills to pave her way to leadership. This is best achieved through cooperative efforts with female folks. If you are a woman, and this speaks to you, it is time to act. Here are five ways women in technology can develop collaborative skills:

  1. Attend technical training courses often – Women must train themselves in their areas of technical specialization to the core and be willing to explore others. This entails unlearning, relearning and upskilling. Training helps to bring value to the corporate table, and when undertaken continually women will remain valuable in the technology industry. They do not need to always depend on their employer for such training. It should be their own commitment to personal growth in their career. However, they should undergo such education for the purpose of improving their effectiveness on the job, not for competition. The valuableness of women at work is a measure of their usefulness – proved through their ability to provide solutions.
  2. Networking at conferences and seminars – The IT terrain is dynamic, which makes the learning process a continuum. This involves the teaching of emerging trends, mentoring sessions, and break-out sessions. Attendees also share thoughts and ideas, opening their minds to learn from other cultures and styles/methods for supplying solutions. Networking helps to extend the mindsets of women when they meet or connect with their contemporaries from all walks of life. It creates opportunities for synergies and better job opportunities.
  3. Building and improving on soft skills – We find the heart of human development in soft skills and attitudinal conduct. People help to manage issues and resolve conflicts when applied appropriately. Women need to consistently work on building and improving their oral and written communications, body language, negotiation skills, telephone etiquette, and other qualities that might seem ephemeral but are critical to impressions made of them as well as their performance assessments on the job. Women must grow in all of these qualities to promote their emotional quotient at work.
  4. Emotional intelligence – Women need sound judgement and emotional competence as collaborators and leaders. In the IT field of play, they need to show good emotional intelligence and not just technical prowess. Daniel Goleman, the author of Working with Emotional Intelligence, discovered that emotional competence matters twice as much as other factors in job effectiveness. Technology entails working a lot with inanimate things, but the people that manage these technology components and systems are humans. Understanding their respective make-ups psychologically will help in dealing with colleagues and counterparts in the industry.
  5. Build and keep good relationships at work – The foregoing point suggests the need for women to find their clique. They must know who they are compatible with on the job. They must be clear on this with respect to work styles, personal interests, values, and beliefs. Moreover, they should know who they can be or are agreeable with. Compatibility and agreeability promote easy decision-making and ease of bonding among team members. These qualities help to build and support relationships. Women grow in leadership as a result of these associations. It is essential for them to use their upliftment as leverage to strengthen the established relationships.
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Women in technology who have employed the above hints to mould themselves have carved niches in the industry. Some ladies made it to the C-Suite, while some got recognized for their ability, and others are on their way. Two notable achievers are Omobola Johnson, Nigeria’s former Minister for Communication Technology and Confidence Staveley, Founder, CyberSafe Foundation. They promote gender parity but also digital inclusion for other women and the developing girl child. I encourage women to help one another to grow in leadership, together they will gain more grounds for gender equality.

 

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