Women of colour still face a range of challenges and often feel they have to work harder than their white counterparts to prove themselves in the workplace.
This was the view of panellists and attendees at The Experiences of Women of Colour in Tech who discussed the many issues that can hold women of colour back in their careers.
The event, held by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and sponsored by BCSWomen, was an opportunity to share skills and develop supportive networks in a safe space, particularly given the ‘tech bro’ culture that many women of colour continue to face.
The panel of business analysts, technologists and engineers shared their experiences of how they have built careers in tech and offered supportive advice to those at the start of their careers.
Tania Mahmood, Cloud DevOps Engineer at Aveva, said “It’s ok to break down cultural norms and identify what your values are. Learn to accept who you are and what is unique about you – as well as recognising the privileges that you do have.”
Build network throughout your career
Nicola Martin, Head of Quality Engineering, Adarga said; “It’s really important to build your network throughout your career – people will help you at different times and in different ways. Put yourself forward - as a woman of colour get into the habit of putting yourself forward for awards and other opportunities. You need to be seen, you need to put your head above the parapet. Develop your soft skills, such as your confidence, join other women in the tech world , create opportunities for yourself and others and contribute to the community of women of colour in tech.”
Jo Richards, Test Engineer, ITO, said; “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, there’s going to be time when you’re the only woman of colour in the room. Stand tall you deserve to be there and embrace your quirks and uniqueness.”
Be part of something bigger, join the Chartered Institute for IT.
The discussion included advice on dealing with microaggressions, subtle forms of discrimination often directed at women and women of colour.
Sheekha Singh, QA Automation Lead, at Artisan Studios said; “These can be verbal or non-verbal. These micro-aggressions build up and affect the way you work. It can be difficult to identify when someone is contributing to micro-aggression – it could start with a joke or a comment.”
Barbara Wallington, Business Analyst , shared advice for women hoping to make the move into tech; “Align your values and interests with the roles which are available. Look for mentors or coaches, go to Linkedin, join digital platforms, introduce yourself and ask for help and coaching. Familiarise yourself with the lingo and align experiences with the roles that you want. And investigate doing some short courses to bridge gaps in your skills.”