When I founded Women Who Test, I was hoping to bring together women in a space where we felt comfortable sharing ideas and solutions while helping each other thrive and advance in our careers. At our very first event in October 2015, our group discussed five main issues women in tech face:

  1. Ageism: Being discriminated for being too old or too young
  2. Being Heard: The need to become more vocal and visible and having a voice
  3. Self Development: Making self-development a priority
  4. Burnout and Balance: Caring for ourselves as much as we do for others
  5. Young Women in STEM: How do we attract more?

Most of these same issues are still at the top of the list for women in tech, but as a community, we’re working to resolve these challenges every day.

Over the years, the Women Who Test community has worked together to brainstorm and develop some great ideas that can help us start to alleviate these roadblocks.

Developing a Front Row

Most of us have a group of close friends that we cherish, and we rely on them to be open and honest with us. We need to find that same support in our business lives. However, who should be in your “front row” is not always so obvious.

We are not just talking about a bunch of cheerleaders—while uplifting, they will not help you evaluate your choices and path. It's a great image, right? A group of people that care about you sitting expectantly waiting for you to succeed—who doesn't need that?

Make sure your front row is made up of people you trust—critical thinkers and mentors that you want to learn from. And, of course, a little dash of active cheerleading helps. Also, remember, no one person has all the answers and perspective—you need a team, a community, a front row!

Do it Afraid!

Asking for a raise can be difficult for anyone, but it can be especially daunting for women. Women, in general, are not as comfortable as their male counterparts in talking about their achievements. Some may be in environments where they already feel marginalized, compounding their apprehension about touting their capabilities.

Taking proactive stances to salary increases, promotions, and new challenges are imperative to anyone wanting to progress in their profession. A way to help you understand, internalize, and communicate your worth is to create a value statement about you. You should be able to articulate your value statement in thirty seconds or less and be ready to say it any moment, like when you pass the CEO in the hallway, and they say "where is it you work and what do you do?"

A value statement will help you to distill and internalize what is so great about you and your work! When it comes to a salary increase, don't wait for your hard work to be recognized; don't think it is not the right time; don't let a rejection stop you from asking again in a few months or asking your manager “If not now, when is the mostly likely time in the future it will occur?” It may be uncomfortable, but just “do it afraid!”

An example value statement would be, "As a [insert job function, title, or career direction] I have expertise in [insert any tools or special skills you have achieved], I bring value to the team and company by [include a few examples of your strengths], and I aim to continue growing in [insert your area of expertise or interest] and meet [inset your mission or goal] by [include goal timing or next step]."

Tiny Challenges

Small Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions and those of others and the ability to use that information to guide your thinking and behavior. Once you have identified changes you want to make to a behavior or routine, you may need to unlearn patterns and retrain yourself in the new ways.

Some changes can seem overwhelming. Breaking them down into small digestible steps—tiny challenges—can help your grasp what you need to do.

To create permanent change, you need to add consistency and time. They say that it takes 30 days to make a new behavior permanent. Choose simple steps and do them repeatedly for 30 days, no matter what! It could be "I'm going to react differently to that situation" or "I'm going to put on my running shoes every morning."

You may want to start small—saying I am going prepare for team meetings with a few new ideas to share may not be achievable but you may be able to keep a list of process changes or innovations you think could help your team and aim to share them over time. If you continue to tell yourself you're going to do something and then don't, your psyche will feel let down. Pick achievable goals. No step is too small.

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