Updated: Feb 17
By Dr. Sharon H. Porter , February 2, 2021
The Women Who Lead book series highlights women in a variety of industries that are achieving at great lengths.
Throughout the month of February, we will share tips from Women Who Lead in Technology and Finance as we head into Women’s History Month (March) and the release of Women Who Lead in Technology and Women Who Lead in Finance.
While there has been an increase in visibility of women in the technology industry, it is quite obvious that we still have work to do. According to the 2020 World Economic Forum Gender Gap report, there are still challenges when it comes to women's underrepresentation in emerging and rapidly changing sectors, like technology.
I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Carol Gorst, Business Analyst Manager at XYPRO Technology and she provided 10 Technology Tips for women who are in the technology industry and those who aspire to be. You can read her journey in technology in the upcoming release of Women Who Lead in Technology, set to be released March 2021.
1. Be honest with yourself that you did not succeed at everything on your own. People helped you. Be grateful for the individuals who reached out to help you when they did not have to. Make sure you do the same.
2. Your character is your brand. When people know they can trust you to keep private what people share in confidence, to share credit with team members, and to deliver as promised then you will be the person they think of when they need to deliver and are building their team.
3. You will frequently hear advice to 'do what you love'. It is okay if you do not know what that is. It is equally important to understand what you do not love. Choose classes, projects, or work that interests you. If the work does not keep you engaged you know this work is not a good fit for you moving forward.
4. Be excited, not afraid of tough projects. Clearly understand what details cause the project to be labeled 'difficult'. Ask questions and confirm with the key stakeholder or the project owner that you have correctly defined criteria for what constitutes success for the project. Use this opportunity to expand your skills, your network, or both.
5. Do not wait for people to offer up career advice or mentoring. Reach out to people in your circle who inspire you and make you think “I want to be like her/him”. Let someone know how she inspires you and ask if they have 15 minutes for a quick chat about career options. They will probably say yes. Show up ready to ask one or two questions and honor your time limit. Have your pitch ready to ask if she/he would be interested in periodic discussions or more formally in mentoring you.
6. If someone in a position of authority (manager, professor, guidance counselor) suggests that you should not apply for a position (or school) ask why not. Respect their opinion, honestly evaluate what they tell you but do not let it stop you.
7. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to force a situation to happen (job, assignment, etc.) it never works out. Perhaps you are trying to fulfill someone else's expectations and not what is best for you. You may be instinctively holding yourself back because you sense you are on the wrong path.
8. Some people are lucky. Many lucky people have prepared by doing extra work, studying longer, or spending their free time learning a new skill. If everyone is successful because they are lucky, and you are not, take an honest look at how their skill set and preparation compares with yours. Yes, sometimes you get lucky. Most of the time luck comes to you because you were preparing for the opportunity.
9. I have seen repeatedly through the years that the people you need often show up in your life when you need them most to be there. The door-to-door salesman who just happened to know calculus was the most peculiar example. I acquired a calculus tutor, and he remembered how much he loved learning and re enrolled in school. Keep your eyes and ears open for serendipitous opportunities. They often lead to a new direction or a realignment to your best path forward.
10. It is okay to sometimes be scared, to feel clueless or to be unsure of what to do next. Take a deep breath, acknowledge the situation, decide what action you can do next to move forward and just do it.
About Dr. Carol Gorst
Dr. Gorst completed her Ph.D. and post-doctoral research working at the interfaces between chemistry and biology that are important to biomedical problems as well as the global carbon cycle and the metabolism of methane and CO2, important greenhouse gasses. Dr. Gorst focused her technical expertise in the creation of software applications advancing drug discovery research while expanding her understanding of methods in software development and regulatory requirements in the pharmaceutical industry. Carol brought her 15+ years of experience to XYPRO Technology Corporation with a focus on developing secure, regulatory compliant software applications. She has been essential to establishing processes to enhance the pace of software development, implement customer-centric business requirements, and improve the usability and overall satisfaction with XYPRO's software.