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Women in tech: How to break into the industry

Check out our article with data-backed tips to help women in tech break into the industry.

According to the National Center for Women & Informational Technology (NCWIT) 2020 report, women make up only 25% of the professional computing operations roles in the US. But, companies succeed when they are made up of diverse team members. That’s because they can offer a wide range of perspectives, opinions, and experiences.

So, how can we help more women break find great positions to close the gender gap? At Pathrise, our goal is to diversify the tech industry by working with job-seekers to be the best possible candidate they can be. This often includes battling imposter syndrome and winning over team members in your interviews. Here are our best tips to help increase the number of women in tech.

Step 1: Look for roles in the right places

If you are looking to break into the tech industry as a woman, and especially as a woman of color, you want to make sure that your future company values diversity. Companies who practice diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and in their hiring efforts see increased creativity, less turnover, higher employee satisfaction, and more success overall. But, how can you be sure that the companies you are applying and interviewing with share your values?

Start by focusing on job boards that put diversity in the forefront. Companies that post on diversity job boards are looking specifically to expand their perspectives, hire new and different types of people, and create supportive environments in house. Of course, you still should do your due diligence on these companies to make sure they are not just paying lip service, but this is generally a good start.

Step 2: Use your connections with other women in tech

Beyond the diversity-centered job boards, you can use your personal and professional connections to find companies that are safe and inclusive for women. Ask where they are working, where they have had good experiences, and where they suggest you avoid. Tapping into your network and setting up informational interviews can help as you break into the industry.

You can also check out Meetup and specific diversity-focused groups. Consider Women in Tech, AfroTech, Techqueria, Out in Tech, and many more organizations to help you learn about openings at places that value diversity. They often have professional gatherings (in-person when safe to do so and online) that you can attend as a way to network with potential employers. You can meet new people and learn about their organizations to decide what is a good fit for you. In addition, these interactions can also lead to referrals, which are a great way to get your foot in the door of a company.

Photo of women in tech

Step 3: Do some detective work

Make sure you spend time researching the company to learn about their mission, values, and culture. For example, look at their About page, Careers/Jobs page, and Culture/Life page to see what they are working to achieve and how they are going about these goals. Many startups and smaller organizations have company team pages, or at least some info about the executive team, on their site. Take a look to see if there is a gender disparity in their high level employees. 

In addition, check out their Glassdoor reviews and any other public content. You can use these to determine if the company values diversity and how they put that value into practice. A lot of organizations have general equal opportunity language in their applications. But, does this company include cultural events or internal groups? Do they offer paid maternity and parental leave as well as LGBTQ+ inclusive benefits? Will they be supportive of a flexible work lifestyle if you have kids? If you can’t find the answers to these questions online, write them down and ask during your interviews.

Step 4: Ask upfront questions

You should also prepare a list of questions to ask at the end of your interview, beyond questions about the company and role, to get an understanding of their values. Here is an assortment of questions that you can include in your list. Feel free to review even more questions in our guides on diversity questions and finding a job at a company that is LGBTQ friendly

Questions to ask

  • If you are being interviewed by a woman, you can ask: “Do you feel comfortable here?”
  • “How would you describe the company culture?”
  • “How diverse is the leadership at this organization? What about the executive team?”
  • “Does the company do any diversity training as part of onboarding or at other times? Has the senior team members and leadership done diversity training?”
  • “Can you describe how the company is working towards diversity and inclusion goals?”
  • “I’d love to know a little more about how team members are supported here. Do you feel like the company has your back in difficult times?”

We hope these tips and templates will help more women successfully break into the tech industry at companies that will support their growth. With more women in tech, everyone does better. 

If you are looking for additional help with your job search, Pathrise is an online mentorship program that works with people on all components of their job search. If you are interested in joining the program, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today. 

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Alex MacPherson

Hi I'm Alex! Since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2019, I have worked on the growth team for Pathrise helping job seekers hone their skills to land their dream role through curated content on interview prep, resume building and more.

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