The business world is changing fast, nowhere more so than in the technology sector. Workers today need both the drive and the skills to keep pace in the changing landscape.
That’s especially true for women in tech, a field which remains notoriously difficult for women to succeed in. Though the issue has received more attention in recent years, and many companies have taken steps to be more inclusive, women remain underrepresented, holding just 26% of computing jobs.
Still, work as we know it is changing, and even amid fears of automation, there is a wealth of opportunity for women with the right skills to excel in tech careers. While we don’t know exactly what the future of work will look like, there are some key traits that can help you stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive.
While technical skills are important (more on that below), they’re not the end-all-be-all. Technology changes fast — there’s always a new programming language or software emerging, and old ones become obsolete.
What matters more than specific technical skills? The answer might surprise you: Employers want to hire employees for their problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills.
After all, businesses will likely face problems in the future that they can’t even conceive of now. What matters most will not be what specific technology stack you know — it’s how you approach problems, and whether you’re able to look at them in new ways to find solutions.
Along the same lines, 18% of employees highlight their adaptability when applying for jobs. It’s easy to see why — businesses today must rapidly pivot, evolve, and adapt in order to remain competitive, and their employees need to be able to do the same.
As Dan Gannon writes, “Most people experiencing a change at work have three distinct reactions: Go with it, go against it, or do nothing.”
People who are flexible enough to “go with it” are much more likely to be successful and move up the ranks. The same can’t be said for those who push back or fail to adapt.
Digital and Technical Skills
In order to succeed in future jobs, women need to have a well-rounded skill set that includes the soft skills discussed above, as well as technical and digital skills.
Even for those in non-tech fields, being comfortable with technology (at a minimum) can make employees more efficient, more confident, and more valuable to employers.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever for anyone to learn technical skills. Certification programs, online courses, bootcamps, and other learning opportunities abound, and many are free or low-cost.
For those looking to learn to code, there are online courses like Treehouse or Codecademy. Those who want more guidance or depth would benefit from programs like Skillcrush and Hackbright Academy, both designed specifically for women who want to pursue careers in tech or add to their skill sets.
Sites like Khan Academy, Lynda and Udemy offer courses on nearly every topic under the sun. Coursera offers open university courses, including subjects like computer science and data science, while software-specific courses like Salesforce’s Trailhead program are a great way to get familiar with a new tool.
Whether innovating a new product or solving a challenging problem, the ability to think outside the box is crucial now, and in the future of work. Organizations that encourage and reward creativity also benefit from happier, more engaged, motivated, and productive employees.
One simple way businesses can increase creativity is simply by making teams more diverse and inclusive. But there’s plenty that women can do to boost their creativity too, and ensure that they’re innovating and contributing valuable ideas, things like:
- Free writing
- Using mind maps
- Getting outside the office — a change of scenery can be inspiring!
- Making time to play — playdough or clay, drawing, coloring, painting, or playing music can spark your creativity.
- Putting down your phone and letting yourself be bored.
You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial. As Jeff James writes:
“Thinking like an entrepreneur can open your eyes to new opportunities to learn and grow in your role, which will, in turn, strengthen your business or company and put you on the path to being a great leader.”
So what does it take to be an entrepreneur? Along with traits we’ve discussed, like being adaptable and creative, you can strive to be innovative in your role and make it your own.
Be bold: take your seat at the table and make your voice heard. Lastly, entrepreneurship is near-synonymous with risk-taking. Don’t be afraid to try and fail.
Having women in leadership benefits everyone, but in tech, women hold only 7% of roles on private tech company boards.
A more equitable and inclusive tech industry will likely require a multi-pronged approach — from changing workplace culture and hiring practices, to empowering more young women to pursue and succeed in STEM education.
Still, progress is happening, and women stand only to benefit from building the technical and soft skills needed to succeed in tech.
While we can’t know what exactly the future of work will look like, an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to adapt quickly, think critically, and problemsolve creatively, will go a long way towards helping you “future-proof” your career.