Lindsay T Shelton

On Being a Woman in Tech

Posted on July 9, 2020  •  3 minutes  • 445 words


I am in a special, rare butterfly situation. At this moment, I only work with other women at Smarter Consulting. It’s me and four other smart, talented women who came from a variety of backgrounds, both in terms of our education and our careers. Some of us didn’t graduate college and some of us hold master’s degrees. Some of us have never worked in a strictly tech field (me).

The interesting thing is that, because we are all women, we tend to fall into gender-stereotypical patterns at times. We want to be deferential to each other, let the other person speak, and not be perceived as too bossy. I know I have a habit of predicating things I say with qualifiers: “Well I know I’m new to the tech world, but…” and “Well, I don’t know much about Microsoft but…”. I would never want to come across as boastful or cocky, especially if it turns out I’m wrong.

My boss, Sharon, has been in the IT business for longer than I’ve been in any kind of career, and she noticed this type of attitude from more than one of us. She pointed out something that hadn’t occurred to me – men don’t typically do those things. Speaking in broad generalizations, men aren’t going to qualify their statements ahead of time. They much less likely to admit that they aren’t certified experts on a topic before speaking about it. Instead of admitting that I’m not an expert, I should just share my thoughts and at least pretend like I have self-confidence, even if it’s something I struggle with.

And you know what? Today was just one of those real, “I am a woman in tech and I can do it all!” sort of days. I helped a partner solve a problem with the power of Google and insisting that she click the thing she was sure that she had previously clicked, and yes, it turned out she hadn’t actually clicked the thing (which happens to the best of us). A coworker messaged me trying to figure out a problem that a client had emailed to Support, and I dug in and between the two of us, we figured out the solution. I was giddy as I opened up my Teams chat to show her that what we were wondering about had worked.

I didn’t know how to do any of the things I did today when I woke up this morning. However, because I’m in a supportive environment and doing work that I like, I had trust placed in me that I could and would figure it out. How many days like that do you get?

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