What Women in Tech Should Look for in Their Employers
A new survey reports that nearly half of all women say the pandemic negatively impacted their career. From factors like taking on the weight of childcare, to being over-represented in service industries that were highly disrupted, women have been pushed out of the workforce at greater rates than men. Fortunately, the majority of women who left jobs throughout the pandemic are planning to return to work. This is great news for employers that have lost talented female employees who bring critical skills and diverse viewpoints to the table.
The same survey also found that of the women looking to re-enter the workforce, 8 out of 10 say they are specifically looking for a job in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Businesses across industries have been struggling to fill the talent gap in areas like IT, AI and other tech sectors. It’s an opportune moment for women interested in tech to get their career started or take it to the next level as they will have a wide range of companies and roles from which to choose.
Interview Your Potential Employer
Throughout history, women have had to fight to prove they belonged in certain rooms and work twice as hard to demonstrate their skills. While significant inequities persist, particularly for women of color, women with disabilities and LGBTQ+ women, there is more power in the hands of working women than ever before. When looking for your next opportunity, don’t forget that you also get to interview the potential employer. In other words, the job search process is as much about what a company and role can offer to you as what you will offer to the team.
The tech industry is looking for dedicated and competent talent, and women are looking for a place in the STEM field. Having options is great, and it can also be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together a few things for women in tech to look for in potential employers.
- Growth Investments
Looking for and starting a new job is always exciting, but don’t forget to keep one eye on the future. When reading job boards, speaking with hiring managers and digging through LinkedIn and Glassdoor profiles, look for examples of the ways that organizations invest in employees and provide opportunities for growth. Does it seem like employees get promoted from within? Are there programs and initiatives directed towards personal and professional growth?
For instance, at Rocket we are proud to partner with reacHIRE’s Aurora program to provide women opportunities to receive coaching, enhance their leadership skills and build relationships across the globe. The participants have shared how the program helped them gain confidence and resilience and gave them a community of support. Be sure to ask the hiring manager directly what types of professional development opportunities the organization provides and how they invest in employees’ futures. You want to land at an organization that cares about creating an environment where you feel included and have opportunities to thrive.
- Commitment to Diversity
Entering or re-entering a field where women are under-represented may feel intimidating. However, finding an organization that is truly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion may help to ease feelings of worry or loneliness that have been reported by women in STEM. Research says having a strong sense of voice mitigates those negative feelings, so be sure to look for an employer that empowers people from all backgrounds. This means asking specific questions about what their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives look like across the organization.
Organizations that are truly committed to working towards a more equitable future in technology are doing so through their core values as well as actionable steps. At Rocket, our values of empathy, trust, humanity and love are built into everything we do, so our Rocket Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (RIDE) initiative came naturally out of those beliefs. We back this up by taking action, such as sponsoring and participating in events like the Making Our Strong Communities, Stronger series and hosting an internal panel Women’s History in the Making composed of Rocketeers. We also lead many other initiatives which celebrate diversity and create access and opportunity for all Rocketeers regardless of who you are.
- Mentorship Opportunities
Women in tech may feel like they are going it alone at times, and that’s why mentorship is so important. Having mentors (yes, have multiple!) can help guide you through tough decisions and overcome obstacles, as well as cheer you on in times of success. Many successful women in tech have been in your shoes, and they are eager to lead the next generation of barrier-breakers. When applying and interviewing to different organizations, look for possible mentors at the organization that you feel connected to and if you have mentors already, be sure to ask for their input in your search.
You can also see if a company offers any organized mentorship programs. For instance, our Women Leaders in Tech (WLIT) program is a place for members to network and share ideas and advice with their peers. The ambassadors offer mentorship to the community and host events that further important dialogues. Last month, at our WLIT Virtual Coffee Talk, I sat down with Rocki Howard, Chief People and Equity Officer at The Mom Project, to discuss fostering psychological safety and humanizing diversity in the workplace.
Be Your Whole Self at Work
Knowing what to look for in your job search as a woman in technology can save you a lot of time and stress in the future. There is something very powerful about being able to start at a new company understanding what you can expect. If you know that they have created an environment of belonging where you are able to bring your whole self to work, you know that they are setting you up for success. Their evidenced commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is foundational. Having programs set up to support you along the way such as mentorship, coaching and leadership development are essential.
If you’re interested in learning more about joining the Rocket team, visit our careers page, we’d love to meet you!