Competitive business woman taking a risk on herselfWhere were you when:
• You made the best decision of your career?
• You put to action your thoughts?
• You listened to that voice in your head that keeps nagging you?
• You discovered you wanted more?

Many of us remember the specific date and time when the lightning bolt hit us, and we knew we had to move forward in a direction that might be risky, frightening, and downright intimidating.

Oh, but the rewards we received when we followed that path!

Women in technology fields often find themselves smothering that voice. Sitting “around the table” in the world of technology frequently means only a few women – if any – are sharing the table with you. An overwhelming amount of articles and studies surround Women in Tech, analyzing what we do right, what we do wrong, the lack of women leaders, or the upswing in women leaders. You can find just about any article to support your thoughts and position on this subject.

Finding a company that not only has a culture of inclusion (regardless of ethnicity or gender) should be easy in 2015, but oh, that is not so!

Being in an industry that provides technology talent to companies, I know that becoming a partner means understanding the culture from the outside in. The view “under the covers” is sometimes not as flattering as companies would like it to be when it comes to establishing a culture of inclusion. However, women may have the advantage. Let me explain why.

Being a woman in a “mostly” man’s world has given us insight our counterparts may not have. We listen and then decide. The natural order of our lives makes us “doers” and people of action. Talking about something and executing on it is the most logical step for us.

I am not saying men lack this ability, but I am stating, from my own experience with 25-plus years in the tech industry, that I see women demonstrating this more often than men. We just need to put this skill to use for us!

Here are some ways to take action, because your career will only happen with you at the helm:

• First and foremost, start making decisions that put you in the right place within your organization and your tech community.

• Find ways to contribute inside as well as outside of your company that give you visibility and credibility in your craft. For example, participate in or start a blog, write articles, or involve yourself in networking groups within your core area of expertise. Think outside the box, and jump in!

• Affiliate yourself with the next level, and the next level of leaders.

• Make sure you keep up with technology. You cannot stand still: you have to anticipate where it’s going, and get there before it does.

• Find a coach, a mentor, or both! Getting perspective on your career, how you handle being a leader, and how you navigate the tech world are key to your ability to move up and grow.

Women of all ages and stages in their careers must be on the lookout for those who will be their cheerleaders when they put into action what that voice in their head has been pushing them to do. Indecision has quantifiable opportunity losses attached to it. Empowering yourself to take the risk and put yourself out there is crucial to your climb and where you want that climb to take you.

Extremely innovative women are in the tech world. I am fortunate that I meet many of them through my work and involvement in organizations such as Women in Technology, International (WITI).

You owe it to yourself to be thinking not only of today, but next year, the next five years, and beyond. Regardless of your age or level of tenure in your “world,” you have the opportunity to elevate yourself to that next level. So do it!

About Your Columnist

Headshot pf Tammy Hawkins, Vice President West Region at OptomiTammy Hawkins is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers women making their way in the IT arena. Tammy is the Vice President, West Region for Optomi, the fastest growing IT staffing firm in the nation, having joined the company as one of its equity players. She is passionate about helping great technologists find the next step in their career. Tammy’s drive to “lead” – whether out front or in the ranks – originated with her military service in the U.S. Army at the beginning of her career.

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