I was recently interviewed and asked and answered the question:
What is the secret to making yourself heard in male-dominated occupations?
I learned early on that I needed to know technology inside and out. Not as good as my male counterparts but often better to be taken seriously at the conference table.
In fact, I graduated with a communication systems management degree which was essentially a computer science degree with a focus on telecom in the early nineties. I took my first job designing LANs/WANs for a big 6 consulting firm. I quickly realized that I needed more in-depth technical knowledge so after 3.5 years, I took a job with a computer training company that taught EE at the major telcos how to become Computer Engineers.
I did this for two reasons:
- I wanted to deeply understand all the components of the OSI model
- I wanted to get comfortable public speaking
I did both and after I mastered Token Ring, ATMs, LAN Design and IP Addressing I left for the next endeavor. The story goes on with many twists and turns but at each milestone I was sure to do 3 things well:
- Understand the technology at-hand so I could effectively contribute
- Built effective relationships that created win-win situations that often led to my next position
- Leveraged my voice to make an impact and contribution to the company goals
Looking back I cannot say there is one secret, it really is more about a desire to be an impact player and working to make an impact with each project and position.
Every team needs effective people and if you work hard, contribute often and ask for the steps to get promoted people seem to make that path a reality. If it does, I have been very comfortable parting-ways for opportunities and positions that provided an opportunity for me to make the impact I was prepared to make.
I find change is good and being committed at a level that works for you and your career goals is an individual choice. You have the ability to exercise this choice as you see fit to align to your goals.