As board members of Girl Develop It, Rebecca Sadwick Shaddix and Brenda Jin are committed to helping women take their careers to the next level. But the path to success is often paved with challenges.
Rebecca Sadwick Shaddix
Board Member, Girl Develop It
Board Member, Girl Develop It
“The biggest obstacle impacting women today is the subconscious biases impacting perception of competence,” said Shaddix, whose background includes marketing and tech policy research. “Women early in their careers face more bias about their inexperience than do men of the same age, and there’s more family-based bias and heightened age-based bias about the relevance of their experience later in their careers. It’s as if we’re seen as being too young to know what we’re doing until we’re too distracted by family obligations to be committed to the job until we’re too old to be relevant.”
For female executives, entrepreneurs, and managers looking to start or grow their business operations, using available resources and technologies is beneficial, along with getting input from seasoned professionals.
“Seek out sponsors and mentors who have done something in a similar vertical, and make a very specific, deliberate ask based on their experience,” Shaddix said. “Follow up regularly with specific updates about how you acted on their advice. Doing this will make you stand out, and make them more invested in your success.”
Depending on the business, a basic understanding of how to code can help you design a website, create a shopping integration and analyze your business drivers.
Leading the way
Jin says that for women who want to expand their tech knowledge, doing so may not be as difficult as they think.
“Our programs are hands-on, and we let students learn at their own pace, at a time that works for them,” she said. “We also believe data analysis skills are useful across the board in a variety of roles, and these skills are enhanced with programming, scripting and database querying skills. That’s why we teach Python and SQL alongside our data science curriculum.
“Going remote has made our programs more accessible to our students, especially those with children. Many of our students from a variety of backgrounds have gone on to have wildly successful careers in technology in highly technical positions.”
Knowing what’s available
Women who aren’t tech-savvy can take advantage of free online classes and tutorials. In addition, Shaddix says learning the skills adults need to transition into the tech sector can go a long way.
“We believe cognitive diversity and diverse experiences are essential for a more innovative and effective tech sector,” she said. “We love how the tech sector influences the world, and provides builders within it the autonomy to bring their visions to life with a scope few other careers rival.”
Jin believes creating a safe environment for women where they can learn and take risks among highly competent peers is paramount, along with reversing stereotypes.
According to Shaddix, data suggests the systemic causes of women’s underrepresentation isn’t due to actions the women take, but rather how they’re perceived.
“‘Changing the women’ isn’t likely to overcome systemic underrepresentation, but changing our policies and leadership training to recognize and combat these intentionally will,” she said. “Humans are wired to seek community and belonging, but the ubiquity of internet use makes it important to delineate which communities you choose to identify with, and whose advice to act on.”