by Mellonie Francis Wed Feb 12
The truth is, entrepreneurship, in itself, is a risk-taking venture for anyone. However, many societies in the world are filled with stereotypical beliefs and assumptions towards women. When you are entering the IT industry as a woman, you are faced with several unforeseen obstacles, which you may have never anticipated.
I did not have an IT background; however, my passion for entrepreneurship and web development amplified as I got more exposure to it. The following are some of the challenges I faced after I entered the IT industry:
When we visualize the IT industry, we are wired to see a male-dominated industry. There are seldom females in the industry who are highlighted. When I stepped into the IT industry, my biggest challenge was not being taken seriously. Being in an industry full of (mostly) male competitors with solid IT backgrounds, not many people took my passion sincerely or were willing to acknowledge my leadership role.
As compared to a male entrepreneur, it is much more difficult to gain respect, despite the amount of effort you put into your work.
As a woman in the industry, your congeniality can be misunderstood as potentially ‘romantic’ behaviour. It is perceivably ‘ok’ for men to be friendly with their co-workers, and often, there is no limit to it. They can invite co-workers to brunch, or to the movies, and it will be seen as ‘normal’ and platonic behavior.
Whereas, being a woman, I found that my friendliness or kind gestures were very commonly misunderstood as romantic interests. I’ve had instances where a coworker took it to the extent of verbal harassment and constant romantic pursual, and that doesn’t end, even when you affirm you are committed to someone.
It is more often than not, that my professional meetings ended with ‘I’d like to know more about you,’ as opposed to my business interests. It made me realize how common it is for women to be objectified as romantic beings. It is seldom that people pay heed to our intellectual or professional interests. Thus, we are left with no choice, but to create this barrier and establish from the first encounter, that we’d like to keep the interest strictly professional.
In the initial stages, it was tough to keep my family life and business stable. When you are faced with dual responsibilities, it is tough to create a routine where you can dedicate time to both to create a work-life balance. However, I have noticed that the industry allows more flexibility and opportunities for women in terms of work. What kept me going was gratitude for being able to follow my passion, my hunger for excelling, and knowing that it will give me freedom in the long run.
Females are scientifically proven to be more empathetic than men. We tend to be more emotionally intelligent, which helps us to build strong and lasting work relationships. We are also more organised meaning as product owners or project managers, we are the best in the market. As a woman, I discovered that people can connect with me easily due to my empathetic traits. I am extremely compassionate towards my coworkers and have the ability to understand their emotions.
While women only make 30% of the IT industry, the stats are increasing. I look forward to seeing positive shifts in attitude and perception towards women, as well as an increase in entrepreneurial opportunities in the future for women to set their mark in the IT industry by creating amazing teams and products people can be proud of.
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