Despite the acknowledgement of the fact that there is a huge gap in women in technology in the UK, the situation has not improved drastically over the past few years. In fact, it’s less of a gap and more of a chasm. There are a number of reasons for this, including a lack of female role models in the technology sector and hesitancy on behalf of women to go into what is a male-dominated industry. Regardless of these hurdles, however, the world of technology is well-suited to women. And it’s not just about having a degree in a STEM subject. There are ‘soft skills’ that are desperately needed in the technology sphere and this is another area where women can be valuable contributors to the industry alongside their technical knowledge.
Here at Women in Tech, we pride ourselves on helping to guide women into and around the STEM world, both through helping to empower women and also educating the people who are already in the industry.
The importance of education and qualifications are well-documented but some of the other skills that are useful in order to progress in the technology sphere are less spoken about. This doesn’t mean, however, that they’re not essential. Some of these ‘soft skills’ include:
The ability to think independently is an excellent attribute to have. Being a ‘self-learner’ is an essential skill for anybody that is working in the world of technology and will help to propel you forward throughout your career.
It is often the case that these ‘soft skills’ come from areas in your life that are not related to your formal education – as expressed by Gravity Data’s Anastasia Kaschenko. “Having worked in both hardware and software side of the broad technology sector I can say having the ability to communicate well, solve complex problems, work with a team and think creatively have been the most important skills – and these don’t come from a specific degree.”
She explains, “These have come in my life from practising improv, public speaking, team sports, and outdoor group sports (mountaineering, rock climbing, etc). The point is if you are a generalist – but also if you are a technical person – the “Soft” skills that are most in-demand, the ones you use the most, and importantly – the ones you get paid for come from non-work areas of your life.
A massive part of working in technology is solving problems in a creative way. In many cases, you will find yourself with conundrums that have never been solved before and in a situation where creative thinking is needed for success. Some people actually call STEM, ‘STEAM’ with the additional ‘A’ standing for ‘Arts’ in acknowledgment of this fact. It allows for innovation and creativity, which are vital components to many careers in the technology field.
In the fast-moving world of tech, the landscape is always changing. Technology is always evolving, new ideas and theories emerging, and new needs developing. Change is the key to innovation, and this is, in essence, what you are doing. It is vital, therefore, that you are able to change and adapt to new ideas, concepts, and technology to be able to thrive in your career in technology. This could mean adapting to using new software, new concepts, and theories, or new uses for your work, for example.
Depending on what area you go into in the STEM field, there is a high possibility that you will be required to build on the knowledge that you have gained through your formal education. This may be just updating yourself with the newest technology and concepts in your area, or it may be continued professional development (CPD), professional qualifications, or learning that enables you to branch into additional areas or specialities, for example.
Another important attribute is being a good communicator. It is one of the main factors that STEM recruiters are looking for when they are hiring personnel. In fact, having excellent communication skills is perhaps the most important ‘soft skill’ for workers in the technology sector. These not only include the ability to communicate your ideas through spoken, written, and technological means, but also to listen effectively, understand the meaning, intention, and have the right attitude towards working and being a part of a team.