There aren't enough women in tech. You know this.
You also know that tech companies don't hire, or promote, enough women. Tech conferences don't put enough women up on stage. By all accounts, women are way, way underrepresented across the board, in tech specifically - at the podium, in offices, in board rooms. In any rooms.
Connecting and supporting each other as a group, championing each other's ideas, networking online and off - yes.
But there is one other thing you must do if you want more women in roles that matter:
Advocate for yourself.
And not just by taking a seat at the table, as Sheryl Sandberg says, but by taking a stand - in a meeting, on a dais, on camera.
It's easy to think that someone "better" or "more suited" will step up and do the speaking for you. But that is precisely the kind of thinking that holds women back.
Don't you have to be gorgeous or leggy or be a member of MENSA or have done some huge breakthrough thing to be seen, or worth seeing?
Nope. Here's what you need: An opinion. I'm guessing you have one of those. Perhaps, even several.
I've been consulting with individuals on their brands and messaging for years—some of them represent major organizations, and others are one-person shops. And many, if not most of the people I've worked with, are women.
And guess what?
Every single one of them has doubts. They worry they're imposters, they're not qualified, that someone will call them out, or make them wrong.
The ones who take that big step forward almost always do with SOME level of trepidation. But they decided that feeling those fears was different than listening to them. And they said, I'm going to try this anyway.
Try what? Well, pitching their own ideas. Making bold suggestions. Taking risks. Speaking up. Getting creative. Advocating for what, and for whom, they really believe in.
One thing I've learned from working with individuals? There isn't a single one of them who doesn't have at least one good idea or strong opinion. Usually, they have so many that they either can't choose one - or worse, make the mistake of thinking they're not worth much.
Couldn't be further from true.
So what would happen if you decided to: Lead the meeting, raise your hand, share an opinion, (even if it's unpopular). Challenge the way things are done—and come up with a newer, better solution.
Now here's an even bigger idea: What if you took that idea out into the world?
Here's how to start:
Write it out. When's the last time you did a good old fashioned journal entry. Or freewriting exercise. You don't have to be Hemingway, here. I'm talking, "get it out on paper so you know what you're thinking about" kind of writing. You can't just think about a thing - you have to see what happens when you express it, and there's no deeper way to explore an idea than to spell it out.
- Pick one of these questions and run with it:
- What do I know now that I wish I could go back in time and tell myself 10 years ago?
- What problem do I always seem to bump up against that I wish I could solve in one fell swoop? What do I wish I could do about it? What's one thing I can do?
What's one thing I'd like to be remembered by? And here's the kicker: Am I doing that thing right now? If not, why not?
Pitch an event organizer. Getting up in front of a group of people is still the most powerful way to get and keep their attention. And sharing your message with a live audience is exciting (and nerve-wracking sure, but worth the effort). You've also been to plenty of events and been both moved by speakers...and bored to tears.
What would you like to get up and speak about? What could you teach or share or inspire people to do? What do you do so easily, perhaps as a result of a lot of hard work, that you can show someone else how to do?
Find someone, anyone, a colleague, friend of a friend, who runs an event, conference, or networking group. There are oodles of them (and you can of course look online at sites like meetup.com to find more). Offer to speak (for free!). Committing to a topic and talking about it can really get your wheels turning. It'll also be incredibly empowering. You may want to do more!
Pitch the media. Bet you haven't really tried that one yet, have you? As a former member of the media, let me tell you: it's beast and it's hungry 24/7! Producers and editors are always looking for stories, segment ideas, and experts to interview.
And tech is a hot topic! There are scores of shows, web sites, and podcasts who would love to hear your ideas and share your expertise with their audience. What are some of the thoughts and opinions you have when you read the paper or watch the news? THOSE are exactly the kinds of things the media wants to know!
(Full disclosure: I just opened the doors to a course I created called Lights Camera Expert that does exactly this: teaches professionals how to be media experts. More on this here if you'd like to learn more.)
We have already acknowledged that there aren't enough women in tech, and every voice counts. So when do we get to hear yours?
Want to learn how to get your message out in the world?
JOIN ME THIS FRIDAY, March 24th @ 1:30 pm ET for a FREE, LIVE group call, "Media and Messaging Session with Terri Trespicio" - specifically for women in tech and readers of this blog (that's you!).
We'll dive into YOUR business and brand to find out…
- How to get media attention
- The best ways to share your message or mission
- Smart ways to position yourself as a leader in your industry
Reserve your spot now! (Space is limited.)