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Women in Tech - That's Cute (Story 2 of 2)

by IRIS B STEHN about a month ago in business
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Women in Tech - That's Cute (Story 2 of 2)
Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

In case you missed part one, start reading here.

A difficult start

For my living, I solve IT problems and drink a huge amount of coffee at my favorite customer. I love my job, although I had a rough start and several difficulties with old guys believing that women should cook, clean, and watch children instead of programming and IT consulting. 

In addition, there are still shockingly a lot of guys who think that sexual harassment at work is nothing but a little flirting and that sending dick pics is a nice move. No, it's not.

I started my career 22 years after I finished my Bachelor of Science. I got a job in a small company that did IT consulting for huge German and also international companies.

I was young and female. Enough for some colleagues from my customers to take advantage of it.

One colleague said to me "Oh, you have a degree in computer science, that's cute. But you surely don't know how to do real IT stuff, because you're a woman." 

Yes, he really said that. You should have seen my face. 

I'm well behaved, but at that moment I wanted to jump over the table and punch him in the face. I didn't do that, of course, but just the idea was enjoyable. 

I smiled politely at him and explained how many years I've been working for this customer. That the system he gets the data from was designed and implemented by me. 

That I, therefore, know it in and out. And if he had any questions about it, I would be happy to help him.

He frowned. Of course, he didn't like that. His colleagues had to grin and he was offended like a little child. I think that was the best way to handle it. Not to offer him a target. 

He still tried to expose me. Questioning my knowledge by asking very technical questions. Claimed that he knew certain things better. 

I proved him wrong and his colleagues supported me. He was so angry, I could see it on his face. But he didn't say anything else. He has backed off in the future.

I was proud of myself.

By Icons8 Team on Unsplash

How I grew - with some setbacks

Some years ago, my boss at the time, who was also the project manager at my customer, was no longer there from one day to the next due to illness.

I was on the verge of burnout. But I sought help. Worked on myself. Took my time. I have grown. I managed all the professional issues. I got promoted, and still have a great career and learned a lot back then. 

I am grateful for the experience, even though it was probably too much in too short a time.

My life today

I'm a Senior IT consultant, the single point of contact for many people at my customer, also for some of those old white men. I had a hard time but stood my ground. 

Proved that I'm good at my job. That I am exactly right there. That women have a place in IT. Women in tech are no longer a rarity and that's a good thing!

Many colleagues have put obstacles in my way. But even more, have supported me. I am grateful for the path I have taken. And look forward to what is yet to come.

My advice

You better watch out, don't underestimate us! You'll be surprised what women can achieve in technical professions. We are strong, we are growing. We should support each other and stick together.

If you are a (future) woman in tech: be yourself. Don't let anyone stop you. You will be successful! Don't let them tell you otherwise.

business

About the author

IRIS B STEHN

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