How women can succeed in male-dominated fields: 4 tips

In honor of National Business Women's Week, a female tech CEO offers best practices to help women overcome the gender gap.

Why women in tech face bigger challenges than their male counterparts

The tech industry's gender gap hasn't backed down, but neither have women. In honor of National Business Women's Week, the Business and Professional Women's Foundation is placing the spotlight on a female tech CEO to offer advice on how to remain confident and competitive in a male-dominated industry.

Women currently only make up 25% of the IT labor force, a number that has never surpassed 36%, according to a Friday press release. The tech industry also has the most prominent gender pay gap, even though women actually have stronger digital skills than men. With these statistics not working in favor of women, the struggle pushes on.

SEE: Hiring kit: Chief diversity officer (Tech Pro Research)

"With faster projected job growth and higher salaries, jobs in technology are some of the most rewarding in the working world," said Brenda Stallings, CEO of Matrix Integration, in the release. "We want to help girls and women follow their passions, and give them the support they need to have a long-term career in the technology industry."

Here are the four ways Stallings recommends women power through a male-dominated industry.

1. Be creative

Creativity goes a long way in tech, according to Stallings. "Women with a love of math and science have an opportunity to bring a creative, collaborative presence to the work world and to lead companies," she said. "Women usually are great jugglers with organizational skills to get much accomplished. They're often also logical thinkers which is a trait much needed in technology."

2. Collaborate

It's vital for women to share ideas with each other and support one another, said the release. "I think girls can feel alone in the STEM world," said Stallings. That feeling is warranted, as many women reportedly feel trapped in fields filled with inequality, such as those in STEM.

"This time of their life is very important. That's why I started a program called 'Blended Coders' for middle school girls. It's taught by women in the industry, and it's building a bridge between women in tech and the girls in the next generation," she added.

3. Learn new things

Don't be afraid of the things you don't know, in fact, you should embrace them, said Stallings. "Sometimes it's tempting to focus on what's cool or fun in business. But you also need to do the difficult things you might not like," she said. "You need to learn those skills - or better yet, surround yourself with people who can teach you."

4. Build social skills

The tech world doesn't have to be as formulaic as it seems, use your job to network and foster relationships, said Stallings. "We joke about 'brains on a stick' - or a stereotypical tech-type who might not have the best communication skills. Learn how to communicate well and understand others' needs based on where they're at in their journey in life," she said.

Also see

Image: iStockphoto/nd3000