Women Who Work In The Tech Field Are Sharing Their Stories, And It'll Make You Rethink Your Profession

Numbers reported by Deloitte Global in late 2021 predicted that women would make up almost 33% of all positions at large global tech corporations this year. Although there's still a long way to go, this figure is more than a two percent increase from 2019, showing that a growing number of women have chosen to pursue their passion for tech.

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I recently asked BuzzFeed Community members who are women working in the technology field to share their stories. In addition, users on Reddit were asked what inspired them to join the industry. Here are some of the responses we received.

1."I went from temp office worker to temp data analyst because I had intermediate Excel skills and a military background in an Intel role. After working in that role for almost two years, I took the free SQL tutorial on W3Schools and found it really fun and intuitive. I applied for a job as an SQL developer and was upfront in the interview — no hands-on experience, but I brought the certificate and talked through different concepts, and I pushed the hard sell on my capacity and potential. They gave me a shot."

A woman works on her computer in an office building

"Two years in that role and with some actual experience, I updated my resume to reflect the tools I'd picked up on the job and applied to another BI developer role, full-time salaried WFH with all the benefits and a significant pay raise. I did not have direct experience with the tool they were leveraging, so I downloaded the free trial and read the online docs to familiarize myself with it, so I could at least have some familiarity in the interview. It worked, and I got that job, too.

The point for me was less about knowing every tool in the stack and more about showing that I was confident in my ability to learn and leverage what they were already using. And that I had a solid foundational understanding of the concepts behind the tools. Soft skills go a LONG WAY."

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2."I've been working as a UX researcher for four years now with four years of prior experience in qualitative market research. A few tips from my own experience: Getting an internship in startups is a great place to start if you're looking to break into the tech industry. It provided me with the much-needed space to learn and fail as a rookie UX researcher. Look for places where tech talents, specifically UX talents, are scarce, but the demand is high. I got a job in Singapore because they don't have enough tech people."

A woman points toward a tablet as she leads a meeting regarding UX research

"For all the negativity it receives, LinkedIn remains a powerful tool to search for opportunities. Tune out all the noise, and choose content that only serves your goals. When applying for a role, don't be discouraged if you don't have ALL of the UXR skills. Be strategic about it: translate your past experience into transferrable learnings and capabilities within UXR context.

Good luck!"

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3."I grew up really poor, couldn't afford college, and didn't want to end up with $50K + in student loans. I got an entry-level job doing customer support for a tech company, worked hard, made sure to be among the top performers, volunteered to help with training, and consistently showed I wanted to learn more. I began to really enjoy learning and deep diving into the technical background of my role and spoke up a lot when I saw how things could be changed for the better. Eventually, I made my way to becoming an engineer."

A female tech worker types on a laptop

"The big part of my personality allowed me to succeed: I loved researching how things worked and, when broken, what piece was breaking the software. I now manage a team across multiple countries. I'm debt-free, have my own mortgage, and make a heck of a lot more than my peers who went off to four-year schools. There aren't many women on my team, but the few that are are rockstars! I never received any type of bias from the men at my company, and I have been treated incredibly fairly."

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4."I got started doing retail sales for a construction company and fundraising for political campaigns, and I bopped around after college before taking a leap and moving to Boston. In 2018 I was working for $38,000 a year at a small company in Boston doing their sustainability and admin work. I had a background in sales but was testing a pivot to sustainability. It was impossible to survive on that money in the city."

A woman sits on the ground and performs calculations related to her finances

"I started looking and landed my 'dream job' at a custom travel company, where I was back at selling. ... COVID happened, which just exacerbated that I was only making $52K a year and still not able to afford Boston, so I started looking elsewhere. A friend got me an interview for a sales position selling Real-Time CX Analytics, which was both a physical and SaaS solution. ... I nailed the interview and got the role for $150K per year if I hit quota. This was in 2020 and was a huge jump from my 2018 earnings. I then got headhunted by a fully tech company that was small with a good reputation. They didn’t offer me more money, but having a full SaaS role under my belt was a huge win, so I took it.

Fast forward to 2022 – because of my performance and presence on LinkedIn, I got headhunted again to a sales business development role at a FAANG company, where I now earn $256K a year along with a hefty stock option. How did I do it? ... I jumped only if I saw a strategic move could be made and sometimes didn’t jump for money, but for title or the type of company. Pairing that with a strong LinkedIn presence and work ethic got me to where I’m at now.

I grew up very poor, and I am now living a stable life. You can too!"

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5."I am a technical copywriter at an IT company. I started as a marketing specialist and then slowly made my path first into copywriting, and then technical copywriting. The difference is that I cover many tech subjects in my company's blog, and I often help developers polish tech specifications that they send to the clients."

A woman types on her laptop in a work setting

"I must admit, I often play the 'Barbie girl' card when I need to get the information out of some people. I'd be like 'Hey, I'm soooo not understanding this – can we go from the very basics?' I guess you won't be surprised by how well it works and how good people will explain some serious technical stuff to me. I do enjoy my current position where I can outsmart any tech guy who decides to show off and brag about how smart he is. I don't like coding and I really love writing — but I also love the fact that I can be both creative and tech-savvy. People also treat you differently at work once you prove that you know how complex things work."

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6."I went into the technology field in the Air Force when it opened up to women. I was an aircraft avionics technician. My experience was, as you could imagine, working in an all-male career field. I will not describe the misogyny because over the past 30 years I have seen a gradual acceptance of women in the technology field. This is mostly from the younger generation of men. I love to see more women in the STEM career fields, and I encourage all the women engineers I work with."

A female aviation worker checks her tablet as she stands by a plane

"My advice to them is, when working with your ego-fragile male counterparts, they will challenge you on everything — make sure you are 100% sure of your reply. If you are not, it is better not to reply than be wrong and lose credibility. Women have to be 10 times better than an average man to be considered an equal. Gender equality has not come that far."

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7."I got my first corporate job as a secretary at an engineering company. I always took to the technology really quickly and became the de facto expert for most of our software. Over time I realized this is what I wanted to do, so I petitioned our CIO to send me for training. Then I wrote a job description for a software administrator, interviewed for it, and received the job. It was a title bump and salary bump to $50K."

A woman shakes hands with a colleague in their conference room

"From there, I realized I needed to learn some full-stack development to round out my resume and get the administrator/developer jobs I wanted. One 12-week boot camp later, and I was offered a job with a salary of $90K, work from home, doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. Now, just 2.5 years later, I'm making $120K and doing what I love to do.

Also – the boot camp I went to had a scholarship for women, and I applied for and received that award, so I was only out $2,500 for boot camp. That investment has paid dividends!!"

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8."I originally was in marketing and moved into IT in 2002. I've always been great with computers and entered an engineering program with a large firm in the US. I've always loved it. Originally, I was the only woman on the first several teams I worked on, and they were all great experiences. Over the years, I've worked with men of all ages, and I've never had an issue."

A woman points something out on a computer as she and two men look at the screen

"The key is being direct. You either know what you are doing and share your knowledge, or you don't know a specific solution and you ask for help. I am currently managing an all-male development team (women are in other positions on the same team, and two of the testers are being mentored by the developers), and it's also a great environment."

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9."A year ago I broke into tech recruiting. I've recruited for a decade, but tech always seemed SO out of my reach. Thankfully, through my years of localized recruiting, I was noticed by a fantastic tech company and they took a chance on me. I was super nervous, especially being a woman moving into a male-dominated industry, but thankfully the individuals at my company embraced me, taught me (even tutored me when I went for some certifications specific to what we do for our customers!), and supported me."

A woman shakes hands with a man she's interviewing at work

"Tech is hard to break into; it's sometimes volatile with larger companies routinely going through layoffs, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Now, I get to meet SO many different people all over North America, listen to their personal career stories, and get to hire them into a really good company. Being in tech recruiting has been the best move for me both financially and career growth-wise."

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10."I've always liked computers, so I went into computer science. Seemed logical. I'm a software analyst." —dumhuvud via Reddit

A woman smiles as she looks at her work computer
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11."I fell into IT in 2007; the market crashed, my regular job disappeared and the options became to go back to bartending or try something new. I got a job as a systems builder, and I was the only female in a company of eight men. The first few months were rough, and I was essentially treated like a receptionist despite having a master's in science. Eventually, some of the men came around and started to show me tricks for repairing systems and encouraging me to start system building."

A woman sits between two men and smiles during a work meeting

"Eight years later, I was a co-owner of the company and able to work on PC, Macs, and Linux-based machines and servers. I’ve built some crazy things. The industry hasn’t really changed though; I still get customers on the phone or in person asking to speak to a 'technician' ... such a look on their faces when they find out a female is the co-owner and the techs turn to me to ask for help on complex issues 😂 I love it. I also love that I can work mostly with a computer all day and my interaction with other humans is really only about 20–25 minutes of my day."

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12."I'm an IT director at a university. I got my degree in computer engineering but found my fit in IT while co-oping. I've worked in everything from help desk to server support and app development, to planning a new data center build-out, and migrating to cloud services. I've found, while technology is fun for me, it's working with and helping others that's the most fulfilling."

A woman smiles as she talks to a colleague in a conference room

"So getting to work in higher education, I get to draw a direct correlation to the awesome work being completed here. Also in higher education, you get to do technology projects at a scale most small cities can't compete with, and there is a huge diversity in the types of technology we get to play with. So it's a great place to cut your teeth on fun technologies." —gtrachel via Reddit

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13."I decided to do a computer science degree after I took a programming class in high school. I'm a software engineer at a web-based company. I used to do a lot of work building backends for different internal tools, but I switched teams recently, and now I do a lot of batch data processing."

A woman sits in front of a computer at work

"I'm aiming to get into leadership roles within the next five years." —cosmeticsnerd via Reddit

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14."I’m sort of tech adjacent in that I work in data analysis. I currently work for a consulting company but use the same stats and analytical tools found in tech firms. I originally wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad and brother and get my Ph.D. in economics and go into academia but discovered pretty quickly that I just liked the stats better. I have my MS in applied stats and got my current job after interning my last year of school."

A woman presents data to a group of colleagues

"I love the math aspect of my job, but working with the small to mid-size companies and politicians who form the bulk of our clients can be very frustrating since they almost always want to argue about what the numbers clearly show. I’ve gotten to do some very cool things like travel to India, China, and the Philippines. I’ve gotten to meet CEOs of huge companies and very prominent political figures, which has also been pretty cool." —madisonpreggers via Reddit

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15."I am a bioinformatics student. I kind of rolled into this from a chemistry/biology major. I found out that I liked the logic of programming and that I couldn't find logic like that in the more experimental fields of biochemistry. I like letting others do the lab work and making sense of the results they get, and then advising them on which follow-up experiments to do. The problem of bioinformatics is that you don't actually learn to code and use computers well — I'm mostly self-taught in that."

A woman stares at a computer screen

"My boyfriend studied computing science, so he can help me to create good code. I've been using MATLAB, Python, and Java — the latter two most. I'm probably going to do a Ph.D., but if not, I want to at least find a job where I can continue programming. It's funny that I like it this much now — 10 years ago I was afraid of computers. (That fear mostly came from not understanding them, so it was easy to get over it.)" —via Reddit

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16."I am a software engineer. My dad let me have a personal computer long before most of my peers, and I had a friend who was really into Linux, and that infected me." —StellarTabi

A woman sits behind a computer in the office
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17."I currently work as a backend software engineer. I originally wanted to be a veterinarian, so I was a biology major in college. But my dad was in computer science academia, and after a lot of nagging on his part, I took a couple introductory computer science classes. Around the same time, I started working part-time in a vet clinic and ended up quitting after a couple of months due to shitty working conditions and a newly-discovered allergy to cats (and a number of other things with fur or feathers)."

A woman works on her office computer

"So there I was at the end of the semester, realizing that vet school might not be for me and that I actually had a lot of fun in the computer science course that I took. I ended up double majoring in biology and computer science when I realized I could get a computer science job with a bachelor's degree." —TheFluffinator2000 via Reddit

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18."I'm a software developer at a Canadian office of a Silicon Valley company. I took a BTEC (2 years) in the UK, then moved to Canada for reasons not related to my career. I couldn't work for a couple of years until I got permanent residence. Then I took a job answering phone calls that I thought was a job doing internal tech support for the employees but was not at all that. I tried out for a six-month rotation in the software development department testing and got it. They were impressed and hired me to test their software full time after the rotation."

A woman works on computer programming in her at-home office

"From there the company decided to stop having people test their stuff and have the developers test their own stuff, so there were layoffs. I'd made a name for myself by then with my testing/debugging skills and was offered a job programming. Now, this is my career. I'm mostly self-taught. Kinda fell into most of it, no plan!" —maryb86 via Reddit

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Note: Some answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.

What's your story of breaking into the tech industry? Let us know in the comments section below!