Hey, Men! Here’s 6 Ways You Can Support Women in Tech

  • By: joannafurlong
  • Posted: December 19, 2016

We asked, “What can men do to support women in tech?” and the responses came in like a tidal wave. Women from all backgrounds and career stages spoke up and shared honest opinions about what they truly need from male leaders and male counterparts to succeed. The result? A tangible list of things men can do—starting today!—to make an impact on women’s careers

.Men supporting women in tech

  1. First things first: respect.

“Wow, you’re a female programmer, why did you choose such a manly profession?”

That’s a real quote. The women at 10Clouds, a software development and design agency, shared collective feedback about what they’re really looking for. They’re not proposing fancy training programs, mentorships or special treatment. They’re just looking for men to be friendly, respectful and to, “Stop behaving like jerks.”

‘Nuff said.

  1. Use your influence for good.

Women’s groups within companies, especially large corporations, are on the rise. But that doesn’t mean men can’t, or shouldn’t, attend. Taking the time to support these events by showing up, donating your time or sharing your expertise, goes a long way, Sysamone Phaphon, founder and CEO of an early stage startup, Groupeezz, noted.

“Men with strong titles or are in a position of leadership and influence on company culture should volunteer their time to help support these initiatives to see it to execution. Putting in your perspective and utilizing your leadership weight and status to speak up about the benefits to other leaders within the company can help bring these initiatives and events to life that lift women in tech.”

In other words, actions speak louder than words.

  1. Provide mentorship and sponsorship opportunities

Business is all about relationships, and that extends to hiring and promotional opportunities. Who do male leaders, men on boards and men in tech know? They know a heck of a lot of other men who have those same types of roles.

The positive effects of mentorship are well documented. But the role of sponsorships in lifting women in tech may be even more crucial.

“Mentors and sponsors are critical to career advancement, but many women aren’t able to build these important relationships,” said Elizabeth Borges, who is in charge of EverwiseWomen, a 12-month program designed to engage emerging women leaders through a tailored learning experience.

“We know from research, for example, that men are 46% more likely than women to have sponsors and that men tend to have mentors who are more senior. If you’re a man working in tech, you can make a difference right now by seeking out a high potential woman to mentor or sponsor.”

Borges said there are two ways you can get involved in mentorship and sponsorship immediately:

  • To become a mentor: Set up time with a junior colleague to provide feedback about what’s she doing well and where she could improve. Ask her what work challenges she’s facing and help coach her through them
  • To become a sponsor: Identify a woman who is doing amazing work, but could benefit from more visibility with senior leaders. Devise a stretch project that you could assign her or work with her on to help her gain that visibility, and help her expand her own perception of what she can do.
  1. Be an equal partner at home.

“In business I.T. departments, software engineers are often required to work long hours to complete critical projects so husbands and family members must share the family responsibility load. Women can burn out without a husband’s support,” said Monica Messer, VP of Business Development for DatabaseUSA.com.

While modern men have stepped it up on the home front, it’s well documented that working women are feeling the burn out. They’re putting in long hours at work, only to come home, where the work continues. For women to truly succeed in the workplace, they need to have an equal division of labor at home, from dealing with children and the dirty dishes to folding the laundry and grocery runs.

  1. Acknowledge women’s hard work and contributions

Give credit where it’s due. Some advice from Adrienne McDonnell, front end developer at Delphic Digital: “One thing men can do: always make sure to acknowledge a woman’s (well, really anyone’s) work and contributions when discussing a project with other co-workers. For example, ‘Susy found this huge bug in the code’ instead of ‘we found this huge bug in the code.'”

  1. Show up at Girls in Tech events and volunteer

That’s right—Girls in Tech needs YOU! Supporting women in tech can translate to showing up at events and volunteering your time. You could lead a boot camp, workshop or participate in our Hacking for Humanity program.

“Showing up shows that you care. We’re always looking for more volunteers, supporters and workshop leaders,” Adriana Gascoigne, founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, said. “This is a very actionable approach to paying it forward.”

4 thoughts on “Hey, Men! Here’s 6 Ways You Can Support Women in Tech

  • Paul Fowler says:

    I think the very first step is accepting that there is an imbalance, and accepting that this is due to biases that we ourselves may hold.

    Without this first step, the rest of it won’t happen. Unfortunately, it also seems to be the stumbling block for many, many men who can’t see beyond their own fortunate position enough to realize that the rules they have had to live by do not apply to everyone.

    Other than that, great article! Men can do an awful lot to help. Here’s hoping that, for once, they’re up to it 😉

  • My experience is as a tech founder rather than a programmer but also a position where few women exist. If I had to keep it to one thing (difficult to do) I would say to men who want to help a woman in tech to really think about why you want to help. If it’s to play a role of knight in shining armor and bestow what you think needs to be taught with an unspoken requirement for adoration, rethink your involvement. I agree there is a great need for mentorship and there are men out there who do it with respect and expectation of compensation of no more than appreciation and some who are driven by ego and other things. The latter is just an energy suck. The fact that a woman is in tech in any capacity says a great deal about who she is and acknowledging that is a good start. There are conversations that can be had about how women can help other women in tech as well. As always, nice job ladies.

  • Congratulations on writing such a nice piece of work. It has inspired me to try something new myself. I was always afraid that I might mess up things, but you have given me confidence. Thank you for sharing your life experiences.

  • Kyla Cromer says:

    I think not calling ourselves “girls” would go a long way. We generally do that because it’s non-threatening (read: deferential).

    I have trouble with it, too, it seems awkward, but we really need to use the word women. It was on the rise in the 1960’s and ’70’s, but has fallen backwards. Just listen to the radio.

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