A guest post by Gloria Martinez, Womenled.org (gloria@womenled.org)

While the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics have been predominantly male-dominated since the 18th century, the number of women working in technological fields has been steadily increasing over the years and a growing number of young women are pursuing degrees in STEM. However, disparities still remain. Here are a few tips to help you make your mark and further your career in technologies.

Start Your Own Business

If you’re an expert in your chosen field and you’d like to enjoy the perks of being your own boss, launching your own business may be the best way to grow your career in STEM. Establish yourself as a serious entrepreneur by forming an LLC and filing all the proper paperwork with the state. Apply for an Employer Identification Number in order to open business bank accounts, file your tax returns, and hire employees down the line. Avoid the headaches and hassles of doing all the work yourself by hiring a formation service. Contact your local chamber of commerce and promote your services using social media sites or traditional advertisement. Before long, you’ll soon find clients eager to hire you for your talents.

Address Gender Inequality at Work

Gender bias is particularly obvious in STEM careers. Women are often passed up for promotions or to work on special projects simply because their managers assume they can’t be as involved and focused as their male counterparts, and even more so if they have young children to care for. And in a male-dominated field, female employees can have a harder time speaking up for themselves. Instead, they tend to monitor what they say for fear they may reinforce the stereotype that “women are not good at science”. But companies achieve a greater level of success when a more diverse group of people work together, bringing different skills and perspectives to the table, so make sure you get your voice heard at work and make a difference in the workplace. 

Find a Mentor

Young women are often discouraged to pursue careers in STEM because they can’t find strong role models to emulate. If you have a degree in computer science and technology and want to pursue a career in the software industry, consider getting a mentor to guide you and help you land that first job. It may be downright intimidating to call or email someone and ask them to be your mentor, but having the right person on your side you can go to for advice is invaluable when it comes to advancing your career. Start with a simple request, like meeting up for coffee, and let them know that you’re looking for help and guidance. Don’t forget to send a thank-you note. If you two have clicked during that first meeting, continue nurturing the relationship as your mentor provides you with helpful insights into your industry. 

Boost Your Confidence

Self-confidence will help you open doors and tilt your career path upward. Break gender stereotypes by acknowledging your accomplishments and celebrating them instead of downplaying them. Surround yourself with positive people that encourage you instead of tearing you down. Be assertive and be prepared to defend your position instead of deferring to your male counterparts. Ditch the belief that you can’t reach the same goals as men just because of your gender. And get involved with organizations that promote women in STEM; closing the gender gap in science will help close the gender gap in income as well.

Your gender should not define your interests or employment choices. If you’re ready to advance your career in the software industry, arm yourself with the knowledge you need, reach out to positive role models, and don’t let anyone stand in the way of your dreams.

By John Mecke

John is a 25 year veteran of the enterprise technology market. He has led six global product management organizations for three public companies and three private equity-backed firms. He played a key role in delivering a $115 million dividend for his private equity backers – a 2.8x return in less than three years. He has led five acquisitions for a total consideration of over $175 million. He has led eight divestitures for a total consideration of $24.5 million in cash. John regularly blogs about product management and mergers/acquisitions.