Select your language

Download HER

How to make HERstory: A guide to becoming successful women in tech

Avatar photo

Jul 23, 2023

How to make HERstory: A guide to becoming successful women in tech

Are you a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) enthusiast or a tech-savvy girly? Well, let me tell you that there is a whole world of opportunity out there waiting for you to shatter glass ceilings and make your mark as a woman in tech!

Why having more women in tech matters

Let’s face the numbers head-on: According to CNBC, women continue to be underrepresented in the exciting world of technology. Shockingly, data reveals that small businesses with less than one thousand workers have a meager 30.2% of women in their IT workforce. 

Even medium-sized organizations with 1,000 to 10,000 tech workers only manage to reach 29.6% female employees. And in larger companies with over 10,000 tech employees, the figure stands at a modest 27%. These statistics paint a stark picture, but it’s time to break free from the restraints of “tokenism” and embark on a journey to transform the tech industry into an inclusive space where women thrive and innovate.

In this digital era, where technology intertwines with every aspect of our lives, it is crucial that we champion diversity and inclusion in the tech space. 

Breaking barriers and defying stereotypes, women in tech are stepping up to leave an indelible mark on a traditionally male-dominated industry. So, if you’re ready to unleash your potential and create a future where everyone can thrive, this guide is your compass!

Awesome resources for aspiring women in tech

You might be considering studying a tech-related major or switching careers, but knowing how to begin can be overwhelming, especially when most media and resources are directed to a male audience. But don’t worry, that’s why we’re here!

Top schools you should apply to

For STEM careers, sometimes Ivies might be the best option for you to apply, but not the only one, and your alma mater doesn’t have to define your future. Yet, going to the right college can open many doors for you, so be on the lookout for spots in these universities.

  1. Yale University

Besides being one of the top schools in the United States and a top research institution for female scientists, it has an amazing group called WISAY (Women and Gender Minorities in Science at Yale) that offers advocacy, mentoring, networking, and community-building opportunities, as well as career development advice.

At Yale, in 2019, women made up 47.5% of bachelor’s degree recipients but only 39.2% of STEM bachelor’s degree recipients, so take the chance and become one of the trailblazers that will increase those numbers!

  1. Colorado School of Mines

Women at Mines are leading the charge in reshaping the landscape of engineering education. They compose over 31% of the student population on campus and an average of 25% for engineering school enrollments.

What’s even more remarkable is that these women not only enroll but also persist and graduate at a higher rate than their male counterparts.

In fact, an impressive 98% of Mines’ female graduates pursue careers in STEM fields, solidifying their commitment to breaking barriers and excelling in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Every year, Mines proudly celebrates nearly 500 women graduates, with even more expected to join their ranks each semester! 

  1. Missouri University of Science and Technology

This university specializes in STEM, so it’s no wonder that it’s a top choice for women interested in tech careers. But what’s outstanding is that in 2022, they kicked off the academic year with a remarkable milestone, as the campus welcomed its highest percentage of women students in history.

The university saw a record-breaking 24.2% of female students on the first day of classes, surpassing the previous record of 23.9% set in both 2016 and 2021. 

This achievement is a testament to the university’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion as more women embrace the opportunities and excel in their educational journeys. We hope to see that number go up in fall 2023!

These universities are only some examples of places that truly care about providing opportunities to their female alumni. Still, plenty of other options exist, such as the Michigan Technological University, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California-San Diego, Arizona State University, and even the famous Stanford Univerity.

It’s also important to note that not all women in tech started in college but paved their way into this industry with their natural intelligence, wits, and desire to make a change for girls in the future.

Scholarships you should apply to ASAP

Going to college is a fun and exciting experience, but it can also be expensive. But don’t worry! Drowning yourself in student loans is not the only option, love. You can apply for a scholarship and get the boost you need to jump-start your tech dreams.

  • Aysen Tunca Memorial Scholarship 

This merit-based program aims to empower and support undergraduate female students pursuing STEM fields. By offering a $2,000 scholarship, it seeks to encourage talented women to embrace and excel in the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

  • Virginia Heinlein Memorial Scholarship 

This scholarship is designed for exceptional female undergraduate students attending accredited four-year institutions. This $3,000 scholarship is exclusively available to those majoring in math, engineering, or biological and physical sciences, providing vital financial assistance to help them thrive and succeed in their chosen fields.

  • BHW Scholarship

This one recognizes the incredible potential of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. The $3,000 scholarship empowers and supports female students pursuing undergraduate or master’s degrees in STEM. It serves as a catalyst for their academic and professional growth, helping them shape the future through their passion for these disciplines.

  • Scholarship America’s Dream Award

This renewable scholarship program is designed to assist sophomores, juniors, and seniors who demonstrate financial need. Ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, this award provides crucial support to exceptional students pursuing their dreams in STEM fields, helping to alleviate financial burdens and fuel their pursuit of academic excellence.

  • Science Ambassador Scholarship 

Sponsored by the makers of Cards Against Humanity, this is a prestigious opportunity for female STEM students. It awards up to full tuition to the exceptional applicant who creates a captivating and informative three-minute YouTube video on a STEM topic of her choice. This scholarship recognizes and celebrates the power of effective communication and academic passion, empowering women to become ambassadors of science and inspire others.

  • SMART Scholarship

Offered by the U.S. Department of Defense, this is an extraordinary opportunity that covers the full cost of tuition, up to $38,000. This prestigious scholarship recognizes and supports exceptional students in STEM fields, providing financial assistance and valuable mentorship and career opportunities within the Department of Defense. It empowers women to pursue their academic and professional aspirations while making meaningful contributions to the nation’s defense and technological advancements.

These are nationwide scholarships, and some are also open for international students. Still, we encourage you to look up local programs in your community of scholarships exclusively offered in your desired college so that you can reach your potential without limits.

Tips and tricks to thrive in tech

Unfortunately, getting good grades and graduating sometimes isn’t enough. Tech is a highly competitive industry, and if you want to stand out amongst a sea of men and nepo babies, then here are some tips for you:

  1. Embrace curiosity! – Never stop learning, girl. Sign up for courses and lectures, not only will they look great on your resume and amplify your knowledge, but will also serve as networking tools. Plus, you should explore various areas within your field and identify what truly excites you. There’s always something new!
  1. Build your network – Connect with fierce mentors who believe in you, join women-centric tech communities, and hit up networking events like they’re exclusive parties. You should surround yourself with like-minded professionals who got your back and can offer guidance, advice, and those crucial connections you need to level up.
  2. Forget about imposter syndrome – Many women in tech may feel like they don’t belong or that their achievements are undeserved. But always remember that you are qualified and deserving of your place in the industry! Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and recognize your accomplishments along the way.
  3. Advocate for diversity and inclusion – The tech realm needs your girl power to smash down barriers and champion inclusivity. Fight for diverse hiring practices, support initiatives that provide opportunities for underrepresented groups, and use your voice to amplify the voices of your peers. You’ll help create the tech world you’ve dreamed of by actively promoting diversity and inclusion!
  4. Set personal goals – Having a career in tech can be difficult; that’s why you’re like an actual superhero! That’s why you have to remember not to lose focus on what truly matters during difficult times. Think about your goals and dreams and why you’re on this incredible journey.

Inclusive spaces for queer women and WOC in tech

Intersectionality is key in all of our fights, and it is crucial to shine a light on the experiences of queer and women of color in the tech industry. They bring immense talent and unique perspectives but often face additional hurdles and biases.

The data reveals that a significant majority of women in tech positions are white, comprising 66.02% of the workforce. In comparison, Black women constitute 14.58%, Asian women account for 9.76%, Hispanic or Latina women make up 6.42%, and Native American/Alaskan Native women represent 0.97%. Additionally, women of Hawaiian or Pacific Islander heritage are the smallest demographic, comprising just 0.28% of the workforce.

On another side of the spectrum, there’s the painful fact that there is not much accurate data on lesbian, trans, pan, or bi women in STEM because it turns out  40% of LGBTQIA+ people in this field are not out.

Issues like the pay gap, “bro” culture, prejudice, and unfriendly environments in both college and in-office are some of the reasons why the numbers are so low. That’s why it’s important to recognize the privilege white, cis, straight women can take advantage of, to make tech a safe space for the rest of us.

Rolemodel rollcall: Women in tech that inspire us

Throughout history, extraordinary women have paved the way and left an indelible mark in science and technology. 

From Ada Lovelace, who wrote the first algorithm, to Margaret E. Knight, who revolutionized the world of inventions, and Katherine Johnson, who played a pivotal role in NASA’s space missions, these women have defied societal norms, inspired generations, and laid the foundation for the remarkable CEOs we see today, such as:

Robyn Exton – HER

Source: Citizen Femme

Let’s begin with our one and only, Robyn! She’s the brilliant mind behind HER and has revolutionized how we connect in the digital age. As the CEO of an app designed specifically for queer women, she has created a safe and inclusive space where individuals can find love, friendship, and community. With her passion for empowering our community, Robyn has paved the way for a more diverse and representative tech industry.

Reshma Saujani – Girls Who Code

Source: ELLE

Reshma Saujani, the fearless founder of Girls Who Code, is a trailblazer in the tech industry. With her unwavering commitment to closing the gender gap in technology, Reshma has inspired a generation of young women to pursue careers in coding and computer science. Through Girls Who Code, she has created a transformative movement that empowers girls with the skills, confidence, and community needed to thrive in the digital world.

Rana el Kaliouby – Affectiva

Source: PBS

Rana el Kaliouby, the brilliant CEO of Affectiva, has transformed how we interact with technology by pioneering emotion AI

Her mission to humanize technology and enhance human-machine communication has profoundly impacted various industries, from automotive to marketing. Rana’s vision and expertise have positioned Affectiva as a leader in the field, challenging how we understand and respond to human-like emotions.

Kunbi Tinuoye –  UrbanGeekz

Source: Startup Weekly

Kunbi Tinuoye is the ultra-visionary CEO of UrbanGeekz. She has been a driving force in amplifying diverse voices and stories within the tech industry. 

With her platform, Kunbi has created a space where underrepresented communities can find inspiration, resources, and opportunities to thrive in the tech world. Her passion for highlighting the achievements of people of color, women, and other minorities has reshaped the narrative around who can succeed in the tech industry.

Melanie Perkins – Canva

Source: Entrepreneur

You might have heard of Canva, a user-friendly graphic design and editing platform created by Melanie Perkins. She has empowered individuals and businesses of all backgrounds to create stunning designs effortlessly. Melanie’s relentless pursuit of simplicity, accessibility, and innovation has changed not only the tech industry but also marketing, photography, and more by making design accessible to all.

And there you have it. Now you know why it’s so important to follow your dreams to be in tech, and that you— yes! 

Have the chance to change the world of science and technology with the right resources, a great network, inspiration from the women that came before you, and of course, your relentless spirit. Go get them!

Avatar photo

Renee Fonseca is a bisexual and bilingual writer with experience through multiple digital channels, always embracing her passion for creativity.

Newsletter Sign Up