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BY Fairygodboss

A Confidence Gap Is Keeping Women Out Of Tech — Here’s How To Close It

By Fairygodboss

PwC and Fairygodboss Facebook Live interview

Photo credit: From left: PwC's Jessica Fong, PwC's Arpitha Shetty, and Fairygodboss Co-founder Romy Newman. Fairygodboss photo

When you’re looking for jobs, how likely are you to apply for a position if you don’t feel like your experience is a 100% match for the job description? Studies suggest that women are much more likely than men to deem ourselves unqualified when job searching. Fairygodboss Co-founder Romy Newman puts it simply: “If there are five things you need to be able to do for this job, men will apply if they can do two. Women only apply if they can do all five.”

In the age of all things digital — when job functions and the workforce at large are quickly shifting in response to technological advancements — this line of thinking may become increasingly common. That’s why it’s so crucial for working women to have mentors who encourage them to embrace technology and not to be afraid to apply for promotions and jobs, even when they worry they don’t meet every single one of the job requirements listed.

Newman recently had the chance to sit down with two PwC employees who discussed their experiences as women in technology. In the Facebook Live interview, Arpitha Shetty, Advisory Director, and Jessica Fong, Advisory Associate explained how things are done at PwC — which, they made clear, is an ideal place to work if you’re a woman interested in technology. (Plus, they’re hiring now!)

PwC has implemented some incredible initiatives that make the technology space friendlier to women, and Shetty nails down why, exactly, this matters: “Today’s business and client challenges really require that we have a diverse perspective,” she said. “When we have women and men designing together, it results in superior products.”

She added that she can’t imagine doing the work that she does — which involves problem-solving for an array of clients — without having a diverse team of colleagues. In fact, while she began her career working at startups, Shetty said she feels better-supported at PwC, where diversity is prioritized — and where she has grown her career over the past seven years.

And, while you may think that the day-to-day at a big company doesn’t tend to be quite as exciting as working at a startup, Shetty described the opposite: in her current role, she gets to design mobile and web applications for clients and is constantly tackling some fascinating projects: “How can we help our healthcare client enhance the patient experience? Or how can we build a women’s networking platform to empower women to become financially independent? Every problem is so unique and every client is so different,” she said. “You are always learning and developing new problem-solving skills.”

Shetty also noted the key role that mentors have played in helping to build her confidence, and in turn, advance her career. “Along the way I have found myself to be the only woman in the meeting,” Shetty explained. She said that having mentors can help in building the “confidence to adapt yourself no matter what the situation is or no matter what room you’re in.”

In case you’re not sure of what effective mentoring looks like, Shetty spells it out; she explained that her own mentors have pushed her to be more confident and to pursue opportunities she might otherwise have felt were out of reach. “One of the things my mentor has taught me is taking a leap of faith and trusting the skills and talents of people behind you,” she said.

She added that for the past three years, she’s spoken at the Grace Hopper conference, where PwC is one of the conference’s corporate sponsors. “The first year, my mentor and my biggest champion really pushed me to submit for this conference,” she said. “Those are the kind of encouragements that mentors need to do: to give those behind [them] the opportunity to think beyond their capabilities.”

Shetty’s colleague Fong, who interned at PwC before becoming a full-time employee, also spoke about the important role mentorship has played in her career. She said that when she first started at the firm, she found it challenging to keep up with the ever-changing technology landscape. “It’s really important to be able to adapt to technology, which evolves at a very fast pace,” she said.

But her mentors helped her gain the confidence she needed to embrace technology rather than shy away from it. She shed light on how PwC fosters these kinds of relationships: when you first join the firm as a new hire, you’re assigned an onboarding buddy at your location who introduces you to not only the company, but also to the city you’re in. You also get a career coach who’s invested in supporting your career progression, as well as a relationship partner who works with you from a leadership perspective, representing you in performance reviews.

In addition to facilitating mentorship among employees, PwC offers courses — available to all learners, whether or not they work at PwC — specifically designed for those who want to hone a particular skillset. Shetty, who’s taken the PwC Data Analytics and Presentation Skills course on Coursera, explained how this kind of development training has been a game-changer for her: “The course helps you hone your skills from an overall consulting perspective,” she said.

“Learning never stops in the consulting world, and along with technology skills, you have to get better in not just presentation but also in analyzing data and conceptualizing data as well,” she added. “This course specifically teaches you that — how to problem solve with the data set you have. What’s really important is how we take this and use it to drive insight from it [for clients], and this course helps you practice that.”

Fong added that another important resource for her is PwC’s Women’s Advisory Network, which organizes social and networking events. “These are fun, more casual events for women and are a great way for women to connect outside of the workplace.”

The bottom line is this: PwC is changing the game for women in technology, offering training and programs that make it easy to acquire new skills — even for those who might otherwise be intimidated. If you’re in the technology industry but you’re looking for a better environment to grow your career, or if you’re looking to shift into the technology space, you’d be wise to check out open positions at PwC. In fact, one viewer who commented on the Facebook Live interview wrote, “I'm glad I tuned in. Very empowering and confirms my transition into tech.”

Check out the full interview here:

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