Happy belated International Women’s Day to all Legal Technologist readers!
The accidental technologists (all being women) were keen to celebrate IWD and use this article to honour women in technology, carrying on the brilliant work of our Mills & Reeve “Inspiring Women in Technology” group.
The accidental technologists thought long and hard about the themes we could cover in this article. In the end we decided to focus on positive change, sharing inspirational stories of our own women in technology and top tips on how we can all do our bit to help overcome the challenges that women in technology face.
Perhaps a good place to start is imposter syndrome, what it is and why it could impact women in technology.
Imposter syndrome includes feeling fraudulent, doubting abilities, and the inability to believe your success is deserved. In a male dominated environment, women in technology often experience imposter syndrome, especially as our career journeys may not have been as direct as our male counterparts.
Imposter syndrome has a nasty habit of holding you back from wanting to talk about it, which can feel isolating. As everyone experiences it in different ways, there is no one size fits all solution. However, our learning and development manager, Amy Pilmer, has some great top tips to manage the negative effects of imposter syndrome.
Top tips to tackle imposter syndrome
Catch it: Identify your imposter syndrome story
Pause and reflect on your imposter syndrome triggers, thought patterns and behaviours. When did you start to have imposter syndrome feelings? How does this impact how you feel and react in the moment? The greater the understanding of how imposter syndrome impacts you, the better placed you’ll be to manage it in the future.
Check it: Validate your thoughts
Acknowledge your imposter and build a relationship with it, perhaps create a persona (incidentally, mine is Gollum from Lord of the Rings). Be curious with your imposter. Why do you think you can’t do this? What assumptions are you making? How did you overcome this before? By getting to know your imposter, you can work with it, rather than against it.
Change it: Reframe those negative thoughts
Engage with your successes, however big or small. This is your evidence to prove that thoughts aren’t facts! Just because you feel like an imposter, it doesn’t mean you are one.
Treat yourself (and your imposter) with some compassion! Think about the situation from the perspective of a colleague or loved one. What advice would they give you?
Give it a try! It’s about the small wins.
Celebrating women in technology
Someone who overcame imposter syndrome to become (an award winning) woman in technology, is our very own not-so accidental technologist, Emma Jackson.
Emma is now client innovation manager and data strategy lead at Mills & Reeve and has confessed to experiencing some feelings of isolation and loneliness during her career in a very male dominated industry. She now leads a team of 10 in the client innovation team, 75% of whom are women.
Emma started as a legal secretary 17 years ago, although she always had a natural interest in technology, she sadly found it was far easier to obtain a secretarial role as a woman rather than an in IT.
Luckily, Emma was encouraged by her senior secretary to apply for an IT trainer vacancy. Eventually (after proving herself on a weekend upgrade job) Emma moved into the IT service desk team and spent 10 years as the only woman in the IT department.
Using her technology skills from a decade in IT, Emma became involved with “whizzy” legal technology projects (all the fun stuff from AI and automation to workflows etc.). Naturally, Emma became the first member of the client innovation team at Mills & Reeve, exploring innovative ways of working and new legal technology. Throw in a global pandemic which catapulted the need for online collaboration to the forefront of the working day, and Emma is likely now one of the most name-checked people in the business.
Emma took every opportunity that came to her, putting her imposter syndrome aside and allowing herself to give it a go. She also had fantastic support around her, which leads nicely on to top tips for how to support women in technology.
Top tips on how to support women in technology:
Want to hear more inspirational stories from women in technology? Have a watch of the two brilliant webinars hosted by our Inspiring Women in Technology group to celebrate IWD in March, links to both are included below.
Innovation Engagement Advisor
Mills & Reeve
Picture by Andrea Piacquadio