Let's hope she has a plan to learn new skills!
One of the challenges for technical women (as well as men) is keeping up with the pace of technology. Keeping technical skills current and relevant is key to retaining and advancing women in the field.
In the United States, organizations often view the task of skill development as belonging to the employee on their own time. Often times, learning a new skill is something an organization does not require at that moment, from that particular employee, so the employer balks at providing the resources to update an employee's skills as an unnecessary expense.
This is where the challenge exists for technical women in particular. Classes can often be expensive and take you away from the office and many women don’t ask or fail to convince their employer to support learning new skills. Courses offered at night or on the weekends are often not possible for women with competing commitments.
Keeping your skills current is crucial to your future in technology. During the last few years, specifically during this economic crisis, many women have chosen roles with legacy and proprietary tool sets within organizations originally thinking their role in the organization will be more stable and less risky. These women find themselves out of work when organizations re-tool, downsize or outsource. There is a pattern of letting legacy tool employees go (not attempting to retrain existing workers who are often women) while hiring new recruits with the new skills required to propel an organization forward. The person with the legacy skills is no longer relevant to other organizations and has been pushed out of the market.
This post is a request to start a dialog – what do you do to assess your skills development and how do you learn those skills?
I have noticed this topic has been missing from conversations in the community. Is it possible for us to develop a process by which a technical woman can assess where she currently sits from a skill level standpoint and create an action plan to ensure she stays relevant in the marketplace? Our next blog post will summarize our findings as we talk with many of you.
Looking forward to this conversation.
- Deanna (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please share your ideas using the comment section below or email me directly.