Only 25% of IT jobs are held by women, despite the fact that women make up over half of the professional jobs in the U.S. Because of the disparity between the genders, working in the tech industry can be an isolating experience for many women – but it doesn’t have to be. The Portland community has a plethora of incredible opportunities for women to more easily connect with peers and grow as professionals. Here are a few tips for how women can take advantage of all that the Portland networking scene has to offer.
The easiest way to dive headfirst into the Portland IT networking scene is by joining one of the abundance of organizations and user groups at your disposal. There are a variety of groups founded with the intention of connecting women within the tech field, such as
There are also many groups for specific roles within the industry, like
With such a dense population of IT professionals in the region, the number of niche groups is constantly growing.
Whether local to the Silicon Forest or national in scope, these organizations offer opportunities to develop relationships with other female professionals in the region. Developed by women for women, these communities are well-versed in the unique challenges faced by those in the IT industry. They provide forums for discussion, sounding boards for feedback, safe spaces to seek support, and they share a common goal of facilitating opportunities for women to succeed in tech.
If you’re not quite ready to commit to an organization, you can dip your toes in the water first by attending a meet-up or conference. Typically, meet-ups are orchestrated by one of the aforementioned user groups, making them a great way to test out your compatibility with the members. Meet-ups can range from a casual happy hour to expert speakers and discussion panels on a specific topic. Regardless of the type of event, they’re a prime networking opportunity, allowing women from all tech backgrounds to converge in one welcoming environment.
Conferences offer many of the same perks as meet-ups, just on a larger scale. Where meet-ups are typically an hour or two on a weekday evening, conferences span multiple days and attract much larger crowds. In addition, while only some meet-ups are educational in nature, conferences are guaranteed to teach you a new thing or two about current industry trends. Not only are you able to meet and socialize with your peers, you can simultaneously learn new skills or develop your pre-existing abilities – it’s a win-win.
Advancing the Careers of Technical Women (better known as ACT-W) is an annual 2-day summit held in Portland with over 500 professionals working to “build skills, grow their community, and accelerate their career path.” In addition, all proceeds from the event are donated towards providing high school girls with STEM education. While not primarily focused on women, World Domination Summit is another notable Portland conference that strives to promote unconventional thinking and create a community of techies that serve as friends and supporters to one another.
If you’ve exhausted the local scene and you’re looking to take your networking to the next level, consider joining a mentorship program. Leverage the connections that you made through user groups and meet-ups to find a mentor. Many of the woman-founded organizations in Portland support these programs, including PDXWIT and Woman Led. It’s important to note that you don’t necessarily need to find a mentor in your exact role – instead, seek a professional who has a career trajectory that mirrors your goals. Look for a woman who has similar values to yours and that you can communicate effectively with. While you may not be able to swap tips on everyday skills, mentorship is meant to serve you for the long-term, focusing on big-picture goals over product updates and trending tech.
Networking as a woman in the tech world goes beyond LinkedIn connections and potential job prospects. These communities have been created in hopes that one day women will be proportionately represented as tech leaders and innovators. By connecting with local women in IT, you’re bound to not only further your career, but assist in furthering the careers of countless other women and girls.