Growing up, I had dreams of becoming an actress and faced pressure to pursue a career in medicine. Little did I know that my path would lead me to start a career in the tech industry. But as I embarked on my journey in sales, I quickly realized that I was swimming in a sea of men in the technology field. To my surprise, it wasn't just a sea of men, but a sea of white, middle-aged men. Perhaps it was ignorance or simply a different perspective, but I had never fully grasped the extent of male dominance in both the sales and tech industries.
As I delved deeper into the world of sales, I couldn't ignore the stark reality of the industry's demographics. A glance at Zippia's Technical Sales Representative Race and Ethnicity Statistics revealed the glaring disparities: in 2010, Asians only accounted for 4.33% of technical sales representatives, while a staggering 78.33% were White. Furthermore, the data showed that women made up just 26.7% of the field, with men dominating at 73.3%. To add to this, the numbers indicated that individuals between the ages of 20-30 comprised a mere 7% of technical sales representatives, while those aged 40 and above accounted for a significant 71%.
As a young Asian woman, I never anticipated the challenges I would face in this industry, where I found myself in the minority across three categories. It wasn't just about finding common ground with my male colleagues; that was easy. I grew up surrounded by men. With my parents constantly working, my uncle and older brothers heavily influenced my upbringing. But despite growing up surrounded by men, the challenges of combatting the perception of being less knowledgeable, having my input dismissed, and being overlooked due to any combination of my gender, ethnicity, or age persisted and continue to persist today.
In spite of these obstacles, I thrived and grew my career in technology. I started in technology sales, expanded my knowledge into partner programs, grew my expertise in marketing, launched multiple businesses, and served as an advisor to growing companies. While most hard-working individuals may not attribute it to luck, I believe that luck does play a role. But of course, it wasn't luck alone that propelled me forward. Investing in myself, learning from every situation, and cultivating a strong network have all contributed to my ability to overcome these challenges and achieve success in an ever-evolving landscape.
Invest in Yourself
I embraced the idea of investing in myself, recognizing that gender bias is a pervasive issue across various industries, including the tech sector. Techopedia's recent statistics highlighted the decline in women working in tech, with just 32% currently employed in the field. The percentage of women in tech leadership roles has dropped to a disheartening 28%. To counter the perception of being less knowledgeable, I embarked on a journey of self-improvement. I devoured books, enrolled in training programs, and eagerly attended seminars, determined to enhance my skills and expand my knowledge base. This investment in myself not only boosted my confidence but also equipped me with the tools necessary to tackle any challenge that came my way.
Another hurdle I had to overcome was the fear of failure. Starting any new venture carries the risk of not succeeding, and initially, this fear consumed me. However, I soon realized that failure is an inevitable part of life, and rather than fearing it, I embraced it as a valuable learning opportunity. Finding my voice in a male-dominated industry proved to be a daunting task. My input was often dismissed or overlooked, simply because I was a woman or deemed too young. But I refused to be discouraged. In sales, confidence is key when presenting your pitch and navigating challenging conversations. I made a conscious effort to assert myself, offering valuable insights and refusing to be silenced. Although I encountered countless instances of mansplaining, I persevered and eventually gained the respect of my male colleagues. One of my proudest achievements was consistently exceeding my sales goals for three consecutive years. It was an arduous target to meet, but through sheer determination and hard work, I surpassed it. This accomplishment not only validated my efforts but also solidified my standing within the industry.
Build a Strong Network
Building a robust network is crucial in sales. Establishing trust and credibility with potential customers, colleagues, and stakeholders hinges on creating authentic connections. By displaying respect, open-mindedness, and unwavering passion for my work, I attracted others to my energy and nurtured meaningful relationships. These strong connections have been instrumental in my overall success.
Embarking on a sales career, especially in the technology industry, presents its fair share of challenges. However, having experienced mentors by your side can make all the difference. Seek out seasoned professionals, both within your organization and beyond, who can guide you through the intricacies of the field. Connect with mentors who have encountered similar experiences and can offer invaluable insights, advice, and support. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have crossed paths with extraordinary leaders who believed in me and willingly mentored me throughout my career. Their guidance not only honed my skills but also instilled the confidence necessary to navigate the obstacles that inevitably arise.
Breaking barriers and launching a sales career in the technology industry is not an easy feat, especially for young women who find themselves in the minority. With determination, resilience, and the right support, success is within reach. By investing in ourselves, embracing failure as a learning opportunity, and building a strong network, we can overcome the challenges and achieve our goals. So, if you're considering a sales career in the tech industry, don't be discouraged by the statistics or the male dominance. Embrace the opportunities, leverage the advancements, and surround yourself with the right people. Together, we can break barriers and make our mark in this ever-evolving field.