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(Women in Technology) Are you finding it difficult to drag yourself into the office? Has your job become a bit boring? If it seems like your career has plateaued, you may be one of the many tech pros suffering from a case of the mid-career blues.

Only 19 percent of tech pros in a recent survey felt overwhelmingly positive about their work life. In addition to general unhappiness, only 36 percent said their promotion and career paths were clear—compared to 50 percent of non-tech employees.

It’s easy to feel stuck if you focus on your day-to-day activities instead of where you’re headed. Here are some ways to get your career moving forward again.

Create a Roadmap

If your employer doesn’t provide a clear career path or planning tools, you’ll need to create your own action plan. A formal plan serves as a rudder, an outline for discussing your goals with your boss, and a learning guide to make sure you’re acquiring the skills and experience you need to move forward.

Executive coach and former tech VP Karen Kowal suggests that working on “cool projects” involving robotics, artificial intelligence, space or satellites is a great way to revitalize your career. However, you may need to acquire new skills and connections to make the transition, and that requires a roadmap.

The creation process is not only energizing, it may lead to new opportunities. For instance, having coffee or informational interviews with people inside and outside your company may help you discover new career tracks and opportunities to use your current skills. As French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Give Equal Time to Professional Development

If you’re more focused on doing your job than managing your personal development, you need to give equal time and effort to building your network, learning open source software, or developing leadership skills such as emotional intelligence and executive presence.

Taking your game to the next level can help you break out of a slump by changing the way you are perceived, according to Steve Davis, a technology career coach who counsels engineers in JPMorgan Chase’s leadership development program.

“It’s not who you know or what you know that matters, but who knows you,” Davis explained. “Improving your performance and demeanor will help you get noticed, and that often leads to new opportunities or promotions.”

If your company doesn’t offer training, consider taking a few courses in budgeting, planning, communications or developing an executive presence. Then raise your profile by finding an opportunity to showcase your newfound talents.

Rediscover Your Passion and Creativity

Over time, performing repetitive tasks can drain your energy and cause you to become cynical. Transitioning into a role or project that reignites your passions can breathe new life into your psyche and technical career, advised Gina Calvano, career coach and president of Indigoforce, a career-coaching company.

“Look for opportunities to access your creative side, which shifts the energy in your brain,” Calvano suggested.

Psychologists agree that simply dabbling in the arts awakens our ability to approach life with greater openness and curiosity. For tech pros, becoming more involved in R&D, design, storyboarding, or other aspects of the user experience may revive your spirits and get you over the hump.

Expand Your Horizons

Moving into a consulting role or working as an IT contractor for a year or two can expand your skillset and professional network quickly, and give you the ability to see things from a different prospective. You’ll gain exposure to a wide variety of clients, problems and technologies, and, after building up your résumé, you’ll prove more attractive to other companies.

Take a Mini-Sabbatical

Some companies offer tenured employees extended vacations or mini-sabbaticals. Your boss may be willing to give you some time off to refill your energy tank if you agree to learn new skills while you’re gone and share your knowledge with your colleagues when you return.

Leslie Stevens-Huffman is a business and careers writer based in Southern California.

(FORBES - Brent Gleason) As a serial entrepreneur and employer of many amazing female team members, I have always been fascinated by what women bring to the workforce and economy in general. In fact, in the past decade I have placed more females in leadership and management roles than men.

My wife is a visionary entrepreneur as well and I have written on this subject matter before. Since my last article on female entrepreneurs a couple of years ago we have continued to see a dramatic uptick in women-owned startups.

American Express’s State of Women-Owned Businesses Report details that the last fifteen years have seen an unprecedented 54% growth in women-owned startups. Adding to this statistical momentum, the National Association of Women Business Owners estimates that there are more than 9.1 million companies owned by women, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and generating over $1.4 trillion in sales. Check out their great infographic below.

women-entrepreneurs

To clarify some of the data and what it means for women business owners, I connected with Vonda White, a serial entrepreneur, author, and advocate for women-owned businesses. The following are the top reasons to watch women-owned startups in 2017.

1 – According to US Census data, the number of women in the labor force is almost equal to men.

While this data may not initially seem exciting, it is important to understand the implications. Culturally, the United States is becoming as familiar with women in the workforce as men. The 2014 U.S. Census showed that women comprised 47.2% of the workforce, compared to 52.8% men. White explained why that number has grown:

“When I stepped into my first job in the insurance industry, the female executive was still an uncommon occurrence. Despite this, I believed that I had the solutions needed to get the job done. In 1996, I was able to make that dream come alive when I started Collegiate Risk Management as the founder and CEO. It’s a positive multiplier effect, as more women start companies, it will become easier for others down the line.”

2 – The funding gap is beginning to close.

Finding funding for ventures has been historically difficult for women entrepreneurs. Vonda shared her own experience seeking funding to buy a bank-owned College campus for a summer camp and boarding school:

“When I was seeking funding for Camp Pillsbury several lenders were hesitant because I was a woman. The fact that I owned and ran my own multi-million dollar company didn’t assuage their doubts. Instead of giving up or getting upset, I kept searching, argued that the college campus we were going to purchase was a stagnant asset that I could turn around, and eventually I was able to secure the loan and open Camp Pillsbury, which is thriving in its third year!”

Vonda also pointed out that in the last few years there have been a growing number of startup accelerators, training programs, and leadership boot camps specifically for women entrepreneurs. A few names include EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women, Women’s Startup Lab, Dreamit Athena, and MergeLane. As these services become more and more prevalent, so do the opportunities for women to create profitable enterprises.

3 - More companies are offering longer parental leave and flexible vacation time.

A growing number of companies are recognizing the value of paid parental leave and flexible vacation requirements. Both the employment and investing spheres have long discriminated against women based on flawed assumptions about leaves and time off. For this reason, a lot of working women felt they had to counteract this concern by never taking a vacation.

Recently however, companies like LinkedIn, Netflix, and Virgin are moving to more flexible “unlimited” vacation systems. Google, Johnson & Johnson, and Twitter all offer longer than average parental leave, for both moms and dads. These sorts of updates are paving the way for a more flexible workplace.

For employees, this means a de-stigmatized workplace that does not discriminate based on a woman’s interest in having a family. These changes represent a shift in mindset that will also help lenders understand that female entrepreneurs do not pose a higher risk simply because they might have children.

4 – The number of women-owned startups is increasing rapidly.

According to a study conducted by womenable.com, the number of women-owned companies has increased by 45% between 2007 and 2016. When you compare that to a sluggish 9% market growth over the same period of time it is clear that women entrepreneurs are leading innovation and growth.

“When women understand they aren’t alone in their desire to solve problems in business, and even more importantly that there are real avenues for them to do so, they are empowered to take the steps needed to bring new ventures to the marketplace that benefit everyone,” White shared.

This kind of expansion spells out why investing in, backing, and participating in women-owned startups is a solid plan for 2017.

Brent Gleeson is a Navy SEAL motivational keynote speaker and leadership consultant. Follow Brent on Twitter at @BrentGleeson or view his website at www.brentgleesonspeaker.com.

OVERVIEW OF WOMEN@ENERGY SERIES

The Women@Energy series showcases profiles and videos of inspirational women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers at the Department of Energy.

The profiles and videos highlight what inspired these women to work in STEM, what they do day-to-day in their jobs, their ideas for engaging others in STEM, tips, and more. Soon, the Women@Energy series will also include sample classroom lessons to engage middle school girls with the Women@Energy series.

We hope the stories and videos inspire women to think about their possible future in STEM. We can and should share our own STEM stories to help engage others and offer our voices on how our STEM careers have impacted us. Questions? Comments? Want to request a speaker? Get in touch by emailing Women@energy.gov

Clarina R. dela Cruz is lead instrument scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She attended the University of the Philippines, Diliman, earning a bachelor's degree in physics; and the University of Houston, earning a master's and Ph.D in physics.

WOMEN @ ENERGY: CLARINA R. DELA CRUZ

"The U.S. is a great melting pot of cultures, and we are entering an era when the rapid growth of information technology is making it much easier to empower a thought, a value, or a group of people. This is a perfect foundation to successfully engage and promote STEM amongst women and underrepresented groups. The key is to convey the idea that STEM is part in our everyday life and success in a STEM-based career is achievable for everyone, including them."

OVERVIEW OF WOMEN@ENERGY SERIES

The Women@Energy series showcases profiles of inspirational women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers at the Department of Energy.

The profiles and videos highlight what inspired these women to work in STEM, what they do day-to-day in their jobs, their ideas for engaging others in STEM, tips, and more. Soon, the Women@Energy series will also include sample classroom lessons to engage middle school girls with the Women@Energy series.

We hope the stories and videos inspire women to think about their possible future in STEM. We can and should share our own STEM stories to help engage others and offer our voices on how our STEM careers have impacted us. Questions? Comments? Want to request a speaker? Get in touch by emailing Women@energy.gov

WOMEN @ ENERGY: LINDA SILVERMAN

"We need to ensure that we are always demonstrating the relevancy of STEM to our most critical challenges and that need new blood is needed to be most innovative. Girls and underrepresented groups need to see that their experience is crucial to contributing to solutions to these challenges. Not everyone in STEM has an engineering or science degree – folks can have other backgrounds."

1. A light at the end of the tunnel for oil prices.

 

Energy and Oil companies are eager for a deal to be struck and for OPEC to follow through on its promise to scale back production and increase prices.  Last Friday, news broke about a meeting between Russia and OPEC in Doha that the idea of a six-month oil production freeze is under consideration. Additionally, more formal talks between OPEC and non-OPEC producers are tentatively scheduled for the end of the month, just 2 days before OPEC’s formal meeting.  Algerian Minister Boutarfa has stated he believes a consensus is taking shape and OPEC could possibly be at a production level of 32.5 million barrels per day soon. This would be slightly over a 1M decrease per day. OPEC production is currently running at 33.6 million barrels per day, according to their latest monthly production report.

 

2. U.S. oil drillers on the rise.

 

With increased confidence that crude prices will rise in coming months we are seeing the expansion of oil drilling in the shale patch.  According to Baker Hughes Inc., rigs targeting crude rose 19 to 471 this week, the largest increase in 16 months. Shale drillers have also now added 155 rigs since an expansion started back in May.  Natural gas rigs rose also by 1 to 116, bringing the total for oil and gas up by 20 to 588.

 

3. Trump narrowing in on an Energy Secretary.

 

A list is forming for those thought to be leading contenders for the head of the Energy Department.  Under consideration for energy secretary include Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma oil tycoon and leading proponent of fracking, and North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, an early Trump supporter from a major oil drilling state. And last, Venture capitalist Robert Grady, who worked in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, is listed as a contender to lead both the Energy and Interior Departments.

 

It is still in the initial stages and it’s unclear whether the list has been reviewed by Trump, but these are the names floating to the top at the moment. Trump is in the early stages of setting up his administration, having named only his White House chief of staff and chief strategist.

November 14 (SeeNews) - The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has concluded its Solar and Wind Energy Rule governing project development on public lands, updating existing policies and introducing a leasing programme.

The final rule envisages incentivised development in designated leasing areas (DLAs) that have the highest generation potential and fewest resource conflicts, says a BLM statement last week. Parties interested in securing leases will participate in competitive processes that would be streamlined to give applicants site control earlier.

It also updates the BLM’s current fee structure in response to market conditions, and broadens its authority to use competitive processes outside of DLAs.

The BLM pointed out that competitive leasing provisions will help renewables "flourish" on the 700,000 acres (283,300 ha) of public lands identified in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

Still, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) commented that the move makes federal lands even less attractive to wind project developers, based on its preliminary review. It says that the rule will add time, uncertainty, complexity, and cost to a process that was already more difficult than developing on private lands.

"The rule penalizes projects pursued outside of designated zones, yet there are no designated zones for wind energy and there may not be for years. This discriminatory treatment places wind energy at a competitive disadvantage to energy sources that have such areas designated and can avail themselves of the incentives to develop in these areas," AWEA said in a statement

The regulations will take effect 30 days following their publishing in the Federal Register.

Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the BLM is to permit 20 GW of renewable power by 2020. Since 2009, the Interior has cleared 60 utility-scale projects on public lands that could support almost 15.5 GW of capacity, it said.