From Competition to Empowerment: Lessons from Global Female Leaders in Tech

March 22, 2023 5 min read

How women can build community, utilize mentorship, and boost self-esteem to overcome challenges.  

Recent research by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org shows that men in technical roles are promoted to management almost twice as often as women. Women are breaking down barriers and pushing boundaries in the tech industry, but there’s still much to be done to create a more equitable environment for all. 

In reality, the unique challenges and competition women face in the workplace aren’t going anywhere. It’s up to us to learn how to navigate and manage negative competitive tendencies by focusing on three key pillars – networking and building community, inspiration from mentors and role models, and self-esteem. Five female leaders in the tech industry shared their experiences and insights at Innovecs’ recent panel discussion, Being a Woman in IT: From Competition to Empowerment.  

Whether you’re just starting out in tech or have years of experience in the field, the panelists’ advice is sure to help you develop your skills, gain confidence, and stand out as a leader.

We are working towards the same goal; we are in the same boat and each of us contributes to succeeding by doing what we do best and what we are experts in.
Médea Baccifava
Co-Founder of CraftHub

Networking and Communities  

As a woman in tech, networking and building a supportive community is vital for continued professional success. The experience and support of other women can help to overcome stereotypes, and as research published in the Harvard Business Review shows, having other women in your inner circle can increase your chances of obtaining executive positions and receiving higher pay.  

Frequent communication plays a major role in Monika Dęregowska’s day-to-day life. She recognizes that in her role as SoDa’s Account Manager, a collaborative environment is key in reducing competition between team members. To achieve this, her team engages in daily meetings to discuss ongoing challenges and share successes, prioritizes face-to-face interactions, and establishes online interest-based groups to foster a sense of community. By encouraging frequent communication, the team can develop a sense of camaraderie and create an open platform for discussion. 

In addition to cultivating a supportive team environment, actively seeking opportunities for growth and connection is essential to expand your network. Médea Baccifava, Co-Founder of CraftHub, offers some tips to find like-minded individuals, and create your community: 

  • Utilize social media: Connect with professionals in your industry by following them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Engage with their content by commenting and sharing their posts. You can also join relevant Facebook groups to connect with like-minded individuals.  
  • Join professional organizations: Find a professional organization related to your industry, such as Women in Technology International (WITI) or National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).  
  • Attend webinars and online events: Look for webinars or virtual events related to your industry or interests. Many organizations offer free webinars or events, so keep an eye out for those. Participate in the chat or Q&A sessions to connect with other attendees.  
  • Participate in online forums: Join online forums; Reddit and Quora are great places to start. Answer questions, share your knowledge, and connect with other users.  
  • Attend local events and conferences: Meetup is a great place to find local events. Attend these events, introduce yourself to other attendees, and network.  
  • Volunteer or speak at events: This is a great way to meet other professionals and make connections. You can also offer to speak at events to share your knowledge and expertise. This can help you build your reputation as a thought leader and expand your network.


Inspiration from Mentors and Role Models  

According to a study conducted by The Glass Hammer and Accenture, 83% of women in the technology field who aspire to management positions reported having a role model. Many of our panelists echoed this sentiment, saying that their mentors and role models offered support and advice throughout their careers. Being open, honest, and professional when looking for a mentor led to more meaningful and fulfilling connections for Daniela Mariscu, VP Entrepreneurship at PWN Romania. Her tip: approach your role models with humility when seeking help and guidance. 

In another example, Monika learned from her role model that the most important thing for a leader is to be yourself. Each of us is unique and has special talents and ideas to offer in every situation. As leaders we should strive to create conditions for a safe exchange of ideas; team members should feel empowered to speak their mind and share their perspective. When you trust your intuition and stop people-pleasing, you may even surprise yourself! 

Encouraging diversity and new ideas can help drive success and foster the supportive community we all need. As a leader and role model herself, Co-Founder and President of Geek Girls LatAm, Joanna Prieto, underscores the importance of viewing other women in the tech industry as peers, not rivals. There is room for everyone to succeed, by lifting others up, you also help yourself. She often receives messages from women asking how to overcome the fear that comes with stepping into a leadership role. Her slogan is, “Authenticity is the new sexy.” Be yourself, follow your intuition, and you will push through the fear and see what kind of a leader you can be.  

Becoming a mentor can also encourage workforce diversity. There’s a strong link between diversity in the workplace and higher revenues, levels of innovation, effective decision-making, and low staff turnover, says Anna Doroshenko, VP Cloud Practice at Innovecs. Mentoring can also help you to grow, by interacting with others that think differently than you, you are pushed to learn and think in new ways.  

Our goal as leaders in business, and in life: never stop learning. Be open, listen to other’s experiences and be hungry to learn. Even bad examples can teach you skills that will help your teams to be more collaborative.
Anna Doroshenko
VP Cloud Practice at Innovecs


Confidence and self-esteem grow when you get out of your comfort zone and see what you are capable of. Medea found this to be true when she set out on a solo backpacking trip – there, she was able to get to know herself better and grow confident in her decision-making skills. Experts agree that self-esteem has a positive impact on competition levels. Confident individuals are more likely to take risks and are less concerned with covert competition from others. By building a strong sense of self-esteem, you can increase your chances of success in the tech industry. 

Monika believes that having confidence and being true to oneself is particularly special in today’s world because it is so easy to be swayed by the opinions of others or the pressures of society. She found that by focusing on her talents and strengths and developing them, she was able to increase her confidence and sense of worth. This not only brought her greater joy and satisfaction in her work but also made her more resilient in overcoming challenges and achieving her goals. 

Being mindful of self-talk is also essential to building confidence and self-worth. The way we talk to ourselves can have a significant impact on our emotions and behaviors. Negative self-talk can erode our confidence and make us doubt our abilities, while positive self-talk can boost our self-esteem and help us stay motivated. To cultivate positive self-talk, Joanna suggests paying attention to the thoughts and beliefs that run through our minds and consciously choosing to focus on the positive ones.  


Navigating Competition in the Workplace 

By utilizing the three pillars of networking, seeking inspiration from mentors and role models, and enhancing self-esteem, women in the tech industry can overcome negative competition and achieve success. We have already implemented these pillars at Innovecs and have seen the positive effects. “Our management team consists of 50% women, and we see that an even distribution positively affects business,” says Alina Shcherbina, Head of Talent Marketing & Events at Innovecs. “That’s why we are sure that tech companies should consider focusing on two broad goals: getting more women into leadership and retaining the women leaders they already have.”  

As technology continues to shape our world, it is essential for women to have equal opportunities to succeed and make a positive impact. By striving for inclusivity and fostering a supportive and empowering environment, the tech industry can create a more equitable and innovative future, free from human biases that hold us back. 

Ivanna Pidborska
Communications Specialist at Innovecs
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