Meet Erica Burgess | Technical Lead


We celebrate diversity and inclusion in IT. Part of practicing this as a core value of our company includes amplifying the voices of women in technology and providing a space for others to hear best practices for overcoming biases and protecting their work and career trajectories.  


With 14+ years of experience in technical roles across multiple organizations and industries, hear how Erica Burgess worked her way up the IT ladder and what practical advice she has for other women in technology.


What is the most challenging part about being a woman in IT?


I'm fortunate to be able to say that, in my experience, fewer people seem to have a prejudiced view of women in IT these days. It was harder as a young person new to the field though, and probably still is, since their skills are questioned more because of their age. 


The great thing about software development is that the compiler doesn't care about your gender! So if you are solving problems, fixing bugs and creating things that function well, that's a great objective measure of how you're doing. No one can take that kind of success from you, as long as you are taking measures to prevent someone from taking credit for your work. It gets a little more tricky and subjective in leadership where judging performance is a little more subtle and can come down to ‘soft skills’ like communication.


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How have you overcome challenges or barriers?


Things I've done and would recommend to others:

  1. Establish an anonymous presence or use a pseudonym online for blogging, coding or Stack Overflow questions. You'll reduce most of the harassment and it's a great way to gauge your own skillset without any gender or age-based bias. This is especially important if you have imposter syndrome, which many young women do when they are first entering the tech field.

  2. Be open with friends at work and classmates about salary. This is useful for avoiding any companies that tend to discriminate based on gender, particularly if you're just out of college and can compare yourself to someone who took the same classes, works in the same area, etc. but happens to be a different gender.

  3. Take steps to protect others from taking credit for your work. Use commit logs, blogging, and publishing before presenting your ideas to anyone you do not trust.

  4. Remember that trust is very important in a learning environment, and every IT job should be considered a learning environment since technology changes so fast! Get involved in a supportive community and maintain a good social network where you can talk about technical and non-technical issues. Do not let a few prejudiced people ruin your view of a whole team or company. There are lots of fantastic people in this field to both teach and learn from, so stay positive!

What tips do you have for other women who are breaking into male-dominated roles?


All of the above!


What is the most rewarding part about being a woman in tech?


Building something new or releasing an exploit that the world has never seen before is incredibly satisfying and fascinating work. I feel fortunate to be able to do something I'm passionate about as a job, and to have great coworkers and friends to share it with!


Is there anything else you would like to share?


If you love learning and can't seem to pick one topic you love, go for IT because almost every field needs IT! In my career, I've learned about a lot of different fields just because I've automated work in many areas, such as financial and biomedical companies.


Keep IT Diverse

BlackHawk Data is a woman-owned IT business that values diversity and inclusion. Keeping IT diverse requires action. Discover what we’re doing to ensure there continues to be female representation in the tech space. 


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Tags: Diversity