Excellence in Software Engineering
Power of Women: Emotional Competencies
08 March 2017

Author: Ayşegül Y.G. KALAYCIOĞLU, Quality Manager

Special thanks to all powerful and successful employees of ICterra…

It is the 8th of March and we celebrate the “Women’s Day” all over the World. On this special day, as a female employee and blog editor of ICterra, I want to share a special post about the power behind the success of women in engineering organizations and technological business world, instead of explaining the meaning and importance of this day, or socioeconomic position of women and problems they encounter.

The presence of women in engineering disciplines is very old, dating back to the times first technological works had begun. However, even in developed countries, the proportion of women who get engineering education and work in this field is very limited. The result of an analysis made in 2013 shows how limited the female workforce in the field of engineering and information technologies in the United States is. Although the total female employment ratio is 44%, the ratio of women engineers is below 20%. This ratio rises to around 30% in computing professionals [1]. The situation is not much different in Europe. In ICterra, where I work, 40% of managers and 32% of employees are women. In fact, these ratios are very high, and above the average of Turkish IT Sector.

On the other hand, despite the rather restricted size of female workforce in the World, the number of women engineers who have earned significant success due to their technical capabilities and managerial abilities cannot be regarded as little at all. I guess the most famous ones are Google Board of Directors member and founder of VMware Diane Greene and Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Business Development Peggy Johnson. You may also see the lists of powerful women selected by Business Insider each year [2].

Why are women successful after all?

Today, it is widely accepted that the success of employees is not only related to their technical or professional abilities, but also to their soft skills and emotional competencies; whereas soft-skills probably play a more decisive role in the performance and success of the people. Although there are minor differences in practice, in general, engineers are expected to have some basic soft skills such as;

  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility
  • Teamwork
  • Responsibility
  • Self-motivation
  • Self-organization
  • Self-management
  • Decisiveness
  • Communication
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Time management

Additionally, for managerial roles,

  • Leadership
  • Goal orientation
  • Adaptability
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution
  • Empathy
  • Emotional self-awareness
  • Emotional self-control, etc.

And recent researches indicate most of those soft-skills are inherent in women.

The results of a research performed by Hay Group, collecting data in a five year span, 2011-2015, from 55,000 professionals across 90 countries and all levels of management, using the “Emotional and Social Competency Inventory” is spectacular: “Women are better at using soft skills crucial for effective leadership and superior business performance. According to this research, women score higher than men on nearly all emotional intelligence competencies, except emotional self-control, where no gender differences are observed. And women are more effective to employ the emotional and social competencies correlated with effective leadership and management than men.” [3]

According to another research made by Pepperdine University, there are four important skills behind the success of women in business [4]:

  • Women are opportunity experts
  • Women are networking professionals
  • Women seek to be relationship specialists
  • Women are natural givers

Women’s contribution to success is scientifically proven, not only in managerial positions, but in all engineering and technological activities requiring team work as well.

An article I’ve read in Harvard Business Review years ago, titled “What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women”, see women as a crucial factor in boosting team success. The result of the research is summarized as “There’s little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.” Researchers explain this increasing group performance with the high social sensitivity of the women in the group [5].

As a consequence, although the emotional temperament of women have been perceived as “weakness” for thousands of years, this talent is the key factor in their high performance and success. And this is the secret of powerful women…


[1] http://cra.org/crn/2015/04/solving_the_equation_the_variables_for_womens_success_in_engineering_a/
[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/most-powerful-female-engineers-of-2017-2017-2
[3] http://www.kornferry.com/press/new-research-shows-women-are-better-at-using-soft-skills-crucial-for-effective-leadership/
[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2011/08/22/4-skills-that-give-women-a-sustainable-advantage-over-men/#761911216790
[5] https://hbr.org/2011/06/defend-your-research-what-makes-a-team-smarter-more-women

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