Devex's top career advice from 2019 for women in development

An aid worker with the EU's humanitarian arm visits projects in Nicaragua. Photo by: ECHO / Silvio Balladares

For women — and even more so for women of color — development can seem like an “insider’s club.” A lack of network and mentorship, alongside other barriers, can hold women back from landing senior roles.

Throughout 2019, Devex spoke to experts from across the sector to find out what challenges still exist for women looking to progress in their careers. They shared their tips for overcoming common challenges, including working in male-dominated environments and applying for a job when you don’t meet all the requirements.

Keep reading for Devex’s top career advice from 2019 for women in development.

1. What's it like to be a woman humanitarian working in the field?

The life of a humanitarian worker can be tough, but women in the field can face specific challenges — from leading teams in male-dominated environments to dealing with menstruation in remote areas. Two experienced humanitarian leaders share their tips for challenging attitudes toward women and avoiding burnout during deployment.

2. Podcast: Helen Clark on the need for more women in global dev leadership

Devex speaks to Helen Clark, former head of the United Nations Development Program and former prime minister of New Zealand, about women in leadership and taking a more proactive approach to achieving gender parity in the development sector.

3. Podcast: Kimberly King on the 'superpowers' women in the sector need

Kimberly King, CEO of HumanTec and the One Island Institute, talks about the importance of “upskilling” and highlights how universal skills such as creativity, emotional intelligence, awareness, and collaboration can help women thrive in their careers.

Check out the full DevProWomen2030 series to hear from more women leaders in the sector.

4. Webinar: 6 tips from women in STEM to succeed in global dev

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics still tend to be male-dominated fields, but many women are drawing upon their STEM expertise to lead global development projects and teams. Three of these women talk about how they succeeded and share tips for others looking to follow in their footsteps.

5. How to apply for a job when you don’t meet all the criteria

Women are less likely than men to apply for a job when they don’t meet all of the requirements, and this can hold them back from progressing in or switching their careers. Two women who now work in STEM roles in global development share their tips for a successful career transition.

6. Job sharing: A better work-life balance while advancing your career

While job sharing could help get more women into leadership positions, it is not widely implemented by many global development employers. Two women who have benefited from this arrangement talk through some of the challenges and benefits of sharing one full-time position.

About the author

  • Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a Reporter at Devex. She covers all things related to careers and hiring in the global development community as well as mental health within the sector — from tips on supporting humanitarian staff to designing mental health programs for refugees. Emma has reported from key development hubs in Europe and co-produced Devex’s DevProWomen2030 podcast series. She holds a degree in journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University and a master's in media and international conflict. In addition to writing for regional news publications, she has worked with organizations focused on child and women’s rights.