Women in Tech: It’s not just a man’s world
It is no secret that there is a perception that the majority of people who work in tech are men, which in itself can be enough for some women to be put off working in the industry. There’s no denying that there is a certain truth to this, even at Rocketmakers’ we are around 70% male, but the tide is slowly turning. Once upon a time, it would have been unusual to see even one female developer in a tech company, but thankfully female representation has steadily grown. These early female tech pioneers paved the way for women of today to work in tech, in the same way that tomorrow’s women will be inspired by the female tech pioneers of today. Recognising that there is still a lot of work to be done in this area and in celebration of International Women’s Day, we interviewed 5 inspirational women who work for Rocketmakers, about their experiences working in tech.
We spoke to Sara King and Julieann Jefford, both of whom are Project Managers, Alice McNeil, a Visual Designer, Claire Henning-Marsh and Judith Owens who are Software Engineers. Here is what they had to say:
What first sparked your interest in working in the tech industry?
SK: I could never decide which industry I wanted to work in, but tech touches every industry out there, so I get to experience all of them with one job.
AM: I remember being frustrated that I couldn’t bring my web design “to life”. That led me to becoming a developer and gave me an almost limitless tool kit to create anything digitally.
JJ: I didn’t naturally startout in IT. Air Traffic Control was my first job but I was always the one in the office who wanted to know how the IT bits operated. I read the manuals, worked through the tutorials which led to people asking me how the IT worked or which buttons to press. I guess I was just really inquisitive. As I left the RAF I didn’t want to continue in Air Traffic Control so I took the opportunity to retrain and became an Infrastructure Engineer.
CH-M: I’ve been interested in tech since I was small but whilst working as a Graphic Designer I was asked to build a website and the rest is history.
JO: I’ve always been very focussed around the ‘why’ of things and also very keen on making things that make people happy. Weirdly science in general and code in particular hit both of those buttons.
What advice would you give to a young female just starting out in the tech industry?
JO: Don’t get pushed into “female” job aspects unless you actually enjoy them. Your gender is not your skillset.
JJ: Be yourself- don’t feel you have to pattern match what you think an IT engineer should be. Females often have the brilliant advantage of being excellent communicators so embrace that side of you.
SK: There are so many opportunities and interesting directions you can go in that don’t need experience, knowledge or a “certain type of brain”. So don’t hold back, just give it a go.
AM: You really don’t need to know everything! There’s an overwhelming amount of content surrounding development that it can seem intimidating. No one will ever expect you to know it all.
CH-M: Practice what you love and don’t be afraid to speak up if you believe in something.
In your experience, does being a woman in your profession come with extra challenges that you have to overcome?
JJ: By chance I have always worked in male-dominated environments, so being a minority can be seen as a challenge. I used this to my advantage as being a great communicator means I was able to analyse, assess, but also be able to make the problems easily understandable at all levels.
CH-M: Yes and no. It’s complicated to sum up in a few words but I think it very much depends on the company and their culture as well as the people around you.
JO: Yes- it’s more about getting your customer to take you seriously than your peers, especially as you have to be more professional with customers!
SK: There’s a perception that tech is a closed, male world- and actually, that’s not true. It's the perception that holds women back, more than the actual reality of it.
What do you enjoy most about being a woman in the tech industry?
AM: I love creating; whether it's a UI design or a functional application I get a wave of accomplishment when my team and I complete something and send it off into the world for users.
SK: Opening up the industry to the next generation of tech workers and removing the expectation of who is “techy”.
JO: The looks on the faces of the unsuspecting when I act contrary to their expectations of what a female developer is like- especially as there are a lot of options to play with.
JJ: Continually learning is one of the great joys in IT, nothing stands still for long, clients always come with different business ideas or problems they want to solve. This is the greatest joy working in IT. As a woman in IT I stand out from the norm.
CH-M: Working on innovative projects. The future of technology. But also knowing that we are inspiring the next generation of women, just like our predecessors did for us!
Did you know that Rocketmakers offer work experience placements and internships? If you’re interested in a career in tech and would like to get some first hand experience then please get in touch.