Parveen always liked tech and was into programming from a young age. She wasn’t aware of roles until the end of her masters when she knew about a role as a developer but didn’t realise how many varieties there were. Parveen heard through a friend about testing, she read into it and got a testing role.
Likes – Working with developers and enjoys breaking things. She thinks about all the ways you could possibly break a website or the software she is working on and makes sure the end product is high quality.
Shortage – Thinks the stress levels put women off. She is a mother of 2 and in tech you have to constantly learn new skills. She wouldn’t want to stop working and totally focus on her family as she wants to have her career but also feels like she can’t be the best she could be because of her family commitments. Feels like she doesn’t get enough support, time and resources to learn new skills. She took time off after having her children and was at home for 2 years as a way to get around initial stress. Tech moves very fast and if you’re not up to date you are behind and you won’t have confidence that you’re doing well.
Increase – People working in tech should get more support if they have children. Employers could send them for more training so they’re offered a place and time to learn relevant new skills instead of having to hunt out what they should be learning by reading in their own time.
Elcin was always interested in tech from a young age, she used to fix her parents landline phone. She went on to do a computer science degree and then worked with hardware. Elcin ended up having a bad experience there due to being the only female and was pushed out, which led her taking a new role in software and design.
Likes – The challenges and the fact you have to constantly work on self-improvement. The creativity, given the option she wouldn’t go back to working with hardware.
Shortage – Not 100% sure why there is a shortage of women in tech, thinks it’s just not known about widely enough.
Increase – Can only think that more awareness of tech roles need to be brought to more women so they know it is more than feasible for them to get into that industry.
Programming had been a hobby of Anna’s since she was younger, she had a blog about it when she was 12 years old and taught herself how to code. Anna wasn’t fully aware of the distinction between the different developer roles available until she started looking and a recruiter informed her about all the different positions. Anna then got into a tech role when she came to the UK.
Likes – The money in tech and having a visible impact on projects. Also, likes the flat hierarchy structure that most tech places have.
Shortage – Main reason why there is a shortage of women in tech is the male dominated environment. It is often testosterone driven, can be awkward in certain situations and guys aren’t always keen on sharing what they are working on. There can be a lack of empathy, as men tend to have the attitude that people should just tough it out if things are getting stressful.
Increase – Feels there needs to be more support. It’s like the culture has been tailored towards men and as people hire for culture fit that sometimes doesn’t get changed. Companies need to hire for whole personalities and not just for a skillset. Promote change!
Clare did psychology at uni and was working in a financial company, processing pensions when she put herself forward to say she would help with the communications strategy, which involved design and learning HTML. Clare had quite a creative mind and an eye for design so coding was a thing she needed to learn to be able to do that, so she started front-end coding.
Likes – Enjoys speaking to people the most, finding out what their needs are and getting to know them as much as possible. Likes being able to pull things back to a very simple level before the complexities of technology comes into play. Feels psychology studies have helped quite a lot with this kind of work.
Shortage – When at school science and maths were very masculine subjects, and that continued even at university level. We need to break down gender stereotypes from as younger age as possible to encourage more females into tech.
Increase – Companies need to encourage gender diversity as well as other diversity. This will benefit companies by enabling more perspectives and more discussions on projects.
Zoe had always wanted to be a computer engineer since she was a child. Zoe picked courses at school in-line with this and did a degree in computer science and a masters. She was aware of the gender imbalance in tech when she was the only female on her master’s course. Since then she has often been the only female her in the team and sometimes even on the whole floor of her workplace.
Likes – You constantly have to learn to keep up with trends and evolving tech. Doesn’t matter how senior you are, you still have to continuously learn. Very creative, using tech to deliver what the clients want.
Shortage – The industry is more confident with hiring males as it’s a male dominated environment. What you study at school/college influences what you do at uni and a lot of females look at engineering as nerdy as there is not enough information about it. Males have a tendency to be really confident and a developer’s mentality is always to think they are the best, so if women don’t have confidence they can feel like they have to prove themselves.
Increase – A good way is to reach out to and take on grads and then train them. It means you can reach out to females that may be unsure but are 100% capable of the role. Don’t like the idea that companies would only hire females to even out equality, they should hire females to improve the working environment and because they are good for the job.
Paula’s Dad was a computer engineer, she wanted to be a journalist but her Dad said she had a logical mind so urged her to try coding when she was 14. She liked it and the fact it was very logical and structured. Paula ended up moving to UX as she likes the human interaction involved.
Likes – Innovation, tech is the future, it shapes how our children will be thinking/behaving. It’s about understanding how the future will be and how to use machines much better and easier. Also, likes collaborating and working with people from different backgrounds.
Shortage – Main reasons for the shortage of women in tech is work/life balance. Feels it’s more important to women than men. Early in a career, when it comes to promotions, she feels behavioural traits are looked at differently in women and men. If men are confident in their ability it’s seen as a good thing and if women are the same it is viewed as them being cocky and bossy. Her and 2 of her female colleagues behave very similarly to men in the company in terms of confidence and they are described as being scary, it feels like the system is biased in favour of men.
Increase – Need to raise awareness of the bias that exists, that the same skill set in men and women isn’t viewed the same way. Use positive discrimination until the bias is sorted use it for more senior positions to get the female to male ratio up. Make use of flexible working – working from home or working different hours means people can take care of family and work.
Ana-Maria’s older brother had been creating games since he was a kid and he influenced her a lot. She became quite interested in tech and considered it as a career. She always thought in a more logical way and realised tech fitted well with that. The pay was also very attractive to her and she had always got on better with guys than girls so felt she fitted into that role nicely. The idea of a gender imbalance hadn’t actually crossed her mind until she got into her first job.
Likes – The environment, feels like there’s freedom to make mistakes and learn from them as opposed to losing credibility. The pay is great and she feels being a female is actually an advantage due to positive discrimination and people wanting more women in their teams.
Shortage – The main reason is upbringing. Girls get told to play with dolls etc., encouraged to meet a man and get married. She had a friend’s mother say that software development isn’t a job for women.
Increase – Give women more responsibility and support, show them they can do it. Increase their confidence! Hackathons that reach out to women but where it isn’t just women participating to show them they can work in that way with men. Having other team members mentoring as it’s a way for someone to learn and build their confidence.
The trends we saw were that women are getting into tech because they were interested in it from a young age, not because they were encouraged or educated about it during their childhood or school life. Women are also aware that working in tech means constantly updating their skills, which can come across as a stressful work environment for many who may have other commitments such as family.
Companies need to make more women aware that tech is a more than viable career option for them and give support to people that may have to care for children as well as work. We live in an age where remote or flexible working is not an issue and if companies offer a certain amount of work time to employees to learn new skills then no one should feel hindered by work/life balance.
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