To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to put the spotlight on oe:gen’s very own ‘women in tech’ to share what they love about working in our industry. Say hi to Beccy, Emily, Katie, Emma, and Smeeta!
1. Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
Talking to clients, either face to face, on the phone, or over a Skype or WebEx meeting
Reviewing and analysing information or data supplied by the client, thinking, researching, creating wireframes and writing user stories (this is a way of expressing requirements with clear acceptance criteria)
Talking to developers and reviewing what’s being produced
Working closely with the PM team.
2. Did you always know that working in tech was what you wanted to do? How did you decide that this was an industry for you?
Beccy: Working in tech was not something I set out to do, but I developed an interest in it after been tasked in a previous role to deliver a new website with no digital marketing experience. I learnt on the job, made use of online training, and the rest, as they say, is history. So while it wasn’t planned, I love working in tech. I love that I’m constantly challenged and am part of an industry which is growing.
Emily: I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what I could do with my writing skills other than journalism when I fell out of University onto cold, hard pavement of the real world. I was an unpaid music-journalist before I came here, so you can imagine that going from writing about gigs to writing about Salesforce was a pretty big jump for me! It was initially daunting at first, but being in a supportive and encouraging environment allowed me learn on the job and become confident in my skills. Now, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else!
Emma: I always enjoyed IT class at school (and I was pretty sure this wasn’t just because my friends were in the class), so decided to do this at Bilborough college. I was lucky enough to have a really inspirational teacher who advised me of the variety of roles within the tech industry, and how I could use my skills and passion for IT in project management, testing, business analysis and more. He opened my eyes to the possibilities! At University I studied Business Information Systems and carried out a placement year as a Project Co-ordinator, that’s when I knew that PM was the route for me.
Katie: I studied Computer Studies at school – not because I knew I wanted to work in the technology industry, but just because I enjoyed it. I did a Systems Modelling degree, and it was during my third–year industrial placement at a multimedia company that I had a light bulb moment and thought “wow, you can earn a living having this much fun!” And that was it; I was sucked into the digital world. In the early days of my career, I dabbled with Front End development, but as the years passed I became more involved with project and client management. My passion for helping teams grow and deliver great results has ultimately lead to the operations role I’m in today.
Smeeta: Honestly, no. I kind of just ended up in this industry. I went to university, I had to pick a course, so I picked Business Information Technology. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at the age of 17-18, I’m sure most kids don’t know what they want to do at that age. After I graduated I initially worked in IT Support for 3 years, however I received an opportunity to work on a development project, I took it because I was bored, and the rest is history. I became passionate about my work and the different roles it takes to bring a project and idea together, I wanted to learn more and more. I found this side of working in tech interesting and challenging.
3. What do you think is the best part of being in the tech industry?
Beccy: It’s an industry that is forever evolving and changing which provides huge opportunities to learn and develop your career.
Emily: For me, it’s the fact that no day is ever the same, and it’s an industry that’s always growing. Every day, there are new ways in which technology positively impacts our lives. So I feel like I’m always learning, which is exciting! Who wants to be writing about the same thing every day? Not me, that’s for sure.
Emma: I love to work in a team and now I get to do this in an industry that I love with a bunch of talented professionals. It’s fast paced, challenging and every day you are guaranteed to learn something new about the industry and about yourself.
Katie: It’s always changing, so you’re constantly learning and evolving. In general, the industry attracts people who enjoy this environment, so it’s great working with forward-thinking colleagues.
Smeeta: It’s fast paced, always changing, and varied.
4. Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
Beccy: Compared to other industries I’ve worked in, the ratio of women is higher in tech that i have ever experienced before. However, it does concern me the number of women entering tech is not enough to keep up with the continued growth of the industry. It needs to be promoted more to girls in school and more opportunities to learn skills need to be provided. We need more schemes likes Vodaphone’s #codelikeagirl initiative in schools. That’s why I’m so proud we have the oe:gen academy to help young people start a career in tech. It’s an industry I would very keen to see my daughter enter into.
Emily: I think that when we were girls, computers were more marketed towards boys, so I can definitely see why there would be such a gap in the industry today. I also think a lot of the gap comes from misinformation and education about what can be done in the technology field. What we’re focusing on right now is closing that gap. That’s why Pete’s visiting some schools this year — to spread the word and maybe even inspire some students. We’re also planning our very first Women in Tech event here at oe:gen, so keep a peeled eye for that!
Emma: Yes I’ve always noticed a lack of women in the industry — at University and in the workplace. But I have been lucky enough to work with some strong and talented women. I think the variety of roles within the industry simply aren’t known, so we need to spread the word, and hopefully International Women’s Day will help us to do this! I still have to educate my friends when they ask about what I do. Once I get started, they can’t stop me. 😊
Katie: In the early part of my career, I was the only woman in a meeting, working on a project or even in the company! I’m pleased to say in recent years, I’ve worked with more women, but in my experience they tend to be in non-coding roles. To this day, I’ve only worked with two female coders. I don’t feel I’ve ever experienced any discrimination for being a girl and have always been encouraged and supported with my career development. It’s great to see lots of initiatives encouraging more girls to enter into technology roles, so hopefully I’ll get to work with more female programmers in the future.
Smeeta: Previously I’ve worked in teams where I’ve been the only woman and did find it difficult, now there are a lot more women that you speak to on a daily basis. From what I’ve seen, I do notice that the development and technical roles are mainly held by men (note: I have worked alongside female developers, it’s just the majority seem to be men), and the roles in marketing, design, business analysis, testing, client services and project management might be more neutral as I’ve seen these roles filled by both men and women. I’m not sure why there’s a gender imbalance, but I would love to see and work with more women in the technical roles.
5. What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Beccy: Don’t let anything hold you back. If you can’t find a course locally, there are some amazing free resources available online to educate yourself. The Salesforce online training site Trailhead is fantastic and will open up a whole world of career paths for you.
Emily: It’s not all ‘brogrammers’ and buzzwords. There are no ‘stupid questions’. Never stop learning, don’t let anyone get in the way of your career, and always believe in your value.
Emma: Speak to local organisations to get work experience, read blogs, and follow influencers. You can have a really rewarding career in this industry. Women support each other but so does everyone else, and I’m proud to me a woman in this industry. Go for it! And for those of you who have seen Legally Blonde, ‘live every day like Elle Woods after Warner told her she wasn’t smart enough for Harvard Law School’.
Katie: There are so many roles available within the technology industry, so don’t be put off if you’re not interesting in being a coder. Whatever area you choose to focus on, make it your mission to know your subject inside out and believe that you deserve your place at the table – even if you’re the only girl. There are so many online resources to support self-development, but nothing beats hands-on experience. Also it’s not all about the technology – communication, organisation and people skills are just as important.
Smeeta: There are so many roles in the tech industry to choose from, so if you’re unsure, I would advise getting into a tech company, learn about what everyone does, and see what floats your boat. Give things a try, get out there, and don’t be intimated if you are going into a male-dominated environment.