Did you know that, according to the website Women in Tech, ‘only 17% of the tech workforce are women’? That means that a jaw-dropping 83% of tech jobs are currently filled by men. The jobs available in the technology industry are hugely varied, from graphic designers all the way to software engineers. These jobs are in high demand, varied in their job function, working with the latest technologies against the backdrop of constant improvements in technology and its role within businesses of all types - so why are there so few women considering this career path?
We were speaking to Jane Lawson, a software developer who works for AO.com, and we wanted to get to know the challenges she’s faced along with her advice for how to empower more women into the field of technology.
What first made you consider a career as a software developer, and did you ever question it?
“I have always been keen on tech and knew I'd work with it in some capacity. I just didn't know what. I did a degree in computer animation but didn't want to pursue that as I was looking for something more technical. After uni, I was running an eBay shop and wanted to improve the look of the shop's page so I found tutorials on how to do HTML and CSS. I immediately caught the bug from there. I did a lot of learning in my spare time and realised I wanted to be a backend developer. It didn't put me off that it was a male-dominated industry as I knew that it suited my style of thinking. I managed to get some work experience at ao.com who amazingly offered me a job at the end of the 2 weeks and I'm still there almost 5 years on.”
What challenges have you faced?
“I'd say the most challenging aspect of the role is how quickly technology changes. You do have to put in some effort to stay up to date. I found it pretty overwhelming at first. It felt like the more I learned the more I realised there was to learn. I think it was exaggerated though as I didn't have a computer science background, so I was literally learning everything from scratch. The learning curve is not as steep as it was. There will always be new things to learn but it gets easier and easier to pick up new things. Another big challenge for me is being a single mum and working 20 miles away from home. However, I'm lucky to work for a company that offers flexible working. Without that, I wouldn't have managed to keep a full-time job.”
Why do you think so few women are considering careers in tech?
“I personally think it’s the lack of awareness of what the industry is really like. I had the idea in my head that it was like the IT Crowd, awkward, nerdy guys with no social life. However the office culture at my place is great. It's really friendly and sociable.”
What would you say to any woman considering a career in tech right now?
“Go for it! It's completely worth the time investment learning how to code. There's a skills gap so there's plenty of career opportunities at every level. Even if you don't want to code you can still work in tech. There are business analysts, project managers and a bunch of other roles in tech. There are articles online which help you figure out which role you'd be best suited to, and blogs explaining what a typical day looks like. We're heading into an industrial revolution where technology will be embedded in so many different things and in so many different industries. You can work with tech in any industry that you fancy. How many jobs can say that?!”
Whilst it might be daunting to consider a job in the tech field at first, there are so many benefits to working in the industry. As Jane mentioned, there really aren’t many jobs with a skillset that could be used within any industry! And with more and more tech companies adopting flexible working, you’re increasingly likely to find a job that fits in perfectly with your life. Getting a skill in the field could even help you to start your own business! We have lots of incredible women working to create CircleLoop the fantastic solution it is, and who all love the job they do.
For more advice, make sure to take a look at the Women in Tech website. There are lots of different resources available including case studies and career guides so you can get some more information on what it might be like to work in tech.
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