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As someone who has enjoyed a range of dynamic and exciting roles within the technology industry, I am keen to encourage more women into these roles. Assumptions and stereotypes may remain, but I’m passionate about breaking through those misconceptions, acting as a mentor and helping professional women make the most of their potential and the opportunities available to them, in this incredibly rewarding industry.
The STEM misconception
When speaking to young women, I often come across the misconception that working in tech is only for STEM students or those involved in coding. However, as the sector expands, roles are developing very quickly, requiring a variety of skills and professional experience. In my current role as Chief Commercial Officer, my ability to maintain client relationships and to build business cases is as important as my technical knowledge. Today’s graduates may end up in roles that don’t even exist now so they should focus on gaining as much experience now as they can, rather than focusing on a future career that could look drastically different. This will allow them to seize opportunities and experiences while embracing change.
In the hiring process, companies should also place as much emphasis on soft skills in candidates as they do on field of study. This will allow teams to capitalise on the potential of candidates and will ultimately allow for more women leaders in organisations. Inclusivity in the hiring process begins with writing an inclusive job posting and thinking of creative ways to attract diverse talent. This is a proactive process for hiring teams who now appreciate the value of diversity to drive creativity and ultimately create more successful teams.
Another issue which has been a barrier to success in the industry for women, has been the lack of flexibility. This has led to many women switching industry before the age of 35 which is a loss for the teams in which they could have contributed. Even though this is still an issue, the switch to hybrid working, the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and the shift in working culture has been a major win for women looking for work-life balance. Because tech companies, particularly start-ups, are constantly looking to shift working models to improve productivity, there has also been a significant spike in policies which allow for flexible working. Across my career, I have been lucky enough to have this flexibility to work how and when I want, as long as I met my targets. As this attitude becomes the norm, I hope to see better representation of women in teams.
Lack of role models
The lack of female role models in the industry is also an issue when trying to encourage women to enter the space. Despite improvements in representation, 78% of students still fail to name a famous female tech leader when asked. Alongside hiring practices to encourage diversity, companies should also implement mentorship and internship schemes to help young women at the beginning of their career. Personally, having mentors early on in my career who encouraged me to take my first step up into management roles, was immensely important. The opportunity to form relationships with other women in tech could be the catalyst to inspire the next generation and resolve any misconceptions they may have about roles available.
Looking to the future
To anyone interested in building a career in tech, I always try to be as encouraging as possible. It is an extremely dynamic field that allows individuals to learn and develop through a wide range of opportunities. The next generation of tech leaders will come from a multitude of backgrounds and have the creative vision to innovate. I have been lucky enough to always have autonomy in my roles which has allowed me to be creative and grasp responsibility. In this field, taking risks and being ambitious can be well rewarded and allow for rapid growth. No matter your experience or field of study, the right attitude can allow for success.