Reflecting on Women in Tech this International Women's Day
In opinion / By Charlotte Tobulevicius / 28 February 2020
This year’s International Women’s Day is being held on Sunday 8th March and this annual celebration of women naturally got us thinking about women in technology.
According to research carried out by PWC, only 23% of people currently working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) roles in the UK are female. This clearly shows the size of the gender imbalance in the technology industry as it stands now, but worryingly, the report also uncovered that only 27% of respondents said they would consider a career in technology.
With technology looking like an unlikely career choice for young women, we’re reflecting on our own workforce and the women who are presently employed in technology-focused roles to learn more about their experiences and whether they think gender has played a role in their career development, whether for better or worse.
We spoke to Claire, Lauren and Maria about their current roles to find out how it feels being a woman in a largely male-dominated industry and whether they have experienced any challenges that men in similar roles wouldn’t have experienced.
Claire Taylor – Technical Manager (Operations)
“When I joined Nasstar 6 years ago, I was coming from an IT Manager position back into a more hands-on Technical Engineer role - I had missed getting properly stuck in and learning new technologies! Since then, I have moved up through Technical Team Leader to my current position of Technical Manager (Operations) with the full support and respect of my colleagues.
“For me, I never really let IT being a largely male-dominated world bother me. As a child and into my early teens I was always a bit of a tomboy, playing football with the other boys on my street or building computers for online gaming. I always gravitated towards technology and doing things that you’d normally associate with boys.
“As I chose my career path into IT, I had already learned a lot and gained skills that meant I never felt I was battling against my male counterparts or thought they knew more. In fact, quite the opposite! I can recall a number of challenges where I outperformed them, one example being my MCSE 2003 residential course, where out of the 20 on the course and me being the only female, I was the only one to pass all aspects and actually threw in an extra exam for good measure!”
Lauren Ingram – Project Manager
“I am currently a Project Manager for Nasstar, and I have worked here since July 2016. I started in the role of Business Relationship Manager, followed 8 months later with an internal promotion to Project Manager where I am currently working on the largest and most complex project within the business.
“I have always gravitated towards roles within the IT sector, following in my father & brothers’ footsteps, with the majority of my roles having been in male dominated teams and departments.
“During my career, there have definitely been occasions where I felt the need to work harder to be heard. For example, ideas I have suggested have not been “heard” at the time but later down the line are repeated by a gentleman within the team, to which the idea is “heard”, generally accepted, and on most occasions implemented. That aside, I thoroughly enjoy my work and as I progress and achieve within my role there are clear signs of improvement.
“I would however like to see more woman within our business as there is currently only around 25% of us in the workforce, but I believe this is a vast improvement upon previous years!
“Personally, I don’t let gender get in the way or affect the work I do, and I work with everyone in the same way regardless of gender, orientation or role.”
Maria PLevin - 2nd Line Service Desk Team Leader
"I currently work as a 2nd Line Team Leader for Nasstar and have been with the company for 8 years. When I originally joined, I started as a Service Desk Assistant bringing only Mac skills with me as I was an ex Creative with a passion for tech. At the time of joining I was the only female on the Service Desk but that never phased me. I have learnt so much because I really enjoy the role I do. Being technical and having strong people skills is definitely a bonus for me, as is delivering excellent customer service and working as a team.
"Over the years, my knowledge has grown significantly thanks to the support and mentoring of my male colleagues and I am now the only female Service Desk Team Leader at Nasstar. I enjoy supporting and mentoring my team and watching them develop into amazing engineers, especially when they start in 1st Line and move into 2nd Line so quickly. As a Team Leader, I believe that leadership has nothing to do with having power over someone, it's about using your influence to inspire and empower your people to achieve the impossible.
"I recently won 'Supporter of the Year' in our awards ceremony which was amazing. Reading the nominations just reaffirmed that the work that I do for my team and others is appreciated and makes an impact.
"Since I have been with the company we have had several females join the service desk which is amazing and I definitely think more women should consider IT as a career option.
"As for working in a largely male-dominated industry, there have been times where it has been difficult and I've not agreed with decisions that have been made, but I have always stood up for what I believe in. I can definitely stand my ground and get across my view in a diplomatic way. Other than that, I get more grief from the guys about being a Mac user than I do being female on the Service Desk!
At Nasstar, there are currently 37 women employed in our business which equates to around 18% of our workforce, with 18 of them in technical roles. This is a figure we would like to improve upon in the coming years, but we can’t do it alone! The industry really needs to up its game by getting women on board with the idea that a career in technology isn’t just for men and that it can be a great career choice in terms of inclusivity and professional development.