For women to see themselves reflected in a workplace they aspire to join or progress in is a powerful tool for improving gender diversity and inclusion, as well as advancing careers. Here we shine a spotlight on a few female role models.
In the UK tech industry, women are still underrepresented, accounting for just 19% of the workforce and 22% of director-level jobs. Globally, the picture is a little rosier, with one in four leadership positions at large tech companies expected to be held by women in 2022. Yet 78% of UK students can’t name a famous female working in tech. There are, however, plenty of women to aspire to. We talk to three of these – who all work with us – about their experiences, challenges and top tips.
CEO and Founder, Nexus Digital Technology
We are a digital platform that puts people in control of their health and wellbeing. Our tech is customised for different healthcare partners' needs, while personalising the user experience for patients, to help them optimise their health and change behaviours. We have contracts across health insurance, hospitals, rehabilitation centres and GP practices.
I started my career as a mental health clinical practitioner, working in the third sector and NHS for 25 years. My last job was as Executive Director of the Grenfell Tower incident, overseeing the remediation of the survivors and bereaved. It greatly influenced my desire to set up Nexus Digital Technology.
I wanted to become a part of the fourth industrial revolution and contribute to rapid changes in tech in my industry. Despite the sophisticated level of clinical excellence the UK rightly has a reputation for, I believe we are lagging behind in technological advancements internationally.
We need to address stereotypes to help attract more women into tech. A lot of us still have a perception this industry involves working ‘behind the scenes’ or being a ‘techie’. But you don’t have to be a tech expert. Women need to be visionary, exemplary entrepreneurs and have an aptitude for understanding the problems we need to solve.
It’s a myth that women are not capable of analytical thinking or IT savvy. Some of the best IT strategists I’ve worked with are female. A key attribute required is peripheral vision – understanding the end users’ needs and five-year business strategy, staying on the front foot of your industry’s pain points and learning from research. Women bring all these capabilities and more.
There have been barriers, including work-life balance. I have received quite a lot of gender bias – frequently underestimated for my knowledge, experience and business acumen. I never experienced it in the NHS. What I won’t do is overcompensate or feel I must prove myself.
I think the tech industry is changing and it’s been incredible to see how women support and celebrate each other’s achievements in this specific sector. I look forward to the day we no longer have to point out that I am a female CEO in tech, rather than just a CEO in tech.
If you are an entrepreneur but your expertise is not in tech, go and spend time with your developers, UX/UI designers and business analytics team. Learn what they do and how they deliver. You don’t have to learn all the micro detail, but it will benefit you in planning how to achieve your macro goals.
Business Analyst, CMS tender for a local authority
I act as an intermediary between the business and technology teams, especially putting requirements into a format that developers can understand.
I was attracted to a career in tech after taking a career break to raise my family. I took a computer refresher course and really enjoyed it, so I studied Computer Science at university. My husband served in Iraq during this period, so I studied part-time, while working for a women’s charity, which involved lots of analysis for different funders. My initial IT job was as a Data Manager in a large secondary school.
There have been challenges. As an IT Consultant, I had to work away for long periods. While this is difficult for anyone, it was very challenging at the time, as I was going through a divorce and had just relocated to a new area. Trying to get to know the area and make new friends was very difficult when I was only home at weekends for a couple of years.
There is a big misconception that you have to be very technical or able to code to work in IT. I don’t think people realise there are lots of routes, where you just need to understand the concepts.
Female attributes include being able to see things from multiple angles and consolidate everything into a single viewpoint. I’ve worked on many projects where it’s been predominantly male, especially in the early days, and I think projects benefit from having that diversity, to create a common understanding.
Starting a career in tech is the best decision I’ve ever made.
DevOps Engineer, global creative agency Tribal Worldwide
My job is helping to drive efficiency through automation and innovative integration solutions, working in an agile environment on client platforms and internal initiatives. Within the DevOps team, I work alongside other engineers, who are mostly men.
Since childhood, I have been keen on the IT industry and the revolutions going on in the world. I always wanted to be one of the women who stand affirmed in this field and earn a deserved name.
My culture in Pakistan is very patriarchal, with women dependent on men. I didn’t want this to be the case for me, so I started a career in IT. When I moved to the UK in 2012, I found a shortage of occupations. So I opted for Cloud and DevOps, as this was a niche area and digital transformation was happening everywhere. Now I’m empowered within the tech landscape and financially independent.
Inner motivation and a strong decisive will are key, and I would encourage all women to be self-confident and keep going, as nothing in this world comes for free. Patience and persistence are the price which can buy you a name in your favourite field and the courage to keep going.
Gender does not define competence. Every person is unique and can do amazing things, if we let barriers go and give everyone the opportunities.
There have been some moments in my life where I was unable to manage my work and family life and was so broken and disturbed, as I did not want to let go of either. I decided to take a break, and this successfully managed my work-life balance. I appreciate my family’s support during this time, as that enabled me to keep going and keep achieving.
My tip is to keep learning. Do this and your mind keeps growing. Find your passion and live your life. What matters is your personal will and having clear objectives.
If you are looking for your next tech role or need help finding top candidates, get in touch today.