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How to break into the tech industry as a woman

by uma

 

 

By Frankie Malpass, Product Lead, Goodlord

Growing up I believed a career in technology to be way outside of my realm. I didn’t particularly enjoy IT classes and couldn’t boast about being the most tech-savvy, but yet, tech is where I’ve ended up.

While I wasn’t alone in not considering tech to be an option for me –most girls and young women are unlikely to consider working in technology– I am one of few that ended up in the field regardless.

Women and girls don’t consider technology-based fields as a potential career path for them for various reasons, most of which are found to be related in some form to the existing gender gap within the field.

According to a study from PwC, the gender gap in technology begins at school and carries on through every stage of girls’ and women’s lives.

Firstly, girls aren’t given enough information on what working in the tech sector involves and are not pushed to consider a career in tech to the same degree that boys are. The study also found that girls lack the confidence to pursue high paid careers in science and technology, despite getting equal if not better results than their male counterparts.

Secondly the lack of female role models reinforces the idea that a career in tech is not viable for a woman and many girls find the idea of going into a male dominated workplace off-putting. In fact, only 27% of female students surveyed said they would consider a career in technology, with only 3% stating it as their first choice. And who can blame them? With only 23% of STEM roles in the UK being held by women, technology doesn’t appear to be the most female-friendly career path.

But despite what it may seem, my career in tech has been fantastic and my unconventional way of achieving it shows that it’s not too late for other women to join the STEM workforce and bridge the existing gender gap in the industry.

My career journey

I guess you could say it was partly luck that led me to where I am today. Like many students, I came out of university not entirely sure what career path would be right for me. So, on a mission to find out what career I would enjoy and excel in, I joined a graduate scheme at RentTech start-up, Goodlord.

I’d opted to work at a start-up as I’d heard from friends that they were a great place to learn and grow and the scheme I was on gave me the opportunity to rotate between many different sectors and try them out.

While it was my plan to make the most of my graduate scheme and experience a variety of different roles at Goodlord, I started in the tech support team and enjoyed it so much I never left!

I loved being exposed to the everyday problems faced by customers and being able to help contribute to finding the all-important solutions. Seeing the real-world impact first hand was particularly rewarding and inspired me to stick with technology.

During my time in the tech support team, an opportunity to join the product team arose and I decided to go for it. At first, I had slight hesitations as to whether I’d made the right decision as I often found myself experiencing characteristics of the well-known phenomenon, imposter syndrome.

My peers often spoke in tech jargon which made me feel constantly out of the loop. Despite this challenge I made it my mission to learn and was lucky enough to be supported and mentored by Goodlord’s CTO, Donovan Frew.

To help me expand my knowledge of tricky tech terms, Donovan would set me a high-level article to read each week, that I would then have to explain back to him as a way of demonstrating and consolidating what I had learnt. While I found the whole learning process quite challenging, it provided me with invaluable experience and I’m proud that I persevered.

Joining the product team enabled me to work alongside engineers to come up with RentTech solutions specifically targeted to all involved in the lettings/tenancy process – something which was previously unaddressed by innovators in the PropTech space.

I am now Product Lead, which involves developing and leading long-term strategic roadmaps, negotiating with stakeholders to make sure the most impactful work is prioritised, and aiding my team to consistently meet their objectives. I’d say the best thing about my job is the autonomy and creative licence it grants.

My advice for breaking into the tech landscape as a woman

  • Don’t be haunted by ‘what ifs’ – If you’re unsure of whether a career in tech is for you, my best piece of advice would be to just go for it. You won’t know unless you try!
  • Recognise your limitations and trust in your abilities – Most people have probably experienced feelings of inadequacy or as I’ve mentioned, imposter syndrome. This can be common for women in the workplace, especially as you go higher up the ladder. But try not let these feelings consume you. You can’t expect yourself to be amazing at everything so being able to recognise your limits and have confidence in your strengths can be really beneficial to overcoming these negative feelings.
  • Have the courage to ask questions – In my experience, the people that ask the most questions are the ones that go on to be really successful. Asking questions is a fundamental part of learning so don’t shy away from doing so. Make the most of the colleagues you look up to as they can guide you and help you to grow in both confidence and knowledge.

Today, it’s important that more women open the door to a career in tech as it can truly empower an individual to create real change in the world – and who doesn’t want that?

A career in tech is boundless and working on the edge of innovation with like-minded people can offer great job satisfaction. Don’t just take it from me though – give it a go and see for yourself.

 

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