coding

How a Woman Over 40 Broke Coding Stereotypes

 

Patricia Ehrhardt wanted to become a full time web developer so she enrolled at Bloc in the Web Developer Track.

Patricia spoke with Bloc about her experience of re-training to become a developer. Bloc shared the story with WeAreTheCity, which you will find below.

coding featurePatricia wanted to become a full time web developer, but being a woman in tech can be difficult. Women face stereotyping and imposter-syndrome and the best way to close the gender gap is to give female coders support systems that can help them thrive. That’s why in 2014, Women Who Code and Bloc partnered to create a Women Who Code scholarship program that offers two women each month a $1000 scholarship toward their Bloc tuition. To-date this scholarship program has funded over $48,000 in Bloc tuition.

Patricia had two mentors while completing the program. For backend web development she worked with John Sawyers, a 20 year software developer veteran who has previously worked as a software architect and CTO. And for frontend development, she was mentored by Alissa Likavec, formerly a City Director for Women Who Code who works as a software engineer at Bedrock Media Ventures in Seattle.

We sat down with Patricia to hear about her journey to becoming a developer. Patricia stated, “When I was accepted into Bloc’s Bootcamp it felt like I was making an Olympic team. I knew I would finally be getting the training I needed that eludes so many of us that don't want to go back to the traditional school environment. It felt fantastic, and like I was closer to reaching my goal. Bloc was the easiest choice because of the 1:1 mentorship commitment, and because it was 100% online.”

Patricia stated that her biggest challenge in her journey was the ever present imposter syndrome. She would constantly berate herself for not knowing general CS concepts, or not grasping the logic of an algorithm, and basically feeling like she didn't know what she was doing. Having a mentor there to help her through these doubts was key to her success.

Patricia experienced stereotyping, being a female developer. She loves attending hackathons, but every time she went to one, there would be teams of men that were not open to having a woman on their team. When asked about the hackathon she said, “The general vibe I get is that, we [women] are too slow, or want to learn things (GOD FORBID) or that we are only good for html and css. The way I get over it, is to correct people’s perceptions by actually saying my title “Hi, I’m Patricia I’m a RoR Engineer”, and let them know I am a polyglot (Ruby, Python and Javascript) then ask them to give me a task. They rarely say no to that.”

When asked what advice she would you give to women who are thinking about enrolling in a coding bootcamp she stated, “Invest in yourself. Don’t make excuses like you can’t afford it. If this is truly something you are passionate about, invest the money, invest the time, invest your heart and soul and it will all work out.”

Patricia says that Bloc changed her life by providing the one on one mentorship she so desperately needed to get over the hump of learning online and solo. It also provided a platform to work on real live projects and feature her skills to add to her GitHub and ultimately her resume.

Patricia is excited to continue learning and becoming an even better engineer at her new job at Epublishing. Eventually she hopes to create a piece of software that will be useful for organisations like the Innocence Project, Missing and Exploited Children, or the poverty abatement and battered women’s advocates.

Finally, you can read Patricia’s blog about her experience learning to code as someone over 40.

Patricia was born in Dover, DE but grew up in Southern California. Her interest in technology came from her father who was a nuclear physicist. He would always create techy experiments in the house while watching Star Trek. When everyone else in the neighbourhood had Atari, Patricia had Intellivision. Gaming was her first real introduction to tech, and she was hooked.

Patricia studied Traditional Chinese Medicine at Emperor's College in Santa Monica, and then studied Cell and Molecular Bio/Pre-Med at Humbolt State University. She entered the workforce as a touring band member, playing the bass. Later she became a bartender, and lastly worked in Administration. She loved helping her co-workers in an administrative role but after 8 years she was bored and felt she wasn’t being challenged.

She decided she wanted to learn to code when she remembered she had been interested in coding, tech and gaming since she was 13 years old. She knew it was time to do what she had always wanted to do.

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Five reasons to become a coder in your 30s

Wild Code School_remote learning, woman learning to code

The opportunities and benefits within the tech industry have long been a draw to job seekers.

Indeed, the ONS reported in 2019 that the tech industry had amongst the highest number of job vacancies, increasing salaries and attractive flexible working benefits. And as a largely digitised industry it is no surprise that it has fared relatively well in lockdown with a high proportion of employees able to work from home.

But if you ever thought coding was a young person’s game and not for you, think again. Coding attracts recruits from far outside traditional STEM-based careers and education. In fact, students from Wild Code School, a web development and coding school, are upskilling and career changing from diverse backgrounds that range from dance and textile design to chemical engineering, gaming and communications.

And it’s not just school leavers or people early in their careers – in fact it’s people in their 30s who are leading the charge.

Anna Stepanoff, CEO and Founder of Wild Code School, explains the five reasons people in their 30s are turning to coding:

  • It’s not rocket science – there is an increasing awareness that you don’t have to be a Matrix-inspired hyper-brain to work in tech, and as 30-somethings have inevitably come into contact with the digital world in their existing careers – they’re wanting to get involved and understand how it works.
  • Coding is creative – while the initial draw might be the competitive salaries, we find what keeps people interested is the realisation that coding is a highly-creative industry that allows a person to problem solve and bring their own ideas to fruition.
  • Autonomy and Flexibility – people in their 30s who no longer want to work for someone else are realising that the tech industry provides options to go freelance, to choose their own clients and the flexibility to work from where they want.
  • Being a part of what happens next – from the way we consume music and media, eat out, work from home, communicate and stay fit, the tech industry is changing the way we live, and touches all aspects of our lives. Being a part of that is exciting.
  • In-demand skills – there is a widely-discussed skills gap in the tech industry, and we work with employers to understand what they are looking for and how to ensure training is commercially relevant. They are skills sought by a diverse range of companies and will become increasingly important.

“It’s a myth that if you didn’t get into coding at school, then it’s already too late,” Anna says. “If you’ve got the creativity and the drive, then we’ve got the school to help you realise your ambition.”

During the month of August 2020, anyone curious about tech, passionate about learning or considering a new professional career can register to Wild Code Summer School. Week after week, it is offering a month-long programme dedicated to discovering the tech world.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


woman remote working on video conference

How to get a remote working role in tech

By Verónica Miñano, Head of Talent Acquisition, Kwalee

woman remote working on video conferenceOne of the great benefits of working in the tech industries, and something that has been brought into even greater focus during the global COVID-19 pandemic, is the potential in these roles for remote working.

With tools like Slack and Zoom already commonplace, there are many opportunities for tech-savvy professionals to build their careers beyond the traditional office setting as employers become increasingly open to remote applicants.

This includes ourselves at Kwalee, as we have made a commitment to embracing remote work indefinitely following our productivity while working under restrictions related to the virus.

So if you’re looking for a role in tech but you believe that your future lies outside of the traditional office setting, here are my top tips for identifying and securing the right remote-working opportunity for you!

#1 Identify your role

It almost goes without saying, but even within tech, some roles are better suited to remote work than others.

In our experience of transitioning to remote work over these turbulent past few months, we have had some individuals and teams whose roles rely more heavily on in-person collaboration and they have been extremely keen to return to our office.

Others, meanwhile, have had very little trouble adapting and have enjoyed the productivity and comfort of working from home. This is why we have begun our foray into permanent remote work by opening only certain vacancies to remote candidates, and you will find across the board that there is more openness to working from home when it comes to certain positions.

Think about the tasks you are expected to perform every day in your job and whether you would be able to perform them as effectively in a remote setting. If you conclude that this isn’t the case and yet remain committed to pursuing remote work, you might consider switching to an adjacent discipline requiring a similar skillset, but with more opportunities for working from home.

Speak to friends or colleagues who have made the transition to remote work to learn more about how the nature of their work changed when they moved away from the office and consider whether you would be willing to make such changes yourself. An employer will want to know you have given serious consideration to this transition, so show them you are ready to take responsibility!

#2 Find a supportive employer

Just as employers expect certain things from their remote-working employees, you should find a company that will be willing to support you -- wherever you make your workspace.

For instance, while continuing to grow our team throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have been making sure to send any necessary office equipment to team members who need them, to make their temporary workspaces more comfortable.

Just because you’re not working at the office, you should not feel disconnected from the rest of the team! As a parent, I am 100% understanding of why remote working holds such appeal for some people and we want team members to feel valued wherever they are based.

Make sure that your employer is of this mindset and is prepared to give you the necessary support to do your job.

#3 Seek inspiration and start a side project

This one is particularly relevant if you are not currently working in the industry you’re pursuing a role in, but seek out role models who are currently working in your ideal roles and see how they use platforms like LinkedIn.

Look out for any insights they share on how they got into their positions and see what you can learn from them.

It will also be a big help to have a side project that’s more aligned with your desired field, if you’re looking to change careers. For instance, when hiring game designers we are always just as keen to see what they have made in their spare time as well as any formal training they have done.

This is even more applicable when it comes to remote roles, since having worked on something in your own time shows that you can be productive and motivated outside a traditional working environment!

Our team at Kwalee is growing all the time and you can find all our open positions, including our remote working opportunities, here.

Verónica MiñanoAbout the author

With more than a decade of HR and recruitment experience, first in the engineering industry and more recently in gaming, Verónica Miñano has built Kwalee’s Talent Acquisition team from scratch and has overseen the company more than tripling in size in less than four years. She is passionate about how different personalities and skill-sets can be best combined to create a harmonious and creative working environment.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


women-in-finance-featured

Raising funds as a tech entrepreneur

women-in-finance-Jessica Jackson, Investment Director at GC Angels, offers advice to female founders seeking funding to grow their business and stresses the importance of understanding the options that are available.

Raising investment for the first time can feel daunting. For many, securing finance, be it through debt or equity, is completely new and it can be difficult to understand the options, let alone make a call about which is best for your business and its needs.

The Alison Rose Review highlighted that awareness of, as well as access to funding are the two most common issues faced by female entrepreneurs, whether running a start-up or an established company. It also reports that female-led businesses receive less funding than those headed by men at every stage of their journey – but why is this? The report argues that women typically have higher risk-awareness compared to their male counterparts and are more cautious considering financial products. Women typically don’t have the same professional networks that male entrepreneurs benefit from, and are therefore less likely to know other entrepreneurs or to have access to individuals and organisations that are in a position to support them as they navigate the complex finance landscape.

Although the review states that it is difficult for female founders to find the right support in accessing finance, it’s important to know that there are a plethora of organisations and networks working cohesively to advise female founders. One such example is The Knowledge Transfer Network. Part of Innovate UK, they are actively working to support female business owners through its Women in Innovation programme. The network consists of universities, funders and investors who facilitate idea sharing, and encourage founders to embrace opportunities to innovate and scale to the next level.

Whilst it’s advisable to tap into any networks or organisations, the first point of call should be to gain an understanding of the different types of finance and which situations they are best suited for. This will help you make your own financial decisions and provide clarity on what you should be seeking.

Debt finance

This type of funding works in the same way as debt in everyday life – if you want something immediately but don’t have the required funds, you can take out a loan and pay it back later. In business, that funding could make a huge difference in striking a deal with a major supplier when you need to scale up on your stock levels for example. Debt is a great option: it’s quick access to finance which can increase working capital, allowing you to invest in growth. The downside is that the loan will accrue more interest the longer it takes to pay off, but hopefully the benefits of being able to grow your business quicker will far outweigh the costs of taking out the loan.

A good example of this is YourZooki, a premium liquid supplements brand our Debt team at GC Business Finance has worked with recently. The firm took out a £150k loan in February this year in order to invest in a new warehouse and create four new jobs. This was followed up with a second £150k loan in June, after the company had doubled its turnover in just four months, which has allowed it to increase its stock levels to cope with unprecedented customer demand.

Grant funding

Unlike a loan, grant funding does not require repayment. This type of finance is often overlooked by entrepreneurs as it can sound too good to be true, but it’s definitely worth checking your eligibility for business support. The Government website offers a useful tool to help business owners identify the various different grant schemes, which can be filtered by region and sector. It’s also worth discussing your options with your Local Enterprise Partnership or Growth Hub – you can find yours via the LEP Network.

An institution we work closely with is Innovate UK, which provides government grants to helps businesses “develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base”. This year, Marion Surgical, a company building a next generation suite of surgical simulators through virtual reality, received backing from Innovate UK alongside an investment from GC Angels. The funding allowed the company to invest in new projects, as well as create five new jobs.

The Knowledge Transfer Network is also a partner of Innovate UK, and is working hard to help female entrepreneurs with start-up grants, of which applications from female business owners has increased by 70 per cent since 2016.

Equity finance

Equity finance is the process of raising capital through the sale of some shares in your company in return for cash. The money can then be used to take on more staff, purchase equipment or invest in product development, which can in turn increase the value of your stake in the business without the worry of having to pay off loans and accrued interest. This can be useful for startup businesses which have not yet turned a profit but are showing signs of rapid growth – much like many innovative technology businesses we are seeing emerge today. However, the only downside is that you will no longer own the entire stake in the business, but there is real value in bringing an investor on board as it allows you to tap into their knowledge and expertise – they want your company to grow just as much as you do!

We have backed many excellent women founders with equity funding, and it has allowed them to take their businesses to the next level. In January this year, GC Angels co-invested as part of a £260,000 equity funding round in Immersify Education, a Salford-based EdTech start-up. The company provides learning tools for university students using augmented reality, interactive animation, gamification and personalised learning. Whilst the founder, Chloe Barrett, had launched a research-driven pilot across eight universities, she required capital to build out her development team and prepare her product for the market. Following the investment, the company is now targeting an official launch in the 2020/21 academic year.

Stories such as Immersify Education show what founders can do with the right funding behind them; all the more reason why it’s staggering to see that only one per cent of venture capital funding in the UK goes to all-female teams. GC Angels is striving to invest as equally as possible into entrepreneurs with funding ranging between £100,000 and £2m. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is estimated that up to £250bn could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled their business at the same rate as men.

If that doesn’t inspire you, then you could always attend our events in Greater Manchester. Before the COVID pandemic, we hosted regular ‘#LaterPitches’ and ‘We Smash Barriers’ events – something I am keen to restart once social distancing guidelines are relaxed – providing ambitious women with the opportunity to hear and learn from other successful female business leaders.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


Investing minutes - Q2Q IT 1

Are you spending time or investing minutes?

Investing minutes - Q2Q IT

While technology is ideal for helping our daily lives run smoothly, there is often nothing better than grabbing a notepad, handful of stationery and finding a quiet corner in which to reflect on what you spend your time working on each month.

And, for boss of Q2Q IT, Lorna Stellakis, it helps to view working minutes as a currency – divvying up each hour as you would a monthly allowance – and ensuring it’s used wisely. However you choose to splash the proverbial ‘cash’ though, it’s important to highlight the difference between spending vs. investing when it comes to time. Here, she explains why.

Put simply, the notion of spending time on a task implies simply ‘getting it done’, whereas seeing your days invested in a project conjures up feelings of futureproofing or a quality output.

And it’s understandably worth approaching each task with the mindset of the latter.

Self-discipline strategist Rory Vaden summed the approach to ‘spending vs investing’ perfectly during a TED Talk, where he challenged us to ask ourselves, ‘What can I do today that will make the future better?’ He refers to people adopting this approach as ‘multipliers’ – meaning that time invested into doing something properly now will pay dividends in the future.

The real-life account

Put into practice, at Q2Q we use this question in our weekly internal customer review meetings – where the team discuss any recurring customer issues and look for patterns and clues to help unearth any underlying problems. From there, we decide on internal actions which might address the root cause of the difficulties.

In the world of IT support, fixing problems for customers is a huge part of what we do – but it’s how we do things differently that really counts.

We actively look to prevent problems – adding value to the customer proposition as well as saving us time in the long-run. We look to identify a permanent fix, as opposed to the sticking plaster approach which won’t prevent the issue from reappearing.

The team is always so busy, that even when we’re making small talk on the phone – before and after getting to the crux of the dilemma – it could be seen as detracting from time which could be spent fixing the problem.

However, five minutes of chit-chat is actually investing time into the customer relationship and getting to know our clients. Something which pays us back several times over as the connection develops and trust is built.

How does it work away from the office?

I frequently translate this principle into my personal life too. For example, I gave up horse riding over a year ago following a scary incident that caused me to lose my confidence. Being very busy with family and running Q2Q, I delayed getting back into the saddle as I felt it was a frivolous use of my time – especially if I was going to spend the whole time worrying about a similar incident happening again.

However, I was really missing the horses – and the exercise – so I decided to approach it from a different perspective. I now view it as investing the time doing something that takes me out of my comfort zone and giving my brain a much-needed break from thinking about a million other things.

As such, the couple of hours a week I spend on the horse have massively benefited my confidence and given me the courage to try things I perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise done. Not only that, but it’s a good CTRL+ALT+DEL for the mind, as it’s really hard to think about anything else when you’re communicating with such an intelligent beast. I therefore view it as investing my time for a greater purpose.

So, during your next team meeting, consider if you’re going to be spending time discussing issues, or investing time in brainstorming how to solve, improve, or better still, eradicate the procrastination. Are you using words that suggest you’re heading for a solution, or simply thrashing out a problem and acknowledging that it exists?

Can you rethink how you spend some of your day, and view the time as an investment? What would you do differently if you approached it from this alternative lens? While our bread and butter is IT support, if you’d like to chat about the unique approach we take to tech services at Q2Q, or simply invest some time in making connections with a SME owner, give us a shout!


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in tech

Carving a career in tech

woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in tech

Article provided by Becs Roycroft, Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent Operations at mthree

There’s no arguing that when it comes to reducing the gender gap in technology, we still have a long way to go.

Despite increased awareness of the problem, the fact remains women remain underrepresented at every level.

It is promising that businesses and governments around the world are taking action to attract more women into technology. But to really succeed in recruiting as many women as possible into these roles, we must also take a micro-level view.

As someone who works on recruiting the best emerging young talent, I believe we need to go back to basics by committing to spreading positive messages about the diverse and rewarding careers technology can offer women. So, here I’d like to cover just a few of the benefits:

Job stability

As long as technology is the driving force behind the world, technology candidates will always be in demand. Technology professionals benefit from higher salaries and better job prospects, and now that the coronavirus pandemic has put science and technology under the spotlight, demand is likely to skyrocket. And given the industry is a huge champion for learning and adaptability, working in technology can help you reach the proper balance between growth and security.

Flexible career paths

From web development to cybersecurity, software engineer to AI, the range of roles within technology is huge. And the soft skills, emotional intelligence and technical know-how acquired through these roles can help you go anywhere in your career. Furthermore, roles are in abundance across the globe from leading technology companies to smaller niche organisations.

Making a difference

Beyond making things simpler for people day-to-day, technology can have a meaningful impact by invoking systemic change. When working in tech you have the opportunity to really make a difference in the world by helping to solve critical global issues, such as access to education and climate change.

Equal opportunities

From personal experience I’ve learnt that you don’t have to work in a technical role to succeed in this industry. Technology needs more than just developers and software engineers, it also requires HR experts, communications professionals and great financial minds. So if you don’t see yourself pursuing a technical career, there are still a great number of opportunities to learn more and expand your career prospects.

Becs RoycroftAbout the author

Becs Roycroft is a Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent Operations at mthree - an emerging talent and training partner to global, blue-chip enterprises focusing on their technology and business operations. mthree is owned by John Wiley & Sons, the third largest research, publishing and education provider globally.  Becs is passionate about creating diverse and inclusive careers pathways in technology and has over 18 years experience working in recruitment and management across a variety of companies, sectors and industries. At mthree, Becs is responsible for Alumni and student engagement, client services operations and Re-Skill services globally.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here. 

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


woman holding a like a boss mug, career development

Career development - What I wished I'd known | Katharine Wooller

woman holding a like a boss mug, career development

Katharine Wooller has had a long UK fintech career, as Investment Director at industry leading peer-to-peer lender, and in senior roles at a specialist investment banking SAAS supporting tier one banks, asset managers and hedge funds.  More recently she has held advisory roles for blockchain businesses and is currently MD for a retail crypto exchange. She leads the Women Who Crypto initiative. 

Here, Katharine tells us what she wished she had known throughout her career journey.

Find Role Models

Admittedly, finding the perfect role models is easier said than done. In some of the businesses I’ve worked the male headcount has been as high as  99 per cent, so always feel free to look for inspiration outside your current network.  Find those you respect, wish to emulate, and source their guidance, either in person or by following the content they put out; never have leaders been so accessible via social media channels.

I also like having a ‘pick and mix’ of inspiration.  For me, I aspire to think outside the box like Anne Boden of Starling Bank, possess the quiet resolve of Theresa May, the positivity for the future of Cynthia V Davis, the spirit of Ginger Rogers.

Build your crowd

Women are, I think, essentially a social creature.  Surround yourself with like-minded women, you’ll likely find they are supportive, nurturing and natural networkers.   Ideally with an active WhatsApp Group, so you can keep in touch, and share the daily highs and the lows.  I believe that your ‘vibe’ attracts your tribe, and a significant number of opportunities are sourced on recommendation before they hit a broader audience.

It therefore pays dividends to be honest about what’s going well, or not, and what you are currently lacking; you may well be pleasantly surprised who you know and importantly, who they know! Crowd-sourcing solutions is a rich and often ignore vein of brilliance.   I host a regular ‘Women who Crypto’ online meet ups, where recent events have attracted 130 attendees, and I never cease to be amazed by the levels of support and inspiration in the content generated. ‘Women Who Crypto’ came from a simple idea that was crystallised from the amount of interest women had in wealth creation through cryptocurrency. By harnessing that thought and carefully structuring the approach, Women Who Crypto has become a great way of building a ‘like-minded’ crowd and a place where new friendships are cultivated..

No career trajectory is linear 

In my personal experience, no single job is ever the game changer, rather that each role brings its own unique set of challenges, learning and opportunity.  The portfolio career is increasingly common, and of course it is highly likely that coronavirus recession will rewrite some of the career planning rules we have hitherto held as self-evident.  Most people, at best, have had a job that didn’t work out, and alas too many spend years in a role they loathe, didn’t match up to expectation or they disagree with the general direction of travel for the business.

Whilst an unfulfilling job can quickly become disheartening, there are many reputable and talented recruitment professionals who will assist you in deciphering what parts of your current role and skillsets are marketable and will help navigate you into more fulfilling territory. Remember, it has often been said that few people entering the jobs market today will have  a job for life.

Define your value set 

It is much easier to navigate roles, bosses and career decisions when you take the time to analyse what motivates and fulfils you.  Too many talented women are stuck in jobs that do not cater for their emotional needs.  Personally, I have found retail business that build wealth, and disruptive agile start-ups the most interesting, and have certainly delivered my best work in these environments.

There is a huge amount of free content online around personal value setting to guide better decision making, which is time well spent.    You may be surprised that it throws up, and will assist you in working with businesses, colleagues, and projects that bring you joy.

In conclusion, fintech, in my experience and opinion is a very welcoming and fast-moving industry.  I am delighted to meet so many talented and motivated women.  One of my favourite quotes, is from the indomitable Charlotte Whitton, who in 1951 was elected the first female mayor of a major city in Canada:  “Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good”.

I am upset to sometimes to see this quote without the latter section: “luckily this is not difficult”.  We have more opportunity that the generations before us, and now is the time to make it count!

Katharine WoollerAbout the author:

Katharine Wooller is managing director, UK and Eire, Dacxi – a digital crypto fintech platform specialising in bringing cryptocurrency to the ‘crowd’.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.

 

 

 

 


open plan office, people working an office

Reintegrating the team effectively after lockdown

open plan office, people working an office, returning to work after lockdown

With so many people hankering to get back to working face-to-face now that lockdown is being eased, there is one group who are less enthusiastic: Introverts.

With up to 47 per cent of people in the UK identifying as introverts, they are present in every walk of life and often drawn to work in tech as it can allow them to play to their strengths.

Some of the many myths and misconceptions about introverts are that they are shy, arrogant, boring, tongue-tied and lonely with no friends or social life.  The reality is that introverts may be quiet because that’s what they need to recharge their mental batteries. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, explained that the difference between introverts and extraverts is what drains and charges their mental batteries. Extraverts rely on interaction, active experiences and change to be energised, the very things that can drain an introvert. Their communication processes are different too in that introverts have the more considered and slower paced ‘think-say-think’ approach whilst extraverts tend to have a stream of consciousness, or ‘say-think-say’.  Unless people are aware of these differences, it can lead to people assuming that the introvert has nothing to say for themselves, no opinion, no contribution.  What’s more likely is that there hasn’t been enough thinking time or space in the conversation for an introvert to get to the ‘say’ part of their process. Consciously make the space, in a positive way, and you’ll often find that the quietest voice makes the most profound contribution.

It’s a sad fact that some really talented introverts will get overlooked for promotion because they are less likely to push themselves forward, hoping instead that their work will speak for itself. It’s part of the recognised extraversion bias as people mistakenly think they lack drive and ambition. Full integration and understanding this aspect of neurodiversity is an essential part of the diversity, inclusion & equity agenda.

The team-building misnomer

Listen to the chatter in some of the introvert groups and there is already a sense of impending doom about the ‘team-building’ that might take place once workplaces open up.  These types of activities are typically enjoyed by the extraverted team members as they usually involve the forced interaction and active experiences that recharge them.

Within the team, introverts are often considered arrogant and too serious when actually they just dislike small-talk, preferring instead fewer but meaningful conversations.  This means they don’t often engage in the social chit-chat and will tend to keep their heads down in an attempt to maintain their focus and preserve their mental batteries.

Many introverts have learned how to extravert in order to fit in with the norm but the price they pay can be too high.  It includes overwhelm and even burn-out, which seriously affects their wellbeing.  They’ll need to replenish their batteries just to get through the day and ultimately, feel deep sense of not being enough, as it’s only by pretending that they seem to be accepted.

Extraverted managers don’t always understand or even believe that people don’t enjoy the ‘fun’ stuff. The truth is that some might check to see if they have any annual leave left or even consider taking a ‘sickie’ on the day. The lack of understanding just compounds the bias and does nothing to integrate a team in a meaningful way.  Some people will be worried about their jobs and prospects following the lock-down, especially if they’ve been furloughed, so may feel backed into a corner, imagining they have no choice but to join in. If that happens, the results won’t be what you’re hoping for.

Having spent the last few months in lock-down, teams will benefit from establishing new norms of behaviour.  A useful process to remember here is Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming & Performing model of group development. Nothing will be exactly the same again and it’s been long enough for old habits and patterns to have been forgotten. The chances are though that introverts have quite enjoyed their lock-down experience and will be in no hurry to return to the workplace, especially if they have a quiet household. So true integration is likely to be a challenge.

So how to genuinely reconnect the whole team?

The following series of recommendations are going to enhance the likelihood of success.

  • Establish your desired outcome. In order to re-establish connection, are you looking for improved communication, reconfiguring workloads, establishing new working practices, rebuilding trust? Make it meaningful so that everyone can see the value.
  • Don’t try to make it ‘fun’ or even badge it as such. What people consider fun is very subjective and if you’re serious about integrating the whole team, don’t alienate half of them! Use exercises that positively explore the difference between extraversion & introversion so that understanding is enhanced, and the diversity within the team can be valued.
  • Consider exploring what each team member has found positive and challenging about their lockdown experience and use that to shape your team’s new norms. Tuckman later added mourning to the process, so letting go of the past and ‘what was’ is important for the healthy development of a team.
  • Design something that will really unite the team and improve trust, avoiding the old physical trust exercises. Patrick Lencioni names the lack of trust as being the foundation of a dysfunctional team. Creating a safe environment where everyone feels able to speak up, to admit to mistakes and to ask for help is the goal here. Take the time to establish people’s true strengths, rather than just what they’re good at, so you can enable them to play to those strengths wherever possible.
  • Be mindful of the introvert’s ‘think-say-think’ process, so give plenty of notice and allow sufficient preparation time. They don’t like things being sprung on them at short notice or being asked to make a decision without thinking time.

In Conclusion

Get underneath any assumptions and misunderstandings that may be present about introverts in your team.  There is no good & bad, just different. Engage the whole team in co-creating how integration and reforming might happen in an inclusive and meaningful way.  And, remember to listen to everyone’s views and voices for balance and equity.

Joanna RawboneAbout the author

Joanna has spent more than 24 years working with 000’s of international clients through her own training & coaching consultancy, Scintillo Ltd. During this time, and through her own earlier experiences, she has seen just how problematic the Extraversion bias in organisations is. It negatively impacts employee engagement, retention and productivity. It also impairs the physical and mental health & well-being of employees with the obvious consequences.

 Recognising that it was time for action, Joanna founded Flourishing Introverts, a platform to:

* support those who want to fulfil their potential without pretending to be something they're not.

* educate and inform organisations about the true cost of overlooking their introverts

* promote positive action and balance the extraversion bias

Joanna has a real passion for helping her clients make the small but sustainable changes that really make a difference. Being a functioning introvert, her clients value her ability to listen to more than the words, understand things from their perspective and co-create robust, pragmatic solutions.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


man and woman discussing tech, women in tech, computers, code

Why now is the perfect time to upskill in tech

man and woman discussing tech, women in tech, computers, code

Ahead of a new fully-remote web development course starting on June 22nd, Anna Stepanoff, CEO & Founder of Wild Code School, the technology educator nurturing today’s digital talent, discusses why now is the perfect time to further career prospects in the tech industry.

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is causing considerable challenges for us all, impacting all industries and sectors.

Vocational training organisations have certainly been challenged, although some providers, including Wild Code School, have been able to migrate activities online to ensure educational continuity for students. As a technology bootcamp, we are well placed to do this, with the technological know-how and proven remote learning methodologies already in place. And with 90 per cent of our students now working in the tech ecosystem, we know that our courses are aligned to the needs of businesses.

With the pandemic resulting in more time at home, and the tech industry offering flexible and varied career opportunities, could now be the perfect time to take advantage of the fully remote courses that are available and develop those sought-after digital skills?

Everything in place

Until recently, a reliable connection to a broadband network was still a major obstacle to online training’s accessibility, especially when it came to live remote training. However, access to a fibre network from almost everywhere in the Western world has been a game changer, enabling connectivity and access to learning tools such as interactive webinars for consumers and participants across the world.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) have been fully established and accessible since 2012. On these online learning platforms, resources are freely accessible to students who can choose the pace of learning that is best suited to them and their personal preferences. MOOC are particularly well suited to autonomous individuals who are looking to upskill or acquire new skills to develop their careers.

In recent years, the tools and technology available have grown rapidly and been introduced to ensure an even higher quality of online courses. Video conferencing platforms, online chat and communication tools, as well as document sharing capabilities have helped accelerate the possibility of indirect interactions and made it possible for instructors or course tutors and lecturers to remotely interact with a community of students. Although online courses have been around for many years, they provide a shining example of efficient, practical and effective remote working.

Remote working expertise

As the majority of us have discovered during this period of worldwide lockdown, working from home requires a new set of skills. It is making us rethink our working habits and adapt to new tools and practices, forcing us to be more than flexible and agile than ever before. And with the future looking to be more reliant on remote working, learning in a remote environment is helping our students with both the digital and soft skills that will support future remote working.

Adaptability, proactivity, and communication, for example, are not only essential skills for the tech industry, but also for discovering opportunities in challenging situations. Online learning also allows individuals to develop autonomy, rigour and the ability to organise yourself more efficiently.

But these skills are not unique to the tech industry, and in fact people from a diverse range of careers and backgrounds are well equipped and suited to the training.

Helping career changers

Our first fully remote course began in April, and we’ve been canvassing the opinions of our first fully remote students to find out how it’s working for them and why now was the right time to learn new skills and make the change.

One of our current web development students, Leonore Ghisalberti, previously worked in design and product management for a fashion brand and is now working to building her own creative design agency. She realised her new world required further digital skills to complement her design credentials and told us:

“The main draw for me was that I needed to further my skills in order to progress my business. Front-end development especially, which this course focuses on, has many synergies with my design background. It is very visual and creative, and enables you to build something, and see it come to life with your chosen design.”

Another student, Gladys Pascual is a Chemical Engineer, qualified with a PhD and working in a Dublin-based startup. It’s a career she enjoys and finds fulfilling, but she has seen the flexibility that a career in tech can offer, as well as the opportunities in Dublin and abroad:

“Technology is a big industry here in Dublin, and indeed all across the world and I was keen to see what doors I could open through training that will allow me to consider a shift in career. While I have still been working full time, lockdown meant that all my travelling plans were cancelled and I’m not able to do any of the sports I’m used to – I’ve therefore got more time on hands and so it has posed a good opportunity to upskill and do something I’m interested in.

“Like anything new, at first I was a little overwhelmed – especially with a demanding full-time job. It is quite advanced, which is a good thing in terms of its long-term use and after just a few weeks I have had the time to focus and absorb what I’m learning.

“The multi-national nature of the course is also really cool; the class is made up of students from all across Europe and it means we get to work with people from different places and with varied backgrounds. This sort of environment is common in the tech world, so it’s useful to get a taste here.”

We’re looking forward to welcoming our next set of students onto the June course and excited to see both men and women embrace technology and realise its career opportunities.

About the author:

Anna StepanoffAnna Stepanoff is the CEO & Founder of Wild Code School, the technology educator nurturing today’s digital talent.

Founded in 2014, Wild Code School has more than 20 campuses across Europe. It has trained more than 2,000 students, with 90 per cent of graduates now working within the Tech Ecosystem. The School offers part-time front-end, or full-time full-stack web development courses that take place over a five-month period. Both courses will get the student to where they want to be, with the full-time course offering a more immersive environment that gets them there quicker. The school was founded by mother of three Anna Stepanoff, and is now the fifth largest school in Paris.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.

 

 

 


Woman wearing a virtual reality headset, Women in RPA Initiative 1

Are you a woman aspiring to pursue a career in tech? Join the Women in RPA Initiative

Woman wearing a virtual reality headset, Women in RPA Initiative

Are you a woman aspiring to pursue a career in tech?  The Women in RPA Initiative might be for you!

The 2020 1 million Women In RPA Initiative is a skills development program which aims to train and up-skill one million women in Robotics Process Automation by 31st December 2020. Yes, we know it sounds impossible, that's why we are doing it.

Despite decades of progress towards achieving equality in the workplace, women remain significantly under-represented in emerging tech. The imbalance between men and women in the technology sector is unlikely to be remedied unless organizations, schools and universities work together to change entrenched perceptions about the tech industry, and also educate young people about the dynamics and range of careers in the technology world.​

Women currently hold 19 per cent of tech-related jobs at the top ten global tech companies, relative to men who hold 81 per cent. In leadership positions at these global tech giants, women make up 28 per cent, with men representing 72 per cent.

RPA Nuggets want to change this!

Inspired by Blue Prism, RPA Nuggets takes the baton to empower women and other underrepresented groups to take risks and realize their full potential in the workplace, particularly in emerging technologies.

Eligibility

  • Must be female or identify as female
  • Must be 18+
  • Must have access to uninterrupted WIFI and a laptop/PC
  • Must be computer literate, please note this programme does not teach basic computer literacy skills
  • Must be able to commit 4 weeks, 2hrs a day without absence, starting 6th July 2020 (times TBA)
  • Open to all countries and nationalities worldwide
  • Must understand English (NO EXCEPTIONS). Strictly, medium of presentation is English
  • Pay a non-refundable enrollment fee of $15 (excl VAT)

Program Details

  • Introduction to Robotics Process Automation using Blue Prism
  • Introduction to Connected RPA (Cloud, AI/RPA in Business)
  • Advanced Blue Prism Automation techniques
  • Learning material included
  • Practical based learning approach using real world simulation projects and case studies
  • Best Practice Automation methodologies
  • RPA professional skills and career development
  • RPA virtual career expo
  • Accreditation exam preparation
  • Networking with RPA experts ​
  • Closing date - ongoing

FIND OUT MORE HERE

RPA Nuggets, Women in RPA Initiative


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