Women in Coding

According to new research by professional training providers Learning People, IT and coding is now the most popular second career choice for those currently working in declining industries.

Meanwhile, the job prospects are great, with UK employment agency Reed reporting an eight per cent year-on-year rise in IT vacancies so far in 2019, contributing to a 35 per cent rise in technology vacancies since 2016. Yet only 17 per cent of all UK specialist tech jobs are held by women.

28-year-old Charlotte Skinner is a part of that 17 per cent. 18 months ago, she broke into the tech world, moving from a role as a science technician to a career in coding. As the first female developer in her current team, Charlotte is keen to encourage other women to take advantage of the many opportunities a career in code offers. Here, Charlotte shares her career change journey and advice for others to make the same leap.

I spent three years working as a biology technician in a sixth form college. While it was rewarding to work with students and watch them develop their understanding and skills, I began to feel personally dissatisfied by the lack of progression opportunities available to me – not to mention a lack of salary increase. I soon knew it was time to switch careers.

I’d always had an interest in coding so began my research, exploring what a career in code might actually look like. At the same time, I began to learn some basic programming concepts and quickly became hooked. Even being able to create the simplest website gave me a great sense of accomplishment; I immediately wanted to learn more. I sought the advice of those around me who had made a similar career jump and was seriously impressed at the speed in which they were able to make the transition and the salary increases they had achieved.

Feeling ready to make the leap, I got in touch with professional training provider, Learning People. I had a career consultation that enabled me to understand the exact steps I needed to take in order to achieve my goal of becoming a coder. I embarked on a Full Stack Developer course and within three months secured my first coding role. I’ve now climbed the ladder to my second job, as a Junior Application Developer at My PT Hub.

My current role leaves me feeling fulfilled and happy every day. I value being part of an industry that is rewarding, supportive and endlessly innovative. I’m convinced that there are many other women who would love coding as much as I do, but perhaps feel intimidated or unsure of where to begin. My advice to those women?

Do your research

…but don’t be put off by job adverts which show that your experience doesn’t fit the bill. You’ll already have transferable skills that apply and that you can build upon. Identify those and then look at what tech job might suit.

For example, I love investigating problems and coming up with inventive solutions to them, persevering until I find the best answer. This makes me perfectly suited to my programming job.

It’s also worth reaching out to relevant organisations and individuals that might be able to help, finding out more about certain roles and requirements – and what the day-to-day looks like.

Consider salary

The move to tech requires appropriate training, but it’s an investment that will absolutely pay off. The average starting wage for an entry-level role in tech is high. Since starting the course, my salary has increased by £10k. It means I’m able to save for a house deposit, providing me with even more security.

Find the right course

As mentioned above, I trained with professional training providers Learning People. They supported me in making the transition from technician to coder and also helped me to manage my hours so that I could work alongside training.

Don’t let gender hold you back

The tech industry is currently dominated by men, but many employers are actively working to redress the sector’s gender imbalance. With the right skills, qualifications and enthusiasm, you’ll be able to secure a role and progress quickly.

Further to this, do expect a warm welcome! I feel incredibly supported in my role, both by my colleagues and managers – and also by industry peers. I have found that the tech world is a supportive, nurturing environment for those who demonstrate a willingness and passion to learn. It’s normal to feel intimidated, but rest assured that others have experienced similar worries and will be happy to offer their advice, bringing me to my next point…

Connect with mentors

This could be within your own team or further afield, with multiple viewpoints providing richer advice. I have some brilliant mentors at my current workplace, who have really helped me to advance my coding skills over the past six months.

They’ve also alleviated any fears of feeling like I don’t know enough. It’s a natural symptom of working in an industry that’s forever changing and evolving – even senior developers sometimes feel that way. There’s so much to learn and it’s one of the most exciting things about the job. So finally…

Be curious

One of the great advantages of a tech career is the constant change. You get to update your skills every day on the job. A willingness and passion to learn can keep you advancing, creating and problem-solving, and this is what leaves me feeling fulfilled every day.

Charlotte Skinner - Junior App DeveloperAbout the author

Charlotte Skinner is a junior app developer at My PT Hub. She developed her coding skills through online training with Learning People and secured her first role in just three months. Prior to this, Charlotte worked as a science technician in a sixth form college. She believes it’s vital that we close the gender gap in the tech industry and hopes to inspire more women to consider a career in coding with her story.