Today is International Girls in ICT Day, which aims to inspire and encourage girls and young women to pursue a future in the growing field of ICTs to bridge the gender digital divide – writes Grace Alexandra, Senior Test Analyst at Quality Engineering consultancy Roq.

As a woman progressing in my career in the field of technology, this day offers an excellent opportunity for me to reflect on my own career journey. It’s also a chance for me to think about the challenges and share what I believe can be done to help encourage more girls to study ICT subjects and build careers in technology.

My path to a career in technology

I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up and it’s a passion that I still have, taking adult dance classes where I can. But my interest in a career in technology probably started when I took my A-levels. I found myself drawn to ICT as a subject and knew it was something I could progress in the future.

Technology really interested me growing up as I grew up during the technology boom. I remember sitting in my class in Year 7 and being the only pupil who didn’t have internet at home! But quickly after that moment we had dial up and upgraded to the Wi-Fi shortly after that.

After my A-Levels I went to university to study a degree in Information Systems. I found out about Quality Engineering consultancy Roq at a university careers talk, before joining the company in 2015 the same year I finished my degree. Since then, I have progressed at Roq and haven’t looked back.

What stops more girls interested in ICT subjects?

As someone who regularly gives careers talks, I’d say that while we’re seeing more girls and young women interested in technology, there’s still this idea that it’s dorky or nerdy to be interested in it.

It’s the thought that people might look at them in some weird way just because they’re smart enough to understand technology and are interested in it. But I challenge these girls and young women to think of any job anywhere that doesn’t in some way involve technology. It’s everywhere and used for everything, so taking even a moderate interest it in is smart as it’s never going to leave our lives. So surely learning more about technology would actually be a much better way to fit in?

The number of women in jobs in technology is steadily on the rise. It’s only by continuing to show just how capable we are that we’ll rid of any stereotypes completely. It might take some time, but we’ll get there.

How to inspire more girls to embrace ICT

Parents should encourage all children to use technology, although using it safely should be taken into consideration. Even if that’s just taking an interest in the latest app that has taken over their child’s phone. By asking children to explain what the app is, how it works, or if they have any frustrations with it, parents are opening the lines of communication, and forcing children to really think about the technology they’re using.

There’s a role for businesses to encourage girls to take an interest too. These girls are going to be in the workforce one day. Why wouldn’t we want to be doing everything to encourage them to pursue technology as a career?

Finally, my advice to any girl thinking about getting into technology is don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd because you’re interested in technology. Don’t let anything block the future career you’ve chosen for yourself; you can build a career in technology with hard work and persistence.

About the author

Grace Alexandra is a Senior Test Analyst at Quality Engineering consultancy Roq, where she has worked since 2015. She is ISTQB Qualified and also holds an ISTQB Agile Extension. On a day-to-day basis, she focuses heavily on testing and running all-important ‘Pulse’ calls for her clients, running stand-up meetings within the Test team, creating test documentation, and thoroughly understanding project goals.