Article by Shan Beerstecher, Club Executive at AND Digital

We’ve all seen the stats. Despite a decade-long push to try and encourage women into tech roles, females still only represent around 19% of the digital workforce. It’s time to make a change. 

As the events of Covid-19 encourage us to chase new talents and pick up new skills, we now have a unique opportunity to kickstart a career in tech. And thanks to the shift to digital, this can all be done from the comfort of our own home. Here are a few of my tips.

Expand your network

It really is true that empowered women, empower women. Joining online forums and attending virtual meetups is a great way to meet people with a mutual interest in learning about tech, to trade tips and boost confidence in those early stages. This is also a great way to build your network within the industry. You don’t know which new connection might be working in the company of your dreams, have the intel on the next big hiring spree or be able to guide you into your ideal role.

It’s also very important to remain inspired while pursuing your new career in tech. Find motivating female role models on LinkedIn or listen to their Ted Talks. If you come across someone that really strikes a chord with you; follow them, listen to them, and if you can, connect with them.

Sign up for online courses

The most obvious way to test the water of your tech career – just give it a try. There are a lot of great online courses out there, many of which are free to encourage interest in the sector. When you can give coding a go without parting with your pennies (or leaving your sofa), there really is nothing to lose.

For example, Code First Girls (CFG), an online community dedicated to empowering women in tech, has created a range of great free courses to develop your skills in the programming world. Its eight-week Coding Kickstarter course will launch on September 7th, offering an introduction to frontend development, JavaScript, and equipping you with all of the skills you need to try building your own website from scratch. The fantastic team at CFG have worked hard to create courses that cater to different interests in tech, so if Coding Kickstarter isn’t quite what you are looking for, you can browse the rest of their sessions here.

Focus on your soft skills

One of the biggest myths I encounter in the industry is that you need a tech degree to work in tech. It just isn’t the case. I’m not technical and my tech career has spanned nine years. On top of there being an abundance of non-technical roles within the digital industry, from owning and understanding products, to driving delivery, designing, and leading teams; soft skills can be a lot more important than what you have written down on paper. What you need is a passion for what technology can give you, your community, our society and a willingness to learn.

Can you collaborate effectively within a team? Are you a great listener? If you can showcase soft skills such as empathy, respect and creativity, you’re already halfway there in securing your new tech role. Remember, technical skills can always be learnt.

A great way to showcase soft skills is through your own pet projects – side hustles if you will. Taking time out of your personal schedule to pursue a new hobby shows genuine interest in the topic, an ability to prioritise your time, and most importantly, spotlights your personality. Another popular myth to bust is that we are not all robots working in tech. We all have interests outside of work, and this is the side of you your new employer wants to see.

This is something we are big on at AND Digital. Even our job descriptions are double-barrelled. For instance, while my official role is Club Executive AND Proudly South African – a testament to my home country and obsession with Nelson Mandela leadership styles – my team consists of fitness fanatics, amateur bakers and body poppers, to name just a few! It adds a personal touch to our email signatures but also makes for a great conversation starter – who really enjoys small talk anyway?

Have confidence

Pursuing a career in tech is not as daunting as it may seem. I’ve actually found it to be one of the most inclusive and supportive fields I have had the pleasure of working in. Digital is virtually limitless, attracts some of the best minds of our generation and is guaranteed to continue going from strength to strength in coming years. Tech is booming across the world, but there will always be the need for a strong digital workforce to drive it forward. Why shouldn’t you be one of them?

If we continue taking steps to support each other, make use of online resources and accentuate the brilliant qualities of our ‘non-work’ selves, I’m confident we can overcome gender misrepresentation in digital and encourage many more women into tech.

Shan BeerstecherAbout the author

Shan is an innovative and collaborative digital leader with experience across diverse industries and geographies. Bringing a balance of business, people/culture, digital and agile delivery into all of her work, Shan has led digital transformation projects for a number of large financial services organisations and created value for global brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness.


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