We’ve made good progress in many areas of society when it comes to achieving near parity between men and women, but the tech industry remains an outlier.

Women still only account for around 26% of people working in IT, and in Europe’s sweeping tech layoffs, women have been much more affected by men. While they make up just over a third of the European tech workforce, they represent 41.6% of layoffs since October 2022. Furthermore, women in UK tech startups continue to be paid less than men, with the latest reports showing a 26% difference in pay, the largest unadjusted pay gap in Europe.

The benefits of gender parity across the workforce have been widely documented. One of the biggest barriers I’ve personally felt in my career is the lack of female role models in the industry; women who I can learn from or aspire to be. Having to carve my own way of working and thinking – something my male counterparts haven’t had to do to the same extent – has been challenging. So, to break the cycle and hopefully inspire some of you, here’s my story and how it has shaped my views on closing the gender gap in tech.

My route into tech

From around the age of 12, I was interested in coding as a hobby, but I wasn’t originally aiming to work in tech. I’d planned to study Classics at university, and opportunities in tech weren’t even on my radar until I attended an event promoting tech roles to female students. This day opened my eyes and drastically changed my plans. So much so that I changed A levels so I could study Computer Science at Imperial – turning an interest into a career path.

After graduating, I started working at a large bank in London, then moved to San Francisco to work in a fintech startup that the bank was funding. San Francisco is naturally full of people working in tech, and it was there I met two women with whom I co-founded a music start-up. Following this, I moved to an Electric Vehicle start-up which explored using generative AI and automated modelling to reduce the time taken to design and build a vehicle.

I love being at the cutting edge of software and innovating in a start-up environment where I can make a real impact. In my current role as VP of Engineering, my first priority is the engineers; working with the team in a hands-on way with coding, while also contributing to the tech strategy and people management.

Myth-busting tech misconceptions

There’s a real perception that tech roles are very maths-focused, and this was the case during my degree. I struggle with maths, so this doesn’t play into my natural skillset. But it’s never once held me back in my career. Lots of tech roles, like coding, require a creative flare alongside technical maths skills, which is often overlooked.

Another misconception is that often people think you need specific experiences to get your foot in the door in the tech world. While certain qualifications like computer science degrees create obvious pathways, there are lots of routes like internships or mentorship schemes you can take too. While at university, I took part in internships every summer, Google’s CodeF program in my first year, as well as a six-month placement in my third year. This gave me the confidence to continue with coding. And it’s never too late to retain or learn new skills. Attributes like problem-solving and lateral thinking are applied to different professions in various industries, and the same is true for tech. In many instances, candidates with the most unlikely backgrounds – from music teachers to economists (like we have on our team) – can be the most effective in the role.

Breaking down barriers

The lack of female representation across tech leadership – in the UK, only 22% of senior roles are held by gender minorities – limits decision-making overall. After all, wider diversity leads to more diverse thinking and problem-solving. Using diverse hiring practices – such as neutral language in job descriptions and promotions, evaluating CVs blind, and involving a diverse set of people in the hiring process – will encourage more minorities to consider tech roles and improve diversity across the board.

I’ve had the opportunity to forge a path, make a difference, and lead teams in tech. I’d love to see a similar trajectory for more women in the future. In my career so far, I have been inspired by active measures to encourage diversity in tech and have taken an active role. This all started with the STEM event that gave me my first taste of Computer Science. To inspire future women in tech, I’ve coached at initiatives such as Clojure Bridge and given talks at groups like PyLadies. I hope, through proactive measures like these, we can bridge the gender gap in tech once and for all.

About the author

Briony Goldsack, VP of Engineering.

Currently the VP of Engineering at IRIS Audio Technologies, Briony is an experienced tech leader and engineer passionate about functional programming and disruptive technologies. A Silicon Valley survivor, Briony has been a start-up afficionado for the last 6 years and co-founded Grüpie a crowd-funding platform for musicians in 2020. She joined IRIS Audio this year to be at the forefront of “AI-for-good”  making a material impact on a daily basis. With a hands-on approach to coding with the team, Briony leads the tech strategy and people management of the engineering department.