Career paths for female devs - where to start and how to keep going

Team of young coworkers working together at night office.Young woman using mobile laptop at the table.Horizontal.Blurred backgroundMy undergraduate graphic design course was 80% female and it’s therefore never surprising that when it comes to the working world of design it’s a female dominated profession.

During my course I quickly became passionate about animation and 3D with tech, not print design, interesting me much more. I was committed to following a ‘digital first route’.

In my first job I found myself at a small, digital design agency focused entirely on websites. I was grateful for a line manager at the time that encouraged me to learn to code. Coding wasn’t ever something I’d considered giving a go, particularly owing to the stigma around coding being tricky and very much considered a ‘job for the boys’. Significant on the job training from the same line manager further peaked my interest in tech, specifically coding.

I’ve now been in the industry for over a decade and feel very fortunate to have been supported by all subsequent line managers to further develop my career. Supportive leadership, especially when it comes to helping women to build careers in tech, truly is vital.

On the job training has also been essential to my personal career growth and development and here are some suggestions for pushing to secure that on the job training:

  • Be clear what you want and make sure the company is right for you
  • If you’re at a smaller agency, it may be that on job training can be delivered more easily as pace can be a bit slower
  • Carefully research companies and their size ahead of applying
  • Graduate programmes are always a great place to start
  • Key to getting onto a graduate programme is definitely keenness - it’s easy to spot a budding technical expert, such is their passion
  • Show you are keen to grasp hold of things and get stuck right in

Learning on the job continued with regards to growing my Umbraco skill set. I would recommend lots of personal time experimenting and getting to grips with the system and being happy to do this outside set working hours, investing beyond the working day to learn more.

Never stop learning from others or asking others questions via Meet Ups and conferences. Keep an eye out for specific tech get togethers for example, those focused on Java Script. As a woman it’s vital to keep talking, keep making yourself heard. Frustratingly this may mean a fair bit of repetition but keep going! Never forget your voice is a valid one and has a place in even the most male-dominated of settings.

Find female team leads and join those companies. Those female leaders will be encouraging other women across the industry to come forward. Female leaders are responsible for shouting about who they are and how others can do the same. You will be in positive company working alongside them.

Straight from university, as a female graduate, here are some further things to think about:

  • Persevere
  • Someone WILL take a chance on you
  • Show your skills online, have them ready in an online portfolio before doing anything else
  • Show passion, industry knowledge and go to meet ups
  • Remember you can learn from lots of people - it doesn’t have to be people at work. Get out into the industry you are passionate about via meet ups

Sian SimmsAbout the author

Sian Simms is  Front End Team Leader at Spindogs. Sian boasts an impressive career trajectory as a female developer, including being an Umbraco certified professional and member of the external Umbraco back office team. When it comes to sharing insights into how her career has grown, Sian is passionate about encouraging learning on the job and seeking supportive and empowering managers.


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