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From journalist to female tech developer: How to pivot your career into the tech industry

woman holding a like a boss mug, career development

By Olivia Hill, Web Developer at Splendid and supporter of The Software Institute’s IT Girls campaign

It’s never too late to find your dream job – and the tech industry is a great place to start looking.

According to research from PwC Global, 77% of workers are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain in a different field. And with vacancies for over 1 million digital experts, industry demand is certainly there, with businesses eagerly looking to fill roles in IT.

Yet, according to research from TechNation, only 26% of those currently in the tech force are women. So how can we encourage women to take a leap, and break into the tech industry?

Tech loves to talk ‘diversity’, with female representation in technology high up on the corporate agenda for the past decade, but how can you encourage women to feel confident in taking on a new challenge and pivoting to a career they may not have considered before, in the global software industry?

A recent PwC study indicates only 3% of women say a career in technology is their first choice career. Moreover, only 16% of females have had a career in technology suggested to them. Unfortunately, I was one of the 84% of women that during my schooling or early career development, was never encouraged to pursue a career in tech or another STEM subject.

In fact, I always felt that pursuing an education in humanities was my only option, or strength. I went on to study a degree in journalism and was sure that I would have a media-related job for the rest of my working life. However, I soon realised that it didn’t live up to what I’d hoped. I started to consider alternative careers, but it felt like I was stagnating. It wasn’t until lockdown in 2021, when I started to consider making a huge career pivot, into the tech sector.

I never even thought about breaking into the tech industry until then. I didn’t think I belonged in that world, and entering it seemed simply quite unachievable. Apart from a little coding I had done at university as part of a digital communications module, I had no experience at all. Nonetheless, as I continued to read about the increasing tech skills shortage and discovered a range of fantastic training and learning resources, I decided to take the leap.

The first step in making a career pivot like mine, is to do some research and find out what interests you. I think one of the main barriers preventing people from starting a career in tech is that most are simply unaware of the options available to them. There is a wealth of opportunities out there, but it can understandably be overwhelming at first. Have a read online about the different roles available and find something that piques your interest, whether that be web development, cybersecurity, DevOps, data science, automation testing, or one of the other many options available.

Once you have found an area which interests you, it’s helpful to have a look into the skills required to secure your first role in that area. There are many self-taught developers, but it’s important to know what the expectations are for entry level positions. A simple search on a job listings website will help you gauge what skills you may need and help you to visualise a realistic roadmap to gaining those skills.

There are many free resources available online to help you acquire the skills you need to break into your first role in tech. I found Codecademy and freeCodeCamp to be extremely helpful during my learning journey and they have loads of resources and great online communities that I continue to utilise to this day. YouTube is also a fantastic place to start. There is an abundance of channels devoted to tech tutorials which are usually completely free. You will find hours and hours of material to dive into to help you advance your skills, create projects and develop your understanding in your chosen area.

For some, it’s possible to be completely self-taught and secure your first tech job. It means you can learn while continuing to work and study at your own pace. However, if you prefer a more structured approach and have the time and financial resources, there are many companies which offer part-time and full-time instructor-led tech bootcamps which usually last between 8 and 16 weeks. Either online or in person, you will be led through a series of projects and material and some companies even help you to find a job at the end of the process. These boot camps can be on the pricey side, but if you can afford it and prefer learning alongside others, it could be a suitable option. Make sure to do your research and read plenty of reviews before committing to taking part in any bootcamp. I searched for a course that would offer hands on and importantly, paid training, when I came across The Software Institute which ultimately helped me to secure my placement with a global software development agency, Splendid.

Once you feel you have developed a solid skillset in your chosen area, it’s time to look for your first role. This can be daunting as you may feel inexperienced or underqualified when you’re up against individuals with tech-related degrees, but many companies are willing to invest in fresh talent. The most important thing is to find a role where you will be supported throughout your continued learning journey. Something I realised very quickly is that it is impossible to know everything and no one is expecting you to. As long as you are willing to work to the best of your ability, listen to instructions and ask for help when you need it, you will be on your way to starting an exciting career in tech.

There are lots of resources online to help you prepare for interviews. For certain positions you will often be asked to complete a technical task, either during the interview or in your own time. It’s important to conduct some research about popular questions asked in interviews and make sure you have some projects you’re willing to chat about during the interview – employers will be interested to hear about your current skills and interests. Remember to be honest and open about your hopes for the future, and don’t forget to ask lots of questions!

In short, if you have identified an area of interest, outlined a realistic roadmap which meets your needs, and have the drive and patience to learn, it’s definitely possible to break into the tech industry. While there is a huge gender gap, there is also a huge opportunity. I encourage others to take a leap, try something different and have the confidence that a career in tech might just be the perfect place for them. After all, everyone has something valuable they can bring to a role in tech and companies are calling out for these skills.


women in tech, soft skills featured

4 tips for women starting in tech

women in tech, soft skills

Starting out in a tech career can be particularly difficult, especially due to the competitive nature of the hiring process.

Below are four key tips on how to climb the ladder into the tech industry as a woman:

1. Student and graduate work

Gaining experience while you are still a student is a great way to put yourself in a better position once you have graduated. One year work placements, sandwich years and part time working roles allow you to develop essential skills desired by employers, which can help you get an early foot in the door when applying to positions in the future.

Graduate programmes are a great way to help you climb the ladder whilst also receiving extensive training and exposure to different areas of the business from sales, to finance, to marketing and much more.

2. Perfect your CV

Firstly, it is important to write your CV in line with the specific sector that you’re applying to work in, as well as the job role. Your CV needs to be easy to read, personable and highlight key areas of experience and talent. If you don’t have much experience it’s important to list the key skills that employers will be looking for in their candidates, and highlight personal achievements that will make you stand out against the crowd.

You should list all your qualifications, especially those which are tech oriented, starting with the most recent first. For example if you have a degree, you should state the University you attended, dates attended and the qualifications gained. If you don’t have a degree it’s worth including any NVQs, A-levels and GCSE qualifications.

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3. Impressing in an interview

Always start by researching to ensure you know your potential company well, as well as the industry. A good place to start is by looking at their LinkedIn and other social media sites to get a real feel of the company, and how they like to present themselves.

Linking back to the previous point, know your CV. Think back to the job specifications and consider ways in which your relevant experience may demonstrate these skills, and be ready to explain and expand on your experience. For example, for Finance and Accounting positions in tech, you may want to discuss what qualifications you have, as well as any previous positions in the sector. Although the role may not be hands-on technical work, you may want to mention your current knowledge, even if it is basic.

4. Starting your new role 

Once you’ve accepted your new job position, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s best to just take each day by day whilst you’re adapting to your new environment and don’t be scared to ask for help if you need it. Asking questions is a great way to start building connections and relationships with your colleagues. Remember there is no such thing as a stupid question if you don’t already know the answer to it.

For example, if you work in a HR recruitment agency in tech you may want to be more inquisitive due to the competitive nature of the sector, in order to gain more of the professional and technical knowledge your colleagues may have.


female leader, women leading the way featured

Advice from female founders: How to break into the world of tech

female leader, women leading the way

Louise and Steph, founders of gift matching service Needi.co.uk, discuss how to get into tech.

Our old IT manager would laugh now at the idea that we built a tech company. But the initial idea was not actually built around technology, it all started with people and how to gift sustainably.

As a pair of female entrepreneurs, we started out with strong business and sales skills, but were new to technology and had to get to grips with the tech side of things quickly. We can now talk about platform development, artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms with confidence and have some extremely experienced advisors too.

Getting started

The idea came first, and we spoke to LOADS of people about it to sanity check if there was a real need for an online marketplace like needi. We found experts and advisors in the areas we needed and got some training to ensure we understood what we needed to do.

If you’re a total novice starting from zero and want to start a tech company, the secret is in doing your due diligence.  Think of a problem that you are passionate about solving. Your passion is important or you’ll lose focus and momentum.

Do your market research to check whether other people find it a problem and want it solved too. Just because it’s important to you doesn’t mean it is to everyone else. Part of this process is looking into how other people or companies are currently solving this problem – with or without tech.

Once you’ve done your due diligence, all you need is to come up with a clever way to solve the problem yourself – and get some serious tech advice on intelligent solutions to the problem.

The initial concept stage is the easy part – now comes the real challenge!

Financing the idea

Many new businesses start with ‘sweat equity’ – in other words they do all the work themselves to get the business off the ground. We were no different and, instead of starting with AI, we did it the human being way and manually matched gifts to purchasers (from Steph’s bedroom!)

Sales were generated through social media and mailers and we self-funded the build of our current site.

We kept our network and supporters up-to-date with needi’s progress and extended our reach by investing in PR and marketing. Phase 2 required external funding, so we created a pitch deck showing the concept and performance and raised £140K from personal connections that led to angel investors.

We also have a commitment from a venture capitalist who approached us. They specialise in female founders looking to positively impact the world and they will provide an additional £250K in funding.

Seeking investment is important and we would suggest starting early and building a strong network around this.

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FIVE Success factors

  1. A clear brand and vision are essential – this ensures that your passion and energy is represented in a way that feels totally authentic.
  2. Trust your gut! We are both experienced business women with a wealth of experience between us – trusting our instincts more has led to some fantastic business decisions. The worst decisions we’ve made have been when we’ve had a crisis of confidence and not trusted our gut!
  3. Do your research. No matter how great your idea is – until you can prove it’s wanted by many people – it’s just an idea.
  4. To ensure our website delivers what we want, and our customers expect, we had to develop a very clear call to action and the technical means to deliver the service both reliably and consistently. This meant a crystal-clear scope for the developers and a thorough understanding of the functionality. Project Management skills are an absolute necessity for this!
  5. Get support. Starting a new business can be scary, lonely and full of unforeseen obstacles. Get some help. These were part of our supporting resources:

We also met some amazing mentors through https://www.bethebusiness.com/ and would totally recommend getting a mentor. Also, LinkedIn has been SO valuable for us in giving us access to people who have been supportive in many different ways.

Some tech companies are just in it for the money and that’s resulted in some people having a negative view of tech companies. However, we want needi to be successful, profitable and kind. This influences the way we treat staff, customers, merchants – everyone! We want to create the sort of company that you’d want your daughter or son to work at – where people are nurtured, listened to and given the opportunity and space to thrive, get creative, and be appreciated.

We have arrived at a place where we’re confident with the technology and understand the business dynamics, which has ensured our team and stakeholders are 100% on board with our vision. At the end of the day if you don’t DO anything, your idea will always be in the ‘if only’ category. Action is the key – get started and do something!

About the authors

Louise Doyle and Steph ScholesLouise Doyle, Founder and CEO of the unique personal gift-matching service needi, is passionate about empowering people and the power of gift-giving. Louise’s business acumen, leadership and strong sales background has given her the expertise and experience required for needi to form partnerships with some of the leading independent merchants across the UK offering the very best in unique and luxury products. A Global Sales Director with 15 years proven success in sales, recruitment and business development. Her tenacity, entrepreneurial mindset, passion, drive and leadership skills earned her the accolade of youngest and first ever female Director for a fast-growing Global enterprise.

Steph Scholes, Co-Founder and Sales Director of the unique personal gift-matching service, needi, is a positive and empowering Sales Leader with a successful track record in project management and sales. Steph’s talents include the ability to recruit, train and develop high performers and implement innovative sales and marketing strategies. Her ability to deliver through others is demonstrated through her previous, loyal following of teams and this will be no different at needi.  She is dedicated, passionate and courageous in her work and inspires others to do the same and the reason why her teams thrive under her leadership.


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Making the move into the technology sector from a non-technology background

woman holding a like a boss mug, career developmentArticle by Anna Yukhtenko, Senior Games Analyst, Hutch

Changing industries at any point in your career can be a daunting prospect, and one that’s even more nerve-wracking as a woman.

From keeping yourself awake at night wondering whether you have the relevant skills, to feeling the fear of having to start all over again, there are many things that can put you off taking the plunge.

The challenge can be even greater for those trying to break into the technology industry. It still suffers from an outdated perception that it’s a man’s world.

But there are some key steps that women can take to remove that barrier, and cement their rightful place in the industry.

Educate yourself on the sector

Let’s start with the basics. If you really want to enter a specific industry, make sure you’re brushing up on what’s happening in it right now. It’s usually obvious in an interview if you don’t understand the challenges a business faces. Make sure to do your research, and make it a point to read relevant industry news on a daily basis.

If you’re interested in entering the world of analytics specifically, get comfortable with programming languages such as SQL, Python or R, brush up on your statistical knowledge and work on storytelling and your presentational skills.

Trying to choose between Python and R? Choose Python as it is more versatile and is more widely used than R. SQL is often a must-have.

Start researching the relevant skills

There’s no avoiding the fact that there will be some skills that you need to start learning before you can join a certain industry, particularly with a technology career. But you don’t always need to have mastered them. Some of these skills can be learnt in your spare time through reading and general research, while others might require you to enroll in a specific course. If you’re truly passionate about entering that industry though, it’s worth dedicating the time to give you a better chance of standing out when applying.

There are some skills that you’ll be able to learn on the job too, so make sure you showcase confidence and interest in your ability to develop them. Being keen to learn a new skill can only be a good thing and shows enthusiasm, a highly valued trait in technology roles.

Brushing up on fundamental skills, such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint, is also vital. It might seem obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people lack even a basic understanding of how to use these tools when making the transition into technology.

Finally, once you’ve landed your dream role, make the most of the time you have in between jobs to prepare before you join, so that you can impress from day one.

Allow yourself to get creative

You might not typically associate creativity with technology as there is an antiquated perception that it’s just spreadsheets and data. But you can get a lot more creative than you might think, and you can use this to your advantage. Let’s take analytics as an example.

Working as an analyst in retail means you’ll mostly be analysing sales, which can be quite formulaic and not that exciting for some. But in the video games industry, you’ll be diving much deeper into the games, allowing yourself to get more creative.

While your technical knowhow is important, it’s equally as important to showcase your creativity, particularly at the interview stage.

Be confident in your abilities

As a woman, there is a degree of added pressure when trying to enter the technology industry, but the most important thing is to be confident. Women typically need to work harder than men to prove themselves and get the same credibility as their male counterparts. It’s not fair, but it’s reality. At least for now.

While things are slowly changing, be prepared to face some situations where your opinions might not be considered as relevant. This is where you need to remain confident in your ideas, and really show them what you’re made of. Be nice and polite but firm, give people the benefit of the doubt, stand your ground and don't use too many smiley faces.

Don’t be afraid to take the plunge

When it comes to making the transition into tech, don’t let the fact that you might not have the most relevant experience put you off. Apply for the job anyway, play to your strengths in your cover letter and start brushing up on the skills you think you’ll need for the position. The worst a potential employer can do is say no. But they might just say yes.

Anna YukhtenkoAbout the author

Anna has always been into data and numbers, and it was the switch from the retail industry to gaming that helped her fully realise her potential.

Her career in gaming started at Next Games as a marketing analyst, later transferring to Hutch, a mobile racing games developer and publisher known for free-to-play mobile games such as F1 ClashTop Drives and Rebel Racing, to be a full-time games analyst. Anna loves talking about analytics and strives to do so in a fun and easy way. 

 


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


Girls in tech, STEM

How to take your first steps into the world of technology

Girls in tech, STEM

Article by Debs Barlow, Employment & Opportunities Director

‘It is no great secret that women are disproportionately underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. – Amy Nelson, Chair of the TCG PC Client Work Group

“Calling all genders who have strong opinions and like things done in a certain way.”

Stop letting (only) men design and create technology that affects all of us.

To do this we must start at a very early age to stop stereotyping. Wouldn’t it be great if schools talked about technology as ‘a way of thinking’ rather than a subject that you can only do if you are good at Maths, love computers and want to be a software developer?   Sorry for the sweeping statement, but I’m sure you have heard something similar.

A career in technology does not appeal to most girls because it doesn’t immediately capture their creative or organisational talents.  I have tried with my daughters, and they honestly cannot see it and do not want to consider it.  They will say things like ‘I’m not good at Maths’, ‘I don’t want to learn computer languages’, ‘it’s too nerdy’.

I think it is down to businesses to think about how they can attract young women into their technical jobs and apprenticeships and for any women that have crossed over to the other side to bring more girls in.   We need coaches, mentors, and sponsors to give young women power & agency to cross over from thinking about marketing, fashion, music, and other creative sectors into technology. The professional services like banking, accountancy & law are also meeting technology head-on, so we need more girls to combine their aspirations to include technology as part of their career and the ‘way of thinking’ for the future.

At LTSB we run a Digital & Tech programme for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds connecting them with meaningful careers with leading organisations.  We are delighted to say that our young women are finding their way into technology, often with a BTEC Extended Diploma in IT or a STEM subject under their belt but sometimes with much more creative subjects like graphic art or fashion.   There is a selection of Digital & Tech apprenticeships that you can apply for through our programme.   Degree apprenticeships such as Digital & Tech solutions where technology meets business or Digital User Experience where apprentices work on the online journey that customers take when dealing with a business.   We also offer pathways into Data Analytics and Software Development at Level 4.

We are the social mobility partner for the NatWest Group, and they are offering all of these pathways for our candidates and encouraging young women to take up these opportunities. Go to our website www.leadershipthroughsport.org for more information.  Listen to https://ltsb.charity/ltsb-news/justina-blair-speaks-on-the-6-issues/  who was one of our successful candidates.

If you are going for an interview, don’t miss out your creative talents.  This is going to be important for technology and how we design it for ‘everyone’ in the future.   Make sure you bring out what makes you special and your unique contribution that would mean so much to the community you come from and who you know the best.

Your CV should include the things that make you ‘get out of bed’, even if that is to see what level you can reach on a game.  Your ability to problem-solve could come from your fascination with gaming & technology.  Don’t leave that out.  If you take your computer apart and are basically your family’s IT support, don’t leave this out.  Make your CV stand out by showing what makes you tick and what your aspirations are.

If you do amazing things on Instagram/Snapchat/Tiktok and if you have an idea that might be the next big social media platform, include that!  If you have 100k followers on Youtube, include that.

If you have been out of the job market for a while and want to return to work, there are so many courses that you can do online.  Lots of companies are offering ‘return to work’ schemes and technology is something you can re-learn or learn for the first time.  Try Salesforce’s Pathfinder course.  https://pathfinder.salesforce.com/s/  There is no age limit!

Climbing the ladder once you are in goes back to the need for coaches, mentors, and sponsors.  Ask for help, never say no when someone chooses you to do something which is out of your comfort zone.  They are probably going to be your sponsor if you say YES!

Apply for jobs in technology and see what happens, don’t leave it out of your life until you really understand how you can contribute and what a difference you could make if you had the opportunity to shape the future.

Debs BarlowAbout the author

Coming from a finance background, Debs worked in the Inter-dealer broker Market for 25 years. She joined LTSB in 2015 and leads the Business Development team. Throughout her career she has maintained high level client relationships and now creates, monitors and maintains employer relationships for LTSB.  Training, recruitment and education play a major part in her role as well as managing placements of apprentices and alumni and ensuring the best chance of completion and progression routes for our young people.  She has been instrumental in the growth of LTSB and is now responsible for the employment, fundraising and partnerships teams who will help take LTSB to the next level.


Five tips for women looking to begin, or move into, a career in tech

Female working in a Technical Support Team Gives Instructions with the Help of the Headsets. In the Background People Working and Monitors Show Various Information, SysAdmin Day

Article by Alexa Raad, Chief People, Purpose and Policy Officer, HUMAN Security

‘The UK is heading towards a “catastrophic” digital skills shortage “disaster”’. This warning, revealed by a think tank to the BBC in March, highlighted the slow demise of tech talent in the UK.

Before the pandemic, a survey revealed that only 11% of professionals believed that the technology industry in the UK could compete on a global scale.

The tech industry faces a diversity problem, which in turn discourages people from joining the industry. As an historically male dominated industry, the statistic that only 19% of tech workers in the UK are women is no surprise. But, the ‘Great Resignation’ is an opportunity to redress this imbalance. With staff turnover set to cost the UK economy nearly £17bn in 2021, many new jobs have emerged – with talented women vying to fill them.

Below, I share my advice for women aiming for a career in tech, whether it’s at entry level or via a career change.

  1. Skills, skills, skills

The best way to prove yourself worthy of a role is a deep understanding of the required skills. Whether you’re looking for your first role or a new career, picking up the necessary skills early into your journey will stand you in good stead. If you have a passion for ethical hacking, it can take as long as 18 months to acquire the skills to make you proficient. Whereas career-competent education in coding can be learned within six months.

While not every tech job requires coding knowledge, the relevant skills can be learned outside of formal education and remotely now, too. Edtech platform Coursera saw 21 million new joiners during the peak of lockdown – showing an appetite for continuous upskilling.

  1. Find a female mentor or role model

Research proves that women helping other women are more successful. Women already in the industry will have likely overcome some form of adversity and will be willing to pass on their words of wisdom to you. It is also true that people can’t be what they can’t see – and having a mentor whose footsteps you can follow can be beneficial to learn from.

Social media combined with the challenges posed by the pandemic, mean that it’s now easier than ever to connect with like-minded women in your chosen field. Lean on, and learn from, them.

  1. Put yourself out there

The employment and upskilling of women is high on the agenda of a large majority of businesses – especially in tech. The need to redress the imbalance, amongst other D&I objectives, has only become more paramount in recent years.

Social media can be a great tool to learn about the opportunities businesses have to offer. However, take this one step further and find the hiring managers, CEOs, or HR teams in the organisation to ask them about their company and start selling yourself.

Not only can this encourage more women to step forward for new roles, the pandemic has given them the tools to do this. Virtual events, webinars and increased social media use may have arisen through unfortunate circumstances, but also levelled the playing field. Now that the UK is open, continue to put yourself out there.

  1. Bring your whole self!

Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. The tech sector may have a reputation for being male-dominated, but it really is changing. That means many progressive tech companies are asking ‘what can you bring?’ rather than ‘will you fit in?’. I would steer clear of the ones that don’t value this diversity.

  1. Find internships or training fellowships to make the first step

Internships can be instrumental in making a first step into a new industry. While getting the opportunity to learn, you also get to put these lessons into action and apply your knowledge – and (hopefully) get paid while doing so.

If you’re looking for a career change, adult apprenticeships can be invaluable – allowing you to learn new skills, gain experience and also transfer existing skills into your new career. Adult apprentices may also be eligible for funding if they choose to undertake advanced apprenticeships, ensuring they are supported through this career change.

Meanwhile, fellowships can be great tools to apply scholarly experience and knowledge to make the first or next step in your career – usually guaranteeing experience, reimbursement, and a learning experience, too.

At HUMAN, we recently announced the Dan Kaminsky Fellowship – in honour of our late co-founder and Chief Scientist. HUMAN is offering Fellows a year of full-time employment to dedicate to deep work on their open source project. Fellows will enjoy the same employment benefits as all HUMAN employees.

What does the industry need to do?

The sector needs to do a better job of promoting the huge range of opportunities available in tech. We need mathematicians, engineers, and coders; but we also need amazing communicators, project managers, marketers, HR people and more! With more diversity in these roles, the whole sector will benefit from a greater breadth of ideas as we attract people from a wider range of backgrounds. Tech remains one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide, but many outside of the industry still have a slightly blinkered view of what’s possible with a career in tech.

Alexa RaadAbout the author

Alexa Raad is Chief People, Purpose and Policy Officer at HUMAN Security. Alexa has deep knowledge in the cybersecurity, DNS, and internet infrastructure industries, and is the author of a US and European patent in cybersecurity. In addition, Alexa is a 25+ year tech industry veteran, P&L leader and strategic advisor to CEOs, executive teams, and private equity teams. Alexa has a successful track record of growing revenues, scaling organizations internationally, and developing new markets in US, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.


woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

More needs to be done to encourage women to join the tech industries

woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

Professor Nicola Wilkin, Director of Education at the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham outlines the importance of attracting a greater gender diversity in the technology industry and how businesses and educational institutions can help bridge the gap.

While the number of women working within the technology industry has continued to climb over the past year, there is still a concerning gender imbalance in the industry, magnified even further when we look at representation of women of colour and women from disadvantaged economic backgrounds.

The benefits of a diverse workforce in any industry cannot be overstated, but particularly in STEM sectors where female voices are often underrepresented. Despite a growing awareness of the need to bridge the gender recruitment gap in the tech sector, and a steady rise in women working in the industry (currently 31% in the UK), there is still an alarming absence of women of colour in technology roles. For example, Black women only made up 0.7% of IT positions in 2020, according to a recent BCS’ study based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) employment data.

The startling statistics of inequality don’t stop there. According to the Women Tech Network, 34% of STEM graduates are women but only 5% of tech start-ups are female founded. Furthermore, almost half (46%) of women in the technology sector have reported experiencing sexism and discrimination  first-hand.

Whilst there’s no single route to solving this complex and nuanced issue, we believe that access to education can lay the foundation for real change. PwC research discovered that only 3% of school-age girls wish to pursue a career in tech as their first choice, despite the fact that girls engaging with and thriving in STEM subjects at school is significantly higher.

Lack of prominent female role models and the perception that the industry is unwelcoming for women have been found to be major stumbling blocks that deter women from pursuing their passion or realising their potential. By encouraging both school-aged girls and women looking to change their careers to consider STEM subjects will contribute to challenging stereotypes and inspiring a future generation of female tech professionals.

At the University of Birmingham, we are committed to empowering students, helping them turn ingenuity into reality. In 2019 we launched 24-week part-time intensive Coding and Data Analytics Boot Camps to help mitigate the diversity challenges the industry is currently facing.

Our Boot Camps equip learners with the skills they need to advance their careers. Throughout the course they are given personalised academic and career support. On completion they are awarded a certificate from the University of Birmingham, the prestige of the institution and its reputation for high quality education helping the graduates stand out from the crowd.

Alongside this, we have partnered with the West Midlands Combined Authority Digital Skills Training Fund to offer a ‘Women in Tech’ scholarship which will see eligible applicants receive £4,000 towards their course fees and provided with mentoring and careers support throughout their journey.

Partnering with employers as we tackle the gender gap is also hugely important. We work with some of the world’s leading companies and have helped our alumni secure roles with Gymshark, HSBC and PwC to name a few. A simple, but effective way, for employers to reinforce their commitment to diversity is to showcase their female employees via interviews, case studies and blogs.

We’re actively working to create a more dynamic and diverse workforce in the UK by offering flexible educational models that help our students achieve a learn-life balance. For example, our Boot Camp learners can fit on-campus or online study around their home and employment responsibilities making it ideal for women who want to upskill or change their careers completely to pursue a job in tech.

For more information about the University of Birmingham Boot Camps, please visit: https://bootcamp.birmingham.ac.uk/coding/landing-ab2/


Recommended Event: 21/09/2021: Exploring Pathways into Tech Careers | WISE

WISE, London Tech Week event

New WISE research reveals how widening career pathways into Tech roles could increase diversity and address the digital skills gap.

Join WISE for a panel discussion with senior figures from UK Tech exploring the results of our latest research and what it means employers trying to close the digital skills gap. Our event will explore how non-linear career pathways into tech roles provide an opportunity for employers to find the talented, diverse people they need to futureproof tomorrow’s workforce. Year on year, WISE data has shown an increase in the number of girls studying computing, as well as the number of women employed in tech roles – 17% of the tech workforce. Although these positive trends are encouraging, WISE members are increasingly concerned about the current skills gap in tech and digital technology roles as well as the persistent gender imbalance in the tech workforce. Earlier this year WISE launched a new research project to form the first step in supporting employers to close the digital skills gap. Join us on the 21st September at our online panel event as we present the findings of our UK-wide tech research and next steps for employers with the launch of our research report as part of London Tech Week.

This free online event is open to all.

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Fintech featured

The lessons I learnt starting my career in FinTech | Delia Pedersoli

Article by Delia Pedersoli, Chief Operating Officer at MultiPay Global Solutions

FintechThe fintech industry is one of the most exciting and fulfilling sectors to work in. Each day you get to meet and work with so many great and inspiring people, while at the same time developing products and solutions that have a real-world, positive impact on people’s lives.

You can see this in so many of the businesses that have emerged over the last few years. For instance, we have seen new and exciting enterprises launch that have changed the game when it comes to small business (SMEs) funding. Now, instead of going through a bank to gain access to funding, SMEs can turn to innovative companies such as Iwoca and Funding Circle for quicker and easier access to financing. In the consumer space, we have seen similar developments too with challenger banks such as Starling and Monzo delivering exceptional customer and in app experiences too. This has now forced every other bank to up its game accordingly with the ultimate winners being customers.

However, fintech businesses like these are not built overnight and without overcoming challenges. Having worked in the fintech industry for the past 20 years I would advise anyone starting out to think about the following three areas:

  • Be confident: It is hard starting in anything, let alone an industry like fintech. Nevertheless, you need to have a strong belief in yourself and what you are doing if you are to stick it out. You will be met by challenges regularly that need to be overcome, and you have to be ready for them. For example, when I started in fintech I was surprised – and still am – about how much complexity there is. What should be simple and straightforward never is. Thanks to legacy technologies, regulations, and legislation, you need to be prepared to push on and not get disheartened when there are bumps in the road. Having confidence in yourself and what you are aiming to do is the fuel that powers you through and solves these obstacles.
  • Get ahead of customers: Everyone talks about putting customers first but few deliver. To provide a great customer experience you must be proactive and get ahead of the customer. Knowing what they want or need before they do themselves allows you to deliver projects that exceed expectations. To do this you have to get to know customers and their businesses on a deeper and more personal level. This is something we instilled in our team at MultiPay as we want to ensure we always deliver a first-class customer experience.
  • Enjoy it: Enjoyment is often overlooked but is the key to success. Fintech is my passion and I enjoy every day that I work in it. In fact, if I could turn the clock back, I would start working in fintech even sooner, it has been such a great journey.

Delia PedersoliAbout the author

Delia is an enthusiastic and outstanding entrepreneur, who has been involved in a number of successful Fintech start-ups in the Card Payments industry.

Delia started her career in the IT sector having completed her MBA at Henley Management College and worked for blue– chip companies including IBM, Xerox and Canon.

In 2006, Delia joined Barclaycard where she successfully implemented the acquiring division in her native country of Italy.

She was Co-Founder of EPS, the first company in the world to be P2PE certified and in 2013 she founded International Payments Services where she built a Fintech payments technology infrastructure, partnering with some major brands.  International Payment Services was acquired in 2017 by an international payments processor and card issuer.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here


woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

Getting into tech

Article by Alexandra Morris, MD of national proptech firm, MakeUrMove 

woman coding on laptop, Code First GirlsAs managing director of national proptech firm, MakeUrMove, my biggest achievement in the tech world has been building a platform that delivered on its intention. 

I don’t come from a tech or business background, but I’ve always had a business and enterprise-focused mind. I grew up in a family business where my Mum was a serial entrepreneur and couldn’t turn down any opportunity. After school, I went into banking and then moved into conveyancing, before eventually joining a friend of mine on the journey to change the property sector using technology.

My journey in tech 

I started out as the first employee of MakeUrMove in 2008 as a customer service advisor. I then progressed to operations director and then managing director in June 2017. When I first started in the property industry, I spent most of my time astonished at the inefficiency of the services in the industry. There seemed to be an overwhelming amount of outdated and slow software which was clunky and built for the agent and didn’t have any thought or consideration for the end-users.

As managing director, it became my mission to improve the way we do things using technology without compromising on quality customer service. Ultimately, the core of my work is taking repetitive tasks and automating the service of building algorithms to enhance customer service. It took years for me to appreciate that I was in the world of ‘tech’, but the transition came naturally as I have a natural affinity to make processes easier for everyone.

With no prior knowledge or training in technology, I set my mind on understanding software and web development which has led us to where we are today - building award-winning solutions and delivering outstanding service for our customers.

One of the main challenges I faced getting into the industry was the ability to be taken seriously as a young woman in two industries (tech and property) which are both lacking in female leadership. I had to find ways to ensure my voice was heard on the board and within the market - it was tough and at times degrading but I know my worth and persevered to ensure my voice became heard.

Women in the tech industry 

There have been some changes over the last few years which indicate the tech industry is shifting from being male-dominated. There are more female founders and investors, and the knock-on effect is more women handling recruitment too. There are also plenty of female role models, who have carved out their own paths and are encouraging others to follow suit. It has never been about excluding women, but more about repositioning the way tech is seen and encouraging it as a career choice.

However, there are still barriers that women face when getting into tech. I think it starts with school. A framework needs to be created that ensures both girls and boys can learn and explore this career type, which would help create a smoother transition from GCSE, college and university into the workplace. Girls need to believe that tech is a good choice, fun, challenging, interesting, and last but not least, has endless opportunities for ongoing development.

How to get more women into tech 

Over the next few years, I hope to see a greater focus on attracting more women into the tech industry. The changes in education are a really important factor. Teaching has to be based on real-life career opportunities and application of the skills to the workplace. I’d like to see talks in schools delivered by women working in tech, or businesses centered on tech, to promote the whole range of careers available. Similarly, promoting these opportunities to working mothers and championing flexible roles in the industry.

Alongside this is a focus on reshaping the overall image of tech. Let’s showcase the variety of tech employees or leaders in the industry instead of the ‘dark room with headphones on for hours at a time’ misconception.

I’m dedicated to helping women who want to get into the world of business and tech through mentoring and working with an amazing network of super talented women promoting programmes focused on developing careers in tech for women.

In the last 12 months alone, I have worked with three different female founders at the startup stage, with my focus on communication and encouragement. I guide them through the pitfalls of pitching and encourage them to find the positive in constructive feedback, and not to dwell on feedback which can sometimes be disheartening. One of these founders had previously been told that they needed a male co-founder to be successful… you can guess my response to that!

I also work with students who are exploring entrepreneurial paths as part of their university courses and have helped with the Barclays Young Entrepreneur awards. There tends to be a significant drop-out between university and entering the tech industry, so my focus is on demonstrating to students that tech offers a rewarding career.

My advice for women looking to get into tech 

My advice for women who are looking to get into tech is to work out what interests you. In our digital world, tech is everywhere and spills over into pretty much every business or career. From building and managing IT systems, to software development, database management, project management, testing, design, chatbot and digital marketing.

There are also plenty of free online courses with the Open University, Future Learn or other universities that can help, but you don’t need to have a university degree or 10 year’s experience to be a part of the tech industry. All you need is an interest, focus and determination.

And when it comes to dealing with instances of inequality in the industry, don’t be put off. You have to believe you can do anything.

About the author

Alex MorrisAlexandra Morris is the managing director of national proptech firm, MakeUrMove.

Launched in 2008 as the UK’s first national online letting agency, MakeUrMove has worked with over 26,000 landlords and has dealt with more than 250,000 tenants. This award-winning and industry-defining Proptech firm provides a lettings platform and agency services for UK-based landlords, whilst helping tenants find good homes.

 


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here