Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.Article by Clara Nobre, Head of Wise Business

For a long time, tech was associated with a bro culture: pizza, beer, blokeish in-jokes. And this was not without truth. Too many companies had a bro culture, too many companies allowed hiring teams to hire people (men) in their own image.

Thankfully, times are changing – most companies have matured and realised they need a far more inclusive culture and the old ‘bro-centric’ ways are not healthy.

Yet tech, particularly in areas like coding, remains male dominated. There is a need for more women to enter the industry. Employers realise that a gender imbalance is not only morally wrong, but also harmful to their work. A monoculture, particularly an overwhelmingly male one, tends to lead very little different thinking and has a direct impact on the sort of products that are built.

To correct this, employers are looking for more women (and people from all sorts of different backgrounds).  Of course, there are structural reasons for the current imbalance – but there is also a huge amount of opportunity for women looking to enter the sector. For women seeking to enter the tech industry, then, my first advice is to go for it. With businesses looking to change their gender profile, there is a huge keenness for more women to apply for roles.

Prior experience in ‘tech’ is often not necessary. Many of the skills gained in other industries are transferable. Tech companies still need accountants, marketing experts, lawyers. And, if you’re looking for a more directly ‘tech’ role, then skills are often transferable – product managers, who direct a product’s development, need the same skills found in many other project management roles. Research skills are valued across roles. Most of all, tech companies value people who are able to solve problems and think independently.

What’s more, most ‘tech’ companies are actually in a more specific industry. Wise, for instance, is a ‘tech’ business – but we’re also a financial company, so we hire plenty of people with a background in ‘traditional’ financial companies who swap their suits for branded t-shirts. Your current employer may not be ‘tech’, but your experience may well strongly suit a tech company.

While plenty of opportunity exists, it’s important to find the right opportunity. Most importantly, consider the type of employer you want to work for. As with any industry, cultures vary greatly by company.

Many tech companies have the benefit of being young, even if they’re large, and so have cultures that are far more autonomous, allowing their teams to work quickly, independently and creatively. The best companies truly understand product, and what’s required to create a great product – the worst don’t, and instead create bureaucratic cultures in which work becomes slow and muddled. Also, some tech companies can be too founder-focused, in which the founder treats the business as their own personal fiefdom and micromanages work to the point of insanity. Needless to say, such a business is not a good place to work.

At Wise, we work hard to create a culture that is independent and autonomous. This has been our approach since we first began, with our business initially being divided into four teams – one focused on speed, one transparency, another convenience and one on cost – with each team being given the licence to spend what they want, build what they and hire who they want. Personally, this has allowed me to find a lot of freedom and it has meant that I am able to be valued for my work, whereas more bureaucratic organisations can judge employees more on perception, which opens the door for a huge amount of conscious and unconscious bias. We are working hard to address our own gender imbalance, but still have plenty of work to do.

Indeed, tech still has a long way to go to address its gender imbalance. A lot of deep structural work is needed, especially in skills like engineering and coding, to make change. However, there is also a huge opportunity in the sector for women. Many employers are trying to hire more women, and many skills and experiences can fit strongly with a tech company. So, if you’re considering entering tech, now is a great time to do so.