Woman in Tech | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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Woman in Tech

It’s no secret that across the UK, working in IT & technology is still not yet a level playing field. The current number of working women in technology is significantly lower than most other UK sectors, with only 17% of those working in Technology being female [1]. On top of this, only 7% of students taking computer science A-level courses are female, and only half of those girls that study IT & Tech subjects at school go into a job in the same field. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the number of women in technology has been on a steady decline for years [2].

For those women who do successfully begin a career in Tech, there are still challenges to face. According to an article published in the Independent (relating to a survey of 2,000 women working in the tech industry), more than half (51%) have been told they are “too pretty” to work in the sector. Further still, 58 per cent said they’d been directly asked or overheard someone asking if their mood was related to their “time of the month”, and a third said they’d been on the receiving end of a male colleague asking: “Sorry, am I being too technical for you?” [3]. Is it any shock then that the turnover rate for women in tech is more than twice as high as for men, with 24% of women who leave taking a non-technical job elsewhere [4].

But is it all gloom and doom?

At Eyecademy, we’re lucky that over 40% of our workforce are female, and that our Head of Service Jane Marshall is passionate about encouraging and inspiring more women in tech. Therefore, we thought we’d ask some of our own female team members what their experiences are of the industry as a whole:

Mhairi (Technical Consultant)

“Most of my personal experiences as a woman in tech have been rubbish. Outnumbered, underestimated and the feeling that I must work twice as hard to prove myself.

Despite that, I have been a coding geek since I was wee, before I was even taught it in secondary school. I love it mostly for the problem-solving aspect and seeing something you’ve built run successfully. It made sense to choose a career path that I enjoyed, was good at, was future proof and made decent money!

Two of my female inspirations are:

  • Ada Lovelace (First computer programmer)
  • Margaret Heafield (“She symbolises that generation of unsung women who helped send humankind into space,” said President Barack Obama”)

Despite a negative journey so far, I am currently doing a job I love with a great company who treats the all the team equally, who also happens to have with my first female boss in the tech industry! Proving that it was worth the journey in the end!”

Gail (Technical Consultant)

“I really wasn’t initially attracted to working in technology, until I figured out that it is both based firmly on logic but also allows for a great deal of creativity! For me, it incorporates a great variety of skills that I enjoy.

“Most of what I have learned has been a result of knowing what I wanted to do and then figuring out how to do it. Before I started learning more, I would sometimes become frustrated waiting for other people to do things for me (or sometimes even being told that it ‘couldn’t be done’), and I refused to believe them. There is almost always a way to do things with technology, and its fun trying to figure out a way to do it and then really satisfying when you get it to work!

“The challenges I have faced mostly relate to my own confidence. Early on in my career when I encountered people with strong programming or extensive data networking experience, for example, I sometimes felt inferior. However, I have learnt over time that the area of ‘technology’ is so vast and is developing so rapidly that no-one can ever know everything. There will always be a specialist who knows more than you about something.

“I would say to others interested in pursuing a career in technology, especially any women out there, to try not to feel overwhelmed. As long as you do each job to the best of your ability and you are constantly striving to be the best you can be by learning and asking questions, then you can have confidence that you are doing a good job”.

Joanna (Business Development Manager)

“After 5 years in the construction industry, being a female in tech is a doddle!

“Joking aside, I have never thought of myself as a ‘women in…’ as I quickly realised that people respond more to attitude, personality and work ethic more than gender. My biggest learning though was not to pretend I know it all when starting out and don’t be afraid to ask questions especially to those you may feel are judging you on any aspect, be it gender, age or appearance as it creates a level playing field and I find it relaxes all parties. I just look for opportunities that interest me, challenge me and try to be myself.”

Lauren (Business Development Manager)

“If I’m being honest, I didn’t even realise there was a problem at first regarding diversity in the tech sector.

“Fortunately, enough for the first few years of my Sales career, I worked with such a mixed bunch (gender, sexual orientation, race, favourite flavour of crisps - all different and equally fabulous). My experience of working in the Tech industry started here at Eyecademy. The lack of female influence in the sector as a whole never dawned on me until my LinkedIn feed was bombarded with posts about it. When I think back, the reason I didn’t consider it as an issue was pretty simple - Eyecademy already had a number of highly intelligent, well respected female consultants on their books. When it came to projects, both male and female colleagues work side by side, with everyone on a level field contributing ideas and solving problems.

“In my naivety, I assumed this was the case for all. But when I dug a little deeper, the rose-tinted glasses started to crack, and it became blatantly obvious that Eyecademy was not the norm in terms of diversity, in fact, far from it:

“The facts don’t lie:

  • From 1980 to 2010, 88 percent of all IT patents were by male-only invention teams, while 2 percent were by female-only invention teams [2]. So essentially, the technology being created for a widely varying and diverse population is formed by a generally homogeneous group. Not ideal for users!
  • 12% of engineers at Silicon Valley start-ups are women, with only 11% of executive positions at Silicon Valley companies are held by women [5].

“So, I’m very pleased to say I work for an organisation that doesn’t put up barriers or assess people’s capability on whether or not they can walk in a pair of high heels. It’s about time the rest of the industry does the same!” 

As Marie, Gail, Joanna & Lauren have shared, some of their experiences are positive, and others are not so much. However, the one thing that they all have in common is that there are companies out there like ourselves who do create positive environments for women in Tech. Working on an equal footing, our female team members provide essential synergy and innovation to our project teams.

Despite the landscape looking bleak on the surface, more women in tech means more female role models for young girls at the right time in their education. As more opportunities open up for women to learn key leading technological skills, we hope that all students in future will want to code like a girl! 

[1] - https://www.womenintech.co.uk/

[2] - https://www.ncwit.org/sites/default/files/resources/womenintech_facts_fullreport_05132016.pdf

[3] – https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/women/women-tech-industry-sexism-survey-cw-jobs-fern-brady-a9043611.html

[4] - https://www.ncwit.org/sites/default/files/resources/womenintech_facts_fullreport_05132016.pdf

[5] - https://www.businessinsider.com/women-hold-just-11-of-executive-positions-at-silicon-valley-tech-companies-2015-1?r=US&IR=T

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