Sounds like a fairly straightforward question, and I guess it depends upon how you define what it means to be a “Woman In Tech”!
At Digital Wonderlab 50% of our workforce are female, a stark contrast to the 19% average in UK technology businesses. Probably because of the large gender gap across the wider technology sector, we often hear the phrase “women in tech”. But who is she and what does she do?
As we celebrated International Women's Day (#IWD2021) this week, I asked these very questions to women at the Wonderlab together with what it meant to them to be “a woman in tech”.
I was curious to know who everyone felt came into the category, and what it meant to them to be termed this way as it is a phrase you hear more and more – whether you work in the Tech sector or not.
Electrical Engineers? Data Scientists? Development Coders? This is the type of response you would get from many people when you asked the question, a few ideas of roles that fit into a very fast paced and progressive collection of industries, more often than not driven by technology to a large extent. But it seems that this is changing as the world of technology evolves with incredible speed too.
How do we get more women involved in technology?
Whilst we can rejoice that there are more female coders and women breaking through as successful tech entrepreneurs, the overall numbers of women actually recorded as working in technology remains low. A recent study suggested that only 1 in 6 tech specialists in the UK are women, and this moves to one in ten at a leadership level.
How do we continue to inspire the younger generations to aspire to making strong professional contributions in the digital era, and pursue leadership roles in this sector ?
“Being a woman working in technology is not just about coding, it means so much more! I think it really needs to change during school and become more meaningful at this stage of our learning” offers Abby Boyd, our Systems Analyst recently joining the team here at Digital Wonderlab.
She adds “It seemed quite terrifying to me when I was younger – you think it is about being a developer and that is it. Whilst that is a very credible career, there are many more options for a varied life working in technology.”
This was where others in the team agreed. With daughters and indeed sons currently studying ICT as part of their educational curriculum, it was felt that maybe its time to open up the learning territory to be more than binary code, and really highlight the extent to which our lives are enriched through technology.
“We are very fortunate at Digital Wonderlab to work with some life changing organisations and seeing the difference technology can make to many people. In comparison, I hear about what sounds like some fairly antiquated elements to the syllabus at school, maybe this needs to be more forward thinking and increasingly aligned to our real world?” suggested Rachel Passmore, office manager.
There have been some great conversations recently between Industry and academia through establishments like Bath Spa University in our locality, where there are strong intentions to establish even closer links to help benefit both students and employers. Universities and businesses are working in partnerships to really make a difference to people’s career opportunity and providing the support that our economy needs for the future.
“There are many groups now aimed at women to learn more about technology, once seen as a very male dominated space. Not only have things like coding academies opened up to support roles in development, there are also meet up groups and some great courses really helping people to understand the diversity of professions available” concluded Abby, someone who has had some good experiences of networking within these facilities.
Is it all in the definition?
The digital world has changed irrevocably in the past year, and with it the understanding for many more people just how broad the technological horizon is - the realisation dawns just how much technology is behind almost everything we do and encounter in our everyday lives.
So, are we finally seeing the once narrow-minded view of “women in tech” opening up to include so much more and offering a real future opportunity for a career? Is it fundamentally down to what and how we perceive “Women in Tech”? After all, it is a community of people which is so much larger than you often think it would be.
Certainly driving innovation in hardware and software products is pretty fundamental to our day to day life – but the tech industry is greater in its population than programmers and devs, it encompasses graphic designers, HR specialists, project managers, marketing professionals and even sales roles being a few examples of what it can mean to be a woman working in technology. Opting for any one of these positions in the tech sector will bring unique opportunities to learn and expand your intellectual horizons and career prospects.
Whatever path you decide to take, a journey into technology seems to be a fulfilling and fascinating one given the experiences of the team here. You can be part of developing cutting edge products and solutions which are set to entertain people, improve the environment, keep us all connected and even save lives.
How can women ensure success in a digital world?
Seemingly it doesn’t matter so much about your title, it is the mindset and approach you bring alongside your skillsets to a business which means you add to its success within the tech space. Many women work in several different sectors and specialise in a functional role, which can very easily transfer to the world of technology.
“It comes down to some key fundamentals which centre around good behaviours and core values, all of which are truly embedded in our culture here” says Kim Hannon, project manager in the team.
She continues “When you allow yourself to be open minded and consciously curious about the why in what you are doing, it helps to see the possible outcomes you can achieve. I love the chance to get creative and share ideas and explore how we can bring things to life through technology. That’s what makes me get out of bed each day”.
The more women and men alike look to inspire, enable and educate in the sector on the possibilities of technology in a positive and ethical way at a young age, the greater the opportunity we have to encourage more gender equality in the future.
Whilst the question “what does it mean to be a woman in tech” will probably continue to provoke a variety of different answers in others, for us at Digital Wonderlab it means solving problems and enabling inspirational organisations to deliver greater impact through digital in a fast paced, creative, and highly rewarding environment.
Who wouldn’t want to be a woman in tech!