Women in tech? We need far more!
There are an increasing number of us in the tech and digital sector, but it stubbornly remains a male-dominated industry. Asked to picture a software developer working away at a busy desk and the vast majority of our population would still envisage a man in front of a screen and not a woman.
Things are changing – but not nearly quickly enough.
Like many other women in tech, my journey into the sector began at an early age. I was always far more interested and intrigued by what were seen as boys’ toys, and not ‘traditional’ girls’ toys. So I was also found playing with toy cars or Lego rather than dolls or prams.
When I was about seven, I saw my dad playing what I thought was a really cool PC game called Doom (not so impressive now, but back then it certainly was!)
I wasn’t just interested in the game and watching my dad play, I was interested in the amazing technology behind Doom and other computer games. I wanted to understand the technology that could be used by millions of people – like my dad – around the world.
I suppose my interest was inevitable as both my parents were software engineers so I was quite used to tech talk, and I shared their passion for computers from a very early age.
I suppose my mum was a particular inspiration and I could see no barriers to women working in the tech sector as that’s exactly what she was doing.
It was no surprise to either my mum or dad that when I graduated from school I decided that I wanted to study computer-related subjects for my higher education at college in Sofia, Bulgaria.
And that is how I’ve found myself in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
I studied a BSc (Hons) in Computer and Networking Technologies at Northumbria University, where men made up a very large proportion of my classes. I found this quite surprising as because of my background and upbringing, I’d just never considered the possibility that studying any form of technology was a male subject – AND IT ISN’T!
Later, when I studied an MSc in Cloud Computing at another University I was the only woman in my class.
In those years of study, I learned alongside some fantastic people. However, on occasion there were opinions shared in my presence such as, “some women struggle to reach the required standard in technology” and that “women can get preferential treatment and achieve things easier for being a minority in the sector”. In reality, neither of these were true and I was keen to demonstrate the exact opposite of this.
I am now working at a well-respected and admired tech company, one of the best in the region so I KNOW I am good enough – and so do my colleagues. And during my studying, rather than getting preferential treatment, I knew I just had to work hard in order to prove to myself and to others that I did have a future in tech.
Sadly, I know a lot of women have had difficulties entering our profession and many intelligent, bright and ambitious women will have chosen not to work in the sector, scared of the possible reaction from their male colleagues.
What we need is more women role models. Women who are good at their job in the tech sector and are respected by their colleagues. Women who will be the living proof that a career in technology is not just for men, and that ability is the only thing that matters.
Technology is about the future – and that future should be one which will never discriminate or show any sign of gender bias. There have been positive changes, but we must all do more.