For an agency in the tech world, talking about Women in Tech® and their mission seems only fitting. The reason why? The numbers speak for themselves. There is an abundance of research to quote, but on this occasion we will focus on PwC UK’s research, which shows that 3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice, while only 27% of A-level and university age women were interested in careers in technology compared to 62% of men.
Thinking about Women in Tech, and the various roles, experiences, careers, thoughts and attitudes that make a difference, we turned to our inspiring women. We talked with Amy, our Head of UX and Design, and Martha, who is part of our development team, to shine a spotlight on what their roles involve, how they evolved to their current career and what their thoughts are on women and their rapport with the tech sector.
Amy, Head of UX and Visual Design
Amy’s role as Head of UX and Visual Design is multifaceted, and fundamental to Quba’s client work. “I get involved at the initial stages of projects, scoping out and understanding what the requirements are, and where their future vision is heading, as well as continued client-facing conversations and, at a management level, looking at how we are positioned strategically” says Amy about her experience of over 7 years in design leadership, highlighting that problem solving is one of the sources of joy in being a designer.
The role itself is broken up into designing better user experiences and steering the visual design process - striking a balance between what the user wants, what the business aims to achieve and how to create a usable and engaging modern experience.
Talking about Amy’s career evolution, she recalls professional experiences where she might have been the only girl in the office, an imbalance that she was aware of, but which was never a source of negativity thanks to being surrounded by good, supportive people.
Bringing the discussion closer to Women in Tech, she comments: “There is a responsibility for people who act as a role model in any industry, but particularly in technology, to lead by example. There is disparity in pay and representation, but if you enable it, you are only making it what it is. Whereas if you create the right environment and recognise the benefit of diverse representation, then you act as advocate for more progressive change. You’re creating a new sense of what is acceptable… I’m driven forward by the positive actions of others that I see happen around me in Tech, so it’s important that I am able to use the platform of a leadership role, to do the same.”
Amy’s experience in the tech world has been an interesting one. Talking about the awareness and curiosity that children develop at a young age, as well as the initiatives to bring science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into the attention of kids, she shares her thoughts: “When I was at that age (4-5 years old) the internet didn’t exist and then when I started university my job as a digital designer didn’t really exist in the way it does now. You could study website design, but Dreamweaver was a far cry from where we are today (thank goodness). The paths that our children will take when they are starting to choose a career don’t necessarily exist today, the world won’t be the same by then, so they need to create those roles and opportunities for themselves. If kids see women or people from diverse backgrounds set a good standard, it gives them some confidence, it breaks down a barrier I guess.”
Shifting focus to her experience with Quba, she shares that the interview process took place while on maternity leave; “People are feeling more able to apply for jobs when they are pregnant, that’s amazing. That you can just say: I don’t want to work here anymore, and I am about to have a baby, so I will create opportunities somewhere else and feel secure doing so. The fact that that’s possible is something that was taboo not a very long time ago.”
Reflecting on what can be said to inspire girls and women with their sights set on the field, Amy responds: “You shouldn’t feel limited by the boundaries that you think are there. If you are in the right environment and supportive workplace and feel that you have the right representation, then you are enabled to be the person in tech that you want to be. If you don’t feel like this is the case, then vote with your feet. Companies are privileged to have good talent and will only benefit from fostering a culture centred around growth.”
Martha, Middleweight Developer
Martha works as a Developer, a role that wasn’t the plan from the get-go. “I actually did a chemistry degree, so I never originally intended to go into tech” she says, adding that it was through her degree that she got exposure to coding. Taking up a free online coding course, she realised she was keener towards the computer side of things. “You get to see the tangible site appear as you are writing code, that’s quite a satisfying thing – that’s what drew me to it.”
The next step was on the job training with her first role. The next step in her career – luckily for us – was with Quba, a role she has been in just shy of 2 years. “We do both project work where we create new websites based on the client’s requirements. We also do enhancements to a site, or we might fix things that are broken – whatever suits the client’s needs.” She says, describing the role.
Discussing the link between women in the tech sector and the preconception that it’s a male dominated role, Martha shares her own experience: “I was aware that it’s a male dominated role and it did play in the back of my head. You do hear that anything STEM is seen as a traditionally male role.”
Martha’s approach was to carry on with business as usual, regardless. “For me it has been a perceived challenge – more in my head than an actual tangible issue.” She says, before adding jokingly: “But obviously, as you know, I am the only female developer so it might be there are other people that are put off by it being male dominated. Hopefully that’s starting to change! “
To wrap things up, we asked Martha to share her message for girls and women contemplating STEM roles:
“Give it your best shot. There is no reason why women can’t get involved in these careers. There are plenty of online courses if you would like to get stuck in, lots of them are free and there are great tutorials around. (…) It is male dominated but it’s changing, it is increasingly welcoming and the more people that try the more it will change. Don’t let preconceptions stop you from doing something you want to do!”
If the stories from our team sparked an interest, then it might be worth browsing through Girls who code, or BIMA Programmes, offering a range of activities to get involved with!