Leading the way for women in technology

My interest in computers began from a young age and I wanted to understand how they work. Curiosity took me into choosing a programming language course at high school, which further affirmed my interest and so I decided to study it at university: I have a Computer Science degree from the University of Sussex and obtained an MSc in Software Engineering at University College London.

I am a contractor, but I accepted the job at Forbidden Technologies because I was excited by the innovative technologies in the video editing solutions they produce, such as Forscene and eva. I am currently working on the development of Captevate, an online video editor that will allow consumers to upload and edit their videos online in quick and easy steps.

The R&D department at Forbidden have been very welcoming and supportive in having a female developer in the team for the first time. Working in a male dominated environment can be challenging, as not all men are used to the idea of having a female developer and may, at times, doubt her skills. As a result, a woman may need to wait for her work to speak up for itself, as it can be difficult to make yourself heard. I am glad my colleagues at Forbidden don’t have that prejudice, and it has been a joy working with them for the past few months. From my personal experience, I think it is important at the start of her career for a female developer to be in a healthy work environment, so that she can decide if she likes or dislikes her job based on the work and not how she is treated.

 

In the last 4+ years, I have worked in different industries mainly developing web applications. I am a ‘Fullstack’ developer who works mostly on Java and JavaScript, but I also have experience with other programming languages, frameworks and tools. I have a holistic interest in software engineering, applying Agile development practices.

I have to admit that during my career so far, I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by exceptional managers and colleagues who support the diversity in their teams, and I have never felt inadequate compared to male colleagues. Inequality definitely exists in the numbers of women versus men who choose to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers, but also who stay in this field. It seems many women are put off pursuing a career in technology because of the “horror” stories and the number of inequality statistics – like how women with the same qualifications and experience will not rise as quickly up the career ladder as male peers (see this article on the ‘position gap’).

 

I have attended a few private events and “hackathons” held by big technology companies, such as Facebook. These events can be helpful, as you get to meet similar minded women and it is a good opportunity to share experiences and knowledge, as well as for networking. Many of these events also give attendees the opportunity to present on a technical topic, which is a good way to build confidence and establish yourself in the industry.

In order to improve the figures for women in technology, I think a better understanding from both women and men that programming is not only a male job, would go a long way. Stereotypes, such as, programming is only for “geeks”, “nerds” and the “super smart”, as well as connotations of liking computers makes you a “weirdo”, need to go. Many people also believe that learning the science of computers is “difficult”, but that’s also not true. Programming is actually a very creative, challenging and fun job that can be done by anyone who has the passion for it. The right education on women in technology and successful examples could change all these labels and encourage more females to join and strive for successful careers in this field.

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Ashton

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