Direct Line Group – Neha Pandey, Engineering Chapter Lead

We interviewed Neha Pandey, Engineering Chapter Lead at Direct Line Group on her thoughts and experiences on women in tech. 

1. What does your job role involve?

I am an Architect in Technology and my work involves providing the strategic direction for the company’s vision through innovative, simple but effective technology solutions.

I am also an Engineering Chapter Lead, and this involves coaching, mentoring and improving the engineering craft within DLG and recruiting new talent.

2. What made you choose a career in technology?

I have always been a problem solver and would look to simplifying things around me. I wanted a career where I would be stimulated for new ideas and where I can also figure out how to make those ideas work. Technology industry is all about coming up with solutions, aiming to make everything easier, faster, and better.  So, it was a perfect choice for me.

3. Did you study an IT or technology related subject at A-Level or University?

I have a B.Tech degree in Information Technology.

4. Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this role?

I started my career as a developer in a Product based technology company. I was responsible for developing different IT products using various programming languages, development technologies and methodologies.  It was promising to see the products being used by enterprises all over the world making their processes simpler and cost effective. Since then, I have held various technology and leadership roles ranging from Application Designer to Solution Consultant before becoming an Enterprise Architect.

5. Do you think there is a lack of females in the IT and tech sector?

I do think that there is certainly a gender imbalance in the IT and tech sector. Though in the last decade, the number of females in the IT industry has increased and it is very exciting to see more women coming on board. However, we are still a long way to go to bridge this gap. The female role models are very few and far between. I also feel there is a real lack of “technologist/engineer” Women in Tech, women who can write code or design. A lot more needs to be done to diversify the tech industry at many levels.

6. Do you find there is a stereotype that a career in IT or technology is just for men?

The industry is often labelled as “too nerdy or geeky” for women as if “nerds and geeks” are just men 😊

Another very common stereotype is for women not sticking around long at jobs due to family commitments. It is often overlooked that it is not an issue with women not wanting to continue their career, but lack of support from the industry to provide equal support to mums and dads, and flexible return to work arrangements.

Lack of role models at senior positions also creates a stereotype that there is no growth for women in the industry and alienates talented women from joining.

7. What would entice women to study technology related courses?

We need more women in senior roles across the industry to act as role models. More sponsorship and support from senior leadership are required to ensure job progression is equal. This will make the industry attractive for women, as currently very few apply or even consider a career in technology.

It is important to not be intimated by Maths and Science. There is a vast range of careers available within Technology from developer, analysts, data science, UX designer, tester, product management and so much more.  Apprenticeship programs are another great way to get into the Tech industry and gain some real experience.

Tech industry, especially women leaders, should tie up with schools and colleges to provide more exposure and insight into the tech industry, encouraging young females to take up technology courses,  and mentor them to transition into their first IT jobs.

One of the other great benefit, that is often overlooked, is the work flexibility that a tech job can offer from flexible hours to working from home options and many more. It provides a great opportunity to balance work and family life.

8. Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into tech?

Lack of women at work makes can often lead to discrimination, isolation and no inspiration. Even if there are women who may get into tech, they are more likely to quit sooner at companies that do not have a diverse, open culture due to lack of peer support.

Pay inequality and unequal growth opportunities also act as a huge barrier for women to not consider tech industry as an optimal career choice.

9. How could we encourage more women to start a career in tech?

We need more senior women leaders to act as role models

Providing mentorship both at schools/colleges and at workforce to encourage more females to take up STEM subjects and consider an array of technology careers.

Flexible work environment, equal growth opportunities and salaries regardless of gender to create a diverse, balanced, and open minded work culture will encourage and invite more women to join the industry.  

Return to work programs to allow women who had to take career break due to family commitments demonstrating progressing and inspiring mindset of the industry.

10. What advice would you give young women today at the start of their career?

Don’t be afraid. Take charge of your careers. Seek a mentor

Consider the full range of options available within the tech industry and follow the path that suits you most – there is so much beyond coding.

Tech industry is at the forefront of every innovation these days – be it medicines, smart devices at home or a really cool app on the internet. Be part of this innovation and disruption. There is no limit on how far you can take you career in Tech.