We interviewed Iona Vincent, Software Engineer at Onfido on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
- What does your job role involve?
I am a Software Engineer at Onfido working in the team responsible for the extraction of data from documents. I get to work across multiple programming languages solving interesting and exciting problems.
- What made you choose a career in technology?
It was completely by accident! I have always loved maths and really enjoyed studying it for three years. Sadly none of the traditional career prospects for mathematicians excited me, but I loved the problem solving and more creative side of my degree. Having grown up surrounded by art, I was looking for a way to use maths that was not just calculating numbers on a screen. This lead me to do a Masters in computer graphics, learning how to apply maths to 3D modelling and animation.The course was my first experience of coding and I had to teach myself C++ alongside my studies to complete assignments. From there I took a job working at a visual effects studio in London, writing tools for new effects and working on the systems they use to move and keep track of the huge scenes they are working on.
After a couple of years, I decided to transition into a more traditional software engineering role. In the visual effects world, a lot of projects are fairly short-lived and have a small user base, because they might be specific to one big film. Whilst this was fun, I realised I wanted to work on projects that were at the heart of the business and reach a wider audience.
- Did you study an IT or technology related subject at A-Level or University?
I studied Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Art at A-Level and Maths at Undergraduate – a combination that fed quite naturally into the Masters I ended up doing. That said though, the only programming experience I’d had before my Masters was a very short Python course at University where we wrote the classic Fibonacci number generator, and not much else!
- Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this role?
Prior to my first job post university, the only work experience I’d had was in architectural and advertising firms, so not all that relevant to technology! Since then though I have worked in a couple of software development roles before starting at Onfido.
- Do you think there is a lack of females in the IT and tech sector?
I think its fair to say there is a reasonable way to go here.
- Do you find there is a stereotype that a career in IT or technology is just for men?
I think its slowly starting to change. Certainly the companies that I’ve been fortunate enough to work at have put a lot of time and thought into everything from how people are treated and communicate to pay structures and progression frameworks to try and be as inclusive as possible.
- What would entice women to study technology related courses?
Role models are a great starting point. Whilst technology companies have senior engineers and C level teams made up almost exclusively of men I think it’s reasonable to expect that many women will be put off. Opening students eyes to the wide variety of jobs actually out there in the technology sector would be really helpful too. I certainly wasn’t aware of even a fraction of the possibilities whilst at school!
- Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into tech?
I don’t believe there are any physical barriers, and in fact, a lot of companies are actively trying to recruit women. However the stereotype of technology being a man’s game lingers somewhat, and I think this puts people off.
- How could we encourage more women to start a career in tech?
Get students excited by the wide variety of fascinating uses of tech.