We interviewed Jenny Olley, Software Developer at Madgex on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
My job involves developing and maintaining software for Madgex, a company specialising in job board technology. Working with software requires a lot of analytical and problem solving skills, as well as a lot of patience!
Since school I’d always been interested in computers and the web in general, so a career in technology seemed like the perfect fit for me. I was also attracted to the idea of working in an industry that was fast moving and always changing.
I did focus mainly on IT in college, but I chose not to go to university in favour of getting a job instead. In hindsight I think I would have benefitted from getting a degree, if only to give me a bit more confidence.
Before starting this role I worked in some more general IT related jobs, then I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to train as a software developer. I don’t think it’s an opportunity a lot of people get without any sort of qualification or formal training behind them, so to be given the chance was really exciting.
I think if you were to look at a lot of IT and tech companies then you would see an obvious lack of women, especially in senior/board level roles and specialised technical roles. I attend a local monthly meetup for developers and if that’s anything to go by then women are definitely in the minority!
I would say there’s a stereotype that it’s predominantly a male industry, but I wouldn’t say it’s “just for men”. We’re seeing an increasing number of women applying for technical roles in our company, which is fantastic.
I personally think that getting kids interested in technology at a younger age is a great way to start. Having worked alongside a few work experience students in the past, I’m always fascinated to hear about how technology and IT subjects are taught in their schools and especially how they’re being encouraged to get into programming. This sort of early education and mentoring shows girls that computers aren’t just for boys, they’re for everyone!
I think that a lot of tech companies these days are forward thinking enough to not base their hiring decisions on gender, but I guess some of the problem lies with women not putting themselves forward for roles if they feel like they won’t fit in with a largely male culture or they won’t be taken seriously. I’ve had a few experiences myself of not feeling like my ideas and opinions aren’t as good or as valuable as a male counterpart’s and that’s definitely something that can be disheartening.
I don’t think there’s any one solution to this… Obviously things like flexible working and family friendly policies are a huge help in attracting women into tech, but they’re by no means the biggest part of the puzzle. I think it’s more about giving women the confidence to know that they can enter into a male dominated industry and be just as good as anyone else there without feeling intimidated. Seeing more and more women taking leading roles in big tech companies is also really encouraging, so it feels like things are heading in the right direction.