We interviewed Karen Weider, Director at Weider Web Solutions on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
Past: I was a software and electric systems engineer. I designed, built and tested electronics, test rigs and avionics software for aerospace projects such as the Airbus A380 and A400m, EH101 (US presidential helicopter) and Lynx helicopter. Also for the Mars lander Beagle2. I also worked on software for military defence systems.
Currently: I am a consultant in web development and digital marketing consultant after going to back to college to study business and marketing for 2 years. I help small businesses build better websites by helping them understand their data to make improvements and by using digital marketing strategies such as paid advertising and SEO to get them more visible online.
I love solving problems and have always been fascinated with software. I don’t see problems, I just look for solutions.
I have studies electrical engineering for 4 years at college. HNC. While I was working as a railway apprentice.
I then studied astrophysics at university.
Then I studied HNC business studies.
I was a railway apprentice from the age of 16 where I was able to gain a wide range of experience in electronics, engineering, design, installation and maintenance.
I was the only female in my career on the railway which spanned 6 years. I was one of 3 girls in my year at university.
When I worked in industry following my graduation I did meet other female engineers finally but they were few and far between. To this day, 3 of them remain my best friends. But there is a definite shortage.
I think there is a big stereotype but it is slowly changing.
To make the environment less intimidating. I spent a year full time studying hands on engineering, such as welding, using lathes and milling machines and as the only female I was subject to a lot of harassment. I had no support and event lecturers joined in. I think an understanding of harassment and having a policy that stops it immediately is very important. Taking tech into schools and explaining what is possible would help. I volunteered in the ‘Wise’ bus when I was at school. Women into science and engineering. And this gave me a good feel for technology. My school was il equipped to deal with someone like me who wanted to work in technology. For work experience I asked to work in garage but I was placed in a shop selling parts for cars. If more girls were aware from school age and encouraged to follow their desires I think more would study.
I found my only barriers were obvious to me when I was trying to get my first job. I had many interviews. I found the older men who interviewed treated me very differently to the younger men. I think the older generation were more difficult to convince that I could do the job. While the younger generation had a much more open mind.
Show the range of projects and careers that are available. Show interviews and behind the scenes type of things.