We interviewed Laura Antuña, Software Engineer at BBC on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
My day-to-day job mainly consists of developing features for a new version of the Broadcasting Control System used by BBC Wales. That includes writing back-end code and creating intuitive user interfaces. The job also involves understanding driver specifications, writing documentation and performing code reviews, all whilst following the Agile methodology.
My favourite subject in school was always Mathematics. When the time came to decide what degree to pursue at University, I started researching areas that would allow me to make a practical use of my skills. At first, I looked at more traditional occupations, such as Civil Engineering, until my Dad spoke with me about a degree in Computer Science, which I had never come across. Upon research, I found out that not only the theory around the domain was heavily based on maths and logic, but also that the tech industry was growing and offered promising career opportunities. These combined factors convinced me to enrol. As soon as I started my undergrad studies I was fascinated by the area and had no doubt that I would pursue a career in tech.
Yes, I graduated in Computer Science at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, in Brazil. During my course I was awarded a scholarship to study for one year at the University of Bristol.
I have been working in the tech sector since my first internship as a web developer during my third year at university. After graduating, I went on to explore my options in various industries where technology plays an important role. I have since then worked as a Software Engineer within the sectors of Retail, Electronic Design Automation, Finance and, currently, Broadcasting.
There is certainly a lack of females in IT, especially in more technical and senior roles. Since university I have always been one of the few (if not the only) female Software Engineers in the room. The proportion tends to be low across all roles and experience levels.
Movies, TV series, news, and even advertisements of tech related products (for adults and children) tend to present men as the main creators and consumers of technology. This, combined with a real lack of representation of woman working in the IT and technology sector, do reinforce a (false) stereotype that women are not suited to a career in technology.
I believe the best way to entice women to study technology related courses is by breaking the stereotype mentioned above. From an early age, girls should be introduced to the technological aspects of our society as much as boys currently are. This can be accomplished by encouraging them to get more involved with electronics, games and school activities to develop a natural curiosity towards STEM subjects.
The technology sector is still very male-dominated, which can discourage many women to start a career in this area for fear of not fitting in. There are not many female role models that are featured in the media, which makes it harder for women to aspire working in this sector.
By promoting events in schools and universities where woman from different roles can talk about their experiences and pathways to reach different career goals – it can be quite overwhelming when trying to decide where and how to specialise. If female students get more exposure about how interesting and rewarding working in tech can be, they will definitely be more inclined to consider following a career in the area.