We interviewed Claire Reckless, Test Lead at MoneySupermarket on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
I’m responsible for the testers working across two of our tech teams. So my job incorporates line management, helping to recruit and grow our testers, looking at how we can improve our testing and processes, as well as pitching in and getting involved in hands on testing when I can.
I fell into it initially, and found I really enjoyed it. There are so many different roles in the technology sector and within even a single role the scope of your job can be fairly wide and I love that I’ve been able to do different things. Tech is always changing and moving on and as a result there’s always something new to learn.
All my studying of technology has been on the job, though I’ve completed various testing related certifications, as well as other training courses and self study. There’s a good tech community in Manchester and the software testing community in particular is a great thing to be part of and really supports and motivates me to keep learning.
I started in an internal tech support team 17 years ago, then moved into a software support team which was mainly telephone based. Even though I’d worked with developers I didn’t realise that testing was an actual job that you could do. Seeing what was involved made me think I might enjoy it, so 12 years ago I moved into a test team and I’ve worked for a number of different companies in testing roles before moving to MoneySuperMarket in June 2018.
I think there is definitely still an imbalance, but it feels like it’s improved since I started in tech and I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of amazing women. It’s good to see more companies trying to recruit a more diverse range of people.
I think there definitely used to be, and I still hear of places where sadly that stereotype plays out. The ‘brogrammer’ image perpetuated by some doesn’t help. It’s great to see more initiatives springing up to squash this stereotype though.
Creating an environment at colleges and universities where women feel welcomed, like they belong, and are supported to succeed. Showing them the wide variety of options there are in tech, that they don’t necessarily have to be sat at a computer all day.
There can be yes. Many women have a fear of not being good enough compared to their colleagues, so there’s a psychological barrier. If they don’t have a tech background or education they often think they can’t go into a tech role which doesn’t need to be the case. Many skills taught in social sciences or humanities degrees for example are absolutely transferrable to tech, I’ve worked with some great testers and developers with degrees in a variety of subjects, or no degree at all, or who have transferred from a completely different career. Women are also, sadly, still discriminated against in some cases, or on the receiving end of other people’s biases, so it’s much less obvious, but this can put them off.
We need to make girls aware at a younger age of the different kinds of technology related roles they could go into. I think it’s also important we see more women in tech speaking publicly about the roles they do, their successes and challenges. It can be really inspiring to see ‘someone like you’ doing a course or particular job or at a company.
Don’t be afraid to fail, or to make mistakes, it’s how we learn. Get out of your comfort zone sometimes and take some risks, it might open up some great opportunities, don’t be afraid to give it a go! A career path might not be linear, you might take some sideways moves, maybe you’ll go back to go forward sometimes, and that’s ok too. Find your support network, and realise others are experiencing the same things as you.
I’d also recommend owning the fact you are a woman in tech and share your story on how you got there by using your voice to encourage other women to consider a career in technology. At Moneysupermarket we have done quite a few things. We’ve partnered up with Whalley Range Girls School and have done a few talks and workshops. Also, we are annual sponsors of the Manchester Digital Skills Festival where we give advice and tips to those considering a career in Tech. I was also part of a group delivering a workshop on Ada Lovelace day at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester which was a great experience.