We interviewed Cassy Calvert, Regional Portfolio Director at Sogeti on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
I help organisations build quality into their software and applications through Quality Assurance, delivery of service, and use of accelerators and tooling. I have worked with numerous clients including a large UK retail org, helping clients to succeed in delivering enterprise scale systems and digital transformation.
That means…I am responsible for the running of a portfolio of client accounts, this means ensuring that the Delivery is on track, and that we are building in Quality into the delivery. Managing the commercials and financial aspects of accounts and building relationships with the client to ensure that we can foster a good strong partnership with them. Finally, but most importantly – ensuring the teams are getting the support they need and enabling them to perform the best they can.
I was assimilated into the borg at the age of 3, I had no choice. Lol!
Back to reality, I was part of the generation where computers became more common place growing up and as a child my parents bought us a ZX Spectrum!!! I found that whilst my sister preferred the games, I was trying to code!
I was very curious about how things worked in software and was seeing what happened when I pressed this button, or changed that setting, or entered data so fast that I was quicker than the computer (it was a long time ago 😉). In my first job out of school, I was working as a clerk, I was asked not to use the PC and was only allowed to use the dummy terminal if necessary because I was constantly testing what would happen under different scenarios, finding issues and generating fatal errors. Not long after, I found that there was a job called software tester – seems fate intervened!
I did a Computing GCSE, A Level, and started an IT degree at university. I completed 2 years of my degree before leaving – it was very development orientated and I knew I didn’t want to do this as a career, plus I was one of two females of an intake of over 100 – it was lonely, and the university didn’t make it easy for the women on the course, it was very male dominated.
Before joining Sogeti, I had worked in an Agile Consultancy, a couple of product companies, and a software house – all in the testing practice, working up from Junior Tester to a Head of Test role before moving into more Delivery focussed roles.
If you had asked me this a decade ago, I would have said yes, however – I don’t believe this is the case any longer. With the advent of equal pay, diversity, and inclusion programmes, this has helped the industry become more balanced.
I do think that there are certain roles that lend themselves more to females and conversely males – for example, in my experience there are more males in development than females, but I’m not suggesting that’s a bad thing. We should play to our strengths regardless of gender.
Within the industry not so much now, but in years gone by yes – I remember being the only female in the room on many occasions, but I rarely felt any negative feelings towards me.
Outwardly more so – it still makes me laugh that family will defer to asking the men the technical questions regarding how does Alexa work etc, even where they have no IT experience!! But I don’t take it personally.
I genuinely believe that girls are not excited by tech – and I say girls for a reason. I believe, we need to educate our future techies from a younger age. I have 2 daughters, one just about to go to university and the other just starting her secondary school education.
I know from speaking to my daughters, attending parents’ evenings (and quizzing the teachers), and looking at the Government website that the current curriculum supports only the science side of IT. There is no expansion to the myriad of other skills and roles within IT which would stimulate the imagination of our future generations. In fact, unless you are technology minded, its positively boring.
Where is the opportunity for younger people to understand the career options? I know they’re not in career fairs either – as I’ve been to them, younger people are too frightened to ask what is it? What can I do? I have offered my own time to my local school to come in and talk about what a career in tech looks like, but they never got back in touch with me.
However, I have had the honour of being involved with many events in the Leeds region for Girls in Tech through Ahead Partnership, and one in particular stood out for me which proves we don’t do enough. Upon arriving the delegates (all secondary school age and female) were asked if they were interested in a career in tech – I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it was in the 10-20% range. The delegates had the opportunity to experience different roles within IT from a range of companies, and at the end of the day they were asked again – this time the number was in the 70% range.
Earlier engagement and building awareness at school age made a difference, why are we doing more?
I think a lot of people think the only route into Tech is via university, but it isn’t. I have hired many people through Apprenticeship programmes and feel it has been more successful than the traditional graduate route.
Talking and building awareness, more vocational courses in our education system – a new hashtag maybe? #technotjustforboys
Be bold, have confidence and enjoy yourself.