We interviewed Manjit Natt, Principal Consultant at Sogeti on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
My job involves testing environments to ensure they operate at optimum levels of performance so that customers using these services get information at their fingertips without delay. These days I’m also training members of the team on performance testing and why it’s really important to understand what we are testing and why and the benefits it provides when done right.
I have always found science interesting, but my role model was my brother and I wanted to be smart like him. I guess I’m still striving to get there!
I studied computer science in Stratford polytechnic as it was known back then. This included machine learning to mathematics and statistics so a lot of variation in the topics. The realisation of what it meant only came through in my second year of the degree when I had to do a thesis on ‘big brother is watching you’ that inspired me to continue.
I have been in the IT industry since 97 don’t quote me on the dates as it has been a long time. I have done varied types of testing until I found my love for performance testing and haven’t looked back since
Definitely in the field that I’m in. I remember a time when I was in meetings where I was the only woman as part of the role I held. Times have now changed and a lot more awareness has been brought into the industry to become more inclusive, but I still think there is a long way to go to break the myth.
I think it’s a perception that men are better at for example Maths and technology, more a cultural thing where women are thought to be better at caring than men. This is changing at a cultural level as well as perception level and we are beginning to see more women in technology than before but still a long way to go.
I think these are quite complex questions as there is so much involved such as baggage brought on from family, culture and value system and teachers who have limited time to teach the topics and inspire children or girls in this case. I do believe teachers should teach subjects in a way that captures interest and engages, inspires, and encourages so as to give them the confidence to continue with these subjects right across to university level. Everyone learns differently but also in some cases not everyone can afford to have laptops that they can use to practice at home with. I think getting the right teacher or mentor is really important, to get that time and space to learn and practice without being judged on their capability.
Yes, there are all kinds of barriers and obstacles and these challenges start early in life where these perceptions are formed. Sometimes perceptions are based on how they were taught at school which has confirmed what they have been told by their families. All this is changing as more and more schools are getting specialists in to get this right but barriers where you don’t have access to broadband and laptop to practice is one that has been clearly highlighted during the covid period and definitely needs addressing to help improve this further.
The girls have to be encouraged from a young age but at the same time schools need to have technology that the industry uses to provide that confidence in their ability. I remember during my university years I learnt technology that was no longer in use which was not encouraging when I came out looking for a job. I believe the baggage, cultural and value system needs to be taken into consideration to help overcome these perceptions pre-built by families and encourage girls in these areas and break the myth by role models by means of TV, ads, social media, and job adverts not just jobs in tech but also pay being equal to men.
Be patient and don’t feel intimidated, everyone has to start from somewhere. There is so much available online to teach yourself, utilise all that is available to you but importantly talk to people who can help you, get yourself a good mentor who understands your needs. At the first hurdle don’t give up be persistent in your learning. I have personally experienced all this but I never gave up rather like the tortoise and the hare race you will get there in the end.