By Dorota Zimnoch, Chief Commercial Officer at Blocksure
As young adults pick up their exam results and start the next chapter of their lives, career choices are at the forefront of many broadening minds. Perfect timing then to remind some of those female young minds that a career in tech is definitely worth serious consideration. Although more are beginning to do so, it is a real shame that the field remains male dominated. I would never have chosen this career path myself as a young woman – luckily I fell into it by accident and it is the perfect fit. I believe it could be the best fit for more young women.
A career in tech should not be gender related but in reality, the statistics paint a different picture. The number of women working in technology is lower than in many other sectors – markedly so in the UK. Just 17% of those working in tech are female according to Women in Tech, an organisation set up to promote technology careers for women. According to WISE campaign figures (encouraging more women into STEM careers – science, technology, engineering and mathematics), only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women.
This saddens me because the sector has so much to offer. A career in technology offers unique opportunities for development and growth. It is such a wide discipline, not limited only to those skilled in STEM subjects. For example, development of AI solutions requires as much input from psychologists, sociologists and creatives as it does from tech developers and specialists in code. If you are naturally curious and enjoy problem solving in a vibrant field with multiple disciplines working together, a career in tech can be fantastically rewarding. After all we are often shaping the future of our planet and our people – we are making an impact on the future in positive and creative ways. Who wouldn’t love that?
Just 17% of those working in tech are female
Although I fell into my tech journey by accident, I couldn’t have designed it better. I joined a bank as a management associate program participant and my first project was in a tech department. I was asked to map all processes and customer journeys. I had a chance to experience first hand what tech is about. I remember fascinating conversations with my colleagues (mostly men, of course, at that time) about how tech can change the world. I wanted more. So, I advocated for launching online banking (that was back in 2000) and I was offered an opportunity to lead that project. That is how it all started. I am now working on blockchain solutions for the insurance industry – both improving the systems and processes for insurers and underwriters whilst at the same time improving the customer journey and service for consumers.
That is the real beauty of a career in tech – it is always changing. It constantly allows you to challenge the status quo in search for better solutions. The job is very creative, dynamic, fast paced, purpose driven and diverse. In many jobs your prestige and contribution grow with experience and years in particular position. In tech it’s a bit different – a 20-year-old may be as helpful in a project and bring as unique and valuable skills as a 40-year-old. Collaboration is key to progress. We are always learning.
If you are naturally curious and enjoy problem solving in a vibrant field with multiple disciplines working together, a career in tech can be fantastically rewarding.
I am happy to say that more women are starting to be attracted to tech. I think the benefits are mutual. Women bring some extra skills which are extremely useful in tech. I know I am generalising but many women are multitaskers with keen attention to detail. We often bring emotional intelligence too and empathy. Of course these attributes are not exclusive to women and not all women are the same, but as an observation over the years, mixed sex teams seem to have a better blend of skills and personality traits. I am glad to see more women joining the tech space but I feel that we are only just out of the starting blocks.
As innovations such as AI and blockchain start to change our lives, including our working lives, I believe that more women will be attracted to this arena as it is a career of the future. Think that in the year 2000 for example, the cost of extracting DNA was $2.8bn. Fast forward to today, not even two decades later, it can be done for $100. Pair the rapidly falling cost of tech with convergence of different technologies and increasing adoption – mobile phones for example – and you can see how tech creates endless opportunities. If you want a career that never bores you, technology is a good place to start!
Five top tips to make it in tech
1) Stay open-minded, do not let stereotypes discourage you
2) Technology is often related to innovation and that means that it is likely you will work on something that has never been done before. Do not fear to fail as test and learn is the only way to progress. If stepping into the unknown motivates you – you probably have the right mind set for a career in tech!
3) Apply for a course (there are endless free courses on the net that are not age restricted) to learn more about tech
4) Network (join hackathons, meetups, forums). Speak to people and listen to those with experience in that space. You will be surprised how different approaches are adopted and problems that are being solved with tech
5) Ask yourself – what are my strengths and weaknesses, where do I want to be and what do I need to get there? Then do not be shy and ask for help in developing new skills. There are many people who will be happy to mentor you as they have been there before you