Here at Seymour & Lerhn, we champion the fact that more women are needed in tech and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics ) roles.
In honour of celebrating International Women’s Day, we’ve asked our female employee’s about their experience working in the tech sector, to hopefully encourage more women into tech careers.
Charlie Power – Our leading woman in tech
Can you tell me about yourself and what you do?
What was your influence for pursuing a career in tech?
I actually wanted to pursue a career in the arts and spent a year studying at art college. On a complete whim, I chose to do a degree in Computer Animation & VFX and luckily I loved the course! I wouldn’t say I ever consciously planned to become a woman in technology, but I’m glad my path took the route it did.
What do you think could be done to encourage more women to think about a career in technology?
I think there can be the perception that the CGI industry, in particular, is made up of die-hard gamers – which couldn’t be further from the truth! The industry is huge and covers almost every sector you could possibly imagine from property development to education. I find a lot of women lack confidence in using tech which can give them the false impression that technology is too complicated or difficult for them to use. The industry is a lot more diverse, and a lot less scary, than people often think.
Did you face any challenges when entering the world of technology?
I wouldn’t say challenges, but my name does cause some confusion. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I thought you’d be a man!’
I actually don’t mind at all, but I’ve found having a laugh about it together is actually a pretty good way to build rapport!
How do you think schools could encourage more girls to take up STEM subjects?
I was recently at a meet-up which had a talk on robotics in education. The speaker highlighted the different approaches typically taken by girls and boys – whilst the boys were making war-robots to battle with, the girls came up with incredible solutions to real-world problems (including a rabbit hutch with automated heating and lighting!). Both approaches ultimately led to successful learning, but children were much more engaged in the activity, simply because it was interesting to them. By allowing children to explore the full spectrum of STEM, they have the opportunity to discover a passion for a topic which may eventually become their career.
What personality traits do you think are essential to have when considering a career in tech?
An eye for detail and a willingness to learn, adapt and grow.
Tech is moving so quickly that the latest techniques are out of date within a matter of months, you have to be prepared to move with it or risk being left behind. But nothing beats a good eye for detail!
What advice would you give to a woman wanting to have a STEM career?
We typically ask applicants to complete a take-home project (an industry-standard process). As a female hiring-manager, it can be disheartening to receive only a handful of applications from women (I’d guess typically 1 female to every 10 males). But my biggest bugbear is when applicants don’t complete the project, or even send in an incomplete application! I’d like to say it was equal, but unfortunately, very few female applicants complete the take-home project which means they ultimately lose out on the role.
The opportunities are out there but it’s a competitive industry. Focus on your goal, work your butt off, and don’t stop until you achieve it!
What do you think the future holds for women working in the tech sector?
Technology is a rapidly growing sector. As more jobs are created, I see the tech and non-tech industries merging. As more schools move away from traditional ‘ICT’ and more towards computing, both boys and girls will leave education with the right tools for the job. As children grow up in an increasingly inclusive world with a growing number of strong female role models, I hope that more young girls will be empowered to follow their passions and I hope to see some of them at Oasis Studio in the not-too-distant future!
Sarah Vaughan – EdTech Collaborator
Can you tell me about yourself and what you do?
My name is Sarah Vaughan. I have 13 years of primary teaching experience and delivering the computing curriculum. I have recently taken on the role of Edtech Collaborator at Seymour & Lerhn. I am also a Subject Matter Expert for the National Computing Centre for Education (NCCE), and the Primary Lead for the Stoke-on-Trent 6th Form College Computing Hub.
What’s it like to be a woman working in technology?
Working in a primary school, I feel the gender balance is entirety different with more female teachers than male. We were very lucky at my last school to have a 50/50 split of male and female teachers, which helped our children see positive role models in both females and males. Stepping into my new roles, I can see that there is much more of a male presence.
What was your influence for pursuing a career in technology?
I love the innovative element of teaching with tech. It can instantly engage students and offer accessible teaching and learning methods for all abilities and needs. When I was a primary teacher, we didn’t know the extent of the technological world we are preparing our students for in the future, as these children will not enter the working world for at least a decade. Therefore, it is important to equip children with as many transferable skills as possible, through ensuring teachers have confidence in developing and delivering technology in schools.
What do you think could be done to encourage more women in tech?
I am excited to be part of the ‘Gender Balance in Computing’ research project which is a collaboration between the consortium of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, STEM Learning, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and the Behavioural Insights Team. ‘Gender Balance in Computing’ will develop and roll out several projects that aim to increase the number of girls choosing to study a computing subject at GCSE and A level. Projects such as raising children aspirations in STEM subjects, using STEM role modes who are female and using resources that appeal to females are all ways to get women in tech!
Have you faced any challenges trying to enter the world of technology?
Luckily, my path to my current roles has not been affected by gender.
What traits do you think are useful to have when considering a career in tech?
Be determined, have the drive to succeed when challenges arise. Be confident in what you know. As a female you may have a different approach, that doesn’t mean your approach isn’t right – it could be the winning model for your company.
What advice would you give to a woman wanting to have a career in technology?
Have the drive to succeed. As a female considering a career in tech, there may be challenges on the way. You may be the only woman in the department but just go for it. There is a range of support networks out there for women in tech roles. Taking on a tech role also empowers you in becoming a role model for the next generation.
What do you think the future holds for women in the technology sector?
Technology sectors are ever-increasing and the females in these roles will also continue. It may not be in our working lifestyle, but I believe at one point people will look back at these discussions and not believe what they are reading!
Fancy a career in tech?
We’re always on the lookout for creative tech-minded individuals to join our team! Just email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Find out more about Seymour & Lerhn.