By Daisy West, Recruitment Apprentice
In the lead up to International Women’s Day, we have been reflecting on our wonderful team of talented women within Semafone. With women accounting for 33% of our Executive Team and 27% of our global workforce, we’re proud to be punching well above the 19% industry average (source Women in Tech). We’re not resting on our laurels; the more diverse our team, the better the business decisions and the more innovative and impactful we are as an organisation. The International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge campaign is a moment for us all to pause and acknowledge the challenges we face when it comes to gender bias and inequalities and consider the opportunities and role each of us has in accelerating the change.
To provide insight into what it’s like working as a woman in tech, we interviewed three of our superstar Semafone employees! We hope that their experiences will inspire other women who are looking to take up a career or move into the tech industry.
Meet Shalini Kaushik, Application Development and Quality Assurance Manager; Kalai Jayapal, Graduate Support Engineer; and Holly Burn, Deployment Apprentice.
What has been your experience as a woman working in the tech sector?
Holly: From entering the industry as a Deployment Apprentice with no prior experience and a drive to learn, I have found my time so far within the industry rewarding and exciting. It has given me the opportunity to challenge myself and to step out of my comfort zone, while learning in the process. I strongly believe that gender does not play a part in someone’s ability and it should not prevent anyone from trying something new! My team is hugely supportive and has made me feel welcome in the tech industry!
Shalini: The tech industry is very dynamic, exciting, agile, and full of energy, I really enjoy working in tech as it gives me the opportunity to both grow and learn. I love the industry as its not repetitive and the technologies change every day so it’s always exciting and gives women equal opportunities, the potential to grow and the flexibility to manage your work life balance.
Kalai: I started my career as a Software Engineer and it always excited me because it allowed me to pursue my love of science and satisfy my desire to learn, question and solve things. Now as a mum to two kids, working in tech is great and super flexible, usually interesting, and at the end of the day I don’t think gender actually makes much of a difference at all.
What are some ways you think the tech industry could recruit more female professionals?
Holly: I think that the industry needs more outreach to young women within schools and in the media – to highlight that the sector is not as daunting as it sounds and that there are a huge number of opportunities within their reach! Many young women discount a career in STEM due to peer pressure, lack of role models and a general misperception of what the field entails. I feel that creating inclusive environments that value female opinions, build confidence and provide role models is crucial.
Shalini: Organising seminars and lectures in collaboration with educational institutions will strengthen awareness and encourage women to pursue a career in tech. Arranging student internships will give women a way to experience and get to know the industry in advance. It is also crucial to attract women in tech who are returning to work as they may possess previously developed skills and vital experience, which could strengthen any tech company.
Kalai: Coaching and mentoring and working closely with higher education and other institutions. Whilst encouraging younger women is crucial, so is attracting women who are returning to work after a career break. They should be able to return to work with a certainty that they will be supported and be able to continue advancing their careers.
Sometimes more experienced women choose to change their career path. Leveraging their previous expertise learnt in another role or sector, they can provide years of experience, skills and attributes that benefit and strengthen the tech industry.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in the tech sector?
Holly: Go for it! There are a huge number of roles to choose from at many different levels. You do not need an extensive degree to start either! If I can do it, so can you!
Shalini: Feeling a little uncomfortable with your skills is a sign of learning, and continuous learning is what the tech industry thrives on! So, go and create a vision for yourself.
Kalai: Don’t let anyone tell you engineering is a ‘man’s job’. It’s not a role defined by gender. If you have a passion for it, you can do it! And go for it!
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Holly: Be open to opportunities and be yourself! Life will very rarely follow a linear trajectory, and unexpected challenges will pop up. Remember to learn and grow from them – your journey is your own!
Shalini: Trust yourself and take risks early on – even if it means that you might trip along the way, because ultimately you will learn from those experiences and grow.
Kalai: The only person who can truly stand in your way is you. There will be blockers, stereotypes, difficulties, but don’t let anything stop you. Fuel your own ambition, be yourself, not who other people want you to be. You are unique and will always have a different perspective to bring to the table. Foster relationships, learn from others and above all, help others on your journey, because if you fall or stumble they will likely help to pick you up and dust you off!