My first memories of enjoying technology and computers were as a young girl aged around 6, playing the likes of solitaire, pinball, and minesweeper on the retro classic bulky computer screen that we safely cherish in our past known as the CRT computer monitor. We then fast forward to my teen years of creating Bebo and Myspace websites to share with friends, messing around with the most basic HTML to make your site the coolest and have your friends ask at the next day of school “wow how did you do that on your Myspace”.
I always knew that technology and computers sparked my interest differently, but I didn’t quite know what to do with this. Looking back to my senior years of attending an all girls’ secondary school, when it came to GCSE subjects there were a variety of options available; advanced levels of the core Maths, English and Science, more creative subjects like Art and Graphics to Health and social care qualifications. Information Technology was of course an option, but it was never anything more than business based IT, which did not stretch to coding or a more advanced understanding of computer architecture. There was an obvious lack of information and direction for young women interested in tech careers.
Deciding to stick with my interest in technology, I chose to study Computer Science at university. It turned out to be a great decision despite what felt like going into the unknown at the time. I remember feeling extremely daunted the first day I started my degree and walked into a lecture hall with about 300 males in comparison to the 10 – 15 females on my course, but nevertheless worked my way through my degree and excited about my potential future in tech.
Today, I truly enjoy my job as a front-end Software Engineer. I love the fact being a Software Engineer allows me to be creative with solutions day to day, as there are always multiple ways to solve a problem or build something new when it comes to coding. It’s very rewarding looking back at work done as a team knowing we have the freedom to discuss architectural decisions and decide how we want to build something. Lastly the best thing about being a Software Engineer is working with so many different people and personalities to have your ideas bounce off one another and learn from each other – I’m happy to be in a career where I never stop learning new things and have opportunities for career progression.
I interviewed my colleague Lianne who is a Project Manager for the Technical Operations team at Rightmove. I wanted to find out about how Lianne found herself getting into tech, and what she finds most rewarding about her role in tech today.
How did you start your journey into tech?
I fell into a role at a start-up in Toronto whereby I had the challenge to encourage consumers to make better environmental choices by choosing LEDs instead of other types of lightbulbs. This turned into a new feature on the homepage, and I worked closely with the tech team to build this out from the ground up. I had to learn about user journeys, UX, user personas as well as about e-commerce, databases, and the operations & logistics around storing and shipping products to people all over Canada. I was hooked and so I went on to study full stack programming at an immersive bootcamp. I now deliver projects in the Technical Operations team at Rightmove.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
I love coming up with ideas and finding solutions that happen to be solved using tech. Being a Project Manager I get to see the whole lifecycle from ideation through to completion and that is very satisfying.
As I joined Rightmove for my first job after university I was pleasantly surprised to see a great number of women in the tech industry doing a variety of jobs – I didn’t realise how many different tech roles were available at this point in my career. There are many career paths and opportunities that the women around me have followed to get into tech, including career changes and career progression. After over 3 years working at Rightmove I have had the chance to connect with so many women working in tech with different backgrounds and roles. This reassured me that there are many opportunities in tech for women to explore at any point in their careers.
I am quite proud to say at Rightmove we have a large Women in Tech community who take part in monthly meet ups to discuss and combat issues we face. It has been interesting to learn that many of the challenges we face are quite common and it has been reassuring to discuss these together and come up with potential solutions. Aside from discussing our challenges we also have had some fun sessions to get to know more about each other and it’s great to see many new faces as we have had more female new joiners in product development over the past few months. With our hybrid working arrangements, we have kept these meet ups online, this gives more opportunity for everyone available to join.
We have also been involved with some exciting programmes in the past which have been aimed at helping young females with some direction into tech careers. Most recently many Rightmovers took part in the Generating Genius: black women into tech programme, this was a mentorship programme where we were assigned a mentee for 6 months. Many of us were able to aid our mentees with career advice, insight to tech roles, CV and job application guidance, and much more within regular monthly meet ups. It was very rewarding to see by the end of this programme many of our mentees had come out with placement jobs or internships.
In the past some Rightmovers also took up the opportunity to become STEM ambassadors which allowed them to work with schools, and workshops which support young women going into tech. Some of the activities carried out have involved; talking to girls at a local school, girls coming into our London office to learn more about what we do in tech including the various roles available and helping at coding workshops for young women.
Ultimately one of the biggest issues we face now is the declining number of women going into tech careers. Increasing the number of Women in Tech as well as helping current Women in Tech with challenges we face is easier said than done. It is important to understand that workplaces, schools, organisations, and individuals can help make a difference. A few places we could start could be;
- Supporting parents encouraging girls with STEM subjects.
- Offering work experience for college/sixth form students who want to experience tech roles.
- Ensuring work places have clear career path structures for those wanting to transition into technical roles from non technical roles.
Overall, there are many ways in which we can all get involved with combatting the known issues for Women in Tech, whether it’s simply having more conversations around the issues we face and how we can tackle them, finding out about programmes and workshops that are available to volunteer at, or spreading knowledge to young women thinking about their futures. I’m sure we can all work together to play a part in this and I hope we can build a bigger and better future for Women in Tech.