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Making the tech industry more inclusive

Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Here I sit down with four of my female colleagues to get their take on what’s needed to make tech a more inclusive place.

Grace Zarczynska, frontend developer

 @grace_inspace

Describe your role in a nutshell:

I’m a frontend developer with a strong love of anything new. I produce the code that allows users to see and interact with a website.

Why did you choose a career in tech?

I was a musician and then an audio technician before I began my coding career, but I’d always enjoyed challenges, logical thinking, and the opportunity to keep learning. The tech industry seemed the best place to cultivate those values.

It’s truly satisfying to solve a problem or find a bug in code. Tech allows you to be nitpicky but also think in terms of the big picture!

Grace Zarczynska

What’s been your biggest success at Inviqa?  

I love sharing my knowledge with colleagues and clients; on everything from Google AMP and PWAs, to online advertising. My biggest achievements are about learning new things and putting them into practice!

Who’s your inspiration?

My main hero is my mum really! She has supported my education and helped me out through university degrees and courses, especially when my dream was to become some kind of a musician. She’s been my inspiration throughout my life and, as a single mother with her own business, she did an amazing job at showing me my potential.

What does Ada Lovelace Day mean to you?

Ada Lovelace Day means a lot to all women in STEM. It reminds us that women can be pioneers, explorers, and are more than capable of leading the sciences into new territory.

Any career tips for budding techies?

The most important thing in tech is not necessarily knowing, but being able to learn and adapt. If you take that to heart, you will be a great developer.

How can we support diversity in our industry?  

We need to start very early; many little girls do not think that they can become scientists or doctors. We need to engage the younger generations in the equality process.

Why is it great to be a woman in tech?

For one, the loo queues are pretty short! But on a more serious note, it’s an exciting and very rewarding industry. Seeing technology develop every day is an exciting place to be, regardless of your background or who you are.

Felicity Ratcliffe, DevOps engineer

@flick22

Describe your role in a nutshell:

I work as a devops engineer which you might say is like the modern-day system administrator; it's the same job, but I automate tasks using code instead of doing them manually.

Why did you choose a career in tech?

I didn't really choose it as much as it chose me. Upon dropping out of college for the second time at 21 (neither course was tech-related), I was searching for any job that would pay enough to cover my rent and other essentials. 

Up until then my jobs had been far from IT-related! A first line role at an internet service provider (ISP) came up and, quite by surprise, I got it. 

The company provided an eight-week training course which covered the basics rather than just giving us a script. This meant that I understood what I was doing rather than just reading a list of meaningless instructions. 

I had a real natural aptitude for the work and within a few months, I was given a promotion to second line, and then another to Linux support. I learnt a lot whilst there and this enabled me to move on and pursue a well remunerated career in Linux systems administration.

Any career tips for budding techies?

You don't necessarily need to study IT-related courses at college or university to work in tech. Academia isn't for everyone and if you're willing to learn then there are apprenticeships. There’s also a wide range of online resources open to you for learning everything you need to know, at your own pace.

Felicity Ratcliffe

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

I think this has its roots in the fact that men are conditioned to believe they’re best-suited to working in technical professions whereas women are conditioned to believe they’re excluded from these roles. As boys, these men were probably given chemistry sets and meccano as gifts whilst their sisters were given dolls and kitchen playsets. 

The tech community needs to be outspoken about dismantling these toxic ideas which are responsible for the disparity between men and women, white people and people of colour, and people of different ages with regards to salaries and also treatment in the workplace. This needs to stop.

How can we support diversity in our industry?  

  • Hold a lot more tech meetups and conferences which focus on diversity
  • Promote our industry as a diverse home for techies of all backgrounds
  • Help less financially privileged people gain access to the internet and other tools
  • Help schools in less affluent areas to buy IT equipment
  • Hold free workshops and IT classes within diverse communities
  • Loudly condemn things like ‘gamergate’, unequal pay, and the memo fiasco at Google

Why is it great to be a woman in tech?

To be honest, sometimes it's hard and not so great, but personally I feel like I'm breaking down barriers and using my own privileges to help others do the same.

Dalia Valaskeviciene, quality assurance

Describe your role in a nutshell:

I help my project team to adopt processes that allow us to deliver better quality to our clients.

Why did you choose a career in tech?

My husband inspired me to shift from admin roles to a more technical position. Solving tasks that require an analytical approach suits my personality much better and I am very happy I eventually made the career move. It also helped that having a formal education in the field was not a must-have. There is a lot of support from businesses and communities which allows you to study at your own pace and in your own time.

What has been your biggest success here at Inviqa?

Working on a range of very exciting software implementations with amazing people and businesses. 

Who’s your inspiration?

My biggest inspirations have been the women around me: my mum and my grandmother, my close friends, and my colleagues here at Inviqa. Just seeing how good and confident they are in their careers makes me believe there is nothing a woman cannot do. 

Dalia Valaskeviciene 

What does Ada Lovelace Day mean to you?

It’s a powerful reminder that women have made (and continue to make) a major contribution to the development of computing science. 

Any career tips for budding techies?

Keep learning new things all the time! The beauty and the challenge of this industry comes from its dynamics. 

How can we support diversity in our industry?  

Make everyone feel welcome and never suggest that certain people are incapable of something. However, we do need more diversity in our environments to make everyone feel welcome. The situation is getting somewhat better than it was 10 years ago but I think the true change will only come when we manage to have at least one generation which was raised with as little prejudice as possible. The regulations alone will not help as much for as long as both women and men think that paying one gender less for the same job is normal. 

Why is it great to be a woman in tech?

I find it is no greater or being less great than being a woman in any other career. However, I am very happy I was raised in an environment where there was never any suggestion that I shouldn’t work in this field because it’s not suitable for me. This would have prevented me from doing the things I enjoy so much in life.

Rebekah Jones, frontend developer

Describe your role in a nutshell:

I'm a frontend developer, so I help to build the good-looking, usable user interfaces that allow our clients’ customers to interact with their products and services.

Why did you choose  a career in tech?

I'd actually always been interested in frontend development, even before I knew frontend development was a thing. 

15 years or so back when I was in school, I used to play around with a site called Neopets where you could create a web page for your virtual pet. Later I moved onto trying to create my own sites on GeoCities and customising Myspace pages (I also had a sort-of popular My Chemical Romance fansite at one point!).

I decided to make a career out of the web because it was the one thing I could picture myself loving, every day!

What’s been your biggest success at Inviqa?  

The things I'm most proud of from my time at Inviqa have been building a fully customised checkout for Missguided to make their purchasing experience smooth and frictionless, and helping GAP empower its international franchises to engage customers through localised content and catalogues.

What does Ada Lovelace Day mean to you?

Ada Lovelace Day is important, because it shines a light on diversity within the tech industry. It’s not about saying ‘here's a list of all the great women who have done good things in these industries’; it’s about recognising that these industries are far stronger when they support and enable diversity.

Rebekah Jones

Any career tips for budding techies?

You don't need to learn absolutely everything in order to succeed. Technology is obviously quite fast-moving, especially in recent years, but having a solid foundation will make it fairly easy to pick up new, more specialised skills.

We're always on the lookout for new talent! Head to our careers page to learn more and check-out our current openings.