Female Role Models in Tech
The tech industry has a problem. With only 5% of women in leadership roles, there’s a real lack of female role models. There are of course some great counter examples out there, but not enough. How many famous men in tech can you name? And how many women?
At Ripjar, we’re not immune to the industry trend. We know there’s still more we can do to build a more gender-balanced workplace, and it’s something we’re working hard on. In the last 12 months, with a number of focussed initiatives in place, we’ve seen improvements, and addressing the balance remains an important goal for us as a company.
Stepping into the (Gender) Gap
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we were hoping to write about some of our female members of staff and the professional role models they’ve worked with who are women. Unfortunately, we quickly found that it was difficult for many of the team to think of any examples. In fact, we discovered that some of our female team have never worked alongside women leaders or direct colleagues in their previous roles.
So we decided to turn our idea on its head.
We interviewed three members of the Ripjar team about their roles and asked what advice they’d give to girls or other women looking to work in their chosen careers. Meet your new role models: Kate, Cece, and Beth.
Kate Brewer – Head of User Success
What does your role involve?
My role involves making sure that users know how to get the most value and best experience from our software.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love learning about the exciting developments coming from data science, and how they keep finding new ways to solve real world problems. I also get a lot of satisfaction from knowing I made someone’s day better when I showed them how they could use our tech to remove a pain point they had been experiencing in their job.
What’s your top tip for women entering the world of tech?
It’s unfortunately still the case that sometimes your opinion won’t, by default, be taken as seriously as that of the men around you. In addition, women have often been taught to be cautious, and carefully caveat their thoughts. You need to speak with at least as much confidence as you feel, as you can be sure that other people are!
What advice do you wish you’d received when first starting out in your career?
There is very rarely a ‘right’ way to do things and you have a lot more flexibility than you think in how you do your job. If you have an idea that you think is good, or a way of doing things that gets good results for you, go for it with confidence and everyone will accept and appreciate it.
Cece Wisniewska – Software Engineer
What’s your job in a nutshell?
I’m a software engineer, which involves me using a range of technologies to develop features to meet customer requirements.
What’s it like being a Software Engineer at Ripjar?
I’ve not been working here long but I already feel like I’ve settled well into the small development team I’m in. I had a big learning curve when I joined because the tech stack used in my current role is completely different from what I’ve used in previous jobs. However, I believe that if you have a passion for technology and are open to learning new things, then this is not a hurdle necessarily, but an opportunity to challenge yourself and to learn with a fresh mind from people who are highly skilled in those areas that are new to you. I’ve experienced this so far in my role at Ripjar – everyone is willing to help out and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from others on my team already!
Who do you look up to in the tech industry?
One of my role models is Joy Buolamwini who is both a computer scientist and a digital activist. Her work involves identifying bias in algorithms and developing practices for accountability during their design – she coined the term “coded gaze” to refer to this bias in coding algorithms. This was an aspect of AI I was unaware of until I watched her TED talk on it. I think it’s inspiring how Joy has made such an impact so early on in her career by bringing to light a previously overlooked, but undoubtedly important aspect of AI.
What advice would you give to girls or women interested in software engineering as a career?
I remember when entering the world of work I was shocked at how few women there were in software engineering and other tech based roles. I came to realise that as women we should not feel discouraged to pursue a career in tech just because we are a minority. In fact, this should motivate us more because we are shifting the statistic, and we have the potential to inspire other women to do the same.
Beth Shaw – Head of Support
What does your job involve?
My job is to lead the Support offering for our Labyrinth Screening product. My main responsibility is to make sure we can respond to customer issues within agreed contractual service level agreements and that our customer relationship benefits as a result.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I love the fact that I can solve customer issues by bridging the gap between engineering and customers for production questions and issues. It’s especially rewarding to me to see the reduction of impact on the engineering team, which helps them focus on new development and therefore new growth in our product. I also really love being close to the technology and having a good knowledge of our product.
Have you faced any challenges in your career?
The main challenge I faced is when I stopped to have a child. I was a developer previously in my career. Being away from the technology made it very hard to jump back in and start where I left off. I found this very frustrating, and in the end, I moved away from development and into technical management roles. I don’t regret these decisions; they are just a change in trajectory for my career and I felt I could be more effective given the experiences I had had over my career. My advice for other women would be to not always expect to do the same thing over your entire career. You will find your greatest strengths and should not be afraid to employ them more directly.
How would you increase the number of women in tech?
Certainly, females can succeed in technical careers, and I’ve seen many successful women in technical roles throughout my career. I would like to see more work done earlier during the formative educational years to make technology a field where females can flourish. I personally believe social media has had a detrimental effect, especially on girls who might have otherwise been drawn into tech.