WOMEN IN IT II - WHY ARE WOMEN AFRAID OF BECOMING PROGRAMMERS?
Despite a thriving digital sector, women are still a minority among IT workers. Statistics also confirm this, with just 25% of professionals in the industry being female. Many women want to work in IT, but they lack role models and knowledge of turning their plans into action. What does it look like for women to work in IT and take their first step on this career path?
INCLUSIVENESS IN ORGANISATIONS
A study shows that inclusive (diverse) teams are teams that make better business decisions by up to 87%. Explaining the issue of inclusivity: it can be defined as creating conditions in a company where an employee can develop regardless of origin, gender, age or sexual orientation. Building an inclusive organisational culture also means creating opportunities for employee development regardless of their seniority in the company, family situation, or function and position. It is necessary to build awareness about the role of inclusiveness in companies and thus about the essence of dialogue, which is the basis for building a work culture.
SECURE THE WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Many women who have children or are planning to have children and are interested in working in IT have doubts as to whether they will be able to reconcile their professional and private lives. They fear that the rapidly growing industry will dominate their lives. The IT industry is an ideal place for a parent. Flexible working hours that can be adjusted to one's needs and the possibility to work remotely, not only dictated by the coronavirus pandemic but also by the specificity of the sector, are the main positives that determine the fact that IT fosters the work-life balance trend. It is also worth noting that technology companies have been pioneers in creating a parent-friendly environment. Support for women on maternity leave and company crèches and kindergartens are gaining in importance. The forbearance and flexibility of employers in the IT industry is also manifested in dedicated onboarding after returning to the organisation after a break associated with the growth of the family, or the ability to adapt projects to the individual needs of their employees. Mutual respect for free time is also another reason to consider a career in the IT industry.
POSSIBLE DEVELOPMENT PATHS IN THE IT INDUSTRY
The issue of a career change and women entering the IT industry is no longer unheard of. As many as 56% of women who work in the sector have had a career change process. Regardless of their previous occupation - being a doctor, archaeologist, HR professional, translator, or service or retail worker - everyone has the chance to follow the technological path and enter the IT industry. However, it should be noted that a significant issue that blocks women is a lack of self-confidence, fear of the unknown and a natural tendency to underestimate their competence. However, mentoring programmes and community groups of women in IT can help as they support, motivate and share their experiences.
The IT industry creates a variety of jobs, so when you decide to take your first step in this sector, you can choose between professions such as programmer, software tester, UX specialist, cyber security specialist, or the recently increasingly popular data analyst, which was a new profession just a few years ago. This sector, like any other, has its difficulties. Still, it is so exciting and diverse that, indeed, everyone can find a profession for themselves that is consistent with the competencies or soft skills they have acquired so far.
WHAT DISQUALIFIES YOU FROM WORKING IN THE IT INDUSTRY?
Many women fear that they will not cope with working in the IT industry due to common mathematical knowledge or poor English skills. However, it should be emphasised that mathematics, although it plays a big role in the industry itself, is not so crucial in individual positions. However, what is important, even in the work of a programmer, is the ability to think logically and combine facts. Knowledge of English is one of the key skills on the labour market regardless of the industry, but even with a basic level, you can start training for a given profession. Over time, as you speak the language more often, your level of English will increase. So you should not be afraid of your current level of knowledge.
Another uncertainty related to retraining is age. When is it not too late to retrain? Is there any age limit for entering the IT industry? The only barrier to retraining can be a person's attitude to take this kind of 'risk', while numbers should not matter. When implemented in companies, inclusiveness should manifest itself not only in gender but also in age diversity.
The majority of society will not avoid the process of re-branding because, according to the World Economic Forum, by 2050, every second person will have to change profession. Within 10 years, 9 out of 10 professions will require digital competencies. There is something for everyone in the IT sector, but not everyone will find themselves in it. What is essential is natural curiosity and the desire to acquire new knowledge. This is because the technology sector is constantly evolving, and therefore its employees need to improve and keep up with changes to remain competitive on the job market.
WHERE TO START TO ENTER THE IT INDUSTRY?
IT courses, IT studies and self-study were cited as ways to gain digital competencies. A coding bootcamp, is a good option for people who need external motivation. Additionally, the course allows you to interact with people from whom you can learn a lot, something you don't have to deal with when choosing to learn on your own. Gaining factual knowledge is an integral part of the re-branding process, which is worth involving third parties in through participation in mentoring programmes or active involvement in the life of the female IT community. This will allow for quicker access to knowledge from practice.
It is also worth remembering to come prepared for the interview, i.e., familiarise yourself with a given company's activity, check its social media, website, or the latest news about the company published on internet portals. Such research positively affects the interview because recruiters will easily notice this knowledge in the candidate. In addition, it pays to be active during the recruitment, i.e. asks questions or make notes of the most important information. However, above all, you should come to the interview with a partnering attitude - to present yourself as well as possible and get as much as possible out of it. Let's remember that companies also care about giving themselves well in the eyes of a potential employee.
BE MOTIVATED. THE THING STOPPING YOU THE MOST IS YOURSELF!
Remember not to be afraid when entering the IT industry. Many women have already succeeded in this business. Keep an open mind to the opportunities that await you, and don’t let the prejudices stop you from achieving your goals.