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IWD 2024: Never be discouraged - my journey into tech and telecommunications
Fri, 8th Mar 2024

As a graduate of Computer Science Engineering during the early 2000s, I have seen and experienced what it takes to be a woman embarking on a career in technology and telecommunications. I hope the lessons I've learned on my journey can inspire and encourage other women.

Perseverance and dedication are key

My career began as a junior support engineer in a telecommunications firm, where I found myself on a very steep learning curve. I was immersed in a male-dominated industry which required constant learning and growth. Each day presented new challenges, from customer relations to understanding industry dynamics and managing people. As my technical expertise and people management skills increased, I eventually decided a technical support officer role was where my skillset best fit.

Looking back, I realise how much this initial phase of my career shaped the qualities I am most proud of today - perseverance, determination and dedication. Each of these virtues has been essential in my career, as relevant today as almost 25 years ago - particularly as a woman in tech.

The telecommunications industry is certainly one that likes people who 'pick up' things quickly and this realisation early on pushed me to research, study and investigate more about every project and piece of work I was involved with. It created a drive that helped me steadily progress and evolve. 

Logistical barriers are real
Despite the strides in diversity and inclusion across the technology sector since I began my career, women are still under-represented and still encounter barriers to entering and thriving in this industry. 

The recent Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) report confirms this, indicating the information media and telecommunications sector as a whole has a 22.5 percent gap when it comes to median salary, and a 24% gap for remuneration.

But it's not just salary where women are challenged and disadvantaged.

In telecommunications, specifically in technology support roles, logistics such as rotating shifts or night shifts and travel between sites pose significant challenges for women, who, in the majority of cases, are still the primary caregivers. 

Across the sector, there is also a significant lack of women in senior leadership roles, which I believe impacts the younger generation of female tech graduates. The saying that girls become who they can see is true – we need more women in tech and in leadership to help boost interest in this sector among our students.

Women offer a breadth of skills
It is positive to see many organisations increasingly placing a stronger emphasis on diversity and inclusion as they realise the benefits - beyond technical prowess – that women bring to the table.

In my opinion, women are brilliant collaborators, excellent team players and the ultimate multi-taskers. My female colleagues are exceptional at establishing routine and continuity, which in turn provides stability in their teams and workplace environment. This optimises innovation, better problem-solving and strategic solutions across the board.

I am fortunate to work with SpinTel, an organisation that embraces these qualities and supports initiatives aimed at fostering inclusivity. Flexible work arrangements, such as our four-day workweek and the option to work from home, have been instrumental in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Overcoming the barriers
To enhance gender diversity in the tech and telco sector, it's vital to globally adopt gender-responsive digital policies. These policies involve tailoring digital programs to suit learners' gender-specific needs, ensuring inclusive content, closing gender outcome gaps, and safeguarding online spaces for girls.

To ensure gender inclusivity in digital initiatives, more women need to be at the centre of the design and development of emerging tech - including AI - which will help remove inherent gender bias that will persist until women are integral in the design and development phase.

Don't be discouraged

Despite the challenges and barriers women – and other under-represented groups – face in the technology sector, we must remain positively curious and stay updated with emerging technologies to thrive in this dynamic sector. 

Stay true to who you are and the skills you bring to the table. Go beyond your job description, stay updated with current tech, seek mentorship for guidance and encouragement and never lose heart.

Embrace challenges, seek growth opportunities and be assured resilience fuels progress. 

My own career is testament to this.