Women in tech: How DevOpsGuys is trying to close the gender gap

Diversity, particularly when it comes to gender, is a prevailing topic for technology companies around the world. According to research from the Wise Campaign, just 23 per cent of core science, technology, engineering and maths roles in the UK  are held by women.

Encouraging young women to study technology subjects at college and university level is seen as an important step in closing the gender gap. However, according to numbers released by the Joint Council for Qualifications released in 2017, just 9.8 per cent of A Level computing students happened to be women.

The situation doesn’t get any better at board level. A study conducted by Silicon Valley Bank, which surveyed 941 technology start-ups, found that 70 per cent of participants didn’t have a female on their board. And the number of females working at technology giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook is also low.

But that’s not to say organisations aren’t taking steps to drive change in the industry. As a high-performance IT consultancy, we’ve launched a variety of initiatives to help eradicate this divide. For instance, we’ve formed partnerships with the likes of Chwarae Teg and ESTnet to ensure that our practices – such as flexible working, training programmes and job adverts – encourage diversity. And our Academy provides a range of training and internal development courses to maximise the skills of people from all walks of life.

Enabling change

Lucy Young, people and culture specialist, explains how we’re trying to generate change on both an organisational and industry level. “As company working in a competitive marketplace for talent, we do everything we can to attract a diverse range of talent.  That includes things such as the language of job adverts to training opportunities for new starters. Our aim has always been to bring in the most talented, diverse individuals,” she explains.

“We work with a plethora of external organisations to enforce change not only within our organisation, but the wider industry too. We genuinely want to see more girls taking STEM subjects in school, college and university, before going on to enter an exciting and constantly changing industry.

“Thanks to these steps, we’ve experienced a great deal of progress. We’re seeing more females apply to our intern and graduate programmes, as well as more experienced roles. Our gender diversity has increased dramatically in the past six months, especially as we’ve raised more funding and created new job opportunities, and I foresee our team becoming more balanced as the company grows.”

Fighting ahead

Having started out as a programmer before rising to senior and leadership positions, Kate Jones is an example of a leading woman in tech. She currently serves as our operations director and is on a mission to get more women into the sector. “In what is a very male-dominated environment, it’s nice to be able to provide that different perspective, to make a place more diverse, to challenge the status quo and to hopefully encourage more women to have careers in tech. I’m not sure this is because I’m a woman, but it’s exciting. It’s always changing interesting, and there is so much opportunity to shape the future,” says Kate.

Despite being on the top of her game, Kate admits that things haven’t always been easy. “I think people’s expectations of me have been a challenge. For a reasonable period, I knew I had bosses who thought I would start a family and saw this as a hindrance. This left me feeling conflicted. I didn’t want to deny I wanted a family, but I was very aware that this was seen as a negative thing to aspire to,” she continues.

“Rather than companies working out how to make this work, they would work out how to get around it and who would replace you. I would also say my own internal voices have challenged me. I still find it hard to sell myself, and the reality is that in many companies, you must do that. You need to put yourself in the running if you want to be considered.”

Nurturing diverse talent

As part of aims to close the digital skills gap in Wales and to grow talent within the organisation, we run a respected internship programme. 21-year-old Charlotte Williams has been working on the scheme for nine months.

Talking about her motivations for pursuing a career in technology, she says: “Before starting university, I was going to do an arts and graphics design degree. But I decided last minute to go into technology because I had done it at A Level and enjoyed the course. Although I liked art a bit more, I then had a serious talk with my parents and decided that it’d be easier to find a job in the technology sector compared to creative industries,” she explains.

“DevOpsGuys is my first real job and industry I’ve experienced, and the company has been very open to my development. You hear a lot about women in the technology industry and how they’re not seen as the same as men. However, I’ve not experienced that. If anything, I feel like people appreciate me more. And there’s a lot of help and encouragement from the people around me.”

Clearly, the lack of women in technology is a challenge for organisations globally. But we’re taking practical steps to ignite change and ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to forge a career in the tech world. To look at current roles at DOG, check out this link. You can also get a free ticket to the upcoming Women Rock meet-up, which takes place at our Cardiff office on June 21st. Here, many of these issues will be discussed in detail.

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