In this article, Stacey Wilkinson talks about how her experiences whilst travelling the world as a recruiter led her to believe that economies need more women in the tech world
I am a 38-year-old woman who, after graduating in a degree that proved utterly useless to me, found myself working in tech, quite by accident, at aged 26.
That’s not to say I haven’t tried other careers over the years (purely out of curiosity) but nowadays I am what some call a ‘digital nomad’, travelling the globe with my laptop, recruiting people with tech skills, for some of the most innovate companies in the world.
What I will say is this.
If you desire a career that is lucrative, one that is constantly evolving and adapting to the market, one where you can move relatively seamlessly between countries and continents, one which is guaranteed to offer you job security for the rest of your life – get into tech/IT/computer science/cyber/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.
And what’s more, if you end up being even remotely good at what you do – be it software development, project management, data analytics – you will never have to formally apply for a job again. One can sit back and prepare to be headhunted via LinkedIn (and the likes of me) for the rest of your life.
Alternatively, if you’re a woman who enjoys being the ‘only female in the village’ – get into tech. It’s a seriously male-dominated industry and every software house, fintech startup, eGaming company etc. I have ever worked with since 2006 has said to me “if you can find us a woman for any of these roles Stacey, that would be great.”
In terms of rousing interest for tech in both genders, I think the problem started in the 80s with computers and robots being mass-marketed at boys, with films such as Weird Science (two boys create a robot depicting their dream woman), RoboCop, Short Circuit (Steve Guttenberg is the brilliant young scientist who creates the robot No.5, whereas Ally Sheedy’s character is the animal-loving, ice-cream-van driver who falls for Guttenberg), Flight of the Navigator etc.
It’s a seriously male-dominated industry and every software house, fintech startup, eGaming company etc. I have ever worked with since 2006 has said to me “if you can find us a woman for any of these roles Stacey, that would be great.”
Speaking as an 80s’ child myself, this was then perpetuated at school, where most young girls – put off by boys in general at that age – avoided the subjects where they themselves were the minority. Girls were geared towards the emotive, arty, more expressive subjects, like home economics and literature.
The image of the ‘nerdy’ bespectacled software engineer, face-down over a desk in coding, just didn’t appeal to the majority of teenage girls and maybe still doesn’t, I guess. What needs to be taught to school children these days, is that this image has long gone and it’s a far-from-accurate portrayal of what the modern-day computer programmer looks like. If I had a pound for every time a company asked me to find them a ‘software developer with good communication skills’.
I think the problem started in the 80s with computers and robots being mass-marketed at boys
Lack-of-women aside, there has been one other constant in the IT market for the last thirteen years: I’ve noticed a massive skills shortage across all sectors and the gap is only going to get bigger. I work with companies in every continent and this is the case for the majority of locations I have ever recruited in – be it Yorkshire, the Isle of Man, the USA or Hong Kong – my most recent placement areas.
In light of the skills shortage epidemic, I have managed to carve a niche in that I tend to be asked to help companies recruit skilled workers in the most remote/sparsely-populated areas. I have successfully relocated fifteen people from Asia and various parts of Europe, over to the Isle of Man, to fill roles in eGaming companies.
I am currently working on a large-scale recruitment project which involves growing a tech firm in the Black Forest area of Germany. It’s an absolutely stunning location and the hiring managers are desperate to cultivate a more varied workforce over there, but the skills in that part of the world don’t come in abundance and we’ve got around 80 roles coming out of this area in the next 12 months, so if anyone – male or female – is seriously considering relocation, get in touch.
That all said, I do hope more young women start to see tech as an obviously rewarding career path and I am always happy to give advice to anyone interested in tech.
As the late British Computer Scientist, Karen Spärck Jones said, ‘computing is too important to be left to men.’ Sorry, guys!
Editor's Recommended Articles
Must Read >> Insights: Being a woman in the technology industry
Must Read >> Who can see your personal data and browsing history?