Why working in Tech is good for Women
20 years ago my pre-tech working life consisted of frequenting the most glamorous locations imaginable in the name of research, wining and dining heads of international corporations and celebrities in the name of networking, attending and organising one corporate hospitality event after the next for the F1, Concerts, Rugby and The Olympics (among others).
So to find myself increasingly more in the tech arena is an entirely different thing. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not technical (and don’t have any desire to be) and the industry I’ve become very passionate about, I fell into accidentally.
At the time I was running an international marketing agency, and in between launching an Australian fashion company into Germany, and a marketing NSW Government Olympic IP to future bidding cities post Sydney-2000, I was approached by the Founder and CEO of OBT Shane Muller to “help out with marketing” for his start-up company OBT. It was new and I was up for tackling an emerging industry, and what started out as helping out on the side gradually morphed into the global presence it has today.
As glamorous and fast-paced as my old lifestyle was, I find myself loving the work that I do now far more. Sure, the highlights are different (and there’s decidedly less champagne), but two decades on, so am I.
So 16 years on, here’s why I am passionate about this industry – and why I’d recommend it hands down for any woman out there looking for an exciting and challenging career.
1. My closest colleagues are global.
It’s a strange concept, but my closest work colleagues are spread around the world. While there’s no ducking out for a coffee, we catch up most of the time on video using Skype for Business and I really don’t even feel the distance. Working in this space makes you close, and we’ve been there for each other at our best and our worst. It’s nice to have that core and closeness uniting many parts of the world – and it’s pretty common in a lot of tech organisations these days.
2. It suits every stage of family life.
Over the last 10 years I have had five children – and continued to work throughout. I’ve taken a few months off after giving birth – but without exception, back behind the screen shortly after, often whilst breastfeeding a baby. The hours were flexible and that’s the key thing that made this work. As long as I met the brief, it didn’t matter whether the job was done at 3pm or 10pm.
Many technology firms are particularly family-friendly, I think in part because they operate in a forward thinking and egalitarian space (not that motherhood is all that revolutionary!). Sometimes I took my babies to my office when there was a key meeting that required my presence – and even though most of the staff in our team are male, having a newborn in the place was a novelty that everyone enjoyed and it wasn’t a distraction to the work at hand.
3. It keeps you fresh.
I was going to say young, but that sounds a bit clichéd. But the reality is to stay up with what’s going on you need to be connected with the emerging marketplace. A lot of good talent is young, and so it’s also a good way to stay connected with the next generation. When my kids are older, I think it will be cool that we’ll be able to relate in a meaningful way about technology and that working in this industry facilitates me maintaining an edge in this respect.
4. It’s constantly changing and evolving.
16 years ago when I started in tech, marketing “cloud” services, the term “cloud” wasn’t even around. Since then, it’s been fascinating to watch the marketplace transform so rapidly and dramatically – and it’s exciting to see where things are going over the next decade, and to be a part of it.
5. You can follow your work and your work can follow you.
For 16 years now, I’ve worked servicing the same clients while living various locations – Sydney, Melbourne, Munich, New Zealand. I’m not desk-bound, not city-bound or even country-bound!
While we’ve been working this way for decades, technologies like Skype for Business make this possible for most businesses these days. But there is something about tech companies where travel and flexible working locations is second nature to this job.
6. You can have a long and successful career.
As long as you do the work, you’ll be in demand. It’s a growing industry and there is a labour shortage. Your skills are not tied to your geographic location, as good talent is sought out and snapped up from anywhere. Unlike some other professions at threat of fading, anyone who works in technology and is committed to staying abreast of the market is a valuable asset to organisations.
If you need to take a career-break for family reasons, you can up-skill in your own time and quickly make up lost ground.
7. There are lots of passionate women in the industry.
Yes – right now there’s still a lot more male representation, but that serves to develop a camaraderie among the women and many of those seem to be go-getters and confident about their skill and their place.
Competence often underpins confidence, and there’s a lot of talk about which is more important. Although the two certainly go hand in hand. I find the tech industry does tend to attract a lot of great women who are both competent and confident – and can glean from each other and spur each other on.
And, there are plenty of organisations that support women working in technology. Women in Digital is one I happen to be part of and love. There are great opportunities for those starting out to be mentored by women with loads of experience – so I’d encourage anyone just starting out or just wanting to sharpen their edge to get involved.
Bottom line: if someone like me, with a background in travel, international events and foreign languages can find their niche in technology… so can you.
It’s a growing industry with increasing demand so the sky really is the limit. While some of the benefits above translate to other industries, I can’t immediately think of any of any that offer ALL the benefits that the tech sector gives.
This article was written by the author back in 2016 and was originally published in her LinkedIn account. The topic remains to be highly relevant to women working or is thinking of working in the tech industry within the sector.