At Sparkol, we are proud of our team makeup with a split of 45% female to male. For a tech company this is not the norm. In fact, a 2018 survey from Statista revealed that “The Tech World Is Still a Man’s World”.
Large technology corporations like Netflix, Microsoft, Apple, Google and Twitter have an average of 26% to 43% female employees. This percentage drops much lower when it comes to actual tech roles and even lower for female leadership positions.
We wanted to rival these statistics and celebrate some of Sparkol’s wonderful women who work hard everyday to keep the company thriving.
I spoke to some of Sparkol’s women about their jobs, how they got into tech and their thoughts on gender in the workplace.
From left: Zoe – CEO, Henriette – hands-on test manager, Hao – software developer, and Helen – project manager.
Here’s what they had to say…
What’s a typical day?
Zoe (CEO): “My role varies by day, but unless I have an early meeting or am away, I’ll drop the kids to school before heading into the office. No day is ever the same at Sparkol but there will always be some catching up with the team and ensuring we all have what we need for the day/week ahead.
We are opening an office in New York this week as well as expanding into Europe and Asia! Until now we have only had an office in the UK, despite selling to over 160 countries. On any given day I might find myself talking to lawyers or accountants about compliance issues one minute and picking up with the product team about where we are with our various projects the next.
We started a running club at the office so if it’s a Wednesday I will try to get out, shuffle around the streets or park and try to blow the cobwebs away!”
Henriette (Test Manager): “My day consists of test execution of test cases that are linked to requirements for all of our products and website. The coverage of these test cases are over different browsers and devices.”
Hao (Software Developer): “I start work about 9am and get started on the tickets in progress. These are all related to implementing new product features on the apps we’re currently working on.”
Helen (Project Manager): “A typical day will start with checking emails, messages on our company Slack channels, checking the status of tickets on our Jira boards. Then I run a daily standup with all members of our development team to understand work progress and any issues or blockers that arose the previous day. The rest of my day is spent discussing new requirements with company stakeholders, helping prioritise work and resolving resource conflicts. I also have one-to-one conversations with developers regarding requirements that are already in progress.”
Did you always know you wanted to work in tech, and how did you get into it?
Zoe: “No, I started my working life as a ski instructor and didn’t think beyond the next powder day. My dad worked for IBM when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s and I was lucky enough to have a computer in the house from a very early age. The first was a Tandy TRS80 with cassette storage!
I fell into technology in the late 90s when I accepted a 3 month role helping a US based software company set up in the UK. 3 months turned into ten years and it never occurred to me that it wasn’t the way forward. It’s all about the people for me and tech attracts great people!”
Henriette: “No! I wanted to be a dentist but when I was 18 I took a summer course in IT which covered web design and human computer interaction. It was after this course that I knew I wanted to work in technology. I did a degree in business information technology and part of this was a year work placement. During this placement year I first started software testing.”
Hao: “Yes I think so. I knew I liked fixing things, and being able to see results! I studied video and television engineering at university in China, then was a camera assistant in the Olympic games. I did my masters in web science then got into programming afterwards.”
Helen: “Ha, well when I was a little girl, I aspired to be my dad’s secretary! I guess I’ve achieved the sitting at a desk with a computer element of that role. I graduated from university with a BA Hons degree in business studies. I had my sights set on a marketing role when graduating and after a year at IBM, I joined the marketing team of an IT recruitment company. I was there for 15 years and made many twists and turns which got me into the company’s IT team doing business analysis and then project management. I proved that you didn’t necessarily need a degree or qualifications in tech to be able to work in tech. It helped that I met some great leaders along the way who believed in me and my abilities and were willing to give me the opportunity.”
Have you ever felt your gender has affected the way you’ve been treated in the workplace? If you have, how did you handle it?
Zoe: “Sadly yes, but that was a very long time ago. Things have changed since then and my approach has always been to ignore the naivety. I’m lucky to have an amazing team around me and gender doesn’t factor into our mutual respect for one another.”
Henriette: “No, I’ve never felt my gender has affected the way I’ve been treated in the workplace!”
Hao: “I’ve never felt like that before. Not because of my gender anyway. More so because I am not a native English speaker.”
Helen: “I think that stigma about gender and working in a male dominated environment isn’t as prevalent anymore. I’ve worked in offices where I’ve been the only woman and have never felt like I haven’t been taken seriously. As long as you’re confident in your approach and listen to what others have to say to make informed decisions and can prove you are making a valuable contribution to the team then gender doesn’t come into it.”
What advice would you give to a woman wanting to get into the tech industry?
Zoe: “There are so many fabulous career opportunities in tech so if it interests you, go for it. Choose an employer who is forward thinking, flexible and is happy to invest in you and support your growth so that you can excel in your role. I’m a great one for fairness (on all sides) but also realistic to acknowledge that every job has its dull or rough days. If you dread Monday mornings coming around or can’t get the right work life balance then you’re in the wrong place and it’s time for a change.”
Henriette: “Explore different areas of technology to see which appeals to you the most and take it from there!”
Hao: “Keep learning and don’t let your gender even come into it. You have the same brain as everybody else!”
Helen: “The tech industry is such an exciting place to be, lots of new emerging technologies and different ways of doing things that are there to be explored. The roles within the tech industry are so varied, it’s not that hard to find one that plays to your strengths. It’s more about passion, commitment and dedication that will allow you to go far. If you have the passion to learn and to try out new ways of doing things, without worrying about making mistakes from time to time, being a woman in tech really doesn’t come in to it.”
Want to join our growing team?
The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceforBetter. At Sparkol we favour balance and believe it drives a better working world, which is why we celebrate its presence not only today, but every day.
Sparkol are currently on the hunt for three talented people to join our team. Take a look at our current vacancies and if you see something that catches your eye, we’d love to hear from you.