Being a Woman Starting in Tech
Hanne – HSBC Technology Graduate (LinkedIn)
I have always been interested in technology.
I remember watching the keynote when Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone back in 2007, while I was in 6th grade, and instantly knowing that I wanted to be part of the world of tech. That passion has never left me; I get just as excited every time a new Apple keynote is announced or when I hear about a new research breakthrough in technology, as I did that day in 2007.
Throughout middle and high school, I gravitated towards the maths and sciences. At university I did a bit of Chemical Engineering before choosing to do my degree in Computer Science, and then another in Machine Learning. After university I started the technology graduate program at HSBC, working as a Data Scientist.
But as I progressed through these wonderful years of doing what I loved, I slowly began to notice that there were fewer women with me in the room than when I started. Back in primary school I can’t remember ever reflecting on the gender balance in the room, because it didn’t feel important. But the day you look up around a lecture hall or meeting room and can count the number of fellow women in the room on one hand, it’s suddenly something you can’t stop noticing.
I found myself representing my entire gender and the right for women to be part of the conversation whenever I entered a room. This was not a role I wanted or felt particularly comfortable with – I was just as qualified and passionate about technology as everyone else in the room, so why did I have an added responsibility?
Eventually, I stopped looking around the room to count the number of women in it, and instead lifted my gaze further to start counting female role models. I have learned so much from the amazing women I have met and worked with, and seeing how they’ve ‘made it’ makes me feel confident that I can to. It also makes me grateful knowing that my path to this point was made slightly easier because they walked it before me and paved the way. It has taught me the importance of having role models, and made me appreciate the role I can play in helping ensure that the young women in my position in the future have it easier than I did.
I have loved my past year working in tech. It is exactly as fun and challenging as I hoped it would be. As a data scientist, a large part of my role is general data management – understanding what data there is, how it’s organised and processed, and making recommendations for how to improve the way we handle it. This can include things like simplifying current data processing steps or removing duplicate data/processes. I also do a lot of projects outside of my main role, often related to automating data processing/checks which are currently done manually, or analysing previously unused datasets. This can include data cleaning, data exploration, tagging or grouping data, and visualising and presenting findings/analysis.
During the application process, I know how much I appreciated the few times I got to speak to a woman employee at a recruitment event, that wasn’t just an HR rep but one of the actual technologists (and trust me, that was rare), but it made all the difference. Those were the companies I gravitated towards, and those were the roles I could see myself in.
And hopefully, I can be that one person that encourages another young woman to take the leap into a career as exciting and fast paced as that of technology. Just as the women at career events I attended did for me.
Views expressed in guest posts are solely those of the writer and do not represent the thoughts, opinions or views of any other mentioned third parties, including employers or colleagues.