In this article, we speak to Vanessa Taylor, Salesforce skilled Project Manager at Ribbonfish, and Signe, also at Ribbonfish as a Salesforce Developer about women in tech.
Read on to learn more!
How did you both get into the technology sector?
Signe: I am quite new to technology. I was working in a completely unrelated field before Ribbonfish, however, the company I was previously working for needed a new website and I managed to get involved and had some exposure to the website and the code and it really interested me. From there, I went and did some online courses and then university (FD Computing) at London Birbeck University. I really enjoyed coding more and more and then, I got my break into the technical world.
Vanessa: I got into technology accidentally. As a Salesforce user in the construction industry, I worked on an implementation project for Salesforce and quickly assumed the role of project manager. Following this project, we had other projects on Salesforce too and this inspired me and ignited my love for Salesforce. After a few years, I moved from construction into a more focused tech role.
What has been the driving force to get you where you are today?
Vanessa: I was motivated by the opportunity to progress, especially within Salesforce. I spent 10 years in property before I decided to make the leap into Salesforce consultancy, but the Salesforce world is wide-open, and you can do anything within the eco-system.
Signe: I agree completely with Vanessa.
How can we get more women into technology?
Signe: I think it starts really early. I think there could be a lot more encouragement at an early level. I remember reading a statistic that said about 80% of girls expressed an interest to go into IT when they are young, however, only about 20% actually do it. In addition, the women-to-men ratio in my experience has always been very low.
Vanessa: I agree – and if you look at Salesforce, they are a company that are pushing for equality. For example, they push awareness to everyone about what they can achieve with Salesforce. In addition, Salesforce have addressed the gender pay gap, which is as evident in IT as it is with most sectors.
Signe: There needs to be more women in high positions too. From the outside, it looks like it is a male-dominated space, especially in leadership. When I joined Ribbonfish, there was a woman CEO and this really attracted me to the company.
What sorts of challenges have you faced in your profession because of your gender?
Vanessa: Do you mean aside from the very blatant, albeit occasional, sexist remarks…? When I was applying for jobs I found it hard to put a worth on my skill set. For example, speaking with recruiters, it was kind of hard to know what pay bracket to aim for; I think women often undervalue themselves.
Sometimes it can be quite daunting when in a room or meeting full of men and you are trying to get them to take you seriously as there are so many perceived rules about how women can and can’t act.
Also, if there is an admin task, I feel like I get it just because I am a woman and that I am the female in the room / meeting. I have experienced this in multiple roles at more than one company.
Signe: I always feel like there is a real specific pressure as a developer and as someone new to the profession. That specific pressure is that I should not be ‘bad’ at my job. This is elevated increasingly because there are so little women in development, and it makes me wary.
Vanessa: Yes, I think it makes you wary to speak up sometimes, it feels like you have more to lose.
Signe: Exactly, you think that it will be notable because you are the only woman present. Additionally, the world can be small sometimes and the people you work with today might end up being your boss or a hiring manager in the future and, if you get remembered at all, that could put your future at risk.
How has the tech industry changed for women since you started in tech?
Signe: I am about one year in and I have not seen any major changes. It is visible though that they are trying to make it more appealing to women and honestly, if the pandemic didn’t happen, I don’t think we would be in the same position as we are in now with the acceleration of women getting into tech.
Funnily enough the pandemic seemed to start the ‘flexible working’ drive and, if you look into it, you may notice that it is often attributed to just women or geared towards a ‘women-friendly working environment’, however, it’s not just a women thing.
Vanessa: If I think about my experience working at other companies, there used to never be any women involved in the team. However, now, I can see more women involved in the projects in all roles, so it seems to be slowly getting better.
What advice would you give women who want to get into a technology-focused role like Salesforce Developer, Architect or Technical Project Manager?
Signe: Just go for it. Do not be put off by the perception of the sector being male dominated. The only way that it will not be male dominated is that more women just get into it.
Vanessa: There is probably an option out there for you no matter what your skill set. If anything, you can use this to get your foot in the door and then grow from there.
Signe: If you are planning to get into Salesforce, there are many different programmers and resources that you can try and get involved in. For example, Salesforce has Trailhead that has learning for everyone.
Where do you see yourself and the industry in the next 5 years?
Signe: I am hopeful that we will see an increase of women getting into the industry and actually staying in the industry. On a personal level, I hope that I am good enough at what I am doing so that I can advocate for other women and be in a position whereby my opinion is valued, respected and holds influence. I will then hope that I can use this position to bring in more women.
Vanessa: I am hoping for some quick and accelerated career progression over the next 5 years. I am currently learning some new skills at the moment and I am excited to see where it leads. I agree with Signe on the comments about the industry, it would be good to see more women in technology and leadership positions, especially the more technical positions.
Thanks to Vanessa and Signe.
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