Opportunities for Women in Tech

Posted: 9 Jun 2021

Opportunities for Women in Tech

In this article, we talk to Eolas Recruitment’s Senior Recruiter Nollaig Leydon about initiatives that aim to encourage more women to pursue careers in the tech sector.

It seems that there is a lot of focus in the last few years on encouraging more women into tech. Why is this so important?

In Ireland, we are fortunate to have some great role models in our tech community—you only have to think of people like Sinéad McSweeney, who leads Twitter’s public policy team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and is Managing Director of Twitter in Ireland, or Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland. Yet, despite this, it is still the case that only one in five of our computer graduates are female. It’s a similar picture in Europe. The European Commission’s 2020 Women in Digital (WiD) Scoreboard shows only 18% of ICT specialists in the EU are women.

Research shows that diversity benefits business so these statistics are disappointing. But there is more awareness of the need for diversity and things are beginning to change. Computer Weekly recently surveyed IT workers in the UK and Ireland and found that 67% said their firms are working on gender diversity although only 29% said their company has a plan in place to help improve the balance of men and women on their tech teams.

So, what kinds of initiatives are being undertaken to encourage more women to pursue a career in tech?

A good example of an initiative that is targeting gender diversity is Ireland’s Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT) network. They recently announced a partnership with the 30% Club and plan to deliver mentoring, education and training activities to encourage women into tech. The partnership will support leaders of technology companies in their diversity ambitions. There are also courses co-funded by the Government and the European Social Fund that aim to boost skills in areas like ICT and some of the big tech companies have specific programmes to encourage women into tech careers.

What skills do these programmes encourage?

Government programmes generally aim to develop the skills that are needed in the market. There is always strong demand for technical skills in areas like software development and engineering but companies are also looking for soft skills because the boundaries between ICT and business skills is blurring. Team work, problem solving, a positive attitude, good communication skills, commitment to continuous development and being willing to learn from feedback — these are all advantages when it comes to finding tech roles in the current market.

In terms of technical skills, how easy is it to acquire these if you have no previous experience?

There are lots of online courses around where you can learn the basics of Java, Python, .NET and C++. This will help you begin to pick up the kinds of skills you need to build, test and debug the programs that underpin business operations. Even if you have a computer science degree and experience in the tech sector, online courses are a great way to keep your skills up to date.

If you have the right skills, where are the opportunities at the moment?

There are always a lot of opportunities for developers. Project managers are in strong demand and security skills are also highly sought after. There is growing awareness of cyber risks as more business is conducted online and companies are becoming more proactive about risk management. Employers are looking for candidates with analysis, forensics and reverse engineering capability to investigate, monitor and diagnose threats to their systems. Roles are also opening up in areas like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, data analytics, IoT and blockchain.

Are these permanent roles?

Many organisations hire both permanent and contract workers. Demand for contractors increased during the Covid-19 pandemic because so many companies needed help to adapt their work processes when they switched to remote working. For women interested in getting into tech, I would say that if you have good technical and problem-solving skills and are well-organised, contracting can be a great way to advance your career. It tends to suit confident, self-reliant people with good communication skills who can integrate quickly with relevant teams when they are needed.

In terms of applying for roles, do you have any tips on finding relevant opportunities and CV preparation?

A good way to find opportunities is to use Eolas Recruitment’s online Job Search. As a specialist in the IT sector, we have strong relationships with employers and we work closely with candidates to help them find suitable roles. When you register with us, we are able to alert you to upcoming roles that match your skills and experience. This is a free service for candidates.

As regards CV preparation, my main advice is to ensure that you prepare a new CV each time you apply for a role. The biggest mistake that we see is applicants just updating a CV they used for a previous application. It’s really important to explain how your qualifications and experience match the role that you are applying for. You need to explain this in a way that is easy for recruiters and employers to understand.

Any other tips or advice for women who want to pursue a career in tech?

Building your network is very important so I would encourage women to participate in industry groups and attend relevant events where possible. There is a major online conference happening this week which is bringing women in tech from all over the world together to learn, share insights and discover opportunities to collaborate and network. The WomenTech Global Conference has a full week of live events with a great line up of inspiring speakers. Events like this are a good way to find out about the diversity of careers in the tech sector.

It’s also important to monitor the tech trends that impact business operations and keep your skills up to date. Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you register with Eolas Recruitment so that we can keep you posted on relevant upcoming opportunities. Check out our informational videos and online reviews for information about how we work with candidates.

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