Are things changing for women in tech? Does more need to be done to encourage women to pursue STEM careers?
A lot of work has been done for women in tech over the past number of years. The number of women in the sector is increasing, and at an industry level there are many initiatives and groups in place to ensure that women’s voices are heard and supported throughout their career.
However, is enough being done to encourage young women and girls into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at an earlier stage? With the STEM industry – and the tech world in particular – begging for talent, it seems that enticing more girls into the industry seems like the right move.
However, Jaguar Land Rover’s Eimear Fitzgerald believes that young girls are still being steered towards careers that are viewed as ‘feminine’.
She believes that, while her experience as a woman in tech has been positive and a lot of work is being done at an industry level for women in tech across the board, more needs to be done at primary school level.
What first stirred your interest in a career in technology?
From a young age, I had an interest in working with and learning about technology. I’ve also always been a creative person. I became interested in engineering because it is a very innovative industry and I thought that I would be suited towards the combination of creativity and technology.
What education led you to the role you now have?
At secondary school, my favourite subjects were maths, physics and art. I found science and more logical subjects a lot easier than others such as languages. I was also lucky enough to get some work experience in a robotic engineering workshop while I was still in school. I was mostly working with AutoCAD and some basic programming, but this definitely led me toward computer engineering and software development.
What has your experience been like as a woman working in the tech industry?
My experience has been very positive. I think my day-to-day experience in my career has been the same as anyone else’s. In Jaguar Land Rover and industry-wide, there is a great atmosphere and environment of everyone coming together to encourage young girls and women to get involved in STEM and technology careers. In the west of Ireland alone, there have been many events geared towards encouraging girls and women to get involved in the tech industry.
Do you think things are changing for women in tech?
I believe things are changing for women in tech, but there is still a long way to go! From a young age, girls are still exposed to this misconception that women belong in more ‘feminine’ careers. There is a lot being done at industry level and in third-level education to encourage women to get more involved in STEM sectors, but not as much at primary and secondary school level. I think there needs to be a push to show girls from a young age that women can and are excelling in careers around technology and STEM.
Is there anything you wish you knew earlier on in your career?
I wish I had known how varied careers in technology can be. There are really so many different kinds of opportunities. In software alone, there are countless languages you can specialise in, [there is] embedded software v application level, and much more.
I also wish I had realised how broad the tech industry really is and how much it’s growing. Jobs aren’t confined to traditional tech companies any more. Jaguar Land Rover is just one example of a company that is venturing into the technology and software industry. There are now careers in technology in automotive companies, retail, finance and many more.