Women in Tech: Breaking Barriers
IE’s first female Agile Web Developer, Joelle Symons shares her thoughts on what she’s learnt so far along her journey

Within STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - the proportion of women working within the technology sector has stagnated. Despite efforts from technology giants like Google to minimse the gender gap, men still dominate the industry. There are still less than 27% of us females occupying computer science roles.

Studying Sound Engineering at University opened up my eyes to exploring the world of technology. With less that 5% of females on my course the gender disparity was clear, however that never deterred me. I particularly enjoyed studying the programming modules which led me to explore web development further. Keen to learn more I began teaching myself HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP, as well as familiarising myself with concepts such as Agile, Rapid prototyping, Interoperability and Open standards. A few months later, equipped with my new skills, I completed a six-month internship at IE. This then led to a permanent position - I joined as IE’s first female Agile developer!

Here’s a few things I’ve learnt along the way:

Forget about the stereotypes: There will always be generalised claims attempting to account for the gender disparity within STEM fields. These tell us that females' minimal presence in STEM related jobs stem from women being more focused on family life, less interested in tech and less competent at thinking logically - all of which are untrue! If I’d listened to these claims then I wouldn’t be where I am today. Ignore what others say and stay focused on what YOU want to do.

Make connections: With an increase in specialist programmes and events aiming to encourage women to join the industry, there has never been a better time to tap into these resources and make connections in the industry. Check out Girls Who Code and WISE for starters.

Become an expert: Find what you’re good at and home in on it - there’s nothing better than loving what you do.

Find a great home: Look for a company that will invest in your talent, irrespective of gender.