In the spirit of celebrating International Women’s Day, we sat down with our colleague and friend Rebecca Wilson, who has been instrumental in founding the Women in Tech York group alongside the support of her colleagues at Mitrefinch.
Rebecca, as many of us are at Mitrefinch, are wanting to #PressforProgress. We want to challenge stereotypes and bias, and we want to forge a positive visibility of women as well as celebrate women’s achievements. So, we thought it was a great time to speak to Software Developer, Rebecca about her career journey so far, to maybe inspire the next woman or man into taking the next step in their career, or perhaps you’re at a career crossroad and thinking a career in technology may be for you.
Q: Tell us a little about your role at Mitrefinch
A: I’m a software developer here at Mitrefinch, I work mostly on new features, some bug fixes alongside a really great team.
Q: Describe a typical day in your role?
A: I typically like to get in early, I’m almost always one of the first people in and like to begin by planning my day ahead, so check my emails, check Visual Studio Team Services, which is where we do all our work. We have a stand-up meeting at 9.45am, where we discuss projects completed the day before, projects to complete today and any issues we have – this provides a good insight into what everyone in the team is up to. After this, besides any scheduled meetings, I spend the day developing, researching what I am a looking at and getting on with my to do list.
Q: How did you get into tech?
A: I got into my role as a software developer a bit differently than maybe most. I did a physics and astrophysics degree, and towards the end I decided I quite fancy a new challenge, so I applied for a few different roles.
The one that appealed to me the most was a software development role in Durham. At the time I had very basic coding knowledge. They obviously saw something in me, took me on, and I am so glad they did, as it made me realise how much I love working in Tech. Because I was learning on the job, I learnt all the standards, and got up to speed relatively fast compared to people who have done it for a few years at university.
Q: Do you notice a lack of women working in the tech industry?
A: Yes, I definitely feel there is a lack of women working in the industry. At Mitrefinch it is great that I’m not the only woman in the department, but I am the only female developer currently working here. I think the lack of women in technology roles is a problem for many companies. I believe it is something that needs to be worked on, and I’m glad that at Mitrefinch, we have the support of our CEO and many of the team throughout all departments.
Q: Do you feel the tech industry is getting more diverse in terms of women working with the industry?
A: It’s definitely getting more diverse. I think there are more initiatives to get women into tech, and more women are applying for jobs so the recruitment pool is being massively increased.
I am an advocate of more women working in technology, so I do hope that things like the Women in Tech group we are doing, and just generally speaking to different people will help more women take up technology as a career. I believe a lot more people are supporting women get tech roles, with more and more CEOs buying into it, so hopefully one day in the near future, we won’t be having to have these conversations and the industry will be both equal and diverse.
Q: What advice would you give a woman wanting to get into a career in technology?
A: The advice that I would probably give a woman wanting a career in technology, is to go for it! Build your skills up, learn to code in whatever language you feel most comfortable in or if it’s not coding there’s all sorts of other roles available such as testing and technical project roles.
In short… Build your skills up, apply for the jobs – you have nothing to lose if you want to go for it.
If you’re nervous, I think the best thing to do is find a mentor, someone who can inspire and provide direction and knowledge. I hope the Women in Tech group can provide this to those who need advice, direction or just a voice or ear and alleviate any stress. So, if there’s somebody who’s just finished university or wants to get back after having a child, or any situation, they can come along to this group and find someone who’s maybe been in their situation or knows about the place they want to work or the role they want to do and just get a some advice, and clarify what else they can do to make themselves the strongest candidate.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: It’s challenging, every day is similar yet different, there’s always a new bug to fix, new feature to implement, a new bit of functionality to learn about. The team are very helpful and knowledgeable, it’s always good to learn what they know, and share ideas.
Q: Who Inspires you?
A: This is a tricky question, for me it has been different people throughout my life! I was really inspired by Marie Curie who was one of the first women to get a Nobel Prize for her work. The same with Jocelyn Bell Burnell, was a research scientist who got skimmed over for a Nobel Prize despite it being mostly her research, but she took it gracefully. The ladies who inspired the book and movie, Hidden Figures also really intrigue me, so inspiring. And just generally people like Alan Turing, Einstein – those who have worked hard and been recognised for the work they have done in their field.
Q: What do you wish you had known on your journey into tech?
A: I wish I had known that it’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to push yourself out of your comfort zone and take on tasks and work that you maybe don’t know how to do. You will learn how to and no doubt faster than you would have done otherwise. Volunteer for opportunities you normally wouldn’t volunteer for – this will all stand you in good stead for your future in technology and you will feel a greater sense of achievement.