‘DigitALL’ – Recognising International Women’s Day 2023
Today, the 8th of March, see us recognise and celebrate International Women’s Day. Dating all the back to 1909, in recent years it’s gained significant momentum and continues to be recognised by millions of people and businesses across the world.
With the UN observing the day each year with a dedicated theme, International Women’s Day this year shines a light on the many achievements women have made whilst also providing an opportunity to highlight the work that is still left to do, as we all strive to create a more gender-equal world.
The UN theme for 2023 is ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’. As digital technology continues to become crucial in all of our lives, unfortunately a gender digital divide still exists. Women and girls remain disadvantaged when it comes to access to digital technology and education. Here at Civic Engineers, our support team functions play an important role in helping us deliver excellence for our clients and collaborators, and the people we help to lead happier and healthier lives through our projects and places. Our studios rely on the support of our IT functions, not just for day-to-day operations but to also spearhead our approach to innovation and technology.
As we recognise and celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day and the ‘DigitALL’ theme, we sat down with our IT Service Manager, Nosheen Shah, who gave us some insight into her own journey building a career in technology, and her thoughts on why women still make up such a small percentage of the sector with just over a quarter of roles being occupied by women. Thanks Nosheen for your thoughts and insights, shared below…
I’d always been fascinated by IT and computers from a young age. I studied IT in my A Levels and that’s where my passion for IT and my journey began. I completed a BSC in Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London, I then went onto doing a MSC in Information Technology at Leeds Metropolitan University. Once I graduated, I started at a most basic role at Fujitsu with limited security access to IT controls however gained experience in taking calls, trouble shooting and fixing minor issues. I then moved onto my next role at Firstport Property Services where I developed my role and experience very fast with my willingness to learn, I pretty much changed roles every year. Along with the IT size growing from under 10 to over 60 people when I left. Following a move to Yorkshire Water, I continued to build up my experience quickly, which led me to Civic Engineers and the lovely team here.
The stats still remain underwhelming, and with just a quarter of the IT and Tech workforce being female, there are clearly still barriers that exist that stop girls and women from pursuing a career in digital and tech roles. For me, operating in such a male dominated sector has provided me with lots of opportunities. Usually being either the only one or one of few women in the department, if you shout up and ask to get more involved, you can get exposure to some great projects and be front and centre of some really exciting opportunities. However, I do feel like girls and women may not be as confident in a male orientated environment which may put them off wanting to come into such a field. This is where much work still needs to be done, to champion and mentor the next generation of talent and help them believe and build their confidence that a career in this field is not just for men.
Naturally there tends to be a lack of female role models in such a male dominated profession, so finding those mentors and support systems can be tricky. Men play just as crucial a role mentoring young female talent and I think more awareness is there for the ways in which men can be better mentors and sponsors of women to help balance unequal male to female ratios at work.
By sharing stories and journeys of female role models in IT we can inspire younger generations and encourage them to explore their interest in a career in Tech/IT. From show and tells, presentations, mentor/mentee sessions, there’s many ways that women like myself can play our part in supporting other women to not be put off career choices because of a perceived (and unfortunately real) gender gap.
It’s hard but the power of asking should not be underestimated. My biggest learning curve was the five years spent at Firstport and the main reason I developed was because I wasn’t shy to ask. I directly emailed Directors/Managers asking for work I could possibly be involved in or take part in. This gave me the opportunity to show my capabilities and shine bright. It’s great to hear that this year’s International Women’s Day is shining a light on IT and Technology, and although we still have a long way to go before women are no longer considered the minority in tech, every step in the right direction counts and days like today are a big leap for us all.