Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration of womankind’s achievements in every sphere – and a drive towards achieving full gender parity worldwide.
With the increasing digitisation of workplaces, and global discussion around the subject of women in STEM fields, here at Nublue we asked our Senior Web Developer Caroline Samuel about her own experiences in education and as a technical professional in the digital industry.
Hi Caroline! Could you tell our readers a little about your role at Nublue?
Hi! My role at Nublue is a Senior Web Developer. Day to day I carry out development work for the projects we’re working on, or any ongoing support tasks for clients. For example, creating new features or functionality for websites, fixing issues or working on new builds.
Alongside this I also oversee and coordinate the work which is done within the Web Development team, and act as a triage for incoming tasks. This means looking at the type of work which would be needed for a task, the best person to work on it, when the work will be scheduled in for, or if it needs to be escalated to our PHP team to work on.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
For me, I really enjoy the creative and problem solving elements which come with developing features or functionality on a website.
Did your education spark your interest in a technical career in the digital industry?
I took a degree in computing and found the modules which were related to programming the most interesting, especially the practical projects based on creating websites or bespoke functionality. There was also a good mix of creative work such as designing in Photoshop, and video editing which gave a really good insight into how technical and creative can sit together in digital industries.
How would you rate your career advice in school? Could your teachers or lecturers have done anything differently to help you in your future career?
When I was at school we didn’t have a great deal of career advice. I remember we filled in a very long form with questions about the kind of things we liked and disliked, to try and judge our aptitude for different careers. When the results came back, it had been calculated that I would be suitable either as a librarian or a leather worker, which hasn’t really panned out! Things are probably different now, but I really think that we would have benefitted from knowing more about different career options after school, and how these link in with certain subjects.
Could local businesses have played a bigger part in informing your career choices, for example visiting your school or college to offer career advice?
Certainly, I think that would have been very helpful. It would have exposed me to a greater variety of careers and helped me understand the experience and qualifications needed to enter them.
It would be great for more women to be in scientific and technical roles, and I think it would only benefit the workplace.
Do you think there are just as many opportunities for women in technical digital roles as there are for men? Have the opportunities changed over time?
Definitely, an opportunity is really just looking for the best candidate, regardless of gender.
I think opportunities have evolved along with the industry. There is certainly an emphasis on the overall package, so as well as technical competence or experience, a company’s also looking for a good fit into the team and someone who will work well with others.
Soft skills are also important and I think this is reflected in the wider range of opportunities you see today.
Are there any obstacles for women who are looking to enter technical roles?
I don’t think there are any obstacles as such. Each opportunity should be available to both men and women. However, I think there can sometimes be preconceptions about technical roles that might deter women from pursuing a particular role or field. For example, thinking that some jobs or roles are more typically ‘male’ or ‘female’. This of course, isn’t exclusive to our industry. However, in my experience, it has never been a problem.
Should women get more encouragement to enter technical roles?
It would be great for more women to be in scientific and technical roles, and I think it would only benefit the workplace. There should be the encouragement there, especially in schools, to broaden thinking about career opportunities.
Would you have pursued a technical career in digital anyway, with no encouragement?
I was lucky that in my first job after university, in a largely male-dominated telecoms industry, I experienced working with several women in senior positions. Their success encouraged me to stay in the industry and progress. I think it is important to have good role models, especially when starting out, whether they be people who you work with or in wider society.
How do the technical career opportunities in Lancashire compare with the rest of the country, in your experience?
Very well. I’ve lived and worked in other parts of the country and the opportunities are just as good here. When I moved to Lancaster from London I was surprised at the number of roles available in the North West. We seem to be in something of a hotspot, which is great.
Do you think gender stereotyping still impacts people who are pursuing certain careers?
I think this is much less of an issue than it was, and I hope that it doesn’t still have an impact. I can only speak from my own experience which, happily, has been very positive.
What’s your advice to anyone thinking about a technical career in digital, either in education or in terms of landing a relevant job?
I’d advise anyone to arrange work experience within the industry, to get a feel for whether they enjoy it.
Thanks for your time Caroline – and happy International Women’s Day from everyone at Nublue!