How to Build a Career in Tech: Celebrating Girls in ICT Day

Software development, and the tech industry as a whole, have traditionally been very male-dominated —  in the UK, only 19% of the tech workforce is female. In the modern working world, where diversity and inclusion are key goals for many businesses, it’s a problem to be solved.

At BlueOptima, we’re fully invested in opening up the software development industry to everyone. Awareness is the first step in attracting more women into tech careers, which is a key reason why the UN is backing ‘Girls in ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Day’.

Read on to learn exactly what Girls in ICT Day is, and how it can help girls become interested in tech careers. If you’re already pursuing a career in the tech industry, you’ll also find some great, female-focused career advice from Alessandra Scheffer, BlueOptima’s Head of Product.

What is Girls in ICT Day?

Girls in ICT Day is an initiative spearheaded by the International Telecommunications Union, which is the UN’s specialised body for ICT and related issues.

Since 2011, over 377,000 girls and young women have taken part in Girls in ICT Day events, which focus on getting girls inspired about the tech industry and how technology can change the world. As well as helping women learn how to build a career in tech, these events provide girls with an opportunity to try their hand at fascinating activities like app development and robotics.

The theme for 2022’s Girls in ICT Day is Access and Safety, with a particular emphasis on how women can make the most of a digital environment and feel safe online. This year’s events will look at overcoming the barriers girls face when they aspire to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) studies and careers. Since only 28% of the STEM workforce is female, encouraging women to enter these fields is a crucial step in achieving equality.

But what about women already involved in tech who are struggling to build a career for themselves? We spoke to our Head of Product, Alessandra Scheffer, to get some tips on achieving success in the tech industry.

An Interview With Alessandra Scheffer

“I always knew I wanted to get into tech. Initially, I was convinced I was going to end up in the automotive industry, so I studied Electrical Engineering and Finance at the Munich Technical University.”

Alessandra has been working and learning in STEM for nearly a decade, beginning with her engineering degree and going on to hold positions in software development startups and at the BMW Group. 

“Part of my studies was an Introduction to Software Development. I found that I liked how quickly you could do things [with software], and I liked how easily you could translate complex problems into code to make them work. After BMW, I moved to a software-focused startup, and started learning SQL and Python on the job.”

In her current role as Head of Product at BlueOptima, Alessandra examines what makes a great software product and explores how we can deliver these products to our clients efficiently.

Despite Alessandra’s success, she has encountered the same problems that many women in tech have — “Throughout my entire career there has been a tendency to be the only woman in the room, or only one among two or three.” With that in mind, we asked her for her tips on achieving success as a woman in the software industry. 

Advice on How to Build a Career in Tech

“Learn as much as you can!” is Alessandra’s primary advice to women and young girls trying to break into tech careers. “Be curious! That’s one of the most important things that I’ve learnt. Ask for help, ask for support, and be as proactive as you can when investing in your own development.”

Due to the gender imbalance in tech, Alessandra also encourages those entering the industry to expect some level of resistance: “For every woman who wants to work in the tech industry, you need to have a thick skin. Not only will you be confronted with your own biases, but you’ll also be challenged a lot on your knowledge and the ideas you bring to the table.”

The educational opportunities presented by Girls in ICT Day are a key part of ensuring women have the knowledge necessary to effectively defend their ideas. Of course, the real goal is to create a tech industry where women don’t have to defend their ideas at all. 

While knowledge is vital, Alessandra notes that avoiding isolation is also essential: “It’s really important to have a support system, where you can talk about situations that are inappropriate or make you uncomfortable.” 

She also provided a few tips on networking for women in tech:

“Especially with regards to women, there’s one organisation I can highly recommend: Lean In. It’s an international organisation where women can share their experiences in the tech industry, which is vital because it’s so important to understand that other women are having the same experience you are.”

“Also, Linkedin! Linkedin has been my best friend throughout my entire career. You can literally look for any organisation, any networking group you want. A good idea is to look for keywords like specific interests, keywords, and trends in the tech industry. It’s a great way to find networking events, online and in-person.” 

Interested in a Tech Career? Consider BlueOptima

If you’ve been inspired by Girls in ICT Day and are trying to break into the tech industry, consider looking into careers with BlueOptima. We’re always interested in helping women achieve success, so don’t hesitate to apply if you have the relevant skills.