Today is International Women’s Day (correct on the day of publishing) and what better way to mark the occasion with the start of our Women in Tech Series. The series will introduce you to the amazing women working in the software industry, here at Allsop.
Recent research reveals that only one-in-six tech specialists in the UK are women, only one-in-ten are IT leaders and, worse still, despite significant growth in the number of women working in IT roles, female representation in the technology sector has stalled over the last ten years.
Source: Women In Tech
Today we are talking with Software Developers, Lalita Ossawy and Clodagh O’Neill, so grab yourself a coffee and take five minutes to meet the talented developers at Allsop.
Please introduce yourself?
L: Lalita, pronounced as La-Lee-Ta, I am a 23-year-old female working at Allsop.
C: My name is Clodagh O’Neill and I am a Software Developer at Allsop.
What do you consider is your best achievement to date?
L: My best achievement has had to come through my own sense of direction and personal improvements not only in my personal life but within my career. I have worked my way from a Junior Software Developer knowing nothing about Allsop, their technologies/tech stack or how they operate to a Mid-level Software Developer in just over a year, alongside studying a part-time degree at Ulster University which I graduate from in 2022.
C: I have recently been promoted from Junior to Mid-Level Developer. To be at this level a year and a half after starting my career in the software industry is a huge personal accomplishment. My career path was always a struggle for me, so to be in a position where I am thriving in a job that I really enjoy is a massive achievement for me!
Did you always know this was the career you wanted?
L: No, actually – I always thought I was going to be a PE teacher and that changed very quickly once I started studying Software Systems as an A-Level. From that point forward, I knew I wanted to remain and continue my career within the industry which lead me to undertake a foundation degree and continue to study part-time whilst gaining valuable experience within the industry at Allsop.
C: Not at all, growing up I had no clue what I wanted for my career path. I chose Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Art & Design for my A-Levels. However, my creative side took the lead, so I decided to do a Foundation Degree in Art & Design which then led to a degree in Photography. After numerous attempts to find photography jobs in Northern Ireland, I soon realised it was not the career for me.
I began working in hospitality, no further in my plan for a career path. At the time I was living with two Software Developers, one male and one female – both of who seemed to really enjoy their work. The benefits and work-life balance they had were extremely desirable to me, coming from a job where I had to work every weekend and had no employee benefits whatsoever.
I remembered how I enjoyed writing HTML and CSS to make my social media profiles look “cool” when I was at school and thought perhaps this could be a career option for me. I began looking into courses and applied to the part-time Software Development conversion course at Queen’s which would allow me to take my bachelor’s degree and convert it into a master’s in software development.
Applying to the course was the best decision I could have made, and I am now finally in a career that I really enjoy. It was a long road, but it was worth it!
When you were at school were you given information on working in the software industry?
L: Not until I started studying my Software Systems A-Level, I gained a better insight into the industry and furthermore continued onto South Eastern Regional College (SERC) studying a foundation degree where I gained more knowledge about the software industry as I undertook a work-based placement.
C: I don’t remember being given any information about the software industry at school. Perhaps if this had been presented to me as a career option, I might have had a better vision for my future.
What does your typical day look like? Do you have a typical day?
L: A typical day? Well, firstly a coffee (or two) followed by a morning stand up with my project team, which consists of a brief overview of tasks completed the day before along with tasks that I am going to work on throughout that day. It is a great way to communicate with the team. Following on from this I will spend my day in and out of meetings (virtually of course) with my colleagues discussing requirements for tasks and completing development whilst liaising directly with my project manager, if necessary. At the end of my day, I will attend an afternoon stand up with my team again to discuss the tasks worked on and raise any further concerns regarding these tasks and sometimes a little chat with non-work related topics, which I feel definitely helps keep the team’s spirits high especially throughout the pandemic and numerous lockdowns.
C: My day begins with a daily stand-up with all the developers in my team. We discuss our tasks from the previous day and what tasks we will work on for that day, which gives clear direction to everyone involved and highlights any blockers. I will spend my day working on my development tasks, liaising with my Project Manager if necessary. To end the day, we have an afternoon catchup call which is in place to discuss progress made on that day, but also to have a chat with colleagues. This really helps to keep spirits high in the absence of face-to-face communication while working at home throughout lockdown.
Have you noticed a lack of women in tech, if so why? Or if not can you see a trend of change?
L: The first time I encountered a shortage of women in tech was when I was a student at SERC, where I was the only female in the Software Development track of the foundation degree I was pursuing at the time. I recall thinking to myself ‘wow, this is weird’ as I had previously only ever attended all-girls schools, which included me studying Software Systems, ICT and Health and Social Care as A-levels.
C: Before I started working in the software industry, it was commonly believed that it is a male-dominated sector. I believe this is due to the corporate culture that exists in many tech firms – something that personally does not appeal to me. Thankfully, it seems the “culture” behind more modern tech firms and start-ups is more focused on employees and their work-life balance, which in turn helps to eliminate these corporate attitudes. As a result of this, I believe more and more women are moving into tech.
How does it feel to be in a male-dominated industry – does this impact you in any way?
L: The industry is labelled ‘male- dominated’ but if you take a look at Allsop when I first joined in July 2019, there was only one other female developer but now there are FIVE of us (not including other departments!) – watch out boys! Overall, I don’t feel any less valued in the industry than anyone else. The industry may be labelled male-dominated, but from my experience at Allsop, they treat male and female developers equally. #GIRLPOWER
C: When I began my career with Allsop I was the only female developer at the time, however, thanks to the recruitment process and social culture at Allsop, along with the Core values we have in place – I have never noticed any impact on myself personally. As we have grown, more and more female developers are being brought into the company and I must say the boys could be outnumbered soon!
What is the best part of your job?
L: The work-life balance, the challenge and of course the people. It is amazing working with a wide variety of people, each with their own unique and quirky personality.
C: I am challenged daily – getting software to work is really rewarding to me. There is also a great work-life balance, especially when working with great people
What advice would you give to someone looking to move into software development?
L: Do it! Why not? Learn something new every day and feel valued in your job! Not all jobs need a degree, software can be self-taught. Begin with the basics and work your way up. Everyone must start somewhere.
C: First of all, go for it! It was the best decision I have ever made! Look into courses that fit into your lifestyle – there are many different types of courses, and you certainly do not need to go through university.