International Women’s Day: celebrate what makes you unique for a career in tech

Jenny Fallover is Project Manager at Thomson Reuters and is a member of our Expert Community.  Ahead of International Women’s Day 2016 Jenny shared her expertise with a group of  girls from the Apps for Good Fellowship for our Discover Careers in Tech session.

I became an Apps for Good Expert, and haven’t looked back since.

I first got involved with Apps for Good when the wonderful Bob Schukai MBE, Head of Applied Innovation at Thomson Reuters asked me if I wanted to co-mentor the award winning app I’m Okay, which supports LGBTQI young people and is available on the Google Play store.

I jumped at the chance and enjoyed the experience so much that I became regular Apps for Good Expert and haven’t looked back since. One of the things that struck me about Apps for Good was the equal participation of male and female pupils. Having worked in technology since the 1990’s I have always felt like a minority in the industry and unfortunately the number of females in technology seems to be dropping. Encouraging young females into careers in STEM starts at school, and Apps for Good does such a fantastic job of harnessing their creativity and enthusiasm and teaching them real world business and technology skills.

The team behind I'm Okay

I’m Okay were the first Apps for Good team that Jenny worked with

My career path could have been very different.

During the online session with the girls, I spoke about my journey into technology and how it was a hobby for me from a young age. I never imagined it could be a career for me until a male manager spotted me giving colleagues technical help and proposed that I was sent on a day release to study business information technology. If it hadn’t been for him my career path could have been very different.

Technology changes rapidly, so it’s important to listen and learn.

We discussed my experience of how the technology landscape has changed over the years, what skills are core to any role in the field (for example, being a strong communicator, creative and open-minded, and a good problem solver). We discussed how young people can think about what their strengths are, and do their research to find a role that makes the most of these. We also talked about sticking to a five year plan, since technology changes so rapidly and so do the roles. It’s important to develop your listening and learning skills.

Celebrate what makes you unique.

One of the other key topics we spoke about was how diversity is good for business. Many case studies have shown that when people collaborate in teams across different backgrounds, it makes for a more creative and successful workforce. I encouraged the Fellows to embrace and celebrate any differences they have, rather than hide them, as by being different they are bringing something special to the table.

We also discussed not pigeon-holing yourself and never assuming a role has a gender. If you are capable and are excited to pursue something then stay determined, never give up and never be afraid to ask for help to reach your goals.

Creating opportunities to support young technologists.

Finally, we spoke about work experience and internships.  The fellows expressed that finding these positions at companies was challenging.  This is where Apps for Good and companies that are interested in the next generation of tech talent can help.  If your company isn’t partnering with organisations like Apps for Good to provide positions to students like the Fellows, then they should be- as they are missing out on a very keen and talented pipeline.

I look forward to being involved in further events like this, as it’s exciting to think that the future of technology is in the hands of these bright and talented individuals, thanks to Apps for Good.

Are you a woman in tech? Would you like to help inspire girls and boys about the role women can play in the tech industry? Join the TechFuture Women’s Network now to become an Apps for Good Expert and to avail of other mentoring opportunities. 

Click here to see what Katie, one of our Apps for Good Fellows, thought of the session.