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Spotlight on Women in Tech

26 Apr 2016

Hugh McCarthy

I recently sat down with Vicky Twomey-Lee to catch up about Women in Technology. Vicky is a force to be reckoned with in the Irish Women in Tech scene, she founded and runs the Coding Grace and PyLadies Dublin as well as being on the executive board of Women in Technology and Science Ireland.

Additionally she has chaired at Python Ireland and the annual PyCon Ireland event in the past. I was especially curious to see if there are particular areas that women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) might gravitate towards. According to Vicky, it’s mainly business analysis, management and areas in Big Data (analysis and visualisation): “From what I see, there is a move away from technical roles like programming because the perception can be that there is no satisfaction in those roles, especially when it comes to career progression. Maybe it’s the feeling of exclusion in projects which can be unintentionally biased to their male counterparts, most of all though, it could boil down to impostor syndrome”.

The gender gap is a hot topic across all sectors in the employment industry and in the world at large, thankfully Vicky doesn’t feel that this is especially visible in the tech sector and that co-workers are supportive of closing the gap.

There are many women locally who have helped in the past and present. “My friend, Andrea Magnorsky and also Martha Rotter (past organiser and founder of Ireland Girl Geek Dinners, respectively) are the two women who I really look up to and inspire me on a daily basis.”

In Ireland, people are aware of the Girls Hack Ireland, Stemmettes and Coder Girl Hack Day movement and Coder Dojo, all of which encourage kids to explore STEM and started out here. Ireland is an exemplary place for nurturing young talent, however the question remains whether this will have a lasting impact. Vicky is philosophical yet optimistic. “It’s getting there, I still come across young adults who have never heard of coding clubs like Coder Dojo. I think as long as we have the cooperation of schools and parents to have it as an extracurricular activity to encourage kids to remain curious and get involved in STEM related activities would be very positive. It’s mostly down to the hard work of the not-for-profit communities and their volunteers who bring the folks together where they chat and share their experiences. There is still a long way to go yet. I find organisations like Silicon Republic are really supportive and help to spread the word on diversity in the area of STEM. Most companies, especially the smaller Irish-based ones are very supportive of diversity related initiatives.”

Final thoughts from Vicky include imparting some wisdom for Women in Tech hoping to make a real difference, “Get involved with local tech events, offer to mentor at kids/young people’s coding clubs”.

You can follow Vicky on twitter @whykay and find out more about her on about.me/whykay.

Hugh McCarthy is the Head of IT Recruiting at Brightwater. With more than 15 years’ direct IT experience recruiting in high volume complex projects from the USA to Asia under his belt, he how heads up a team of recruitment consultants specialising in placing IT professionals on a permanent, temporary and contract basis. Connect with Hugh on Linkedin to discuss your career in IT.