I worked as a Design and then Senior Engineer in Network Development and Optimisation for OnAir Networks and then later in Terminal Interworking within Cellular Engineering. I loved it.
After 9 months of maternity leave I tendered my resignation to care for my 3 children that I opted to have within 3.5 years to ensure I wasn't too long out of work.
I completed a Masters in Computer Networking, multiple Cisco certifications and a couple of security certifications.
I've worked as a Network & Security specialist from 2009 until current.
I am currently working as the Director of a highly technical section.
This is my history and here is what I've learnt from spending the last 0x001A years as a minority in my career.
- My view of women in STEM events has evolved throughout my career. I've had times I hated them. Times I thought they achieved nothing and were a waste of time. I still see my former thoughts echo'd back in other tech women that just want to do their jobs. Today - they are not everything, but they raise awareness that there is a lack of women in tech roles and if only one more female is enabled from an event, then they are worth it.
- When you meet another woman in tech, it can sometimes feel awkward. I'm so used to working with men that when I get to work with a female, I'm not so sure how to act. Some women love having an ally others will see you as competition. And some people will compare the only two women on the team, with comments like "Jenny is more technical than Sally". Don't compete with other women. We have enough to deal with.
- When you start a new role, its harder to get credibility than a male. Not getting good projects, not being given full TACACS access, questioned on new engagements - it happens. As a female, its easier not to move around as much. Because once you've proven yourself and its understood you know your job very well - its easier to stay where you are. But don't. Put yourself out there - believe in yourself.
- You will be mansplained to - multiple times. It's frustrating when that tech director painfully explains how to use ls on a linux system. This isn't a reflection on you, this is a reflection on them. This is their embarrassment not yours. Don't take this responsibility on, its not yours. Move on and ignore them.
- There is an expectation that because you are female that you have better social skills, higher emotional intelligence and can represent and lead other generations. This is sexist. I had someone tell me that as a female I had a duty to behave better, kinder and nicer than everyone else. I don't. I'm shy, I'm introvert and I don't owe any more to the community than any other person doing their job in tech.
- Take credit for your work. For many years I would allow other people to take credit for my work. When my name was forgotten in the credits, I would dismiss it and say it was okay. It's not okay. Don't be modest and accepting - women have the right to be as proud of their work as men do. If they say, "Sorry we forgot to give you credit", don't say its okay - tell them to correct the situation and do the right thing. Women are adverse to boastfulness. Don't be afraid of being proud of your work.
- Remember why you're doing it. You will have bad days. You will be undermined and minimised. You will be talked over and mansplained. You will be dismissed as attending the "partners program" at tech conferences - the partners program being for wives and girlfriends of attendees. Forget all that and remember why you are here. When this happens, I put on my headphones, I sit at my computer and I lose myself in my tech. Because no matter what people say or think - this is my job, this is what I love doing and this is what I will continue doing.
Now get out there and do your tech jobs ladies!!