You’ve probably heard the title “Women in STEM”: a title to address gender inequality, a title of power for us women wishing to delve into the world of science, technology, engineering or maths. But like me, you might initially find this title a little overwhelming.
You might think that becoming a powerful woman in the world of IT seems like a sort of untouchable reality, a blurry line of where we stand in such a big picture. Where do I start? What path do I take? Am I too young? Am I too inexperienced?
Our doubts are fuelled by the overwhelming number of men in the field; a study by UN Women reveals that women make up less than one third of tech employees globally.
Such statistics make us question our very right to the world of IT, whether pursuing this path or taking that risk is something that we are willing to do.
Being a girl in IT can be scary. Making the choice to do my IT degree was scary. Walking into class on my first day was scary. Sitting in class with only a few other girls was scary. Coding for the first time was scary. Understanding the concepts was scary. Turning up in itself was scary. Starting an internship was scary. Pushing forward was scary. Not giving up was scary.
But what I started to understand was that it was scary because I knew that all these experiences mattered to me. I started to understand that this was my chance to become the person that I truly wanted to be.
It doesn’t stop the common feeling of imposter syndrome though. Not one bit. Every day I wondered whether I belonged in that class, whether I would be able to pass those subjects, whether I would make some friends, whether I even made the right decision after all.
And in my head of doubts and insecurity I also had this other side that was cheering me on, realising that I was doing something scary and that was ok, that things would get better, that I was finally on the path of becoming the person I wanted to be.
Often it will feel easier when we know of someone in an IT related field, or friends who have loved a certain IT course, or reviews for universities or companies that we see have ranked highly. It will feel easier because these things seem to finally confirm that our choices are correct, that what we wish to pursue measures up, that they might even be the “safe” or “right” way to do things, particularly if we are considering delving into this supposedly untouchable IT world.
But is it really so untouchable? The very title of being a “Woman in STEM” says no.
There is power in its title. There is power in the shifting nature of gender roles and in the knowledge that us girls can bring to a male dominated field.
There is power in our community, where numbers are growing as more of us understand the right we have to the world of IT, that pursuing this path and taking that risk is something that we are indeed willing to do.
There is power in our choice, the path we decide to take, one that will look different for all of us.
There is power in our possibilities, our opportunities, the wide range of options available, from Cyber Security to Business Management, Cloud Computing to Artificial Intelligence, Interaction Design to Data Management, just to name a few.
In this “untouchable” IT world, we have an opportunity to overcome barriers, seek out these opportunities we never knew were possible, apply for jobs and courses not because it’s “safe” or “right” but because we want to.
Being a girl in IT can be scary, but there is power in what we can and are willing to achieve. It will be scary because you will know that your experiences matter to you, and that your world of IT could well lead you to becoming the person that you want to be. We may not have it all figured out yet (who does), but there is power in our community, our choice, our possibilities. There are so many pathways to take, so many courses to explore, so many people who want to help us find where we stand in such a big picture.
The possibilities really are endless, and the future is in our hands.
Being a girl in IT might be scary, but as one of the most influential woman in STEM once said:
Power on: How we can supercharge an equitable digital future. https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/explainer/2023/02/power-on-how-we-can-supercharge-an-equitable-digital-future?gclid=CjwKCAjw3POhBhBQEiwAqTCuBtTF1OVX84KXT3r7HJPELhZb82BSGsqz9hgrE1jETqSRkky1TWbMdBoCSykQAvD_BwE