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Written by Joanna Tong Business Development Manager
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27 Nov 2018  |  Culture

Why I’m Proud to be a Woman Working in STEM

4 minute read

I’m Joanna, the Business Development Representative Manager at Paddle. I was delighted to be interviewed by 1 Million Women In STEM for a profile on my role and early aspirations to work in tech and to be one of the growing number of women whose careers are celebrated on their website.

What is 1 Million Women in STEM?

1 Million Women in STEM (or 1MWIS) is a site that aims to increase the visibility of women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It aims to post one million profiles of women working in STEM industries to create a diverse group of female role models for girls who have an interest in STEM subjects.

I feel very proud to one of the first 50 women spotlighted in this campaign. In my profile on 1MWIS, I was keen to convey my interest in technology from a young age that has spurred me on to pursue a career in the tech field, as well as how it feels to be a woman in what is widely regarded to be a male-dominated field.

How I Got Started in Tech

My love of tech goes back to when I was in school. I was really interested in the way the world was changing as a result of advancements in technology and I remember begging my mom to get me a mobile phone. I was fascinated by the capabilities of such a small device which, at age 12, was strictly only ever to be used for emergencies!

Once it was time to think about universities and courses, I opted for Computer Science and got into UCL. It was a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience, as I hadn’t realised that a huge proportion of the students on that course had been programming for some years by then (which I hadn't) and it was overwhelmingly dominated by men. I had to catch up and learn quickly.


Being a woman working in tech

It didn't take too long for me to realise that if I worked hard and did well, my gender was not a hindrance but a huge benefit. It would differentiate me from the thousands of other applicants looking for jobs in STEM when I finished uni and likely helped me stand out when I first applied to work at Paddle. I do think that the gender balance is gradually being addressed, too. I see many more women in tech these days, although this can often be limited to roles in HR, sales, marketing and operations.

There's definitely still a way to go to bring more women into tech, both technical and non-technical, and to have more women in leadership roles in the field. I personally think the answer lies in confidence building. Leadership is a mindset and I think some women can struggle seeing themselves as leaders in a company, especially when they often started as the only woman in their team.

I think it’s great that Paddle is making a conscious effort to get more women into leadership positions. As a sole female sales manager, I’ve noticed that the other sales managers and the leadership team make a big effort to promote 'being the ally', fully supporting me in my work and giving me the opportunity to push myself and make change in the company.

Why I work in STEM

I love the pace at which things move in STEM, particularly in the world of technology in which I operate on a day-to-day basis. I don’t like to get comfy and enjoy a humdrum work life, I like variety, challenges and learning new things. Tech offers all of these. I think it's important to work somewhere where you feel motivated by the people you work with. My team are really top notch and I enjoy learning from them and working together to improve our skills.

I find technology fascinating and if I were to impart some advice to anyone interested in STEM, particularly young girls, it would be to start pursuing this interest as early as possible. Don't be afraid to join clubs to learn how to code or go to events that encourage young women into STEM. Looking at events run by organisations like CodeFirst: Girls and WISE is a great place to start. Later down the line, I’d advise young women not to be afraid to just go for job opportunities. Even if you don't feel you entirely meet the requirements, you know what you’re capable of and you’ve already got something that sets you aside from many of the other candidates.

You can find Joanna’s 1MWIS profile here.

If you are interested in getting involved with 1MWIS, email or tweet @MillionStem.

Interested in starting your STEM career with Paddle? We’re hiring! Click here to see our available job openings.

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