Picture the scene, it’s 6.30pm on a Wednesday night, in the ‘breakout area’ of a leading tech house in Central London.
They’re well known for their cutting-edge technology; well they better be, their choice in sandwiches is terrible. The audience take their seats, half ready to be dazzled by whatever the predictable man at the front is willing to discuss for the next 45 minutes, the other half, still hoarding the sandwiches like raccoons at a leftover picnic. Then, as the lights go down, the PowerPoint comes to life and...
Enter stage left……a bright bubbly female engineer …..now you have my full attention.
It’s no secret that the technology industry has historically been a male dominated preserve. Women make up just 17% of the CTO’s in the UK, and, only marginally better, is the 27% of women working in the digital space. But we must ask ourselves why is this the case?
I started by looking back on my own education and rethinking what I did in my IT lessons. Countless hours spent on Paint & WordArt, being warned against talking to strangers on MySpace, with the odd excel spreadsheet lesson thrown in to keep it exciting (how exciting). This dragged on for several years until I viewed my IT lessons as a ‘free period’ and, subsequently, brought in my homework due the next lesson, or simply didn’t bother going. I’m not one to point the finger, and I can’t make my poor IT teachers accountable for the fact that I didn’t bother going to their lessons, but the point that I’m trying to make is that, back then, there wasn’t enough engagement with the youth of the day – of either sex but girls in particular - to open their eyes to the options that a career in the digital sector can give them.
Thankfully, the industry has come on leaps and bounds since I left school, as coding is now a compulsory lesson at both primary and secondary levels, but is that enough? Specifically, is it enough for young women? It’s all well and good having the girls code for an hour a week but, to really engage them in a sector that is still predominantly male orientated, surely the sector itself needs to be as attractive as possible?
Here at Soda, we are extremely passionate about the work we do through our highly successful meetup group, ‘Women in DevOps’, to change perceptions.
Over a year ago now, a leading DevOps Engineer who Soda was working with refused to go to a meetup out of fear of being hit on, or worse, mistaken for a waitress. This got us thinking – hard. If this contractor, who is one of our strongest candidates and has worked on some of the best companies in London, doesn’t feel comfortable at a DevOps meetup - what hope is there for the rest of us?
And so, Women in DevOps was born.
What initially started as a ten women operation, a night in the Botanist and a whole lot of prosecco, has grown into a two-hundred strong women meetup gathering, with prominent speakers and sponsors from the likes of Sony, Expedia, Improbable, Deliveroo and Bumble.
And we’ve only just begun.
Long gone are the days of dreary meetups in the saddest room a tech house can offer for free. So, cheers, to the future, and, if anyone needs me, I’ll be having my next glass of Pinot overlooking the City on Expedia’s roof terrace, discussing the pros and cons of using Kubernetes and a containerisation tool….
In the words of James Brown, the Tech world may still be a man’s world, but it’s nothing without a woman, or a successful women’s meetup group.