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Girl Talk: From A Geek To Another

By Jess Hill, Application Support Analyst, Marval Software

See this photo? This is me, age 13. Confused, a bit sad, feeling alone and occasionally angry at the universe but mostly just in total denial –a normal teenager, I suppose. As a 13 year-old girl I had no plans and absolutely zero idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Therefore, at school, I chose completely disconnected subjects that I just enjoyed (see: art, science, design technology and archaeology). My spare time was spent horse riding and then when at home just playing on my PlayStation and reading manga (or trying to draw my own). Yes, I was (profoundly) a geek.

I left school knowing that I enjoyed working with my hands and not just studying a book so I chose a course in Electronic Engineering which opened my eyes to the world of computers. I always saw computers as an object that helps me complete a job; whether writing up school or searching the internet for information. I realised at this point there was more to it, computers were the future, computers allow so many people to complete their daily jobs, help climb their career ladders and complete their goals. As such people are need to help keep them working, create new versions of software, new hardware and have a chance to make a significant difference to the world. Plus, I enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together to see how they work so this was perfect for me.

I left college going straight to work as an IT Support Apprentice and since then have moved my way passed the many obstacles (being very young, being a female in male dominated environment) to being a fully accepted member of my team and company. I have a say in how we can improve customer experiences, I can help change how we as business work to improve processes and I can confidently do my job knowing I am here because I worked hard and deserve it.

Today, an accomplished IT professional (and still a complete geek playing on my PS4, building my gaming PC and still reading manga), I had the opportunity to visit my old school and share my experience with young ladies. This was part of a programme that Marval Software has launched, aiming to increase awareness about Women in ICT and encourage young women to consider a career in Technology. So there I was, in front of 13 year-olds who probably were as confused and uninterested as I was in their age; but full of passion, ideas and the desire to make a difference in this world. I was honest with them; I talked about my daunting first experience of work life, my experience of being a woman in a male-dominated environment, the process of finding my own voice and finally, the rewarding moment I realised I was expressing my personality; plus I had a good career and a job I loved.

Looking back to my 13 year-old self, I reflect all the insecurity, anxiety and uneasiness of this awkward age. I appreciate how confusing it can be to have no clue about what you want to do, and still be offered all these options (Apprenticeship? College? University?). There are several paths to explore if you wish to join the IT sector, and many exciting roles in different departments and operations. From product design and development to technical support, a young woman could find the job of her dreams - and be part of our vibrant community of techies who shape the way people live and work.

It will be fantastic to have more women in IT. Women really need to reclaim their role in this industry - and they have so much to offer. I strongly believe that, together, we can make a real difference. I don’t know whether any of these young ladies who attended today’s presentation will consider a career in IT (hopefully they will), but I know that, whatever they decide, they will find their own way; so long as they listen to their inner voice, have faith and be open to emerging opportunities.

To all you women out there remember this (as cheesy as it is):

You are Creative, Beautiful, Individual, Strong, Intelligent and have so much to offer.

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