At Systems Technology, we are firm believers in workplace diversity and equal opportunities, particularly when it comes to promoting women in technology. In fact, our Managing Director is presently the only female business leader in the UK Managed Print Service industry.
The latest statistics about women in technology are quite worrisome. Only 7% of students taking computer science A-level courses are female, and no more than half of the girls that study IT & Technology subjects progress into related jobs. Presently just 17% of those working in technology in the UK are female.
Last August we spoke with Thalia, an IT Support Technician at System Technology, who graduated from our Apprenticeship Scheme to full employment in 2015. She recently completed two weeks of intensive training in preparation for her CompTIA A+ Certification 220-901/902 exams. We caught up with her to see how the courses went and to get her thoughts on women in tech.
Hi Thalia, so what is the CompTIA Certification?
Hi there! The CompTIA certifications and courses are widely recognised as the best in the Managed Print Service industry and are recommended by both Canon and Ricoh too. These two courses are the first in series that Systems Technology is funding as part of my development plan. They were each a week long, and I took them back-to-back, which was pretty intense. But, they were incredibly interesting and fun, although using binary to calculate network subnet addresses is still making my brain hurt!
What were the courses about?
The first course covered computer hardware, where we learnt about components and how to build a PC from scratch, including things like setting up RAID arrays. Getting hands-on in the lab sessions really helped, I definitely learn more from doing than watching. We participated in troubleshooting tasks where we would remove a component to cause a fault and then have to diagnose and solve the issue. This was a brilliant and logical way to learn.
In the second course, we dove into operating systems, how to install, configure and troubleshoot them – including Microsoft Windows, Linux, Max OS, iOS, Android and Windows mobile. We learnt how to manage devices and securely administrate user accounts, including deploying antivirus and access control measures, such as firewalls and encryption.
Wow! It sounds there was a lot to learn!
There was! But I was familiar with quite a lot of it, both because of my previous training, the in-house training from Systems Technology, and the classes I attend with Canon and Ricoh. I could talk about it for hours; there was plenty of course material.
How would you rate your knowledge before and after the courses out of ten?
Ha! OK, out of ten? That is a toughie. I’m going to go with a tentative six beforehand and a confident nine afterwards. I have still got the exam to go of course, but I feel very optimistic about passing it and also using my new knowledge to help our customers. I had several lightbulb moments during the lessons where I saw different ways I can help them solve their IT support issues more efficiently and make our customers even happier!
There is a lot of buzz around women in technology at the moment. What are your thoughts?
I think there should definitely be more women in technology, not least because I think we are better organised than the boys! Only joking, but I think there is a difference between how we work – not that one is better than the other, rather one compliments the other, and vice versa. I recently read that hiring more women in the workforce measurably boosts morale, which has to be a good thing.
What would you say to another young woman considering a career in tech?
I would say that careers in tech are very different, in a good way. When you come into work, you never know what challenging instance you are going to face. The opportunities are never-ending as there is so much to learn about and technology is always evolving. It’s just something you want to grow with!
We thought we’d leave the final word to Nigel Newsom, our Head of IT, who employed Thalia and has been her mentor at Systems Technology.
Hi Nigel, how is Thalia progressing and what are your thoughts on women in tech?
Hello! Well, nothing like putting me on the spot! Truthfully, Thalia is progressing brilliantly. The feedback we have from our customers about her is genuinely fantastic. She has a voracious appetite for knowledge and isn’t afraid of immersing herself in a problem. Equally, if she doesn’t know the answer she knows to escalate it to a more senior team member to solve – and learning as a result.
And about women in technology?
It’s a funny question because in the 17 years I have worked at Systems Technology, women have always been well represented. This said, I think that computing and gaming, in particular, has traditionally been marketed to boys rather than girls, and that correlates in later in life with career choices in IT. This is changing though, with the advent of apps and social media, there’s an interest across the board, and I’m seeing far more applications for IT positions from young female school leavers. A mixed team is definitely more fun to work in, so in my view having women in IT isn’t about being politically correct, it simply makes sense!
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