The women in tech at PDMS: Claire Welsh
Claire is one of PDMS’ Business Analysts who entered the technology industry via a graduate scheme at a multinational IT company, and here she talks about her work experience and offers advice to the younger generation interested in tech.
During her time on the graduate scheme, Claire noted that, although there were lots of women involved in the scheme, the remainder of the workforce was predominantly male. She also noticed that most females on these schemes were either on project management or business programmes, with only a couple of females being on the development programme.
However, when joining the team at PDMS, Claire was surprised to discover how many women are in the company, saying “It’s amazing because over 40% of PDMS is female, but the industry standard is 19%, so we are better than double that!”
In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2023, we spoke to Claire to find out a bit more about what she believes the main barriers are facing women in the industry and what she has done to support women in the workplace.
Unconscious bias is one of the biggest barriers for women
When asked what she thinks the biggest barrier is for women entering the industry, Claire believes that unconscious bias is one of the biggest factors: “For example, if the whole interview panel is male, then you have all their unconscious biases in play. Although I’m generalising, they are more likely to get on with someone who they see as reflecting themselves.”
“Generally, men speak with more confidence whilst women are quieter and less direct in their speech. For example, I could say things like ‘I think, maybe and kind of’ in an interview, whereas a male may be more direct.”
“I think that even asking a male and female the exact same questions and them having the exact same experiences would return completely different answers. This is hard to account for in interviews unless you’ve got women interviewing the candidate too”, she adds.
Claire comments that although at PDMS there is a culture of respect, she has found that in previous roles where there was lots of male dominance “men would often repeat what I’d just said but in fewer words and everyone would praise it for being such a great idea!”
Likewise, she’d find that some colleagues would talk over her which she found frustrating: “Just because someone speaks louder than you, doesn’t mean that what they are saying is better. I often found that some men would think that their opinion was more valid than the facts that I’d found through doing my job!”
Using a women’s network to continue conversations
In her previous role, Claire and the four other women working in the company became co-chairs of a Women’s Network. On International Women’s Day in 2022, they held a talk on period positivity in the workplace to the entire company.
Claire and her colleagues covered areas, including how hormones affect things like their energy levels, pain threshold and mood during various times in the menstrual cycle and how this can impact them at work. Afterwards, they were inundated with messages from their male colleagues praising them on bringing this information to their attention and for making them more aware of women’s issues.
“The one thing I’d like to keep doing is to keep these conversations going so that when my nieces go to work, these conversations will be less taboo and issues less prevalent.”
Claire’s number one piece of advice to younger generations entering the technology industry
“Don’t let people overshadow you, speak over you or interrupt you. It’s not only annoying but once you let it happen once, it continues, and it wears you down. But also, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something!”
“All of the things I am most proud of myself for were things that people – mostly men – told me I wouldn’t succeed in. One of my best work achievements falls under this category, but outside of work, I also completed three Tough Mudder's after a friend laughed at me and said I couldn’t do it. He has still never completed one...”
“I also went back to university and got my master’s degree when I was told it was a silly idea by a former manager. And, last but not least, I moved abroad for a year when everyone said I would never last. Needless to say it was the best year of my life and I’m so glad I had the confidence to shrug everyone else off and go for it!”
If you are interested in a career in tech with PDMS then we would love to hear from you - we're committed to helping people get a start in technology careers! Just send your CV to [email protected] with an email explaining why you think you can fit into the team.