Developer Viewpoint — Women in IT and developer work-life-balance
“You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”— Heather Schuck
Developer Viewpoint is regular section on the blog a section that involves two developers discussing an issue. The discussion takes the shape of a dialogue and in this issue, Ekhor Asemota discusses developer work-life-balance with Zoe Dawson.
Ekhor is an experienced Microsoft developer with experience in DevOps processes for Dynamics 365
Ekhor: I read a report which suggested that there are not many women IT. I do recall that you are involved with activities that encourages women’s participation in IT as a career — what do you think the industry, and by extension Capgemini, should be doing to attract more women?
Zoe: I always get a bit stuck on this question, because based on the fact I’m already in IT, I clearly saw nothing wrong with this industry or career path, so I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask. There’s this riddle that I think demonstrates it quite well:
“When a car crashed into a tree at high speed, both passengers, a father and his young child, were seriously injured and immediately taken to hospital. When the child was taken into the operating theatre, the surgeon on duty exclaimed: “Oh no, it’s my son”. How is that possible?”
This riddle doesn’t really work if the topic of gender has already been brought up, but most people will suggest that the boy is the adoptive son of a gay couple, or he has a foster father and a birth father, before considering that the surgeon is female, and therefore the boy’s mother. I think the same is true of software engineers, and engineers in general, and it’s not this sexist agenda or anyone’s ‘fault’, it’s just this deeply ingrained subconscious assumption of both men and women, that some jobs are ‘male’ and some are ‘female’. Other than women seeing other women being engineers, I’m not really sure how to fix it. I think we’ve already solved the “women can’t be engineers” problem; now it’s just fixing the stigma that’s left behind, that the assumption that surgeons, builders and engineers are male as a default.
Ekhor: Could you shed more light on these activities and if possible, provide links to resources through which other people can support your efforts or be inspired?
Zoe: It’s mainly been going to careers fairs and talks, and just reminding girls that there’s nothing stopping them working in the IT industry. The Prince’s Trust Inspire the Future scheme is a really good place to find opportunities near where you’re based, as once you set it up you just get email invitations through to your work inbox and you can accept or decline them. This is more of an apprentice/grad one but the GAP team have started sending out requests for volunteers in the newsletter, so that’s another source for apprentices that you don’t even have to go looking for. It can be a little slow sitting at a careers event, or daunting to talk to a room full of blank faced teenagers, but it’s a valuable thing to do, even if it’s just the one to fill up your MyPath at year end 😊
Ekhor: Finally, how are you able to maintain a healthy work-life-balance with this busy schedule?
Zoe: To be honest, it’s saying no to things. I keep my priorities in my head, and if I really need to reinforce them I write them down. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but it’s generally about managing your time and remembering that there is time to focus on everything you need to, as long as you remind yourself of the realistic importance of each thing. I think a few years ago I had a real problem with saying no; if it was “can you stay a few hours later today” I always just said okay, and felt completely unable to disagree, as if the words wouldn’t even come out. I think this is an issue suffered by apprentices in general; personally I was so happy I had a ‘real’ job I felt like I had to agree to everything and adopt the role of the human doormat. Something that helped was reminding myself that I don’t have to be ‘the best’ young employee in the world, I just have to meet my goals and expectations. I know there’ll be plenty of time to focus more on work once I finish my degree, and until then, I’m happy valuing the importance of both, without letting one take up all my time.
Bonus fact, Zoe is a big fan of Nicolas Cage but who isn’t?
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