Women in Tech: Being female and under 30
Jess Batty, Nasstar’s Microsoft Alliance Business Development Manager, discusses how she got into tech and her experience as a woman in a changing industry.
Being female and under 30
We all know the lack of 'Women in Tech' is a subject that most IT companies strive to address, but I wanted to share my experience of not only being a woman in the Tech industry but also as a woman who is under 30.
I'm not sure what the standard route into Tech is, but I fell into it.
It wasn't a conscious choice because I had never been exposed to a career in IT (discussion for another blog). After working hard on my Business Mathematics degree, I was lucky enough to earn a place on the Fujitsu graduate scheme, which was recognised as the top graduate scheme at the time. This was the reason I applied; not because of the industry, but because of the development and support I would gain in my career.
And who knew that I would enjoy and thrive in IT and a career in tech?
Following my time in the graduate scheme, I continued on at Fujitsu as a Service Delivery Manager. Very early on, even my customers doubted my ability, all because of my age. The account director who hired me reassured them that I would deliver the change needed on the account. I was about to turn 25.
By the time I left Fujitsu, I had just turned 27. Not only had I taken on a larger workload - after being promoted to the role of Senior Service Delivery Manager - I had also turned customer satisfaction around from 2.2/5 to 4.8/5. I made an impact from day 1, transforming the customer’s business within my remit and contributing to the wider success of the account.
My next role was working for Celestra, working with some large hospitality clients as an Account Manager. In a company of only 200 people, the Account Manager role was senior and only two organisational steps down from the owners/directors.
Within my first week, I was asked how old I was by some colleagues. The reason being was that they felt I was young, as I was under 30, to hold such a senior position. I was fortunate to not have experienced judgement based on gender internally here, as a large proportion of my department was women, but it became apparent that there was some judgement across the business around my age below the senior management level, until I proved myself to be successful in the role.
Working with customers can always be a challenge too as they don't always hold the same values as your organisation, and there were some significant individuals who made it clear that they didn't want to work with me due to my gender. Again, I was fortunate to have support from management due to my ability to be able to deliver successfully.
Leaving at 28, I made a large impact both internally and with my customers, creating account strategies, growing the accounts I was allocated and building new business relationships.
My next move was to Microsoft as a Senior Partner Success Account Manager. I managed a portfolio of partners, working with them to build out their cloud strategies, deliver change to their businesses and support them however I could.
As you would expect, I experienced very little judgement here. I certainly never felt I did. I was respected based on my previous experience, successes and the skills that I brought to the role, as well as my ability to juggle studying alongside my career. I was supported by both my manager and my team.
The biggest challenge was some of the judgement I faced from my contacts within my Partners.
Some, not all, still had the mindset I had faced earlier in my career; judging me based on age and gender. Fortunately, I had experienced this level of judgement enough times in my 5 years in the industry that I knew how to deal with this situation, with the support of my manager if needed.
Luckily, this wasn't the case among most of my contacts and I thoroughly enjoyed my time collaborating with them. However, it is important to note again, that all my senior contacts were male.
We are now in 2022 and only 2 weeks ago I moved into my new role, aged 29 - very soon to turn 30, as a Microsoft Strategic Alliance Manager at Nasstar.
Here, everyone has been welcoming and everyone has been 'judging' me and accepting me based on my experience, merit, and outlook for the role ahead.
It is a breath of fresh air to feel like this in an IT company, given my previous years in logistics, and IT as I have listed above.
From my experience so far, this is still a male-populated IT company, as I would expect, but everyone is open to driving the change to bring more women into the workforce, which I hope to influence as time goes on. This I celebrate and hope more companies, especially IT companies, follow suit.
The Tech industry is known for being male-dominated, especially in roles beyond HR and Marketing. 90% of the time, I was the only woman in the room, a common experience among women in tech. It is very easy at this point to feel uncomfortable or give in to your imposter syndrome.
Unfortunately, being female and under 30 comes with some judgement and assumptions, which feed your imposter syndrome further.
Unfortunately, I won't be the only person to face these judgements and comments, and I'm sad to say I won't be the last either, whether that is around my gender or around my age.
I have been very fortunate that even though these things were being said about me (some of which have been said to me directly), I’ve always had supportive managers who invested in my development, believed in me, and have directly contributed to my growth and success so far. But not everyone is that fortunate and many women leave the industry because of a lack of support and imposter syndrome. This needs to be addressed to retain talented individuals, who can impact the tech industry in a positive way.
I have had to address my own imposter syndrome on many occasions, using it to actually drive my success, prove them wrong and grow in my career. As a result, I have been successful so far in tech, and I have now learnt to harness this feeling and use this to back myself in every role I undertake. Not an easy thing to do, but I will continue to try.
I am always trying to improve my knowledge and self-awareness and support others, especially females. I will continue to do so and support the Women in Tech agenda.
My final thoughts
If you’re hiring someone that's new to the industry, give them a fair chance...regardless of gender. Everyone starts somewhere and they'll probably surprise you.
Regarding the wider female community...encourage them, support them, and celebrate them. They bring something different to the landscape of tech: different skills, different ways of thinking, and different approaches. We all need to contribute to the future of tech.
About Jess Batty
Jess Batty is Nasstar’s Microsoft Alliance Business Development Manager. She loves Maths, Science, and anything hands-on. This led to her love for STEM subjects and a degree in Business Mathematics.
Having now worked in both Logistics and IT for 10 years, Jess is passionate about getting more girls into STEM subjects and the IT industry.