Female engineers deleting myth that tech is for men

“I foolishly thought coding was for men good at maths.”

Zoe Thomas, 29, from Caerphilly, felt she needed a new challenge but never thought she could work with computers.

But after taking evening classes in coding she switched careers from customer service to software engineering for an insurance firm.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that women make up 31% of staff in the wider technology industry.

But for software developers, web design professionals and data analysts, the proportion is far lower at just 18%.

“I never thought I could do it, but it’s honestly the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Zoe.

“Because I studied media, psychology and English at A-level I just didn’t think I’d end up here,” explained Zoe, who works for Veygo Insurance in Cardiff.

“I now help make the website function, adding features and sorting any problems that arise, and I really love it.”

Zoe Thomas is a software engineer for insurance company Veygo in Cardiff

Zoe Thomas studied media, psychology and English at A-level so she did not expect to end up having a career in IT

Companies across the UK want more women like Zoe to work in the technology sector.

More than 7,500 people work for insurance firm Admiral, which is based in Cardiff, but most of its technology staff are men.

Admiral’s director of IT, Christine Theodore, said the sector was so fast growing it was vital more women enter the industry.

Christine Theodore, Director of IT, Admiral Insurance

Christine Theodore, from Admiral Insurance, says women can and should be leaders in technology

“These continue to be the skills of the future,” she said. “People shouldn’t shy away from it, these skills can be taught.

“I’ve been in IT for most of my professional life and I feel really passionate that women can definitely be in leadership positions.”

Admiral has been working with several companies to appeal to more women, including the social enterprise Code First Girls.

It works with more than 100 businesses across the UK to teach women to code, including Zoe.

29 year old Zoe Thomas is a software engineer for insurance company Veygo in Cardiff

Zoe started to learn coding though a program called Code First Girls

Code First Girls CEO Anna Brailsford said there was a danger “labelling” girls in school could have a detrimental effect on their confidence.

What is coding?

Coding is a set of instructions used to tell devices such as computers, mobile phones and even traffic lights and aeroplanes what to do.

People who work in coding say it’s like learning a language that tells the computer what you want it to do.

Coders, or programmers, are people who write the programs behind everything we see and do on a computer.

Girls outperform boys in IT at both A-level and GCSE, a Welsh government-commissioned report found, but far fewer girls choose to study the subject.

Aisha Arshad, 32, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, has always worked in IT and studied it at A-level at school.

She now works in coding for Admiral, collating information so performance can be analysed.

Head shot of 32 year old Aisha Arshad, Data Warehouse Developer, Admiral Insurance

Aisha Arshad, a coder for Admiral insurance, says she loves IT despite often hearing how her job is “male-dominated”

“When I tell people about my job I often hear ‘oh, it’s a very male-dominated career’,” she said.

“But I love it. It’s not the same boring thing day in day out,” she explained. “I’m doing one thing one day, and then completely different problem-solving the next day.”

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