How Mums Can Play A Unique Role In The Technology Industry
Are you a Mum interested in finding a role in technology? Not sure you have the right skills or experience? Claire explains why you already do.
5 min read
I have been working within Technology(IT and Telecommunications) for over 15 years. Having a child part way through this period - who is now 10 - didn't hinder my career. In fact in many ways, it helped it. I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough at times, juggling work and family life. So, is getting a job in technology worth the trade off? I think so, and I believe that mums are in a unique position to work within the technology industry.
In technology oriented workplaces creating the right working environment and culture is absolutely vital. Software Engineers are knowledge workers and Dan Pink argues that knowledge workers are motivated and inspired by Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy. I believe that mums are well placed to provide a unique set of skills and personal attributes to create the type of environment for knowledge workers thrive in.
Let me share some of my experiences and explain why.
Education v Experience
I believe there is a strong link between the skills required for leadership and parenting, with many overlapping and complementary talents. This view is shared by Forbes and NY Times. As a parent, you have many soft skills that are fully transferable into the business environment that help build a great culture.
In particular, I have found these aspects useful, and have seen other mums use these competencies too:
Conflict resolution - Let's face it, Mums are Jedi’s when it comes to stopping fights and arguments - just don't put your staff on the naughty step! Our no nonsense attitude and authoritative tone works wonders in the workplace.
Organisational skills - Getting yourself, a child and all their stuff up and out the door for a day trip requires great planning and attention to detail. You are a master of prioritization. Organizing something at work will seem like a breeze in comparison!
Coaching and mentoring - An important aspect of being a leader is to put others first. Mums make fantastic mentors and coaches as we are understanding and compassionate.
"I don't have a degree in Computer Science!"
Motivational speaker Simon Sinek advocates that “ Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” The patience and encouragement you put into teaching a child to ride a bike, our encouraging them to try something new, is equally valid at work. I take great pride in my colleague's achievements when I have helped guide them along the way.
So what about qualifications then? First of all, I don't have a degree in Computer Science! I am also not a software engineer. A role in technology doesn't need to evolve around coding. I have learned loads over the years via self-study and training courses, earning a variety of certifications that help with my role such as:
PRINCE2 - A process-based method for effective project management.
Managing Successful Programmes - Best practice in the successful delivery of transformational change through the application of programme management.
Agile Project Manager - developing solutions incrementally enabling project teams to react effectively to changing requirements.
Agile Program Manager - A disciplined but flexible agile approach to the management of transformational organizational change, allowing for iterative and incremental delivery of outputs and benefits.
Professional Scrum Master (PSM I) - The role within a Scrum Team accountable for guiding, coaching, teaching and assisting a Scrum Team and its environments in a proper understanding and use of Scrum.
Scaled Program Consultant (SPC4) - provides the tools to implement agile programs, for multiple teams working on the same product.
Certified Agile Leadership - Helping yourself in order to help others.
Chartered Manager - Provides recognition of professional management capability.
As an Engineering Manager, my academic qualifications are focused on Business. However, that doesn't mean I don't have my own specialist skills. I have gained a BA (Hons) in Leadership and Management via Open University which I started whilst on maternity leave. This really gave me a good grounding in managing and leading teams, especially as I was able to apply what I learnt straight away at work (and arguably at home too!). So much so that I decided to stretch myself further and I am currently completing an MBA and thinking about starting my own business.
Managing personal development around being a mum with a full-time job is a difficult balance - but worth it! I have progressed well in my career and now manage a large team of nearly 200 technical people. Not bad for a girl that left school at 15 …
So where do you start? Here are 4 steps to get you going:
Read other blogs from our great Blog Squad! How about Sophie’s if you are considering a Coding Camp and interested in learning to code. Or Adriana’s sharing some great ideas about how to land a role in Technology.
SheCanCode has recently launched Rise Up to help you find your next job. Look there for interesting roles with companies that take diversity seriously and are actively looking to hire female employees.
Sign up to the SheCanCode Newsletter to view the latest news, meet our role models, and get access to resources and opportunities to help you through the lifecycle of your career in Tech.
One last piece of advice - believe in yourself. You have a lot to offer the Tech industry!
Claire Donald is a Project & Program Manager with over 15 years’ experience delivering IT infrastructure and application projects using traditional, agile and continuous delivery methods. I have a high tolerance for ambiguity and have worked within fast paced and high pressure environments, taking an entrepreneurial approach. Currently completing an Executive MBA with Surrey Business School.