Tomorrow we are attending the Young Women’s Trust Awards, for which we are sponsoring their ‘Trailblazer’ award. This is for a young woman who has succeeded in traditionally male dominated industries.
We spoke to our very own trailblazer, Chae Kelly from our IT department, about her experience pursuing a career in technology and the prospects for more women to succeed in the sector.
From an early age, Chae loved technology. Labelled a tomboy by some of her friends, she would be drawn to the PlayStation or fiddling with tech to work out how it operated. This was reflected in school, where ICT was her favourite lesson. Unfortunately, these lessons were stopped due to funding and then at College, where she hoped to pick up the subject, she was denied access due to her grade in Maths, despite her imploring with them that this was her passion. Instead her tutors guided her to business studies, which she then also carried through to university.
After graduating, the aspiration to pursue a career in technology was still very much there. So Chae took the decision to see if she could get a foot in the door. Her Mum managed to get her two weeks of unpaid work experience within a university, which was the turning point. She saw other woman in the department and knew she was no less able than them. It confirmed every instinct she’d had about her suitability to the industry, but by her own admission, without this enlightenment and support from her mum things could have been very different.
“If I hadn’t had this opportunity and support, I would have probably been more likely to just stick with the business route, so it was crucial.”
Then followed a lot of interviews; Chae knew she just needed someone to give her a chance. She finally secured an administration position in the laptop assembly team at PWC. Here she worked flat out to complete her admin tasks quickly, so she could spend the rest of the time sitting with the technical teams and learning from them. With this experience under her belt she interviewed with us, and her passion about technology along with drive to learn was obvious. Now a Service Desk Analyst, Chae loves constant challenge of the job. She enjoys the problem solving and investigatory element.
“I’m curious, and I always want to know why things happen with technology, as opposed to just using it.”
She hopes that now ICT is taught earlier in schools and access to technology is increasing, young girls will not only gain an interest in the area from much earlier ages, but also be encouraged to pursue it further. All too often, if a girl is making movies or recording the first reaction is to assume she wants to be a performer, rather than a director or a producer.
For her own career, Chae aspires to refine her skill set and become a specialist in emerging areas of tech. One potential is coding, another is to become involved in the investigation of the potential risks of technology’s rapidly increasing capabilities.
“Whenever someone is talking about a new piece of tech, my mind always goes to think about the potential difficulties this could this bring up.”
As for being a trailblazer, Chae doesn’t think of herself like that. However, she notes there is a definite presumption about the kind of person who works in tech, and that she doesn’t necessarily fit that. She is frequently amused by the surprised looks on people’s faces when she tells them what she does.
“They always say they didn’t think that I’d be doing this job, that I’d be in a different career. It doesn’t bother me, I’ll always tell them with a big smile on my face and laugh. I’m just doing me.”