Interview with Tier 2 NSUK Engineer and champion of women in tech, Amanda Poole.
What got you into IT?
I’ve always been good with computers. I could program in BASIC at 9 years old. We had a ZX Spectrum 128K, and me and my brother used to code little programs to move an object from one side of the screen to the other. We were encouraged by our dad. I didn’t think there was anything strange or unusual about this, I thought it was something everyone could do. Computer Science wasn’t really encouraged in school for girls though, it was seen as more of a boy’s subject. I have always carried an interest in IT; I even studied a course on Robotics during my degree (mechanical engineering), which had an element of coding involved.
What do you like about working in IT?
It is logical, it makes sense (well to me it does, anyway). I like being able to fix things, understand how they work. I suppose that’s why I did an Engineering degree in the first place, finding out how things work.
What’s your IT career been like to date?
After changing jobs due to redundancy to another customer service role and still studying with the Open University I applied for my first “real” technical job. That was nine years ago, and I’ve been working at Net Support UK ever since. On a team of about 13, I am the only female engineer, and I’m always encouraged to learn and develop and progress by the team, possibly the only time in my adult life I have been. Everything else has been under my own steam because I’ve had an interest in it.
Is it still a male dominated industry?
Very much so. I’m the only female in our Technical Team. I believe that there is a lack of women entering the industry at a University level, and it’s not really being encouraged at a school level either. I also think that some women see it as a bit too geeky, with a stereotypical “geek image”.
Have you ever encountered any negativity being female in IT?
Quite a bit. I’ve taken phone calls from new clients asking to speak to Tech. When I start to troubleshoot with them, I’m met with a bit of surprise, particularly from the women. I’m actually your go-to-gal for a few work streams in our company and I have 3 Microsoft qualifications. I know more about some things than some of the guys on the team!
How do you see the future of women in IT/Tech?
I think some things need to change in order to encourage women into the industry. It’s not really seen as a family friendly industry, with potentially long hours and overtime. It’s not that women can’t do the job, we can. Maybe provisions need to be made in the industry for anyone who wants to succeed and have a family, be they male or female.
What would you say to young women considering a degree/ career in IT/tech?
Do it. Do what you love. If you love tech and IT, why not work with it? It may be difficult, you may meet prejudice, but if you love it, you’ll keep doing it.
I’m a mother to a daughter. I want her to have the same encouragement I had when I was in school. She’s already showing an aptitude for Maths, but I will encourage her in whatever she chooses to do. We should be encouraging all our daughters and sons to do what they love.