International Women’s Day 2023: Celebrating Women in Tech
Team Sharktower on March 8th, 2023
At Sharktower, we’re all about celebrating diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry. We know that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to gender equality, but we’re super proud to be doing our part in advocating for more women in tech.
In honour of International Women’s Day 2023, we got to sit down with two amazing women on our team – Kirsty Munro, a DevOps engineer, and Rose Hissink, a software engineer. Kirsty and Rose have seriously rocked it at Sharktower, and we loved hearing their insights on the importance of diversity in tech, the future of women in the industry, and what it takes to succeed in this field.
Sharktower’s Rose Hissink (left) and Kirsty Munro
What inspired you to pursue a career in tech, and how did you get started?
Kirsty: “I have always had a strong interest in technology and completed a degree in music business and technology at university. After graduating, I became interested in web development when I needed a website for my music work but couldn’t afford to hire anyone else to help. Therefore, I decided to teach myself the basics. As I began designing and building websites for myself, other musicians and business owners approached me for web development work. This side-business grew from there alongside my music career.”
Rose: “I initially spent a year studying literature and creative writing at university, but I felt like it wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d hoped. The summer after that first year I built my own PC and resurfaced a very old website I had tried to build at secondary school (it was about horses, which I was obsessed with at the time). It looked awful, but I had fun playing around with it. I wondered if I could build something better if I had the right knowledge and tools, so I emailed my professors at university to ask if I could quit my literature degree and start studying computer science instead. Since graduating, I’ve worked on various projects and systems, but I still enjoy web development (especially the visual side) the most.”
In your experience, what are some of the benefits of having a more diverse and inclusive tech industry, and how can organisations work towards this goal?
Kirsty: “I’ve found that getting the mixture of skills correct can be helpful when working in collaborative projects with diverse teams. It helps in planning work and enables discussions from different viewpoints. In my experience, teams with a more diverse mix tend to have fewer heated conflicts and more productive discussions focused on outcomes, even when conflicting opinions arise. This approach avoids emotionally driven discussions under pressure and promotes a more constructive and effective work environment.”
Rose: “I find that more diversity naturally brings the potential for more diverse ideas too. Especially in an industry that is as changeable as the tech industry, having people with different backgrounds and opinions helps us explore new options through different lenses. And it works the other way too: a team that is open to new ideas and change will naturally attract a more diverse set of people!”
“Teams with a more diverse mix tend to have fewer heated conflicts and more productive discussions focused on outcomes, even when conflicting opinions arise.”
– Kirsty Munro, DevOps Engineer
What do you think the future holds for women in tech, and how can organisations like ours support and promote gender diversity?
Kirsty: “It’s a really positive time in the tech space. I’ve spent both of my professional careers in heavily male-dominated industries and I’ve witnessed significant positive shifts to improve gender diversity since I started working in each of them. The main difference is that it’s now being recognised, and I’ve seen schools providing workshops to encourage young women to pursue tech and boost their confidence in the knowledge that anyone can learn its skill sets.”
In your opinion, what is the most important skill or attribute for success in tech, and how have you developed or honed this skill in your own career?
Rose: “Being able to communicate the ‘what, how and why’ of something we work on. When I face a technical challenge, one of the first things I like to do is investigate what avenues I could take to solve it and then have a discussion with my colleagues to get their thoughts and iron out what the best course of action is. I remember volunteering myself to share knowledge on a topic I had only started diving into recently; I was scared at the time that I didn’t have enough know-how but was surprised to hear that many found it useful! Taking the time to listen to everyone’s ideas, and having the courage to voice my own, is what I think makes sure we keep improving.”
Kirsty: “Communication. Women are often good communicators and the ability to communicate technical ideas to a variety of stakeholders is often something many roles now require. Having the patience to rethink how to explain effectively and the confidence to know you can is worth practising. I’ve been put under pressure in the past to speak to large groups and whilst it was nerve-racking it was a good experience to gain. Learning technical skills is one part but having soft skills alongside is just as important now.
“Being able to communicate the ‘what, how and why’ of something we work on… Taking the time to listen to everyone’s ideas, and having the courage to voice my own, is what I think makes sure we keep improving.”
– Rose Hissink, Software Engineer
If you could work on any tech project – real or fictional – what would it be?
Kirsty: “I would love to combine my passion for music with my tech career someday and be part of the music industry in the tech space. It’s an extremely innovative field that has always had to embrace change to adapt to the evolving consumer behaviours influenced by technology.”
Rose: “Fictional? Definitely, something that could turn fantasy-style magic into a computer-based system that any person could access. As for a more realistic goal, I always envisioned merging my passion for writing and developing by creating an intelligent platform that could keep track of details about characters, settings and other aspects of world building while I write. I would need to dive more into the weeds of text analysis, but maybe someday I will find the time to start that project!”
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