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Taking A Break

I’m sorry I’ve not posted in a while, this is because of all the holidays I have been on recently with my friends and family… and other commitments which have needed my attention, it’s been quite nice to just put my phone to one side for a while and now I’m slowly trying to get back into a routine and answer all my messages!

But, I have lots of ideas for the IT Girl blog and community and am very grateful to now have over 200 followers on the twitter page 🎉 … hopefully more to come with more content I will be creating!

Watch this space 👀

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Throwback to School

I visited my high school the other day and it was such a surreal experience to think I’d left 4 years ago, but really it hadn’t felt like I’d left at all. Seeing my tutor and the Heads of A-level was so great to catch up with them, still the same old humour and supportiveness that I’d received at school.

I’d learnt that last year my school was unable to continue IT A-level because it had stopped existing by the exam board and because there wasn’t enough IT teachers to cover it, but they informed me that they are going to be bringing it back to my high school as a BTEC course. I’m so glad they’ve decided to bring it back because I personally felt that it was limiting the students, if I was a student there I probably wouldn’t have gone elsewhere for A-levels just because they’d stopped that one subject and it may not have led to what I’ve achieved over the last 4 years and the excitement I’ve found in IT and STEM.

With a lot of changes recently in government and the change to GCSEs, it’s left educators even more so chasing paperwork than concentrating on actual educating. I know the government are trying to entice STEM teacher training, but why would the majority of STEM graduates choose teaching over industry if the starting salary is at least £5K a year more in industry. I know it’s not all about money, but to live comfortable after university and be able to afford a house within several years, industry has to be chosen. Personally, I do want to go into teaching at some point in my career, but I want to gain industry experience before I do.

It can also be said that the people in charge of the curriculums do not understand STEM subjects (flashback to Mark Zukerberg’s hearing about Facebook) and the constant changing and innovation within them, this is why it’s hard to teach them because there’s so much content to cover… maybe they could and should, be split even further?

Regardless, of how STEM is being told to be taught or being taught, it’s apparent that it’s becoming more of a priority. 🤓

What else do you think the government or schools themselves can do to engage more students in STEM?

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Find Someone Who Understands

There’s a lot in the media about the film Oceans 8 at the moment (which I personally can’t wait to see!) but one of the worst things is about having a majority female cast is the rumours that the women all hate each other etc (🙄), which in pop culture happens a lot from Sex and the City to more recent TV and films. Whilst promoting the film Oceans 8, the actresses as part of their publicity are trying to shut down these rumours because they are apparently not true, and even if they were I don’t see how that makes a difference to whether they’ve produced a good film or not?

This is similar in business too, women are seen as “catty” and “bitchy”, and if they get passionate they are told they are too emotional. At the end of the day if you’re delivering your work and achieving what you want to personally achieve, you shouldn’t have to defend your actions because of your gender.

This is where having some one from a mentor to a colleague, who can relate to similar reactions from others or how you feel is important. Not just as a woman in tech or business, but in all walks of life it’s good to have somebody who understands you.

Sadly, there are many reports of suicide in the news at the moment of famous people who for unknown reasons feel that is their only way. There’s many more people every day who take their lives who aren’t reported about.

I personally want to aim to be approachable and personable for others around me, personally or professionally, so if anyone needs someone to understand them, I can try to be that person.

I encourage you all to do the same, because everyone needs that one person who understands.

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Imposter Syndrome

by Sarah Lewis

I was at a couple of tradeshows earlier this week and attended Women in Technology events and almost all the conversations I had were around imposter syndrome.  It really does affect more people than we realise, me included.

The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologist Pauline R Clance and Suzanne A Imes and is a concept which describes people who have an persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.  People who exhibit the syndrome dismiss proof of success by claiming it was luck, timing or even making people think they are more intelligent or competent than they are.

I was introduced to this concept of the syndrome was about 7 years ago while having a session with a career coach.  I was trying to explain my lack of desire to progress my career further.  After chatting, we realised that this apparent lack of ambition was due to my fear of being discovered as a fraud.  The career coach promptly told me that almost every executive he had worked with felt like that from time to time, especially very successful women.

Just that one explanation had a massive effect on me, I wasn’t alone! So I started to look at myself, my career and my personal life and decided to make a change starting with “It’s time to fake it til I make it”.

I still class myself as being on the road to recovery but I wanted to share some of the tips that I wish someone had shared with me way back when.

1. Take time to learn and grow

It is not easy to take time out when we have such busy work and home lives but I found that taking the time to learn something new, work on a skill, understand the business better gave me more confidence and helped me to accept some of my weaker areas.  Strengths Finder is a great book to help this process.

2. Do not compare yourself to others.

I am fortunate to work with some amazingly strong, confident women and would always compare myself to those ladies.  I wasn’t as eloquent, I wasn’t as technical, I wasn’t as good at presenting etc etc.  So, instead of comparing yourself to others, look at your own strengths and focus on those.  You are good at what you do because you are you, and you don’t have to be anyone else.

3. Find a mentor

If you are lucky enough to find a mentor who you respect and admire and who believes in you, you are on to a winner.  You just have to remember, not to try and “be” them and to accept those compliments you are bound to receive.  Please don’t fall into the trap of excusing successes as “lucky breaks” or “team work” – another classic Imposter Syndrome symptom.

4. Learn as you go

There is nothing wrong with taking on a project and feeling out of your depth.  You are smart, you are talented – there is no reason why you cannot research, learn and practice as you go. You’d be amazed how many women just “fell into” tech roles and do not have a tech based education – please don’t let the lack of a technical degree damage your confidence.

5. Speak Out

It’s ok to talk to people about how you are feeling.  Try talking about your imposter feelings, it can help.  I discovered so many women in my circle feel the same way as I do and it really helped me feel less alone.  Try it out!

I’m not psychologist nor an expert on this subject but I hope that some of my tried and tested techniques give you some food for thought.

You can find more of my ramblings as well as curated news from around the web and details on our events at https://twitter.com/TheTechieGirls

Sarah Lewis is Director Field Marketing at Ivanti and the spearhead for Ivanti’s Women in Technology movement.  Sarah started off her tech career in an internal IT support role, moving on into IT Asset Management and was finally lured away into a marketing role where she happily combines technical knowledge with a sprinkle of creativity and indulges in her passion for supporting the women in technology community.

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Marie Claire: June 2018

Really appreciating Marie Claire UK for incorporating “power play” and how to be paid what you’re worth into a hit magazine that many women read. These are the kind of articles that do need to become a resident feature in mainstream magazines, to help build up strong women who know when (and how) to stand up to the gender pay gap and earn the money they deserve 💪

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What Does May Bring For Me?

It’s the last day of April and it is just dawning on me what the next month brings…

📝 I’ll have finished all 4 of my exams, which means I will have technically finished university and will just be awaiting the results.

🏡 I’ll have moved out of student accommodation and back home.

👯‍♀️ Moving home means I will be saying bye to my university friends, some who I’ve lived with, which will be strange not knowing when I’ll next be seeing them.

🇳🇱 I will have visited Amsterdam with my boyfriend and friends to celebrate end of exams.

🧡 I will have said goodbye to some GSK colleagues as I’ve ended my dissertation with them and will be moving away from where their offices are.

🇬🇷 I will be having another holiday with my boyfriend to Greece, ending on the last day of May and wrapping up what I presume will be a weird, yet wonderful month!

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STEM becoming STEAM

A growing debate is regarding the placing of ‘A’ into STEM, standing for Art.

Many people are asking whether Art belongs…

As I have said in other posts, there is a definite need for aligning job roles and careers to creative interests. The example I often use is how Art skills is desired for UX Designers, and likewise for many other subjects that can feed into STEM subjects.

All industries are crying out for more STEM trained professionals, and the primary route for this is to be a STEM graduate. But it is just as important to have soft skills, the way to learn those are through creative and practical ways.

Whatever letters do or do not get added, the bottom line is that there are careers in all sectors that need both STEM training and creative skills. So don’t ever feel that you aren’t “clever” enough etc to be in an IT or engineering job, because there is a place for all skills.

Take a look at a few articles on the debate:

https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/11/18/ctq-jolly-stem-vs-steam.html

http://www.statepress.com/article/2018/03/spartcult-the-team-for-steam

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252439491/Oracle-MBX-Oracle-uses-interns-and-grads-to-encourage-others-into-Stem

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📺

I was watching The Graham Norton Show last night (which I love!) and my boyfriend pointed out that you only ever really see actors, comedians, musicians and TV personalities on shows, rarely an artist. On chat shows in particular you never normally see somebody high up in business or an influential person in a different vocation than those of the celebrities we do see…

Don’t get me wrong, I love these shows and they are highly talented people and deserve to be there.

But, maybe it’s time to start to highlight other talents and vocations?

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How Tech Has Effected Working Generations

It’s really interesting to see in this chart how technology has effected other aspects that effect the working aspirations and environments of different generations.

I belong to the “Technoholic” Generation Z and a lot of what comes under my category I can relate to, I can always relate to a lot of the behaviours listed in Generation X and others. I wonder what will have evolved into the next generations category… maybe virtual reality will play a bigger part?