Encouraging And Supporting Women In Technology

Feb 01, 2021

Author: Joe Pocock

There’s not a day that goes by where we at Techfellow aren’t discussing some form of technology, whether relevant to our business or not. It’s how these insights came to be, because we love to explore this industry.

That, however, doesn’t pay the bills – technology recruitment is where our expertise lay. People are central to our business, and recently we’ve had the pleasure to work with Nilo Rahmani, Site Reliability Engineer and passionate women in tech advocate.

A pandemic (and a reasonably large ocean) stopped us from sitting down and chatting over a coffee, so, just as the entire world does nowadays, we turned to a video call as I was keen to learn about her experience as a female technologist, and her recent approach to a new career challenge.

“I was fortunate to find a passion for STEM and engineering at a very young age,” Nilo informs me, “I think for as long as I can remember I had female influences in my life who went after that field, and it really inspired me.

I always felt empowered, so combining that empowerment with finding something that I actually love doing was essentially what’s driven me to keep going.”

It’s evident how fondly Nilo speaks of her influences and time in education, I can see that passion that was formed as a young girl is a very part of her DNA now.

“I always loved math,” she continues, “it made me feel confident; I wanted to go for the most difficult courses I could find. Going into college, I carried this through and studied electrical engineering for my undergrad; what I loved about that is that it helped me understand all parts of technology, not just the software, but what's inside our devices – how hardware and software play together.”

As she said in her own words, Nilo was fortunate to have role models in her life, but that’s not always the case. Even outside of people’s personal circles, what if there’s no public role model for them to aspire to?

Not just for women in tech, but for all areas of diversity and across multiple industries, things need to change.

I shared with Nilo my observations in Formula One, a sport which widely publicised their support of diversity and inclusion, but also spoke frankly about its failures and disparities. For example, there is, and has only ever been, one black driver – Lewis Hamilton. Plus, whilst women have raced in championships before, there’s not a single one in a car at this time. One of the discussions in F1 has been – can I see myself in that position? This doesn’t mean just as a driver, but as a mechanic, a commentator, a team principle… To inspire future generations, it cannot be a sport dominated by white, wealthy men.

This example resonated with Nilo.

“If I was young and had a passion for Formula One and I saw a woman on the TV as part of a team, it would make me more inclined to think: okay, I can do this too. I feel like it’s our responsibility as women to help other women get into this field (STEM).”

One way Nilo is promoting women in tech is through Instagram. It’s actually where we found her, noticing how she’d share such simple posts along the lines of ‘what is [insert tech word here]?’, giving her followers some insight into her world and enough information for someone to understand a tech buzzword – she mentioned to me how she likes to do these explainers which have now evolved into a more detailed blog.

But it doesn’t stop on Instagram - her desire for everyone to promote women in tech goes much further.

“It's one of the things that I find so important in any company. It's not just about the name and the technology they're using, I will say probably the most important thing is: do I see a depiction of myself in their leadership?

There needs to be more internal activities promoting and supporting diversity, and efforts from organisations to ensure women have this interest from a very young age. It should almost be a requirement for a technology company to spark the interest of future generations. Some areas of the US still, sadly, have little access to technology and one of my personal passions is to one day support women who may not have access to a computer. This could simply be providing them with a laptop and doing a short course on writing basic code. That might completely change their future, enabling people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to contribute to our technology.”

•••

We’ve been working with Nilo recently as she began looking for a new challenge – she’s joined one of our clients in the financial sector on a ground-breaking SRE team (read our previous blog to learn about SRE). As her experience is fresh, I asked what advice she has for anyone looking for a new role.

“Everyone is going to be different, so I can only speak from my experience. I’d say, if you’re in the early stages of your career, finding a mentor to guide you and ensuring that you try to take on as much knowledge as you possibly can is important; that was my number one priority. If you silo yourself into just one programming language or piece of software, eventually [it will become redundant and] you’ll get to the point where you need to learn a lot more later in your career.

If you’re passionate about it, definitely keep an open mind when it comes to technology.”

Nilo clearly is very passionate; it's great to see people like her sharing her passion online, and hopefully in many other ways in the future.

You can follow her on Instagram @shedevops and find her blog here.

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