The challenge of getting more women into technical leadership roles has been much discussed recently, with the implications of executive homogeneity more widely understood, both in terms of the ability of organizations to compete in a marketplace driven by increasingly diverse customers , but also the development of technology products and platforms that are limited by a lack of different inputs into the process.
The finalists of the Team Leader of the Year category at this year’s Women in Tech Excellence awards have all demonstrated how their leadership has inspired teams, enabling and empowering them to overcome the obstacles that are inevitable in technology and infrastructure projects and programs. Felicia Ziparo, Lead Data Scientist at Methods Analytics and a Team Leader of the Year finalist explains why she supports the campaign to amplify the voices of women working in technology, and shares her advice for success.
Why do you support Computing’s Women in Tech Excellence Campaign?
The challenge of increasing diversity in IT is now a key agenda across the UK. Although we are far from where we want to be, I believe that the human elements of recognizing and promoting talented women in the industry, sharing success stories and building a community that encourages positive change play a fundamental role in moving us forward. to move towards a solution.
How did you get into the IT industry?
After completing my university studies in astrophysics, I used programming languages to analyze data produced by various telescopes around the world. When I decided to leave academia, data science was the logical step to use my skills in a more applied field. It fascinated me how my skills could be transferred from an abstract subject like astrophysics to solving everyday problems in the public sector.
What do you think is the main reason why the IT industry is predominantly male, especially in technical roles and senior positions?
I believe that the difference mostly starts at the early stage education, up to university, and then choosing a career, which affects the pipeline of women entering the industry. There is often a lack of female role models who can be proof that it is possible to achieve certain goals and inspire more women to join the tech industry. Women also have a tendency not to apply for roles unless they feel fully qualified, whereas men generally apply even if they don’t have all the skills on the job description, so I think take more leaps of faith and be aware of the language . and the job descriptions will also change drive.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
As daunting as it may seem, things can change.
When I joined Methods Analytics, I was asked to build a data science function that incorporated standards and best practices in the ways of working. At first I thought it was impossible, and wanted to stay in my comfort zone. I saw no reason why people should listen to a newcomer and change their habits. But I decided to change my perspective and accepted the challenge. I started small, trying to understand the reasons behind people’s way of working and building from there. Finally, I was able to see a data science team while incorporating best practices into their daily work.
What are the top three tips for women starting a career in IT? / What advice would you give to young women taking on leadership roles?
First, don’t be afraid to ask questions and express your opinion. Often the facts are presented from a specific point of view, perhaps influenced by legacy processes or lack of diversity. A fresh perspective can help you see things in a different way and find creative solutions to challenging problems.
Second, learn from your mistakes. If you don’t try, you won’t know if it was an experience worth doing and you might regret not going for it. Failure is part of the learning process and can be a powerful tool to improve your career.
Finally, create your own network. Building strong relationships will help increase your visibility and raise your profile as a potential leader. Invest time to engage a wide range of people in your environment and allow people to get to know you. It also makes the journey much more enjoyable.