Well, not quite yet… But we’re getting there! Here Amee Patel, Operations Manager, discusses some of the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry and how CloudTrade has changed our practices to encourage female applicants for job openings.
Being a woman in a typically male-dominated environment, like tech, can be a tough gig, especially if you are the first female to join the technical team, as I was at CloudTrade a few years ago. However, I can safely say that I have survived (and now thrive!) in an environment with roles mainly filled by men and am continuing to show women that roles in tech are not scary places, and they can fit in here!
I began my career in 2013 on an IT helpdesk – where I was affectionately known as “Helpdesk Girl”, (the name wasn’t quite that nice, but you get the idea) which accurately summed up my duties. Two years after carrying this mantle, the glitz and glamour of commuting into London became too much of a temptation and I started to apply to join tech companies in the big city. When I interviewed at CloudTrade, one of the first questions I was asked was: “You will be the only woman in the company. Is that okay?”. I was taken aback, – I come from a technical background and I spent three years studying a male dominated field at university! Of course it was okay, I thought, and ultimately it had to be okay!
Yet during my first week at CloudTrade, the imposter syndrome set in. What am I doing here?! This is far too technical for me! The men in the team are much better than me… I will never be successful here, and so on… But I stuck at it and I worked hard. I made it my business to become a master of my trade. I was supported by management and I felt like I had found somewhere that I could succeed and was not made to feel inferior to my male colleagues.
As CloudTrade is a small tech company that continues to grow, we often recruit to fill new positions. Six months into my employment, CloudTrade employed its second woman to fill a marketing position. Eighteen months after that, we employed our third into a technical role. Within another six months, I was lucky enough to move into a management role within our Operations team, and within that time we recruited another three women. CloudTrade went from no women to six, but this took almost two years – recruiting women into tech roles is just not that easy, and whenever we tried to recruit, we saw a huge imbalance in the gender of those applying.
This disparity of genders did not surprise me. Being a woman in a tech company is daunting. Imposter syndrome is real. Feeling like you need to work hard to prove your credibility and gain recognition is extremely common, and it doesn’t feel very fair. These sentiments are echoed with facts. Women are less likely than men to study STEM subjects, and even less likely to pursue careers in tech.
While CloudTrade actively tried to recruit women to balance the gender divide, the wider sector also saw more global initiatives to support women, which were gaining momentum. We recognised this wasn’t just happening at CloudTrade, it was happening everywhere, and was being brought to the forefront of people’s attention. Here at CloudTrade, to help redress the balance we reviewed our recruitment process across the various departments – the adverts we were producing, the perception of the company from potential employees, and the profile of the people we were targeting. This piece of work saw a change in the candidates we were getting. Suddenly, we were getting applications from women – talented, qualified, ambitious women!
Today, as we approach International Women’s Day, I write this blog post as one of twelve women in a company of forty-four. I am fortunate enough to work closely with these women, who all bring something different to the table in their various roles. It is never easy as a woman to walk into a tech company and not feel a sense of “I don’t belong here”, which is why I feel so proud of CloudTrade’s journey over the last five years, and so grateful for the personal and professional growth I, as a woman, am offered here.