In 2018 12.4%* of engineers, in both the UK and Australia were female. Achieving gender equality is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and reflects the ethos at Ox Mountain. To celebrate the diversity of genders, nationalities and ethnicities within the team, we spoke with two of our engineers, Dana and Nalita.
Prior to University neither Dana nor Nalita knew they’d end up in an engineering role. Dana began in Physics, changed to a software engineering degree, and spent 2 years as a Java Developer before joining the Ox Mountain team.
“Originally I wanted to be a physicist. I hadn’t heard of software engineering until my second year at University. I decided to switch course, finished my degree, got a job straight out of uni and loved it. When software clicks, you get really hooked – you can forget that time exists!
Initially there was a steep climb of technical learning, so I was up skilling constantly. But I haven’t looked back since moving to my role at Ox Mountain. It's exciting to work with cutting-edge tech. I’m also interested in mathematical analysis and front-end web development. Recently I helped a local university with modelling transmission rates during the COVID-19 epidemic.”
Nalita joined Ox Mountain after she graduated with a Maths and Computer Science degree. She found that many of the opportunities open to her were in engineering roles, so the route to becoming a project engineer was natural.
“Being an engineer means being able to think about a problem and figure out the best solution. I love solving problems, so I figured engineering is the best career for me! I joined the project engineering team at Ox Mountain, because it was a unique job and an interesting opportunity. I probably couldn't find a similar job.”
Although Dana and Nalita are both engineers, their responsibilities and roles differ greatly, as seen by their daily routines.
“I’m in the office early, headphones on and programming for a couple of hours until the team get in and we all go for coffee. Some days I am deeply immersed, while on other days I’ll have collaborative discussions on the product. The variety keeps it interesting – we rely on each other and have a good team dynamic.
At the moment, I’m upgrading our database – an important task, if done incorrectly the results could be catastrophic. It requires a lot of research into the tools, what improvements are happening in the upgraded versions, and making sure that it’s all working correctly at the end. It is exciting because I am changing a major piece of the product suite.”
“Everyday is slightly different because we multitask. We have our morning call with all the engineers and Sam. Then we spend time analysing data, meeting with clients and understanding their requirements for the software team. We log work for internal and external development, and any new features we want for IronMan®. In the afternoon, our UK office comes online and we meet so they can prepare for their day ahead.”
What do you think about the work culture at Ox Mountain?
“We have a fun, progressive work culture. Not only are there women in the team, but also people from other minorities, including LGBTQI. We are quite a young team and everyone gets along really well. Even those with more seniority are progressive people, which is really relaxing, especially being a queer woman in the space. It is a really good environment to be in."
“To be honest, I've got lucky with my first job! I didn’t know what to expect, but David’s a great boss, don’t tell him I said that! If I misunderstand a certain task, there is a “no blame” culture, as it’s a team effort. My colleagues and I are treated equally - it's a really nice place to work.”
The figures show that only a fraction of engineers are women. Do you think this should change?
“We need to champion women and minority groups to go into software engineering because despite the gender disparity, there are no limitations which cause these biases. The only limitation for going into programming is how determined you are to succeed. It is also a very interesting and lucrative job.
I was one of two women who graduated in my cohort. I think if there were women teaching software development or telling you it's a good career path that would probably make a difference to young students or those looking for career changes.
There is also a minority of the LGBTQI community in the industry. I've never come across another gay person in my industry. It would be great to have more of an LGBTQI representation within the software development community."
“Your gender should not dictate what kind of job you want to do. If you really like building things and solving problems, then gender shouldn't stop you from being an engineer. It doesn't matter if women are a minority. When I started my degree, I would go into tutorials and lectures and there were five females. You get used to the environment and it should not deter you from doing what you want to do. If anyone wants to be an engineer I would say, go ahead. There's nothing stopping you!”
Do you have any advice for women thinking of starting a career in engineering?
"People may get the wrong impression about programming and the stereotypes might scare women away. But a lot of the people I’ve met don’t fit a stereotype, so it is unfair to be applying one to male engineers. It’s definitely more important for the individual to have self-determination and to be able to work in a team than their gender. Regardless of gender, if you want to go down the software route, then be prepared to put in the extra hours on independent study - even when it feels tough! Companies need to be aware of gender and LGBTQI bias.”
“Stand up for yourself, don't see yourself any different or any less. Voice your opinions, and if they’re wrong, it’s fine - it’s about growing. Don’t feel intimidated.”
Both Dana and Nalita’s beliefs and experiences, show that engineering is not off limits to women. Rather than gender, employers should be looking for what individuals can bring to the team, their skills, enthusiasm and values. OxMountain are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and will continue to promote progressive values in the workplace. If you would like to know more about IronMan® and OXMT, you can contact OXMT here.
*Statistics for Women in Engineering in the UK and Australia:
© Ox Mountain Limited 2020