As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we take a moment to reflect on the experiences of women in tech from Sensat’s lens.
This year, UN Women has set their focus on improving equality for women in tech, highlighting the ongoing challenges that women face in the industry. In line with this theme, we spoke to some of our team about their experiences and the advice they would give to other women looking to join the industry.
At Sensat, we believe that diversity and inclusivity are essential to driving innovation across all industries serving diverse populations. And to support this, we are committed to empowering women in tech, starting from within our organisation. We recognise that in the industry there is still a long way to go in achieving gender equality, not just in tech but in all industries. As we look to the future, we are excited to see more women enter the tech industry.
We spoke to the Sensat team who reflected on their experiences in tech.
Lotte Cutts, Senior Software Engineer
Lotte has been with Sensat for just under a year and pins her journey in Software Engineering on, “finding Maths-ey stuff quite satisfying”. Lotte studied Astrophysics at University which introduced her to her first bit of coding. This led to her doing a generalist Computer Science master's degree which gave her the confidence and grounding to apply for Software Engineering jobs.
What has your journey been like in Software Engineering?
“I joined the Software Engineering Graduate Scheme at Sky, where I was one of 3 women out of a cohort of 50, which was tough! There was a feeling of sticking out like a sore thumb, and I felt a lot of pressure to prove that not only was I individually capable of doing the work but that my gender as represented by me was worthy of the role. However, by the time I left, Sky had set up free coding boot camps for women career-changers, eventually bringing the gender balance on the Software Engineering scheme to around 50%.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Find your allies and your mentors. Ask for support. When you’re in such a minority, especially starting out, you can end up feeling isolated, and in my experience, that’s an easy route to losing motivation and interest and feeling like you’re stagnating. The best way out of that is to talk about it, and find the people who can help you identify your strengths and advocate for yourself.”
Kat MacLean, Director of Product
Kat is Sensat’s Director of Product however her career didn’t start in Product. Kat initially pursued a career in TV/radio production but found the fast-paced, unstable nature of the industry wasn't for her. Kat underpinned that what she enjoyed about radio was researching and making things that brought happiness to others. She searched for a job that involved creativity, crafting things that would be used by others, and had an atypical office set-up. Then she was hooked by a job advert in Product that basically read “we are some people in a room, we don’t know what we’re doing but we’re trying to build something and we’re going to have a lot of fun doing it”, and the rest was history.
How have you learnt to be an advocate for everyone’s voices when leading a team to make sure everyone is heard?
“I worked with a leadership coach for a couple of years and one of the takeaways was the importance of creating a space where everyone feels truly safe to be themselves, whether that was in a one-to-one setting or within a team setting. This is always something I try to bring to every role I have. Part of this is encouraging teams to get to really know each other beyond the everyday meetings so that there is an inherent level of trust that leads to everybody feeling confident that when they speak they will be listened to.
I also believe it is important to lead in a way that offers up equal opportunities in the day-to-day. I encourage a very open atmosphere within the team where everyone is aware of everything that is going on and everybody has an opportunity to get involved at different levels.”
One of the missions for 2023 IWD is improving the equality for women in tech, what do you think the industry can do to support this mission?
“I believe the culture that is sculpted within start-ups is incredibly important for equality. Those in the position of being able to influence culture should put equality front and centre. There are the more obvious areas that should be considered right from the beginning such as equal hiring, equal pay, equal opportunities, equal parental leave etc. But beyond this, it can be the everyday things that can lead to women feeling deterred from the industry. For example from the way the office has been designed to the way meetings are run to the perks that are offered. Although they may seem subtle these things need to be thought about inside and out to create an environment that is welcoming and fair to all.”
Kate Henley, Project Manager
Kate began her journey with Sensat fresh from university as an Assistant Engineer on Sensat’s Data Capture team. “I have always loved working in the field and being hands-on. Joining the data capture team gave me ample opportunity to travel around the UK, learn new skills and manage projects on-site”, she explains. From this role, Kate has progressed into a project management role which complimented Kate’s previous experience in problem-solving and collaborating with teams.
What advice would you have for anyone who works on-site and is looking to be an ally to under-represented groups?
“I would say the first place to start is by being inclusive and welcoming to any new visitors to the site, regardless of who they are. I think that education is key to understanding the inequalities minority groups may face, and just engaging and recognising groups that may need additional support is a first step. And, if you do see something which seems wrong, don’t be a bystander, take action and say something. Suggestions for change are always accepted.
As a woman on site I have felt very welcomed and accommodated when visiting a new site, other site workers are often very friendly saying hello and offering help where needed. I have left a site with good impressions when the extra effort has been made to introduce you to site teams and share things such as facility locations.”
The Future of Women in Tech
At Sensat, we believe that everyone should have an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their gender, race or background. We believe that by supporting and empowering women in tech, we can create a more diverse and inclusive industry that benefits everyone. Sensat is committed to creating a culture that values and welcomes diversity, and we will continue to challenge ourselves and our industry to do better.
Happy International Women’s Day 2023 from Sensat!