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Her Voice - Jenny Taylor

Digital Her was set up to address the gender imbalance in the digital and tech industry in Greater Manchester. Our programmes aim to inspire the next generation of women to join the industry, and support the current generation working in the industry.

Tell me about your journey into working in the digital and tech industry?

I was originally a lawyer, and spent 10 years as an asset finance solicitor before having to give up work when I developed a chronic illness. I ended up being out of work for 7 years, but as my health improved I started to focus on new interests. I taught myself how to build a website and I found I loved the challenge of coding.

When I was ready and able to return to the world of work, I decided not to go back into law, but instead chose to pursue a new career in tech. I completed a bootcamp with School of Code, and was then offered a role with BAE Systems Digital Intelligence.

What challenges have you found along the way? And how have you overcome them?

I thought it was going to be really difficult to start over in a new field, after having had an established legal career. I worried at the beginning that I’d be at a disadvantage because I’m not the stereotypical young male coder. But if anything I’ve found my existing experience has been helpful in getting settled in my new role – I’ve got the confidence now (which I wouldn’t have had when I was younger) to just get stuck in and have a go, and not be over-awed by everything. And the more I learn and work with more senior software engineers, the more I realise that everyone is constantly having to learn new things, so I’m not as far behind others in my team as I feared I would be.

What is your favourite thing about being part of the industry?

I love the nature of the work – I thrive on solving problems and I get challenged daily with new and interesting tickets to work on. My company is also making real efforts to improve its diversity and inclusivity, and it’s great to be a part of that. My work-life balance has improved greatly from what it was in law too!

Why do you think it's important, especially within the digital and tech industries that programmes such as Digital Her support the future generation?

It’s widely accepted these days that diverse teams perform better. While improvements are being made, tech is still a heavily male-dominated industry. It’s really important to encourage women and minorities to join the industry so it can benefit from the wide range of experience and view-points that we bring with us.

What could the industry do better to encourage and support women to join the sector and stay within the sector?

Offering different entry routes in, outside the traditional computer science degree, is vital. Also, being able to offer more flexible ways of working, such as part time hours and hybrid/remote working would be really helpful to allow women to work around other commitments. When I first started thinking about returning to work, I enquired with one bootcamp provider if fully remote, part time roles would be available, and the message I got back was that while fully remote might be possible, very few tech firms offer part time working, which really surprised me. Flexible working practices are definitely required if firms want to encourage women to join and stay in the industry.

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