It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in tech. According to The Cloud Skills Report: Closing the Cloud Skills Chasm, Microsoft found that the average technical IT staff was 80% male and 20% female. In the UK specifically, only about 20% of women in the UK are working in the cloud space.
Today, we’ll be talking to Melony, a cloud professional about her path in IT, and her perspective on what it’s like to be a woman working in this space.
Melony has multiple IT certifications, including for AWS (AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and AWS Certified Developer – Associate ) and Microsoft (MS 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions). She currently lives in Paris where she is working in IT as a full stack engineer, and where she writes about her experiences with AWS and Microsoft Azure for our very own Cloud Academy blog.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’re working on at the moment.
What made you decide to pursue a career in tech?
I actually got started pretty early. My interests just naturally gravitated to tech applications. I actually made my first program in BASIC when I was 12 years old! I believe that it was the logical structure of it which allows you to get things done faster, better, and easier that really appealed to me. For the university, I choose to study information systems for my bachelor’s degree, and I focused on human-computer interaction for my master’s.
Tell us a little about your career path.
I started out working as a software engineer, and after four years doing that, I moved into product management. For me, it’s really important to see things from many different angles, so I think it’s important to try to work in different roles if possible.
Planning for this is key. It will take you much longer to get where you want to go if you don’t know how to get there. So far, I have started from a technical role, which has been essential for improving my technical skills. But I’ve always tried to understand the big picture, especially from a management or business point of view, which means that I focus on how to make things work in a project perspective.
Do you feel that women have the same opportunities as men in the tech world?
In tech, there are definitely many more men than women. I believe that we both have #opportunities but they are not always at the same stage. Click To TweetMen seem to naturally focus on finding the problem and solving it. But women think differently. We like to think about things in a more complex way, and that’s why I think that women really stand out when it comes to such important roles as unit testing, defect correction, written technical documentation, continuous delivery, and support work.
When I started out as a front-end web developer, I wanted my code to be neat, simple, reusable, etc. I found that my natural aesthetic is a real advantage in this.
I believe that if you love the technology, you will find the right place to fit in.
Do you feel that women face any unique challenges in the tech world?
I believe that most young women entering STEM fields probably experience some feelings of alienation. I think that the most important thing is to be confident in yourself. Don’t be shy about asking for clarity on something that you don’t understand and definitely speak up about what you think. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Take every experience especially the tough experiences and the mistakes and understand why you made the mistakes, learn how to fix them or how you would have done something differently, and move on.
Are there mentors or others who have helped you grow?
I look at every project as a learning opportunity. I don’t have a single mentor yet, but I try to learn from everyone that I work with on a given project.
What habits or philosophies have helped you get where you are?
For an ever-changing field like IT, continuous learning is key. The way to be successful, in my opinion, is to think of yourself as a lifetime student who is open to constantly learning new things and adding new skills to your toolkit.
To maintain my passion for learning new things, I live a very balanced life. Generally, I choose to dedicate about three nights during the week and one day over the weekend for different online courses or to discover new technologies. I make time for sports or listening to music, and I always make sure I have one full day to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors or take part in some of the many activities that Paris has to offer.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Still in tech?
I’ll definitely still be in tech. My long term dream is to be a CIO. So, for the near term, I’ll continue to advance my skills in different cloud platforms, mainly AWS and Azure, and I’m hoping to be a Cloud Solutions Architect within this time. After that, I’d like to get my MBA.
Do you have any advice or suggestions for women who would like to start their career in the tech industry?
The most important piece of advice that I could give is: Don’t be afraid. Don’t let anyone intimidate you when it comes to asking about something that you don’t understand. Just believe in yourself. As with anything, it will require a lot of hard work, but it’s worthwhile. Eventually, you will find the right fit for you.
Women in the Cloud
Organizations like CloudNOW and Cloud Girls are shining the light on some of the unique challenges faced by women in the industry while supporting both women and girls in the cloud and other STEM fields.
CloudNOW is a non-profit consortium of the leading women in cloud computing, focused on the overall professional development of women around the world by providing a forum for networking, knowledge sharing, mentoring, and economic growth.
Cloud Girls is an open, vendor-neutral, not for profit community of female technology advocates dedicated to educating themselves and their stakeholders (organizations and customers) about the vast and dynamic cloud ecosystem. By exploring emerging market and technical trends, advocating best practices/reference architectures, and building community consensus, Cloud Girls is fostering the next wave of women in technology.
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