To Code…and Not to Code: Women Don’t Need Coding Skills to Enjoy a Tech Career
It seems like nobody can figure it out. Girls have the same science ability as boys, and many of them love science. Yet, there’s still a huge gender gap in STEM fields. What’s going on?
Although girls and boys have similar science grades in elementary school, girls are often better than boys in other subjects. Research shows that girls are choosing to pursue those other fields. While 49% of girls have science or math as their best subject, too many still choose to pursue other careers. For example, only 18% of computer science degrees go to women.
Why are girls focusing on different education paths? The answer may partly lie in how tech jobs are viewed. Enter: Zoe Breimhorst. As a product manager for the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program Partner, Merrill Corporation, Zoe knows how rewarding non-technical roles in the tech field can be. So she’s always ready to encourage young women to pursue a career in technology.
However, at first glance, Zoe’s role may not seem like a traditional tech job. Instead of writing code all day, she does everything from assessing opportunities for new products to collaborating with other teams to build and sell those products. Her work illustrates that there are more opportunities in tech than young women may realize. The platform Zoe works on, DataSiteOne, helps companies share sensitive information securely and close important deals.
Tech jobs aren’t all about coding
When you imagine someone working in technology, a software developer may be one of the first sterotypical tech jobs to pop into your head. Perhaps like… someone hunched over a computer, separated from the rest of the office as they crank out code. While there are many coding type jobs in today’s market, there are a large number of allied technology roles to consider.
You can have a great tech job without becoming a code maven. The technology field offers women many innovative roles that can be very rewarding. These include:
- Product managers. Product managers figure out where there’s a need for a new product and then decide how to best fill that need. After that, they work with development groups to create those products.
- Project managers. Project managers coordinate the work of a team to ensure that the final product meets requirements and is finished on time.
- User experience designers. User experience (UX) designers are responsible for making software products fun and easy to use for customers.
- User interface designers. User interface designers help (UX) designers achieve their vision for software.
- Software testers. Software testers try out (break) software before it’s released to the public. They analyze whether everything is working correctly and make sure the user experience meets or exceeds expectations.
- Product marketers. Product marketers figure out how to best market tech products to their intended audience.
- SEO consultants. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultants analyze how much traffic websites, ads, or social media posts are generating. They also create strategies for bringing more visitors to a company’s website.
- Social media managers. Social media managers handle a company’s social media accounts. They also analyze whether the company is using the right platforms and how much traffic they are generating.
The wide variety of tech jobs means you can get a degree that’ll land you the best job to match your personality and interests. Zoe’s BSc degree (Bachelor of Science) helped her reach her career goals. She knew that she wanted to travel and realized a job in the field of business would be the best way to achieve that dream.
Her degree also gave her the knowledge to hone her innate problem-solving skills. Zoe shares, “I am naturally a fixer. When I see problems, I want to solve them.” Her role at Merrill Corporation allows her to solve problems that others generally want to avoid, and that’s fine with her.
Zoe's job allows her to use her leadership skills to help her team succeed. By learning more about their long-term career goals, she’s able to look for and create opportunities to help them advance. Clearly, there are many tech jobs well suited to match diverse interests and skills.
Women have fantastic opportunities waiting for them in the technology industry, and countless other fields also have a lot to offer. Why should women pursue a career in technology?
A diverse workforce creates better products and improves lives
Bringing more women into the tech field adds diversity. Diversity brings new experiences, perspectives, and ideas that help create better products and improves the quality of life.
Diverse experiences allow people to solve problems in unique ways and see things in ways that others can’t see. For instance, one researcher found that Artificial Intelligence (AI) facial recognition technology had trouble identifying her face. After extensive testing, she found that AI wasn’t great with women’s faces, particularly women of color.
As employers sometimes use AI during the job interview process, this product shortcoming surely diminishes job opportunities for women, an unforeseen consequence of having a development team that lacked diversity in thought and experience. So, the researcher founded an organization to draw attention to the issue and is pressing for regulations on AI tech. Having more women in tech brings these types of issues to the forefront, allowing them to ideally be solved in proactive fashion.
Women don’t just improve the tech industry. Working in tech benefits women as well. It provides employment that is in high demand, pays well, and has strong advancement potential. It also allows women to use their strengths, such as problem-solving, creativity, working with others, and strong organizational skills.
Solving real-world problems: how to succeed in tech
Technology is often utilized to solve difficult challenges. Organizations are always on the lookout for people who are skilled with issue identification and analysis, and adept at team-oriented problem resolution. Problem-solving, innovation-focused groups, tech clubs, and organizations provide supportive venues for people to practice and hone their problem-solving skills.
For example, Technovation, an NCWIT Aspirations in Computing partner, gives girls in K-12 the chance to learn tech skills like creating apps, and then apply that knowledge towards solving real issues in their local community. Educational organizations like Destination Imagination teach students about multiple tech-based subjects to suit whatever their interests may be.
Joining a group does more than teach new skills. It helps young people learn how to work as a team. Developing strong social skills makes it easier to communicate with others and achieve team goals.
Strengthening social skills also boosts networking abilities and opportunities. Tapping the expertise of a mentor opens the door to support, guidance, knowledge, inspiration, and the power of aspirations; which can influence education and career direction. Once young women have grown their confidence and competence in the tech field, career advancement will naturally follow.
ABOUT MERRILL CORPORATION
Merrill Corporation is a leading global SaaS provider for participants in the M&A lifecycle. Clients trust Merrill’s innovative applications, excellent customer service and deep subject expertise to successfully navigate the secure sharing of their most sensitive content. Their platform, DatasiteOne, helps dealmakers in over 170 countries close more deals, faster.
ABOUT MINNESOTA ASPIRATIONS IN COMPUTING
The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Award Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to inspire, empower, and honor young women of high school age for their computing-related achievements and interests. The program is supported by Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence and numerous businesses and organizations. The powerful story of honoree accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in April of each year, it’s just the beginning! Over 300 young women who have been honored since the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program inception in 2012-2013 continue to pursue life-changing education and career opportunities, becoming accomplished practitioners and leaders in a variety of Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.