Why Software is a Great Career Choice for Women
Software engineering has exploded with the rise of the digital age, and with it, software engineering jobs. Somehow, it seems like very few women are making it to studying computer science and even less to software development jobs. There may be several reasons for that. These reasons have been discussed, debated and it still a hot topic, but I would rather approach it from a different angle. Rather, I would like to highlight what I’ve experienced in my few years in the industry. I would like to speak to women about this amazing field and the joy that I have had working in IT. I hope that this article would encourage women to consider it as a career as well.
Pop culture often represents software as a geeky, nerdy, left-brain dominant field.
Contrary to this, software engineering is a highly creative field and rewards creative thinking and problem solving.
Writing code can be seen as a craft. Beautiful code is easy to spot, but hard to write, much like an artists painting. Women who consider fields like architecture and engineering should definitely consider software. It demands the same methodical, structured approach but also requires creative problem solving. I enjoy drawing and painting in my free time, yet adore my work as a programmer.
Fulfilment & Satisfaction
Completing a usable piece of software, or solving a complex problem in a simple manner is extremely satisfying. Programming is a very tangible, rewarding career for those who are willing to push through problems and see a project through to the final output. There is something uniquely satisfying to creating something that someone can use immediately, in a relatively short time.
Flexibility, Autonomy & Starting Your Own Business
Software can be written from any location, provided that you have internet and a computer. This opens up a world of possibilities for women who have families, but still have time (or need to) work. Many companies offer complete remote working arrangements and flexible work hours so that women can work when it works for them. Starting a new online business or freelancing is also much easier if you know how to code. You can create almost everything you need with your time and knowledge only.
Work Environment & Learning Opportunities
Working in such a broad field, work environments usually differ quite a bit across domains. For example, writing software for a financial institution differs considerably from working in telecoms (like I do). However, most companies that employ software engineers focuses on team collaboration, personal growth and learning opportunities. Software companies often encourage employees to attend conferences and training courses.
To get a good software engineering job, a three to four year bachelors degree will do the trick. Many other sought-after professions like doctors, lawyers, chartered accounts and architects require either further studies (masters degree, board exams) or trainee years (internships, articles, mandatory government work). There is no doubt in my mind that these long years of training adds to the professional’s knowledge and ability, but the fact that software is still young field and not as regulated (yet) can be advantageous. Young professionals who wants to get some hands-on experience while still making decent money can start work right away.
To learn to code, you don’t even need to wait for university. There are a wealth of valuable tutorials (some even free) for you to start educating yourself about what coding is.
At the moment, the software engineering field is predominantly filled with men. In my opinion, diverse teams provide many different insights into problem solving and should be encouraged. I may be treading on the danger of generalizing, but I feel that many highly intelligent, motivated women in, for example, in the accounting field, would be an extraordinary boost in ICT. We need more painstakingly precise effort in coding. This is not to say that men do not have these characteristics, but that I know many women who possess these qualities who are not in software. More women in ICT will be fantastic for the field.
That brings my to my last point. A big paycheck should never be the main motivation behind a career choice, because doing something you loathe 8+ hours per day is sure to make for a miserable life. That being said, an advantage of software engineering at the moment is that the demand seems to outweigh the supply. This may very well be temporary, but job shortage lists predict that this will only get worse in the future. For now, it is a good perk for young women that would like to get a financial head-start in life.
I hope that if you have read this that has made you think about software engineering as a promising career path for women. Please share this article with your daughters, nieces, cousins, wives and girlfriends who are considering different career paths. Perhaps they are unsure of what career path to follow and haven’t even considered working in software. I hope that if they do choose software that they’ll have as much joy from it as I have.
If you are a woman considering software engineering as a career and would like to talk to me about anything related to software as a career? Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to answer your questions and give you some insight into what you can expect and prepare for.
Already a software engineer? Check out my article on upping your software engineering game.