21st March 2023
Women in Tech
Cheryl Laird

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to shine a light on the amazing contribution that our team makes to the technology sector and our business. In this series of blog posts, read about the experiences that they’ve had so far, and their thoughts on how to encourage more women into rewarding technology careers.
At Hublsoft we are very proud that 42.8% of our management team are women, way above the average of 26.7% women in the technology industry as a whole. As a company though, we do currently have more members of the team called Steve or Chris (all guys) than women, so we continue to be aware of and look to drive diversity in our business.
This year we're talking to our community to hear their thoughts on working in the technology sphere.
Cheryl Laird - Lead Front-End Engineer 
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The thing I enjoy most about my job is the team I work with. I learn best from others, so having good solid people around me is very important. As a software engineer, I love the problem solving that comes with coding, and given the nature of our platform’s UI, creativity is key!
How long have you worked in the technology sector?
I have been in the technology sector over 12 years.  In 2009 I did a placement year during my degree at university, then went straight into a role after graduation in 2011 and have been in developer roles ever since.
What other roles have you held in the technology sector?
My first role was Web Developer at Xerox, which was part of my placement year at university. This was a great opportunity and gave me a good footing while finishing my degree. I then returned to Xerox after graduating into a permanent role, where I stayed for several years.
From here, I moved on to work for a smaller, family run business where I could showcase my leadership skills a little more freely. I built up a small front-end team and laid the foundations down for the front-end architecture that would allow the business to scale their website presence.
I moved again to a software engineer role in 2016 and then took on the role of Lead Front-end Engineer within Hublsoft in 2019 when this business was first established.  Being part of this small engineering team from the start and being part of its growing success has been amazing. 
What sparked your interest in working in technology initially?
Growing up I loved anything to do with computers. The internet was a fairly new thing (which is probably showing my age a little) and I just found it fascinating. My first introduction to “code” was probably on various WYSIWYG website editors, where I would spend hours creating rubbish websites and then tweaking the code to make it look “perfect”. 

What challenges did you have to overcome to get your foot on a career path in technology?
I think the biggest hurdle for anyone starting out in tech is that a lot of companies seek people who have experience, but it is difficult to get this experience without being hired in the first place. It can be a bit of a catch-22. That being said, there are routes you can take to gain experience and for me this was through my placement year at university.

In your experience, does being a woman in your profession come with extra challenges that you have had to overcome?
I think the main challenge has been to not let the stigma of being a woman stand in the way of my confidence within the male dominant industry. For the most part, I think I have had a good journey to where I am today, but there have been times when I have felt the need to go the extra mile over my male peers to get recognition.

What’s been the single thing that has helped you with your career in technology?
There was a particular moment during college that I will always be grateful for. At the time I was finding it quite difficult to pin-point exactly what I wanted to do after college, but I was adamant that I did not want to go to university. As deadlines started to approach for university applications, I had a particular tutor who spent a lot of time and effort encouraging me to “just apply and see if you get a place”. After quite a bit of persuading I applied and got a place into my preferred option. I think if it wasn’t for this tutor, I wouldn’t have even applied, let alone gone to university and started my career – so for that, thank you, Cath.

Do you believe that being a woman has held you back in any way whilst working in the technology sector?
Overall no, but I think that is due to the determination and effort I have put into my career to not let that happen. However, there are gender gaps, and I have been affected by them at points in my career.

What changes have you seen in the sector since you started working in technology?
I think there has been an increase in women in the technology industry overall, which is great, but there is still a way to go before we get equality in software engineering and developer roles.

What would your advice be to any woman wanting to start her career in the technology industry?
I think my advice would be the same for anyone starting out, which would be, take advantage of the knowledge that others have, learn from them, and ask a lot of questions - there is no such thing as a stupid question. In my current role, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of coaching and mentoring less experienced members of the team. Being involved so closely and watching them become more confident and able to make a strong contribution as they’ve grown is really very rewarding.

Do you think it’s important for more women to find career paths within the technology sector?
Yes, diversity in any team and industry is very important. If the technology industry did not have diversity, whether that is through gender, race, or social background, it would not progress in a modern world.

Do you think enough is done to help women get into the technology industry? If not, what would you recommend?
This probably isn’t related to just the technology industry alone, but I think for young people there is a lack of awareness of the different types of roles that are on offer in the technology industry. Introducing better awareness of job opportunities and encouragement through schools from an early age would help up reduce the gender gaps in future. 

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