At License Dashboard we are, and always have been passionate about creating and maintaining a diverse place of work. One of our employees has been working with the Women in Technology Community by building a space where women can support each other, share advice and work to narrow the gender gap.
We asked some esteemed women within the IT industry to tell us a bit about their experiences within the workplace. Here’s what Andrea Perrot, a Freelance Licensing Specialist and Trainer, has said:
When did you first start in the IT industry and what drew you to it?
1999 and to be honest I never planned to go in to IT. I started in the fashion industry in London after uni in luxury horology and then the buying office for ladies soft accessories. A friend told me about their job at Computacenter and they were paid five grand more than me, which in your mid twenties is loads! He said why don’t you move hard drives and computers around the country rather than hats, scarves and gloves? And off I went. It was also an exciting time in IT as it was just before the Y2K panic and after a year of being a sales administrator dealing with the investment banks in the City, I realized that Microsoft licensing was something I enjoyed and importantly understood. Off I went to that team and the rest as they say is history!
As a woman, have you faced any challenges within working environments?
Absolutely. ‘ In the early days and I was a lot younger then, some old school IT people didn’t want to accept that a young female who didn’t take life too seriously knew more about something so detailed like licensing than them. Licensing is such a dry subject, so I’ve always approached things with a positive attitude, maybe I should have appeared more serious and dour, but that’s just not me. I’m not technical, but I really enjoyed that I had found a niche and by doing it day in day out I really started to know my stuff. I also specialized in Public Sector, so most people liked the fact I focused on a niche within a niche. There was a dramatic year when Microsoft got rid of upgrades and introduced Software Assurance and actually any negative vibes disappeared as we all had a common goal to plan and implement sensible licensing arrangements. Licensing has got a good blend of male and female, so maybe I was lucky – there are some areas in IT still largely male environments.
Maybe I should have appeared more serious and dour, but that’s just not me
It’s now well known that a lot of industries have been highlighted due to pay gaps between men and women, do you think this is the same within the IT industry?
I don’t have first hand experience of that, I’ve always been driven to achieve and enjoy the associated bonuses or financial rewards. I’ve been lucky to work for companies who reward their specialists and experienced staff. IT is one of those industries where you need skills to achieve and several times I’ve provided guidance to girls who want to look at careers in tech. I may not be able to code, but I can explain many areas within IT and if you have the skills or find a niche, you will get rewarded for it. I’m now a freelancer, so I control my income to a certain extent.
In recent years there has been an influx of women in all workplaces, but it’s not equal to men, I read somewhere that men are 30% more likely to be promoted to a managerial position than women. Why do you think this is and what can organizations do to prevent discrimination and maintain equality when looking at hiring, salaries and promotions?
I’m probably the last person you want to answer this! More than a decade ago I was part of a team who won a significant contract in the public sector and I had to build a team to manage it. I did enjoy that time, but I decided to demote myself as I missed being with customers and doing that frontline licensing work! Having said that, some of my best managers who truly inspired me were women and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What resources and support are available for women in IT?
I know there are forums and groups specifically for Women in business or in tech. I’m a member of the British Computer Society, they have a Women’s Group and reward inspirational women with the annual Ada Lovelace award. I do enjoy seeing what they do and learn from some of their activities. I haven’t actively been part of any other groups, mainly my own fault finding the time. Having said that, I have provided my time to my careers day to give talks to girls about tech and I believe the support and resource should start at that early stage to get them thinking. Most of my support has been informal with my friends in the industry, many of whom become friends and we can’t help ourselves talking shop when we meet. That ongoing friendly support within the industry I think often gets overlooked.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt as a woman in technology?
Just be yourself! I don’t wear power suits or feel I have to be all corporate and serious. I believe my approach to life and work has made me who I am and why my work relationships last for many years. One of my closest friends was originally a customer from 20 years ago!
Just be yourself! I don’t wear power suits or feel I have to be all corporate and serious.
Keep an eye out for the next blog in the Women in Technology series and if you would like to take part, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.