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March 07, 2017
Women in technology: Thoughts from an Accenture apprentice
By: Mohini Rao

In my last post, I discussed one of the ways of bridging the UK skills gap is by encouraging more women to study STEM subjects and take up roles in technology. This is because women are woefully underrepresented in STEM roles and therefore represent a pool of untapped talent.

Over the last few years we have made a number of strides in establishing our apprenticeship scheme in London and Newcastle as a means to secure future talent. This week is the 10 year anniversary of National Apprenticeship week and we’re proud to recognise one of our key successes; recruiting more females to pursue a career in technology through our Apprenticeship scheme. This year, our first female apprentice, Amy Killoran, graduated from the programme.

Hands on experience

Amy took part in our Newcastle-based apprenticeship scheme, where she learned a range of skills including Java, SQL and Unix testing. To take part in the programme, Amy gave up studying her A-Levels. “The apprenticeship scheme ticked a lot of boxes,” she said, “as well as giving me a foundation-level university degree, it also gave me hands-on work experience. For me, that was the important part: being able to work from day one.”

Significantly, Amy was not expecting to be the only woman on the course. “I was one of only two girls on the scheme, and it hadn’t even occurred to me that there would be so few girls. Of course, that didn’t put me off and it shouldn’t put off others: If you want to work in tech, go for it!”

Amy attributes the lack of women on the apprenticeship to the scarcity of information given to girls at an early age about careers in STEM-based professions. For Amy, businesses should concentrate on reaching women at the school-leaving age; when the need for a satisfying career becomes a pressing concern. Whilst it’s never too late to try and attract women into STEM careers, Amy’s experience suggests more needs to be done at school to showcase the potential of these careers, while stressing their gender neutrality.

Inspiring role models

Amy has found that in her work for Accenture, the women she sees working in senior positions are inspirational. As Amy explains: “At times you can feel a bit isolated working in a male-dominated environment, so it’s great to be able to look at these roles models as examples of what women can achieve in the IT industry. I think that businesses should ‘hero’ such women more by taking them along to job fairs or schools and have them talk about their experiences.”

Amy now works in software testing for Accenture’s HMRC team, but she’s looking to progress further with her education; converting her foundation degree to a bachelor’s. Accenture, meanwhile, is doing all it can to boost the number of women joining our apprenticeships: Six have signed on for our next programme, and we’re aiming to continue growing this each year.

For all young females looking for a career in IT, Amy has some useful advice: “If you want to be in a STEM job don’t let anything hold you back, there are so many successful women who are achieving so muchthat could be you.”

Let’s not forget: Getting women into STEM careers is not just the right thing to do, it’s also essential for our economic prosperity. If we’re to have enough skilled workers to fuel economic growth, it’s time we solved the STEM gender imbalance once and for all.

For more information on our apprenticeships please click here.

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