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UK Tech reports less than 25% of digital jobs in the UK are held by women. The same report also states that 37% of women in IT say they have been passed over for promotion because of their gender, and women in senior roles in the tech sector are as low at 9%. Epos Now is an organisation empowered by strong female leaders and truly values the contribution they deliver to the business and our software development.
In celebration of international women's day, we head to Epos Now's software department to speak to Product Owner and Business Analyst, Sarah Roberts about the gender imbalance in the technology sector.
My University degree is in English Language and Linguistics; the study of phonetics, phonology, semantics and syntax. Growing up my passions were always language, but after working in two busy University libraries as a Library Advisor, I took a particular interest into the management of online information. After two years in libraries, I moved to the public sector where I spent 2 years in the ICT department with the Constabulary. This was great fun but very corporate - I wanted the chance to really have an impact on the software that was being worked on, which is why I moved to Epos Now.
The IT sector, in general, is very male dominated, and this is reflected in my current working environment at Epos Now. There are 4 women in the software department, out of 32 employees, and although we will encourage each other on a daily basis, the men in the department are just as supportive.
My role as a Product Owner involves a multiplicity of objectives and tasks. From presenting new features that the software department has developed to prioritising bug fixes and scoping/speccing features. I also manage the Beta program by collecting thoughts and requests from our customers who trial our new features and use our Feature Vote system which gets the voice of the user heard.
Epos Now has such a variety of features, and opportunities in the software, I love talking to the developers and designers about the possibilities of where our product can go!
Some may say that the tech sector is for people who love being in front of a screen inside and outside work - This couldn’t be further from the truth at Epos Now. My weekends are spent running or cycling, and my weeknights are spent eating out, at pub quiz’s and planning holidays and getaways with friends.
I don’t have children myself, but there are women in the Software department that do- and they are treated the same way as the men with children. The managers are very understanding of childcare arrangements and are flexible when their children need looking after.
Coming from a background in linguistics and now working in technology, I would have thought the speed in technology advances would be the largest hurdle to overcome. But I would say organising/ managing projects deadlines and tasks has been the most difficult problem I have faced. Priorities depend on so many aspects, meaning there is a constant shift in roadmaps and deadlines.
The developers here are so clued up on the software, and the vast majority of them listen to understand - rather than listen to reply. So the advancement in technology hasn’t really affected me as they are all so knowledgeable and interested in making our software work in the best way possible. I really love this aspect of the team as I can focus on what I do best, which is speccing features and organising sh*t!
I let people saying I was “bossy” and “over-dramatise things” get to me. You wouldn't necessarily hear a man described as “bossy” - Instead, you may hear they are “organised” or “they’ve got their sh*t together”. I will admit this knocked my confidence, but after talking about it to others inside and outside of work I have learnt to take it as a compliment. I like having things organised, and my role requires me to know that people understand the severity of issues. I will always do everything I can to meet a deadline, and if people rely on me to keep that up then “bossy” I will be.
Yes to both. My manager at Epos Now has been great at recognising my strengths, and last year set an objective for me to feel more confident in voicing my concerns on deadlines and changes, which I’ve now met. I’m often in software meetings with a room full of men and large personalities, I feel as long as there are factual information and knowledge behind your points, your voice is heard regardless of gender.
Listening and understanding on two levels; Firstly to the beta testers and customers that tell me what they want from our software, and to then find out what benefit this would/could have to other customers on a higher level.
Secondly, to the team that I work with. As a product owner, I assign tasks to a sprint, in the agile approach, which means I need to understand when the developers are concerned about the amount or the scale of work. Before jumping to conclusions of moving tasks/deadlines, I focus on fully understanding their concerns and work with them to plan effectively.
Competitor analysis and keeping a positive and active interest in the software. There are always new features and ideas that other POS systems are releasing. When the product team find these, we can’t help but look into them and work out what they’re doing differently to our business to make their software better. This then feeds us with all sorts of ideas and visions of where our product can go - It really is an exciting environment with so much room and scope of potential!
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