“Tech is more about communicating with people, than the tech itself.”
Katy emphasises the need for young women to step out of their comfort zone, and pursue a career in tech that they may not have previously considered.
“Just go for it! You may find a career that you never imagined you’d have, but you love completely. If you try it, and you hate it, then it’s just as informative – you just find out something you don’t want to do.”
Katy Foxford, a Digital Marketing apprentice at the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is not what you would call your typical woman in tech. Before starting her career in Digital Marketing, Katy had a very different view on what an everyday woman in tech looked like. Since then, her perceptions have changed, and she believes that careers in tech are on a spectrum on ‘techiness’. There are many different roles involved in the tech industry: not just areas like coding, which are so often the focus in the media.
“I am clearly in tech, but I don’t see myself as a really techy person. My role has changed my perception of what tech looks like: before, I thought it was isolated, but now my experience has taught me that there are lots of tech jobs out there. Some are more technical than others, but they’re all a part of the tech industry. There are lots of aspects people don’t see: a lot of tech is based around communication, rather than isolation”
These types of damaging stereotypes can impact people’s view on what a job in tech entails, and their choice to get involved in STEM careers. Plus, there are some very subtle divisions between certain subjects at school, which can impact subject choices. Katy never looked at technology as a role directed at men: her school was open to choosing topics that students were interested in, rather than adhering to imposed gender stereotypes.
“We need to work out what’s preventing women from taking these tech jobs: they’re just as capable. I wasn’t really aware of [the gender disparity in tech] before I got involved with The Future is Female campaign.”
Before starting her apprenticeship, Katy had previously completed a degree in Countryside Management, and had not considered a tech career as an opportunity to promote what she loves on a larger scale. Working with the Yorkshire Dales National Park is Katy’s ideal job, and has enabled her to harness her passion for the countryside with digital technology in a way that creates a meaningful impact on those with similar goals, and interests.
“Even though I’m working in communications it’s all linked to countryside management – it’s a countryside organisation, and everything I’ve learned from my course I can apply here. It also helps that I understand what we’re promoting, and why we’re promoting it. My apprenticeship is a great opportunity to learn new things about something I’m interested in, and learn from people who know a lot in that field.”
Starting a new career can be challenging, Katy has found that attitude is a huge part of success in any field. It’s important to be confident enough to ask for help when you need it to, and not be afraid to try something new.
“I’m never afraid if I’m stuck to ask what to do, or get some advice. The best thing to do if you aren’t sure is to ask for some advice. I try not to be worried about messing up too much as you learn from your mistakes, and that’s how you get better. How else are you to learn about things without trying? You may not pick the right way all the time, but that’s just a learning curve.”
There are also many different routes to your dream job: now there are so many options for young people to start their careers with. You can do an apprenticeship, go to university, or even just start an entry-level job. There is not a single road to success. You don’t have to pick between university or an apprenticeship, because you can do both!
“I think I overlooked apprenticeships, but I don’t regret going to university. There are benefits to apprenticeships, and to university – it depends on what you want to do. I think perceptions around apprenticeships are changing now, and that’s great to see. Apprenticeships are a great way to get your foot on the ladder, gain experience, and start earning.”
To end the interview, Katy gave us a last piece of advice for any young woman considering a career in tech:
“Say yes! There are things I’ve been apprehensive about in the past, then once I’ve done them it’s been the best thing ever. So just saying yes to new opportunities.”
Has Katy inspired you to say yes to a career in tech? Find out more about how you can work with us to secure your future as a woman in tech by visiting here, or emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org