Welcome to the next part of our Women and Diversity in IT editorial series. This series aims to speak with women about their experience in the IT and Testing industries. Focusing on their stories, their highs and lows, their role, their advice to aspiring women testers and engineers, and who/what inspired them to pursue a career in IT and climb the ladder, we will explore what is it like for women in tech industries: from the diversity and inclusion to the challenges and successes.
Nicola Martin is Head Of Quality at Adarga.
So, we talked to Nicola, to find out more about why she joined the tech industry, what was her experience, what are the challenges she faces as a woman in Testing, and her advice to aspiring women engineers and testers.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current role?
My name is Nicola Martin, I have worked in IT for about 20 years. I currently work as Head of Quality for Adarga, and I also volunteer as Inclusion Officer for BCS Special Interest Group in Testing.
What inspired you to get involved in the IT industry?
I actually fell into an IT career by mistake. I started as a temp Project Admin and realized I liked working in IT so much that I made a permanent move. I trained and found my skills were more aligned with being a Business Analyst and I liked being customer-facing soon after I did more training, picked up more industry experience and I moved to Testing.
Did you study STEM and if so where and what was that experience like?
I did study chemistry and physics, but at school, however, my experience was not positive. I was discouraged from trying to move into a science career. I ended up studying astronomy and science again as a mature student.
What do you think of the gender diversity in testing and in the tech industry, in general?
I think gender diversity in IT is improving, however, we still have a long way to go! For example, we need to see more diversity in decision-making and leadership teams. We also need to include those who identify as non-binary in gender diversity conversations, so others can hear about their experiences working in and getting into IT.
Another example is the percentage of women in the industry. It is increasing but we definitely have to do more work engaging with schools, universities, and companies working with apprentices, etc. to ensure that people are considering STEM careers beyond education and that those careers include testing.
Have you ever been in a situation where you have felt that your gender affected the way you were perceived or treated? If so, how did you handle it?
I have and I am not just referring to when I first started out in IT. I’ve worked in teams over the years as the only woman countless times, so that raised unconscious bias issues. It has happened more so as a contractor in teams. I have always just tried to be myself, tried to be professional, and hopefully helped to educate others along the way.
What do you think are the challenges women come across in that industry?
Women may think they have to work much harder to feel as though they will be taken seriously and to progress their career.
How do you think that can be improved?
Companies need to encourage and support a culture where women don’t feel they are excluded. They should feel they can be their authentic self without being judged.
Do you have any ideas or initiatives that could benefit women working in the tech industry?
Through volunteer work with the BCS, I am involved in events that focus on diversity and inclusion, and I am also a mentor and coach. The latter allows me to work with people coming into the industry. Being able to access mentors for advice and support would be a huge benefit to women in tech.
Have you helped to introduce any other women to the industry?
I have, sometimes even encouraging and helping them to retrain and change careers in order to do it.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in tech?
Being able to draw on my experience and using that to help other women coming up.
Do you have any advice for women considering a career in the tech industry?
It is rewarding and if you get to work on successful projects or with people you admire as I have, you can feel really great about work and know you have made the right career choices.