Over the past week, the female employees of Armour Comms hosted three female students from the Shadowing Women in Technology (SWIT) programme at University College London (UCL). Dr Andy Lilly (CTO) introduced Armour to UCL’s students in an evening presentation that included highlighting the many ways that one’s mobile phone data can be hacked and misused. For the visiting students, the aim was to show them what goes on inside an entrepreneurial start-up developing leading-edge security products; to facilitate this, the students circulated between female employees, observing how their different roles in Marketing, Pre-Sales and Development all contribute to Armour’s day-to-day operation.
Andy (Armour’s CTO) was clear that: “At Armour we respect and value staff diversity and inclusivity, so alongside strong links with universities we want to encourage women to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) topics and to pursue rewarding careers in technology.”
A 2017 study by PwC (involving over 2,000 A-Level and university students) found that only 27% of females would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of males. A lack of female role models was one of several factors that meant only a meagre 3% of the women said a career in technology would be their first choice. Sadly, the students noted that they, too, were very much in a minority in their own courses.
Andreea (Pre-Sales Engineer), one of the Armour hosts, explained: “While I am a member of the development team at Armour, I also support the Sales team in the technical aspects of their job. I gave the students an overview of the software and tools that I use, including the advantages and disadvantages of different operating systems. I described my experience with meeting customers, feeding back their requirements and contributing to internal meetings and technical documentation. Discussing my various training opportunities, led to interesting conversations about professional development.”
Isabelle (Software Developer), said: “I demonstrated how I contribute to different projects and development processes; from software design and testing, to sprint ceremonies for managing current and future planning. I showed how we needed to interact and collaborate across different departments, working to define expectations, implement and test solutions. I highlighted how our supportive office culture optimises our progression, both as teams working to meet shared goals, and our individual growth in continuing to develop skills and knowledge, keeping up to date with advancements in technology.”
Kayleigh (Marketing) described her role: “We felt it was important for the students to see how marketing – everything from event organisation to design of brochures – fitted into the wider company structure of a technical business. Each student asked plenty of thoughtful questions throughout the day and it was refreshing to see their enthusiasm for daily tasks that we tend to take for granted. I hope this experience demystifies the office environment and encourages them to pursue a career in a technology field.”
Andy was delighted with the students’ engagement, and their wide-ranging questions: “Our team was asked about their backgrounds (from apprenticeships to postgraduates), and what had motivated them to enter this industry, Armour itself and their particular roles. The students enjoyed actively participating in our day-to-day meetings, experiencing technology demonstrations and real-life applications of our development processes. They appreciated the openness of our office atmosphere and asked frank questions about what sort of challenges were encountered when first starting here. We hope all the students gained a lot of useful information and have a better idea of the broad range of career opportunities in technology companies.”
Andreea, Kayleigh and Isabelle concluded: “We hope this experience will ultimately enable them to make an informed decision when they choose a career, and also de-bunked some of the myths and clichés about being a woman in tech, and showed them the importance of having passion for the area that you work in.”