A recent article on the Women in Technology website said that although more women are put in positions of leadership at technology companies in the UK, than in the US, less than 50% of software companies have women in senior management positions. This was according to the annual Innovation Economy Outlook survey by the Silicon Valley Bank.
Thankfully, we are happy to buck the trend and are fortunate enough to have Lisa Legg as our accredited “Product Owner” at Red River – one of the most critical roles in software development projects. As the customer’s representative, Lisa manages key accounts and projects and is also a very accomplished software developer and a key member of the management team.
That said, at present, she is still the only woman working full-time at the company. We asked her what its like to be the only female in a sea of rippling masculinity and technical geniuses (ahem).
What led you to work for a technology company?
It was an accident. I was mid-career change and looking for something to do while I pondered my longer term career and took a job as a “Support Coordinator” at a software company. My role there was part Account Management, part coordinating the fixing and release of bugs and minor enhancements; allocating work to developers, monitoring progress, arranging releases and generally keeping the customer informed and happy.
After about a year, I was looking at what the developers were doing and thought to myself “that looks much more interesting than the work I’m doing” and so I taught myself how to program in my evenings and weekends and after a while I asked the Client Services Director for a Junior Developer job. I think she was a little sceptical at first, but gave me some development work as a trial and things progressed from there… 15 years later and I still love it.
What is your role within Red River?
I initially joined RR 4 years ago as a software developer, but have become increasingly interested in the Scrum process and particularly the role of the Product Owner. Simon and Kieren were both very supportive of my interests and agreed for me to go on a course to become a certified Scrum Product Owner. Whilst I still do a little development work, my role is now mainly as Product Owner.
What needs to happen for more females to be drawn to working in tech companies (rather than ‘digital’)?
My 12 year old daughter’s favourite lesson is IT and she wants to be a software developer when she is older, so I have some hopes that this is becoming less gender-orientated. Her IT teacher is female and I hope a good role model (as is her mother!)
I am hoping that over time the “geeky software developer” image will be replaced with the idea that a good software developer needs to possess not only intelligence and logic, but also common sense, soft-skills and empathy – after all, how can you develop a good product if you have no empathy for the end user? Marketing this image to women and particularly young girls can only be a good thing.
What are the best 3 things about being the only full time female employee in a technology driven business?
- All my fellow employees are great to work with and there is a genuine sense of “team” here.
- I am a mum as well as part of the management team, but that balance has always been respected – which I know is not always the case in many organisations.
- I’d like to think that being a woman does add something to the communications dynamic within the company – while not saying outright that women are better at communicating than technology savvy men, or making it about gender, being female does bring something very positive to the company culture.
What is your favourite technology and why?
I don’t really want to admit it but it’s my iPad
(*cue gasps of shock around the office*)
What is your favourite/most useful/interesting website for tech type stuff?
I use Stack Overflow on an almost daily basis to take advantage of other people having already asked and answered my many questions.