Lucy Lee, IT support apprentice at Canon UK explains how she got into ICT and the struggles young girls face when trying to break into the industry.
Working in IT always felt like a natural step for me. I’ve always been interested in technology and seeing how things work; taking computers apart and putting them back together again.
Thinking back, my father was my inspiration. He was the guy who built his own PC from scratch. This was something I inherited as I quickly became the go-to person for fixing problems with the family’s computer. You could say, from that moment, working in IT support was inevitable.
Fast-forward – and I’ve been in my role as an apprentice at Canon UK for 7 months now. I am loving every moment. But it makes you question why we need a “Girls in ICT Day” and why more women don’t enter a career in IT?
The answer, I think, is a serious lack of role models girls can look up to and aspire to become. Sadly, not everyone has an encouraging father to lead the way! When girls don’t see other women in IT they don’t view it as an option. It’s still viewed as a male-dominated industry and I think that stereotype is outdated and harmful. The world of IT would absolutely benefit from more women.
You see this image and prejudice filter down into our school system. I was one of only three girls in my year who did a BTEC in computing. While the school was supportive and the course was great, other girls just didn’t view it as an option. I’m also a gamer and, sadly, the same rules apply. I’m one of the only girls I know who enjoys playing computer games.
I decided to get a start in my career with an apprenticeship at Canon for a few reasons. I felt I was stagnating in education and I was excited to get real world, hands-on experience that will prove invaluable in my career. The experience has been incredible. If the team I’m working with weren’t as supportive as they are, it’s likely I wouldn’t be sure about staying in IT after the apprenticeship. I’m now even more keen.
I think a lot of people have a negative image of working in computing; that we’re all extras from the ‘IT Crowd’, working in basements and chained to our computers. The reality is worlds apart. I spend lots of my day talking to different people and solving their problems. It’s early days but I am learning new things every day and the rewards are endless.
We need to break down the barriers and throw out the outdated stereotypes. Only by inspiring more women working in technology can we hope to realise the benefits they’d be sure to bring.