GUEST BLOG: In this contributed post by everywoman Digital Start Award finalist Saija Mahon, founder and CEO of Mahon Digital Marketing, explains that tech being only for men is the biggest industry misconception she has come across
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What do you love most about working in the tech industry / your role?
I truly love and appreciate the constant change, fast pace and exciting developments that take place in the tech industry each day/week. It’s incredible to be able to work in such a dynamic environment where you can actually diversify and evolve your own role to new heights and dimensions within months. The tech industry also allows me to come up with new, more effective and cost effective solutions to run my own business day to day and ensure my teams operate in a more flexible and functional, organised working environment.
What are the biggest misconceptions about working in tech and how can we dispel them?
The biggest misconception that I’ve come across during my years in the industry is the thinking that tech is for guys (only). Of course we all know this is far from the truth and what’s actually good for us as businesses, consumers and nation all together. The more diversity we have within the industry, the better and faster we can come up with new solutions to make our lives more convenient and functional. I believe the more role models we have, both male and female, the faster we can get to a good gender balance in the industry. We should start from grass root level in schools already.
What can be done to encourage more young girls to study science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects and pursue a career in tech? Are you involved in any initiatives?
I believe this could be easily done if the stiff school system was more encouraging from the start with both, females and males. Educational changes are needed and teachers need to be re-trained to have a mind-set whereby they see boys and girls both in the same starting line, being able to be interested and excel in the same subjects. I’m not sure we are there yet. Yes, I’m an official mentor for Girls in Tech London and Finland/Helsinki organisation. I’m also an ambassador for Wonder Women Tech organisation / conference series.
How important are role models for young people, particularly girls, when pursuing Stem subjects? Did you have any you’re growing up?
They are absolutely vital. Role models are people that the next generation (particularly women for girls) can look up to, relate to and strive to be similar to. I have had role models growing up, mainly men (such as my entrepreneur father), however at a later stage when I already was in the tech industry, I’ve had role models to look up to like Sheryl Sandberg.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in tech? Anything you wish you knew?
I would say go for it. And go full throttle. Keep an open mind, grab and create opportunities as tech world has so much to offer, you can pretty much become anything you want. Start creating a good connection base / network of people around you that can help you as and when needed. I wish I would have started to join communities sooner than I did. I used to think I need to do it all by myself. You don’t. You shouldn’t. Create your own relevant tribe and charge ahead full force!