Recently I interviewed Beth Price, who works as an Asset Management Analyst. While she holds an upper title today, she started out working at a tech support desk! I wanted to get her worldview as a woman who works in technology, and directed the interview questions as such. Seeing as how I asked about her own experiences and opinions, I will be keeping my commentary to a minimum and allow her to speak for herself. Therefor without further adieu, I present you with the full and unedited transcript of the interview!
What is it like working in tech?
"Challenging. You have to be a multitask-er and willing to wear many hats. The work loads can be unbelievable and the deadlines are tight, yet you are expected to turn out flawless work."
What made you want to take this job?
"I get bored doing the same things over and over. I like learning new things. IT has allowed me to stay at one company but hold many positions throughout the organization."
As a woman, What are some of the daily struggles you face in the workplace?
"Not getting paid what I am worth. Not getting paid as well as a man doing less in the same position. Maintaining a politically correct attitude about the situation. Trying to stay positive as I look for work elsewhere. Trying to explain to recruiters and potential new employers why I am looking for work elsewhere without making negative statements about current situation."
Do you get paid as much as your male counterparts?
"Absolutely not! I think it is a Southern issue. When I lived up North the unions were strong, it was equal pay for equal work. Race, and sex did not enter the equation. It was a matter of if you did the job or not. There were clear paths to advancement in Northern Companies, and it was published by the HR Departments at many companies. People were aware of the pay grades associated with the job grades at companies such as Ford Motor Company. Things like degrees, advanced degrees, prior positions were clearly stated in the requirements section and strictly adhered to."
Are you treated differently by superiors or peers for being a woman?
"Yes. One should not be treated differently, but it happens. At my current firm women are definitely not paid as much as men. Advancement opportunities do not exist, one has to be creative and come up with their own plan to move up in the company."
What is management like?
"Management tends to be good and bad at most firms. At my company most IT managers are not IT people. In IT the challenge is to effectively explain complex things in terms that non IT people understand. Then get them to totally understand the ramifications of the decisions they are being asked to make. This can cover a broad range of topics. (Getting someone to realize that on the surface what they are proposing sounds great, then getting them to realize the underlying results and impacts that will occur that they are not thinking about. It is hard to effectively point out flaws in logic to people, and still allow them a way to save face when they are about to make mistakes.)"
Would you recommend this as a career to other women?
"It depends. The hours are long, the pay is good in larger metro areas. Much of the work is being outsourced to off shore companies. I would recommend it but also caution the person to always have a plan B in their back pocket. Companies don’t always see the value of paying for good IT help. If they can do it in what they perceive is a cost effective manner they will. Even if this means letting people go and sending the work over seas. Live below your means and save enough money so you are covered in case your job suddenly disappears. Keep your skills current so you can move quickly to something else."
What qualifications did you need for this job? Did your male peers need to meet the same requirements?
"That has changed significantly. I started in IT before it was popular. In the late 70’s and 80’s it was a case of knowing what the heck someone was talking about, and being able to translate that business function into computer automation. In the late 70’s most of us read books and were self taught. Now days you need a degree or equivalent experience. Yes males and females need to meet the same requirements."
Hopefully this interview has helped to give you some insight into what it is like working in technology! If you have any questions that you'd like answered please leave them in the comments!