Speaking to the Women at DeltaXML for Women’s International Day 2023

International women’s day is a global day celebrating women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. We witness worldwide significant activity as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally to further bring gender equality. We’ve always believed at DeltaXML that having a diverse team only benefits the creative, problem-solving challenges that come with building technological solutions. Today we shine the light on two crucial members of the DeltaXML team: Gursheen Khan, Software Developer and Bridget Mason, Marketing Director.

Who are DeltaXML?

DeltaXML is a world leader in developing software tools for change-control and version management. Our tools find, merge, process and synchronise change in XML and JSON data and documents and are used daily throughout the world by governments, banks, aircraft manufacturers, and the defence industry, where 100% accuracy is vital. What is XML you might be asking?

XML stands for extensible Markup Language and it was designed to store and transport data. It was originally designed to be self-descriptive and is used in many aspects of web development. Thousands of XML formats exist, in many different industries, to describe day-to-day data transactions.

Women in tech

Tech executives have become the richest people in human history. Yet, only two women currently appear on the list of tech’s 20 richest people (August 2021): one is Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder of Emerson Collective and the widow of Steve Jobs and the other is MacKenzie Bezos, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos.

It’s not surprising then that the tech industry has always been criticised for being rather unwelcoming to women, in both large and small ways. In America, women hold just 25% of jobs in computing, and leave the tech and engineering sectors at twice the rate of men. The situation worsens further for women of colour: black women hold only 3% of jobs among women in tech, and Latina women just 1% in America. However, the gender imbalance is a global problem. In Britain, for example, within Europe’s main tech hub, just 15% of people working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are women and only 5% of leadership positions are occupied by women.

An interview with Bridget, a woman with 35+ years of experience in the industry

Bridget Mason, Marketing Director at DeltaXML was interviewed recently about her experiences working in the tech industry.

Q. What was your first role in the tech industry?

I studied languages at university and fell into my first tech role working at a typesetting equipment manufacturer as a bi-lingual PA to the Technical Support Manager. Whilst in that job I was encouraged to use a new computer just out to produce technical specifications and support documentation. This was the Apple Mac which was to become the link between typesetting and desktop publishing. As a result, I moved into pre-sales support doing demos of the equipment and software which included the Macs and typesetting equipment, both in the showroom and at exhibitions; following up with Mac training using software such as PageMaker and QuarkXPress; and providing tech support to customers who purchased.

Q. How was your experience training people on Apple products?

Both my age and gender caused issues at some time. In the showroom the sales team (all male) liked to say how easy the software was to use by saying: ‘even Bridget can use it and she was a secretary with no typesetting experience’. You have to remember this was 35 odd years ago or more! It had nothing to do with the fact that I’d spent time developing my skills in that area.

Q. Did you find you were treated differently in your role in the tech field as it was a predominantly male lead industry?

One time in particular, whilst training employees on how to do desktop publishing on a Mac, comes to mind – it was obvious that some of the older men there weren’t taking me seriously as their trainer. They were fighting a young slip of a girl coming in to tell them how to use these new-fangled computers to do the job they’ve been doing for x years. I couldn’t blame them for that really as the reality was redundancy if they didn’t take up the training, but the perception was still there.

My experience in many of the tech roles I’ve been in was that it was a very male dominated environment with women either working in the admin or back-office areas.

Q. What would you say has been the biggest advantage and disadvantage of being a woman in the tech industry?

I have felt disadvantaged in the past and that my opinions haven’t mattered. Sometimes it was hard to push yourself forward and to be taken seriously. I don’t feel it’s a disadvantage so much for me these days, perhaps because I’ve been able to prove my ability and worth when working as a freelance consultant. It’s built confidence in my ability and the need to promote oneself as having authority in a given area.

Q. What has been your proudest achievement at DeltaXML?

I think it has to be seeing the growth and development of individual members of the marketing team since I first started working with DeltaXML. It’s fantastic to see how with time spent in providing help and support to them, they are able to develop their skills and build on their experience, so they each hold their own within the team as a whole. As someone once said – It’s not the fact that everyone gets the same, more that everyone gets what they need, that matters.

Q. How have you seen the attitudes in the tech world change throughout your time?

Whilst working in the CAD industry we frequently celebrated the achievements of women in engineering and it was really encouraging to see so many young women coming into the industry through the universities and colleges. It’s also encouraging to see more and more female developers coming into computer software and at a high level.

An interview with Gursheen, a woman working at the heart of producing dependable software

Gursheen Khan, Software Developer, DeltaXML was also interviewed to share her experiences working in the tech industry.

Q. What sparked your interest to get into the tech industry?

I have always been fascinated with anything computerish and how things work, for example what happens when you click on something on the screen. Also, I have had a keen interest in the artistic field, so I think my curiosity as a child to understand how these things work and fascination with all the graphics on screen just led me into this world of tech.

Q. What was your degree at University, and what was your experience studying at University?

I did Computer Science Engineering for my Bachelor and Advanced Computer Science for my Masters’s. I think both these degrees helped me develop a deeper understanding of basic concepts related to coding and just how the tech world works on 0’s and 1’s. My time at university also brought along the practical exposure of creating and experimenting with software applications, new programming languages, algorithms etc that just make techie life easier.

Q. What has been your proudest achievement working for DeltaXML?

My proudest achievement would be working on the newer web application side of things here and putting them live where everyone can see your work over the internet really. Also, that everyone at DeltaXML is very appreciative and supportive and almost always have this confidence on me to fix/enhance the web applications.

Q. Do you feel like being a woman in the tech industry is an advantage or a disadvantage?

I have mostly worked on teams where I’ve been the only woman amongst a team of men (presently at DeltaXML as well) and never felt that my opinions/suggestions aren’t welcome at any point in time.

So, as long as you conduct yourself with confidence (that some women have to make a conscious effort to do so) in a room full of men/women, I think you can make all your disadvantages work for you. Personally, I think being a woman has helped me put my points across in an articulate and more understandable manner rather than the usual programmed way.

So, it’s neither an advantage nor a disadvantage if you’re really passionate about technology and wish to come up with simpler techie solutions to infinite problems in this world.

Times are improving

In conclusion, in the world of tech, women often do have to work a bit harder to be seen and heard. However, in recent times, there has been a unified push to increase the representation of women who work in the technical fields. Times are slowly changing and although still in the minority Gursheen has not felt that her gender has held her back in any significant way, especially when the career is something you’re passionate about. We will continue to support the cause of improving gender parity in the technical world and with research showing that diversity within tech improves financial performance – quoting McKinsly & company, “the most gender-diverse companies are 48 percent more likely to outperform the least gender-diverse companies.” – we don’t see any excuse not to!

If you are interested in joining the team here at DeltaXML, head over to our careers page and get in touch today!

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