In the run-up to national women’s equality day Women’s Day on the 8th March 2018, we are paying homage to 7 women who have made a name for themselves in the world of technology. We are honouring women leaders in technology, who are quietly making a difference in their field. In this series, the women in tech industry personally share their experiences and challenges whilst also giving us a glimpse into the lessons that they have learnt along the way. In her own words, Julia Mayhugh shares her story.
When it comes to my career path in technology, I kind of stumbled into it. It wasn’t long when I realised that to work in technology; you have to have the sort of hungry mind that relishes being challenged. I started off apprenticing with a digital illustration studio in the 90s and, when the internet started to become relevant to the business world, I volunteered to build the studio’s first website. I had already been playing around with HTML and building websites on my own, so it was the perfect opportunity to dive in.
As a woman in the field of technology, I feel that we are still in the minority, but it’s a growing minority. When I first started, almost everyone I related to at work — either as a colleague or a vendor — was a dude. But now it’s much more common to find other women in the field. A symbolic tipping point for me, personally, was a moment, several years ago, when I joined a conference call as the technical lead for my company, and on the other end, the client’s technical lead was also a woman. It felt like a mini-milestone. I didn’t ask, but I’ve always wondered if she was thinking the same thing about the experience.
That being said women statistically do not have the same opportunities as men. I feel that the tech industry is in desperate need of both women and ethnic minorities right now. Women who would like to carve out a career for themselves in tech need to pave their path. And should they reach that glass ceiling or come across some speed bumps, be ready to change lanes and find a company who values your contributions. If necessary, strike out on your own and build your own company.
As I progressed in my career had both male and female mentors, who had complete confidence in my abilities. They helped me grow in ways that were pivotal to strengthening my ability to push myself. I also look to my mother who has always had a love for computers and technology of all kinds. She seemed happiest when she was building a computer from scratch or taking one apart. My mom was the more technically-inclined of my parents, and because of her, we had personal computers in the house before it was commonplace. It is because of her, that technology never seemed like a “boy thing” when I was growing up.
Now I work for myself. I enjoy how I have the flexibility and power to choose who I work with, what projects I take on, and how much I work. There’s nothing like it. But working for myself means that I have to keep myself informed about the latest trends in tech. I do this by spending time online. There’s so much information coming at you at all times; it’s more of an effort to curate the firehose of content than it is to find information. I think a better mental approach, instead of feeling like you have to consistently “stay on top of the latest trends,” is to let your interests and curiosities guide your learning and let the FOMO go.
The more I read, the more I’m very excited about both augmented reality, biohacking and wearable tech. There’s nothing intrinsically evil about technology because it can be used consciously. We’re on the precipice of a capacity of human creativity to manipulate and create the world we live into a mind-boggling degree.