16th July 2021
We interviewed Chikku Karayath, Software Engineer at M&S on her thoughts and experiences on women in tech.
What does your job involve?
I work for M&S Tech in the International team. My job mainly is coding. It’s fascinating as there’s more to it than you think. It involves problem solving, optimising solutions and figuring out how to give our customers the perfect experience while they’re on our website.
What made you choose a career in technology?
I’ve always loved Maths and Science. I’ve always been good at numbers, and curious and methodical in everything I do. This made me pick technology, but coding was entirely accidental. It was a natural progression from everything I learnt in university.
Did you study an IT or technology related subject at GCSE, A-Level or University?
Yes. I did a four-year Bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications Technology at university.
Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this job?
I did. I worked as an intern for a year in a coding role for an IT consultant company.
Do you think there is a lack of females in the IT and tech sector?
No, I think there are lots of ladies in Technology. My team here at M&S is a prime example, and so are my friends who work elsewhere. We have a really strong group of women coders in engineering M&S.
Do you find there is a stereotype that a career in IT or technology is just for men?
Absolutely not. IT and technology are so advanced that it can be for anyone. You just need the right mindset, and most importantly the company that employs you also needs to have an advanced mindset. I’ve personally battled it out to have flexibility for my family. It’s not about women, but more about the mindset of working mums. Working at M&S really helps.
What would entice women to study technology related courses?
Women should look beyond and see the challenges and opportunities that technology offers. No day is ever the same at work. Right from the toyshop, we segment kids into buying pink or blue. The girls are pushed to having interests in art and glitter, and the boys get the robots and techy toys. As the most important role models, parents and teachers must instil varied interests amongst children regardless of their sex. Once you invoke that taste for science and technology in girls, then all they need is the right opportunities and work experiences.
Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into tech?
Men and women have the same gateway into tech. Same jobs, same internships, but somewhere along the line we only see men in the high up positions. We need more women mangers and bosses.
How could we encourage more women to start a career in tech?
Showcase more women leaders, those who have made it to the top. There has to be more managers who understand what it is to be a woman in this industry.
What advice would you give to young women at the start of their career?
Keep going. If you have chosen this career, you have what it takes to make it. Don’t let anyone judge what you’re capable of but you.
Find out more about M&S' roles in technology here.