Degree Apprentice, Arm
Part Time Undergraduate, Arm
A diverse workplace isn’t just good for employees, say three women from the tech industry. It’s also crucial for any company developing innovative new ideas and solutions.
One harmful stereotype of the tech sector — and particularly the field of computer science — is that it’s a closed shop for women. They don’t belong in it, so need not apply.
Thankfully, forward-thinking companies are working hard to change this damaging, off-putting and entirely wrong view, say three women from Arm, a semiconductor IP company.
Take Eleanor Upton-Heath, who seems to have been set on a STEM career from a young age. “Put it like this,” she laughs. “For my sixth birthday, I asked for a telescope — so science has long been on my radar. The discovery side of the subject always appealed to me.” After studying an Integrated Masters in physics, Eleanor joined Arm’s graduate scheme in January of this year.
Even though she has only been working in the industry for a short time, Eleanor can see that the company is passionate about diversity and inclusion (D&I). “Compared to my university course, my workplace is extremely diverse,” she says. One of the ways the company finds diverse talent is by opening up alternative career routes, including internships, part-time undergraduate schemes and apprenticeships. This kind of outside-the-box thinking is vital for the whole tech industry going forward, Eleanor believes.
An industry which thrives on diversity of thought
Joana Cruz — a software engineer intern at Arm who is studying a computer science degree — agrees with this assessment and stresses that diversity isn’t simply gender-focussed. It’s about ensuring fairness and opportunity for all, regardless of ethnicity, age, religion, social economic background, sexuality and disability — or, come to that, education.
“My managers and I have been discussing the importance of capturing recruits from non-science areas,” says Joana. “For instance, people with humanities backgrounds have a different way of processing ideas and seeing problems and come to the table with original and innovative points of view. So, diversity of thought — of all kinds — is very powerful.”
Megan Arnold, who joined Arm’s apprenticeship scheme in 2018 and combines work with studying for a digital technology solutions degree, agrees that a diverse team will find it easier to develop new ideas and solutions. “Ultimately, that has to be good for customers,” she says. “A diverse workforce is good for employees, too, because it creates a better, more interesting workplace.” The ‘inclusion’ side of the D&I equation is sometimes overlooked, notes Megan. However, it shouldn’t be, because inclusivity ensures that all employees’ voices are heard, and is a way of retaining diverse talent.
Diversity isn’t simply gender-focussed. It’s about ensuring fairness and opportunity for all, regardless of ethnicity, age, religion, social economic background, sexuality and disability — or, come to that, education.
Enlightened companies are breaking down stereotypes
Of course, some areas of STEM still have work to do in the D&I space, admits Joana. But she encourages anyone with a passion for science to apply for roles within the industry. “This was a career I knew I wanted,” she says. “I’ve had two rotations within the company so far — one in cyber-security and one in software engineering — which have been very different and really interesting. I’ve learned a lot of transferable skills along the way.”
For Eleanor, getting to grips with new problems every day remains an exciting challenge. “Plus, I’m always learning new things, which I love doing,” she says. “It’s one of the best things about the job.”
As far as Megan is concerned, she enjoys working in a space where she can be herself, while helping to break down tech stereotypes. “I did a presentation yesterday,” she says. “I decided to wear make-up and red lipstick to prove that I can do that and still be good at my job. These things are not mutually exclusive. Enlightened tech companies know this and are challenging the status quo. They’re saying: ‘Forget how the industry used to be. We’re doing things differently.’”