04 May Our CIT Interview with Christina, Trasys
With 15 years of working in the IT industry, Christina, HR and IT Service Delivery Manager for Trasys, is stunned at the little progression of women in technology. Of course, the notion of the leaky pipeline of women in STEM has become topical over recent years, with more and more organisations, charities and MPs campaigning to raise awareness of the lack of diversity within this industry. (You could argue that there is insufficient diversity in many sectors such as Communications, Media and PR).
However, it’s not only women who are facing challenges in the world of technology; ageism in tech is also an underlying issue which is rarely spoken about. Christina highlighted “soon there will be thousands of retired 50 year old developers because nobody wants to hire them. It makes no sense!” …So what needs to happen?
Contracts IT spoke with Christina about the positives on diversity whilst also highlighting the challenges she has faced. It was inspiring to hear the passion and devotion in her voice about the value of creating a diverse and inclusive environment and how important it is for Trasys.
What is your area of responsibility at Trasys?
I am have been working for Trasys for 9 years as an HR IT Service Delivery Manager. I have had the luxury of living and working in different countries such as Greece, New York and now London. I previously worked for Trasys in Greece and then I came to Trasys London.
I started my career as a woman in technology by joining an IT company 15 years ago and technology simply stuck with me.
I began to notice the lack of women in my field as I moved from country to country and I still can’t believe that over the period of 15 years there are still not enough women in technology. More needs to be done.
One thing I have noticed is there seems to be specific profiles for Soft Developers, Software Architects, and Software Analysts but very rarely are they women. Normally, I come across women in Testing Roles or as Business Analysts rather than the hard-core niche IT so it’s unbelievable that it’s still a male dominated sector.
A lot of companies are working with schools, charities and universities to increase the female talent pipeline by inspiring boys and girls to take up STEM subjects for example. Do you think these initiatives will help?
Of course and I think it’s great. We need to change that perception of men being better developers than women and what better way than to start at school? It’s like saying that my brain is different to men which makes no sense! By educating girls and women about the world and the variety of occupations and fields to get into, I’m pretty sure we will find some great minds (even if we have to wait for all the girl developers to grow up!)
What would you say to scientists who believe girls lose interest in STEM subjects when they are between 11-15 years old? How can we maintain their interest’s do you think?
I don’t think it’s any different to other occupations, for example doctors used to be perceived as being men and nurses were women but that’s changed now. It’s just a matter of encouragement and educating kids about all the opportunities available to them. Girls and women were not as exposed to technology like boys and men were so we need to stimulate their minds and eyes in the same way. It’s all going in the right direction, I can’t wait to see this evolve.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of a diverse working environment?
I work for an IT company and we deliver business to a European Union agencies as well as to the private sector. The clients have permanent employees from 28 countries of the European Union and the people providing our resources so it’s quite an international organisation.
Because we have so many people from different countries and cultures, communication serves as a challenge because not everybody is used to communicating the same way. I’ve come to situations where I have to be a mediator because what one person thought was harmless in saying; another person has interpreted it differently. So this I must say it is one of the core challenges I face on a day to day basis. You need to be able understand and identify the gaps of communication for people of different cultures.
Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to overcome because it has been rooted day one since they were born. So evidently that is one of the core challenges of having people together working from different backgrounds.
How do you mediate these situations?
I mediate these situations through discussions with all parties, trying to make them understand any differences. I approach these situations by demonstrating that the perspective of one person is not seen as barrier, instead it is seen as a whole new view that another person holds.
It’s a tough process, but I aim to make different perspectives become an asset, an added value if you like, instead of seemingly trying into resolve conflicts. It needs to be highlighted that there are benefits of having different perspectives to looking at the same thing for example.
You need to remember that you are dealing with human beings by approaching them with respect, even if you don’t agree with what they are saying. I don’t want people to embrace all of the sudden opinions and make it their own. But if I can make them respect an opinion then I think half of my work is done because then you can build of that mutual respect of differences.
How does D & I feature within your organisation?
First and foremost we do not discriminate within our recruitment processes. We are quite balanced and have people join us from all over the world, the challenge of course lies with the number of male vs females working in IT but in general we aim to create as much as possible, diverse environment, from day one.
When we conduct interviews, we don’t judge people on their ethnicity or gender or sexuality or disabilities, “if you are good, you get the job” and that’s how I see it.
And I must say I do feel proud working in this environment, because it comes so naturally to me and it genuinely stems from the top of the organisation all the way to the bottom. We will hire someone based on their skills and experiences; it doesn’t matter where they come from so I’m proud of that.
Has your experience in Greece and coming from a diverse background helped it all come naturally to you?
Yes and I believe my experience in the US helped a lot also, because I was heavily educated on Diversity and Inclusion. Working in the US allowed me to open my mind so it’s in my nature now, when I sit across a person in the interview room, I see a candidate, nothing else.
Work life is so much easier and better when you can be yourself.
At Trasys, we very much encourage interaction with employees where they can build relationships on mutual respect. It’s really important people understand that everybody is different and by respecting that. By doing this you are supporting and cultivating a mind-set, which is a huge step in realising there is no difference in ethnicity, religion, gender, special needs, age groups then it makes it even more challenging.
Not only is women in tech an issue but also ageism in the IT sector because people believe you cannot be a developer if you’re 50 years old because your mind is “not as sharp” as 25 year olds. Soon there will be thousands of retired 50 year old developers because nobody wants to hire them. It makes no sense!
Take everybody in consideration and believe that they all bring something different to the table. Stand by your opinions about Diversity and Inclusion and lead by example.
“As we spent significant part of our daily lives in our workplace, being part of environments who support and promote practices on D&I can only make a person feel happier, supported, creative and at the end of day, has the ability to freely express who they are” – Christina, Trasys.
At Contracts IT, we nurture a strong diversity ethic, championing inclusive best practice in the world of IT recruitment. By embracing the power of smart and inclusive recruitment we drive innovation, aid economic growth and provide our clients with a business advantage. We are happy to be partnering with Trasys, an IT solutions and services company who share our values around Diversity and Inclusion.