Meet Amy Townsend. She started in the digital marketing field by accident when she was living abroad. She got an opportunity and this first job helped her to get the experience she needed to kick-off an exciting career in digital marketing. Now she works as the Marketing and Communications Executive at the Irish Computer Society. A castle-explorer and crafts-lover at heart, she says that it’s technology that has really had a huge impact on her life.
W4IT: Could you tell us more about who you are and what you do?
My name’s Amy. I work as the Marketing and Communications Executive at the Irish Computer Society since 2017. I’ve been working in digital marketing for 7 years.
My hobbies are travelling and crafts. I love exploring new countries, in particular historic sites like castles (that might be my Welsh heritage!) and temples. When I’m not travelling I love crafting; embroidery, needle punching, weaving, colouring in. Any mindful sort of craft. When you work with computers all day it’s nice to ‘create’ something with your hands in the evening!
W4IT: How did you get to where you are right now in your career?
It was by accident actually. I was living abroad after graduating from university. At the time it was a struggle to find a job as I didn’t speak the local language fluently. I found an internship at a local council to work on their foreign language website pages. The job was to create content and translate news, event listings and informational pages on the site as well as a weekly newsletter. After that, I got a job managing a website for expats and I’ve worked in digital content since then.
W4IT: What has been the role of technology and digital skills on this path?
Technology has been vital to my career path. Without it, I would never have been able to move to Ireland for work for starters.
Technology has also brought so much to my career. From online training courses to just Googling an answer to something I don’t know! Without digital skills, the ability to adapt to new technologies would be limited and I would have been held back.
W4IT: What are the benefits of working in the tech sector / in digital for a woman?
It’s an exciting, fast-paced sector and there are always new things to discover. You can work in a huge range of roles so it will never get boring.
I love working in tech. What you’ve created is often very tangible, whether that’s a new website, content, code that improves a website or software that protects the data of customers, it’s great to see the effect of your hard work.
It’s also the sector most likely to innovate in flexible working due to new technology. Women in Ireland spend 11 hours a week more caring for others than men and 10.5 extra hours on housework so it’s important for us to be able to work more flexibly.
Wages are often higher than in other sectors too and there’s always a large number of vacancies, so join us!
W4IT: How do companies benefit from having women in ICT positions (tech/digital)?
In many ways. The more diversity we have at every level of an organisation, the better. A range of different ideas – from people from different backgrounds – leads to better problem-solving. A company can only benefit from having more perspectives.
Tech is actually still lagging behind in terms of representation, with the second-lowest level of women on company boards in Ireland last year (behind only construction). On the other hand, Ireland has the fourth-highest rate of women working as IT specialists, so you won’t be alone!
We do have a massive shortage of all workers with tech skills across Europe, so encouraging more women to work in tech will help fill the shortage.
W4IT: Do you think we should have more women in the tech sector / digital jobs?
Definitely. We need as much diversity as possible in technology. For instance, artificial intelligence has a gender bias problem because it’s mainly men working on the systems teaching the computers, perpetuating their own biases. And it will continue that way if more and more women don’t start working in the tech sector too.
Men are also overrepresented in clinical trials, leading to a lower level of innovation in femtech, or products for women. A higher number of women working in digital jobs will allow for more innovation and ideas across the board.
W4IT: Why is developing digital skills important? What opportunities can it bring, especially for women?
It’s often said, especially at the Irish Computer Society, but every job will be a digital job. Developing digital skills is so important for everyone in society, no matter your age, gender or background. To be able to work in the widest range of sectors possible, even to access public services and to keep connected with others, skills to use technology are vital.
There is no better way to work towards equality for women across the world than by reducing the digital divide and bringing your unique skills to enrich the latest technological advances. No matter what your job in tech, you can always make a difference.
W4IT: What advice do you have for young women who would like to start their career in tech/digital?
Just simply be yourself. If you’ve got the skills, the energy and the passion to make a difference in the world, tech is an amazing sector to work in and your gender or background doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.
It can still seem that there are fewer women in tech, which is true. But unless us, women, take a deep breath and get stuck in, this will never change. As Barack Obama once said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”