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‘Working in IT: breaking the stereotype’

Recent data from expertise agency VHTO shows that the number of women working in IT is alarmingly low. This is despite the fact that the market has a need for more IT-specialists. High time, therefore, to take a look at the image of IT jobs amongst women. We asked Sanne Meinders, software engineer at ICT Group, for her input.

Why did you choose this profession?
“I always said that I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Until I was standing in front of a classroom, getting glassy-eyed stares from all the children. Not for me, I decided. At my high school’s job fair I took a look at the IT booth.  Suddenly a light went on in my head: this is it! I had always wondered what exactly that magical box on the table does. As a result, my mind was made up and I chose for technical IT studies!”

Why is it that so few women end up in IT jobs?
“The profession is still relatively unknown among girls considering their future career. They often think that they have to be math wizards to work in IT. That hasn’t been the case for quite some time now. There’s also the issue of the poor image: IT professionals are thought of as nerds without any kind of social life. I’m living proof of the fact that ‘being a nerd’ has nothing to do with your social capabilities. Rather, it has everything to do with being extremely passionate.”

What are some of the capabilities you need to become a good IT specialist?
“For me, what counts is that you have to love puzzles and you can never quit. When writing a piece of software, you will inevitably run into a range of challenges. Don’t get scared off, just solve them. This is something women can do just as well as men.”

 What does a day in the life of Sanne Meinders look like?
“The day starts with a scrum, during which all teams briefly discuss the status of running projects. Afterwards, I’m mainly occupied with building products by writing code. I do that in cooperation with the people on my team, and sometimes with the client as well. One thing is for certain though: it’s never boring! Every application brings its own challenges and often requires creative solutions.”

Can you give us an example of such a product?
I developed the WaterstandLimburg app. We are obviously proud of the result. Thanks to this app, inhabitants of the province can check out the local water level. Application like this are built from scratch. Usually, you have to write the entire app separately for Android and iOS because they don’t speak the same language. However, thanks to a useful tool called Xamarin, you can just write everything in the same language. That’s is a lot more efficient, because you can then use the same code for both applications.”

What makes working in IT fun?
“You’re working in an environment that develops at crazy speeds. Every week someone will come up with something new. There’s no end to the learning. This makes the job dynamic. Other than that, there’s a strong community of passionate coders, real tech-heads, that help each other out and share knowledge.”

And what makes ICT Group a fun employer?
“When I joined ICT as a junior, I was already sold on Xamarin. I remember saying: ‘This technique is very promising. We have to do something with it.’ Even though Mobile App Development was still in its infancy, I was given the freedom to master it. That’s one of the signature characteristics of ICT Group: there’s room for innovation. If you come up with good ideas, you get the opportunity to develop them.”

Do you want to work on IT projects that are truly challenging? Consider a career at ICT Group! Find our up-to-date jobs page here.

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