Celebrating the women behind Community TechAid!
In celebration of International Women's Day on the 8th March, we want to spotlight two of our incredible technical volunteers, Bola and Laura.
Bola teaching a volunteer how to replace a laptop battery Laura with Dennis, our office mascot
Interview with Bola
Hi, can you tell us a little more about what you do?
My name is Bola and I am a Senior Technical Operations Volunteer. I apply my skills and knowledge to help organisations with setting up computers. I perform hardware set up including laptops, tablets, mobile phones. I also work on diagnosing, repairing and refurbishing computers.
I recently worked on a project where we had to very quickly turn around a Windows 10 deployment of 25 laptops. It encompassed all of the above. Coordinating the necessary resources and working with the Partnerships & Engagement Manager we were able to achieve this in record time. We went on to facilitate a Digital Skills Workshop to parents experiencing digital exclusion, building and maintaining good working relationships in the process.
When did you become interested in working with technology/in tech?
I had visited a friend at their office and had walked past a room with a huge see through glass panel. The room piqued my interest. When I enquired I was told it is their data processing room. Picking up on my inquisitiveness I was given a very quick tour. The rest as they say is history, going on to study and achieve a National Diploma in Computer Studies. Thereafter, I started my first tech job as a Data Processing Operator, working on projects for Lever Brothers and The Coca-Cola Company.
What interests you the most about the field and what's your area of expertise/interest?
Currently I am a bit of an all rounder and put my skills, knowledge and experience to good use to benefit, especially, those in need of digital support and technology. A way to use my profession to give back to the community I live in and to society at large. We live in a very digital world today and those out of reach of tech, and knowledge to use it safely and securely, are at a disadvantage.
I am looking at renewing my interest in Cyber Security. I'll be looking to see what's out there!
How does it feel to be a woman in this space, do you find it challenging?
For the most part it feels great. I was the only woman in the arena I worked in for quite a long time, being a male-dominated space. When you are outside of the work arena, in a social situation and get asked what you do. People are taken aback when I tell them I work in IT. They have that "Oh, I wasn't expecting that" look written on their faces.
Challenges are no different to other male-dominated spaces. It certainly has its moments. I once walked into a room where I was going to be presenting to do some last minute checks. We had an early arrival already seated. He asked me if I could serve him a coffee with sugar. He had assumed I was there to take beverage orders!
Others encountered - promotion was slow and earned less than my male colleagues. But I love what I do and work to break down barriers where I can, keep my head down and get on with the job as best as I can. To solidify technical credibility, I would advice women coming into tech to be part of a good support network, take up mentorship and professional development programmes, and engage in continuous training.
Thank you so much Bola!
Interview with Laura
Below is a short video with another of our wonderful volunteers, Laura.