DevAcademy boss talks women in STEM

Rachel Peacock

DevAcademy boss talks women in STEM

With International Women’s Day on the horizon, DevAcademy’s Rachel Peacock gives us her perspective on her business, and how she views the presence of women, particularly in STEM roles.

What does your company do?

We recognised there was a skills gap and wanted to create a cost-effective, flexible resourcing solution for companies, which would complement their current recruitment processes.

Essentially, we find and train ambitious individuals for software development and testing roles. Our business model allows us to assist companies with building a pipeline of talented people to employ for various roles in technology.

What’s been your career path so far?

I studied law at university with ambitions to work in human rights. After a few years in that field, I decided to try another area of law but soon realised my interests and strengths lay in business management and development.

I saw the opportunity to manage a small business with a great model as a chance to gain the career satisfaction I’d been looking for. Being able to upskill local people for careers in IT whilst help the tech community grow seemed too exciting an opportunity to miss.

How did you become MD?

I’ve always enjoyed challenging myself and setting new targets once I’d met certain goals. It felt like a natural progression to MD, because I believe in the business model and wanted to take on more responsibility to help grow the company.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

I once heard that people should make their own career paths rather than follow those already in place. Changing careers was the best thing I did and although it was scary going into a new field, with few contacts and lesser knowledge of the sector, I believe I flourished. I’m a curious person and enjoy developing my skills as well as meeting new people, so this fit perfectly.

The tech sector is constantly evolving and it’s an exciting field to be in with new products and services being launched every day.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I aim to make nice plans with my family at the weekend, head out to a good restaurant or host a small dinner party for friends. It’s good to have something to look forward to and take your mind off work when at home.

Do you come across many female MDs in your line of work?

I meet with a lot of different business owners and managers. There’s been a lot more promotion of the need for diversity in businesses, especially at management level and I think we’re starting to see movement in the right direction now.

You are offering training and resourcing in the software development space - how many female candidates do you usually receive?

We tend to get more applications from men than women still, but are hoping to continue getting the message out there that anyone can learn to code and have a career in software. I’m working with a number of organisations over the next few months to promote diversity in tech through a series of workshops, events and think tanks. It’d be great to see more females of all ages working in STEM roles in the next few years. 

Are companies increasingly demanding female candidates and what do you do to find them?

I think companies have realised the importance of diversity in their workforce and are actively making changes to encourage more women to apply for technical roles. At DevAcademy, we go into schools, colleges and universities to promote tech as a career to show that anyone can get involved in coding and the exciting careers you can embark on. We also encourage women returning to work or changing careers to apply as our courses can upskill them for various roles without requiring them to have previous experience or up to date skills.

What can be done to attract more women to STEM roles?

As the skills gap grows, we can’t afford not to have more women in technical roles. We all have a part to play in changing the statistics; education providers, industry and government need to promote IT and Digital skills to younger generations as well as look at options to assist those wanting to return to work and change careers. There’s much to be done but it’s not insurmountable. Days such as International Women’s Day can help to spread the message, bring about change, and at the same time celebrate the achievements of women across the globe.

Are you a business owner or manager working in the North East? The North East Growth Hub provides a wealth of information on finance and funding, business support and events available across the region to help take your business to the next level.

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