This girl can and did

2 mins read

Gender parity is said to be 200 years away and much progress still needs to be made. However, changes are happening and on International Woman's Day, we wanted to celebrate the progress we have made.

New Electronics spoke to Rosanna Ashworth-Jones, leading developer technology engineer, PowerVR, Imagination Technologies, about her experiences as a female in the industry.

"I’ve always loved computers, ever since my forward-thinking electronics engineer dad bought the family an 8 bit Oric-1 home computer. There weren’t many games for it, so my mum used to type in code out of magazines and books. I’d then tweak it to do silly things, and not long after I was writing my own games. Nobody ever told me it was something girls didn’t do - my mum was my role model after all.

"I had a bit of a wake-up call at 16 when I started Computer Science A-level and realised I was the only girl, but by that point I had my heart set on a career in technology. I got so much satisfaction out of writing code and seeing the results, part of me couldn’t believe that people could actually get paid for it!

"I’ve had a fantastic career so far, working on many different things ranging from military radios to mobile phones to computer graphics and always at the forefront of new technology. It’s a real shame that there aren’t more women getting these opportunities.

"I’m not going to pretend being in a mostly male-centric culture has been easy over the years, but it has not been without its benefits too. Being able to bring a different perspective to projects has been very rewarding, my communication skills have been valued in an industry which is often lacking in them, and as a bonus there’s always colleagues around happy to talk about geeky things!

"My biggest frustration is how other mothers react when I tell them I’m an engineer – 'oh, I couldn’t do that, it’s far too complicated', when a lot of the time they do very skilled jobs in other areas at similar levels of complexity, if not more. If that’s the message they’re passing on to their daughters, even subconsciously, then that explains why so many girls think it’s not for them.

"Getting girls interested in tech is only half the battle. Getting them to stay, especially after starting a family, is just as important. Many tech companies never consider this. Fortunately, here at Imagination I’ve been able to slightly reduce my hours and come in a little earlier or later on some days, so I can do school drop-offs and assemblies. This is the kind of thing that encourages women to return to their tech careers and there needs to be more of it. I currently have a great role here, which uses my communication skills, as well as my technical skills. Doing tech doesn’t mean you have to give up everything else."