It’s all about the job satisfaction, and I still feel it after 34 years in tech

“I would have to write a short book to give details of everything I’ve done in my career to date” says Jane Gleadall, a Software Engineer at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). “I’ve been a programmer, designer, analyst, project manager, database administrator, data architect, data engineering expert, technical architect, programme manager, and technical lead. But my first love was programming and development, and back at the coal face again is where I want to be.”

Jane joined the civil service straight from school, and has benefited both from internal training and from academic learning, taking a Masters in Analysis, Design and Management at the LSE as a mature student. The endless opportunities for personal development have always appealed to her: “In this job you learn all the time,” she says. “There are so many languages, utilities, and tools, and getting to learn to use them is extremely enjoyable. I enjoy the feeling I get when I’ve developed something for a while and it finally works. I also like the combination of using soft skills when figuring out how to do things as part of a team, and then concentrating on coding to get something to work that fits in with that team view.”

Looking back over her career to date, Jane believes that her gender has been an issue, although at an unconscious level. “I believe that as a woman, I have had to work harder, and prove myself much more, than a man would have to. The problems I have had have not been with my peers, and have not been blatant – they are more subtle and hidden than that.” But she believes that the situation is changing for the better – “The attitude towards women generally has become much more equal – things are definitely on the up.”

Reflecting on the lack of women in the profession, she points to social issues that affect boys as well as girls: “My own view is that it starts with removing stereotypes in education and in society. We need to get young women (and young men for that matter) to have the self-esteem to believe they deserve the career they want, the self-awareness to identify what that is, and the self-confidence to go for it, regardless of what anyone says they should, or can, do.”

When asked what say to a young woman considering a tech career now. she replied: “The trick is just to do whatever it is you enjoy, and ignore what society, or anyone else, says you ‘should’ be doing. Technology can be fun and creative as well as intellectually challenging.” Jane’s own career is an object lesson in the value of doing what you enjoy: “I love development and coding in all sorts of languages, and the high level of job satisfaction in working as part of a team to get an application working.”