Driving Innovation and Growth: Why Women in Tech Should Consider IT and Business Consulting
As we recognise International Women’s Day on March 8th, we must ask ourselves – how can we promote the advancement of women in technology? It’s become somewhat of a cliche phrase, but that doesn’t reduce its importance.
According to Women in Technology (WiT), the Australian organisation working to address the imbalance in this industry, “The challenge is often strongly felt by women reaching mid and senior career levels, or returning to work after a career break.”
They report that the “glass ceiling” and “leaky talent pipeline” are very real barriers to the equal advancement of women in broader STEM industries, and “deny Australia access to the full value of its highly educated and skilled female talent bank – a resource which brings enormous social and economic benefits for our whole community.”
At 9Yards, we strongly encourage mid- and senior-level women to consider applying their experience and talents to IT and business consulting. This field provides opportunities for women to use their technical and business skills to navigate clients through complex technological challenges and drive innovation and growth within organisations.
These roles often come with high salaries and flexible work options, allowing women to balance their work and personal lives. The nature of the work often involves problem-solving and creative thinking, which can be particularly fulfilling for those who enjoy working in a challenging, fast-paced and dynamic environment.
While some barriers to entry for women in the tech industry still linger, IT and business consulting firms are recognising the importance of diversity and are actively seeking to attract and retain more women.
Are you wondering if IT and business consulting is right for you? Below, two women from the 9Yards team shared their thoughts on why IT and business consulting is a great option to consider for women in technology looking to progress their career.
Career pathways to becoming an IT and business consultant
There are many career pathways for women in technology to get started with IT and business consulting – from project management and software development, to data and business analysis, and more.
Jen Baldwin, Senior Solution Architect at 9Yards, originally studied and held positions in software engineering. “I knew I didn’t quite fit that role as I love to be visually creative, and also write,” she said.
Jen looked at other fields, such as project management and technical writing, but found they were not technical enough to keep her interested.
“Luckily, I entered into the solution design field through a chance meeting that changed the trajectory of my career for the better. While I do miss coding at times, I love the big picture and large-scale decisions I’m now able to support.” she said.
Many of our consultants are protective of their digital privacy, but enjoy contributing to our articles. Another of our senior consultants – “Sarah” – worked most of her career as a project manager and business analyst. “In my client-side roles at two separate organisations, I worked closely with 9Yards staff, and it was via these interactions that 9Yards reached out and offered me an opportunity to work with them,” she said.
She also noted that the variety (range of clients and industries) and the ability to get into a project or program early and understand the current state and the areas of opportunity was particularly attractive.
What makes a good consultant? Someone who loves to solve a problem – someone who is solutions-minded, can foster trust-based relationships with clients, and who is determined to find a successful solution.
Challenges for women in technology
While women in technology have historically faced many challenges – including a lack of gender diversity and mentorship in the workplace, as well as pay inequity and work/life balance – it does appear to be changing.
Jen said that during her studies and early career in software engineering, there was usually about a 9:1 ratio of men to women. This imbalance was also noticeable within the solution architecture field, as there were teams of 40 with only one woman.
“This gap starts well before consulting, back in the computer science education space. However I do see a lot of change happening in education, including women, with learn-to-code initiatives that should have long-term impacts in the field,” she said.
Sarah also spoke to the importance of women uplifting other women – and in an industry with a lingering gender imbalance, fighting against the unnecessary competition that can surface. “I think as women, we can always support and champion each other more,” she said.
“But in my experience as a consultant, I always feel like I am treated equally and that my gender doesn’t hinder my ability to get the opportunities or recognition,” she said.
The future of IT and business consulting for women
Jen notes that as the gap still exists now, it’s essential to convert women from other fields to the technical consulting space. Many companies are promoting an “everyone is a developer” attitude and encouraging business analysts to code and developers to write requirements.
“While I think there is some benefit in this, I don’t believe simply ‘learning to code’ qualifies someone to make large-scale technical decisions, as coding is only one part of the bigger picture,” Jen said.
“I know there are extremely bright women not working in solution architecture who would be an excellent fit if companies were to truly invest beyond the surface in further education,” she said.
Jen has tried to put these women forward but companies remain hesitant to take a chance and invest in someone who doesn’t have prior experience in the exact role. This included Jen, back in her software engineering days. “But it only takes one person to take a chance on you to make a difference,” she said.
Advance your career in consulting
Are you interested in a career in IT and business consulting that promotes a healthy work-life balance? Take a look at our careers page to find the latest positions available across a variety of areas.