How to succeed in tech: Áine Mulloy gives her tips
Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Last year, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Áine Mulloy, co-founder of GirlCrew.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Last year, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Áine Mulloy, co-founder of GirlCrew, an international social network for women.
Áine Mulloy, co-founder of GirlCrew
Áine Mulloy is the co-founder of GirlCrew, an international social network for women. A community builder and TEDx speaker, Áine is an advocate for diversity and female empowerment. With a background int he humanities, she worked in publishing before making the move to tech.
Follow her on Twitter: @AineMulloy
What got you interested in technology?
Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever been “interested in” technology. What I like are communities. The apps and technologies that I like most fall into a couple of camps – easy ways to communicate, useful, or purpose driven. GirlCrew is a perfect fit for me as it covers all these bases and then some.
Technology has so many uses, but oftentimes the human element is left to last in the drive to make everything more efficient and leaner. But for what purpose? More companies need to look at helping in ways that are truly beneficial to society. And I don’t just mean in a practical way. Art is useful, beauty, and humour, and the utterly mundane can all be useful but as finite resources are being pumped into products there is a responsibility to think about the impact we are making. Do we want to be working towards a fairer and more equal world? I do. Do I think technology can help achieve this? Yes. So in that sense, I’m interested in tech, but I’m more interested in the concepts and impact than the inner workings. I like the big picture.
I started off doing a MA in Literature and Publishing, before working in an educational publishing company. While I had envisioned working in publishing, I found myself falling into the tech space. When you go from being an employee in a team with a structured hierarchy to being the co-founder there are some things you need to adjust to. Not only the practicalities of running a business, but also being able to lead a team effectively. Particularly when that team, and company is young. The building of structures, and processes is important but these things can often get sidelined in the rush to get things done. It’s important to take a step back, prioritise what needs to be done and tackle problems head on.
A strong support system
My friends and family have been a huge emotional support. They have definitely championed me. There are so many amazing women that I know and have learned of in recent years that I’m not sure I could even list them all. If I had to select some, I’d pick Pat McGrath and Ann O’Dea. While totally different from each other, both of these women have broken barriers in various ways. What I admire most of them is they are unapologetically themselves and champion diversity and inclusion, while building amazing organisations.
My family have always been very academic and learning focused. I love learning new things and finding new information. It’s important to keep learning and advancing otherwise things just stagnate. Fortunately, our entire team have the same outlook.
A day in Áine’s life
As the co-founder and CMO of GirlCrew, I drive the branding, marketing, PR, and partnership efforts of the company. While there are tasks that need to be performed every day, I’m fortunate in that no two days are identical. It could be researching new markets, testing landing pages, working with clients and partners, hosting events, developing campaign strategies and managing the team. At this stage, everyone chips in with ideas and we’ve worked hard to create a space where people can collaborate. The best ideas are always the ones where the whole team has pulled together to make a vision come to life.
I was invited to join a roundtable with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – otherwise known as Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry – during their state visit to Ireland. The Duchess had specifically requested to meet various tech leaders to talk through the challenges facing women and girls in STEM. The barriers to entry and so forth. It was an incredible experience as not only was I selected as one of eight Irish industry leaders, but we had the chance to workshop the problems facing women beforehand. It was an incredible experience.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
Considering the barriers facing many women, it’s almost a miracle that there are as many of us. But really it boils down to two things; education and confidence. The current systems are not designed for women, they are designed for men. And that’s not just in the workplace, the same is true of educational environments, household structures, and societal pressures etc.
We need education to start at home with parents, that tech roles are viable options for everyone regardless of gender. Secondly, schools need changing to encourage girls to learn subjects that have traditionally been male-dominated. Especially when you consider that this gender imbalance is often the result of lack of training and resources going back generations. As girls get older, they need to be shown that they can excel at maths. And this support system should continue into college and beyond through a network of mentorship and sponsorship.
As we move into considering women in the workplace, there needs to be greater flexibility in working hours and practices. VCs need to fund more female-led startups and consider female companies as real contenders.
I think it’ll be some time before we reach any sort of parity but it’s great that the [diversity] conversations are being had. I think at this stage we really need to start moving beyond talk and into action. There’s no reason why some of the action points coming out of the research can’t be accelerated and real change brought to the fore sooner rather than later.
Women in STEM
We know that when women are trained and in gainful employment it’s one of the easiest ways to lift families out of poverty. Women also drive consumer spending so if that sector of society has access to greater amounts of disposable income local communities and economies can flourish. Research also shows that companies with more women in decision making roles tend to hire a bigger proportion of women than those with all men in similar roles. Seeing relatable role models encourages others to get involved in STEM too so younger generations begin to see STEM as a viable choice.
The impact of women accessing jobs reaches far beyond any one industry. The reality is that women have always been involved in STEM and at all levels, while previously their achievement has gone undocumented, stolen, or just not made visible today it’s much harder to do that. By encouraging more and more women to get involved that community base widens and the knowledge sharing that encourages will have an incredibly positive cultural impact.
Isolation is commonly cited. There’s a feeling that women will be on the only female person in their peer group which is always challenging as it can mean oftentimes women aren’t heard. The continual lack of funding is another huge barrier. In the EU, female-led startups achieve 12% of funding, and in the US in 2017, female-led companies got just 2% of VC dollars. This is a problem.
Tips & tricks
Put your head down and plow on. It’s often a case of listening to your gut and going with your instinct. There are many obstacles that litter your path but it’s important to believe in yourself. We all suffer from imposter syndrome and bouts of insecurity but you need to be your own biggest champion. Find what your passionate about and work towards creating that for yourself and others.
Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:
- “Technology reflects the people who make it”
- “In the right company, working in tech is a great career”
- Why women fall out of the tech pipeline
- Breaking the mold: ‘It’s not that you’re good — it’s that you’re female’
- How to avoid the culture of male programmers
- Creating an equal playing field is about more than just teaching someone coding skills
- The more women you see in STEM, the less intimidating it is for others to join
- The tech industry tends to lose women along the way. Change is underway
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Tips & tricks for women
- Transitioning into a tech career? Silicon Valley culture is one of the biggest initial obstacles
- Abby Kearns: “Diversity ensures continuous innovation”
- “In technology, you become a lifelong learner — More women should embrace this career”
- Cultural impact is not driven by gender, but by diversity
- Everyday superheroes: “I don’t have a role model, my career was based on my mistakes”
- Diversity talk: For tech, it’s less about a pipeline problem and more of a marketing problem
- Diversity talk: It’s important to receive support from tech communities
- Everyday superheroes: Women just need to see more of us — techie women
- Anyone who wants to learn and grow won’t continue in an industry that tells them they are stupid
- There is too much allowance for tolerating toxic people in tech
- Coding myths and how finding communities like Hear Me Code helps you learn best
- 3 strategies to try out if you want to support women in tech
- Young women carry less career gender bias and more media influence
- Women are often pigeonholed into “soft skill” roles and pushed away from engineering
- Diversity talk: Many women suffer from the impostor syndrome
- How to succeed in tech: Shutterstock’s Rashi Khurana gives her tips
- Diversity talk: Using lingo is making tech sound harder than it really is
- Diversity talk: “We can’t expect men to hand us equality on a silver platter”
- How to succeed in tech: Agnès Crepet gives her tips
- “Many people still need to be taught that diversity is more than just a trend”
- “Many companies lack the infrastructure & career growth opportunities to support female employees”
- “Diverse teams can help prevent unhealthy competition that occurs sometimes in male-dominated teams”
- How to succeed in tech: Testlio’s Kristel Kruustük shares her tips
- “As the tech field becomes cloud-based, the flexibility and remote work culture will grow”
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from Atlassian’s Molly Hellerman
- Diversity talk: “Women should not be herded into a career to meet quotas”
- “The tech industry can move even faster by increasing the diversity of talent”
- Diversity talk: Even if your team is not very diverse, what matters is that they value you
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Always be curious
- How to win the diversity battle: Tips from GitLab’s Barbie Brewer
- Diversity talk: Tips from Lisk’s Gina Contrino on how to succeed in tech
- “The combination of tech IQ and people EQ can set you apart in the tech world”
- “Mentorship, acceptance, and trust are really important in fostering gender diversity in the workplace”
- The tech industry is not solely responsible for pushing gender diversity
- “There isn’t enough clarity on what it means to work in tech and to be a woman in tech”
- Diversity talk: Exec reveals her secret to success — Become comfortable with change
- Diversity in the AI world & how imposter syndrome is vital!
- “Even if women decide to work as developers because they are passionate and qualified, they are sometimes treated like diversity hires”
- “We need fewer WiT luncheons and more women coding & deploying projects side by side with men”
- Diversity talk: How to overcome challenges in the workplace
- “We need to increase the awareness of the benefits and challenges of diversity”
- Diversity talk: The biggest obstacle we currently face is the idea that equality is here already
- How to succeed in tech: “Go ahead and do it. This is a great option for women”
- “I think the topic of diversity is viewed very narrowly to only mean race or gender”
- Breaking the mold: “Women are not solely responsible for solving the diversity challenge”
- How to succeed in tech: Katerina Skroumpelou gives her tips
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Ana Cidre shares her tips & tricks
- Diversity talk: “We need to ditch the idea that women don’t love their careers as much as men do”
- How to succeed in tech: Samantha Quiñones gives her tips
- Diversity talk: People who act as gatekeepers in the tech community are part of the problem
- How to succeed in tech: Tzofia Shiftan shares her tips
- Diversity talk: “Tech is one of the most flexible and evolving industries that can work in women’s favor”
- Diversity talk: “If you want to advance, make it known and be persistent. You’ll need a thick skin”
- How to get (and stay) into the tech industry: Sherry List shares her tips & tricks
- How to win the diversity battle: “Well behaved women rarely make history”
- Diversity talk: “When dealing with challenges, it is not a time to be depressed or let self-doubt engulf you”
- How to win the diversity battle: “The tech industry is not as bad as it sounds”