As a special edition of an ongoing series of interviews that shines a light on incredible working mums within tech, MotherBoard featured mothers that have trained through Code First Girls.
Helena: My name is Helena Blackmore and I work as an insights and data consultant focusing on data engineering. As a consultant I get the opportunity to work in different roles, on a range of tech projects both in public and private sector.
Helena: I come from an academic background, but after finishing my PhD I have ultimately decided to switch research and teaching for tech. I fell in love with coding and was attracted by the varied opportunities and (to be completely honest) the potential salaries in the tech industry.
Helena: I developed an interest in coding during my PhD, and CFG UNI Kickstarter courses caught my eye. However, due to family commitments, I was unable to attend the evening classes in person. When the pandemic hit and the courses moved online, I was able to start taking them. The opportunity to take a structured course with dedicated and knowledgeable instructors for free was too good to pass up. I eventually continued on to the CFG degree, which helped me pivot into tech.
Helena: While it wasn’t easy the flexibility and everything being online helps a great deal. I have also learned to accept that perfection is not always possible, sometimes you have to drop some balls and that is ok, as long as you don’t drop all of them at the same time.
Helena: I am very lucky that my job is mostly remote which gives me some flexibility and saves a lot of time and some money on daily commute. I also avoid working more than I have to and try to be as efficient as possible – no unnecessary emails, focusing on the most important things, staying organised etc. However, I am still working on creating a balance and one thing I am currently working on is ‘saying no’ and dealing with FOMO!
Helena: Companies can do a lot to support working parents. One of the most important things is to create an understanding environment where employees feel trusted and respected. This means not micromanaging employees and giving them the flexibility to work in a way that best suits their needs. For example, many working parents appreciate the option to work from home which can help them to balance their work and family responsibilities and save time and money on a commute.
Another important thing that companies can do is to normalize not working extra hours. There is a culture in many workplaces that expects employees to work long hours, even if it means sacrificing their personal time. This can be especially difficult for working moms, who already have a lot on their plates. Companies can help to change this culture by setting clear expectations about working hours and by discouraging employees from working overtime unless necessary.