IWD (III): Industry insights from some of the female members of the Redbox team
Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Marc Benioff are big names in the world of tech that most people would be familiar with.
But if we mention the names Susan Wojcicki, Ginni Rometty or Safra Catz would anybody know who they are? These are inspirational women who have made it to the top of their game in IT - positions that have been largely held by men.
It is a sad indictment of the tech, digital and ecommerce sectors around the world. A UK report by PWC revealed only 5 per cent of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women and only a small percentage (3 per cent) of female A-level and uni students would consider a career in technology.
The digital and ecommerce markets are booming as retailers and brands are accelerating their digital strategies. Digital skills are in great demand and businesses must acquire the right skillset to meet their customers' changing needs and attract new online shoppers.
With fewer women participating in the digital sectors, be it in higher education, jobs or entrepreneurship, we want to shine a light on the important work that women do at Redbox in the hope that we can encourage others to consider a career or move into digital. After all, it's a great industry to be in!
In our final piece, we talk to Kerstin Mueller, senior project manager and Hannah Stothard, front-end developer about their career path and journey in digital.
Kerstin Mueller, senior project manager. Worked at the London office for six years.
Tell us more about your day-to-day at Redbox?
I’m juggling multiple projects at the same time – it’s fast and very hands-on which suits me. I’m involved in every aspect of the project from initial discovery to delivery. It’s the holistic aspect to project management that I like and it gives you the opportunity to work with internal teams, but also clients.
What is your biggest work achievement?
One of my biggest achievements was the launch of the Screwfix website in Germany, which was my first Redbox project. Screwfix didn’t exist in Germany at the time. But to see Screwfix open one of its stores in my hometown Koblenz and explain to my family that we built the website and POS for it was a great feeling.
Did you overcome any obstacles to get to where you are in the workplace?
Personally I didn’t have to overcome any obstacles to get to where I am, but it could be a little easier in my line of work. Project management is applicable to lots of different industries and there is usually a good mix of women and men in project management roles. I’m fortunate that all the places I’ve worked have had very inclusive cultures, but I can understand that this is not the case in every line of work, especially development roles.
Kerstin Mueller, senior project manager at Redbox
Is enough being done to encourage women into tech and ecommerce?
I think companies could be doing more and should be working with industry and education to support women in the workforce. There are a lot of grassroots initiatives like Women in Agile and Women in Digital, often led by female employees at companies who want to drive change. More can be done across the board to diversify, not just for women, but women of minorities, for example.
There is still a stereotypical view that boys are good at maths and science and girls excel in the humanities subjects, which might influence the career path of women later in life. More could be done from primary school level upwards.
Society in general should do more in getting the message across that women can do anything they want in life. Is enough being done in schools to support this? Are there still areas ingrained in our everyday lives that are holding girls back from following certain career paths?
What do you think ecommerce will look like this year as stores begin to re-open?
Covid has changed the playing field for online retail. Shoppers have realised just how easy and convenient buying through your mobile or desktop is now. This was always going to happen, but the pandemic has definitely quickened the process.
There will be a big drive to get shoppers back in stores but I think there will be a bigger trend towards hospitality and travel. People have missed socialising with their friends and family, eating out and going on holiday.
There will be push with retail too, but I feel that a lot of shops won’t re-open and for shoppers seeing gaps or closures where their favourite brands used to be might be a little depressing.
So, while there will be an upsurge of people going to the shops, I think long-term we could see more retail stores close as people go back to buying online. The real winners, at least in the short-term will be the hospitality sector - restaurants, cafes and pubs when they reopen.
Hannah Stothard, front-end developer. Worked at the London office for four years.
What do you do day-to-day at Redbox?
I stand at the design and UX end of front-end development. Front-end development encompasses such a broad range of skills these days. When I started out over 15 years ago the role expectations were very different. As technology has advanced, there is now a vast choice of coding languages available to choose from. Many developers commonly specialise in particular platforms or languages. At Redbox I focus purely on Magento theme development. This involves HTML, CSS, PHP, XML, Require JS, Jquery and Knockout.
What’s your biggest work achievement?
Gaining the Magento 2 Professional Front End Developer Certification last year. It was a great sense of achievement to earn an official certification after 10+ years working with the Magento Platform. It was also amazing to see many others in my team achieve similar qualifications.
With tech looked upon as a male-dominated industry, did you overcome any obstacles to get to where you are today?
Luckily, I haven’t had to overcome anything. At university, there were only two of us on my degree so women were clearly underrepresented back then. I would imagine and hope the picture is quite different now.
In my line of work and at Redbox, there are generally more male developers. However, I don’t believe it’s anything to do with females being overlooked. Just that women have chosen other areas of technology to specialise in. The industry is so vast. I have come across some brilliant female developers in my working life, which is great and I am sure there will be others I meet in the future.
As a working mother the technology industry is really flexible. There are lots of opportunities for remote working, short and long-term contracts or part time work. Friends in other industries have found it much harder to find work that is flexible around their home life. I am grateful to have chosen this industry to work in.
Hannah Stothard, front-end developer at Redbox
Is enough being done to encourage more women into tech and ecommerce?
The technology industry has changed a lot over recent years. It wasn’t as advanced as it is today and now there is greater demand for people with developer skills and experience.
I like to think that schools, universities and industry are doing more to attract women in STEM subjects, and make it more appealing to them. Those that have studied STEM subjects at A-level, for example, are more likely to go on to STEM-related degree programmes.
What do you think ecommerce will look like this year as retail stores begin to re-open?
There’s a lot more people comfortable with online shopping. I know my parents had never ordered their weekly food shop online before the pandemic. They are now confident doing it – they see the convenience – and will probably continue. I’m sure there are lots of similar stories.
People will go back to the shops, maybe not in droves but we will see a pick-up of numbers as soon as people are allowed. Many enjoy the whole shopping experience – trying on clothes, meeting friends for coffee or lunch or just browsing.