Women in Tech- An interview with our Head of Product

A new female-focused series…

At Slingshot Simulations, we are proud to continually prioritise inclusivity and diversity, demonstrated through a 50:50 gender split across our company. However, this is far from the norm within the technology industry. Considering software development in particular, there is a widely known, but huge, predominance of male employees in the profession; a staggering 91.67% of software workers are men

In consideration of these predominant inequalities, we’re starting a Women in Tech series, interviewing our fantastic female staff to get their perceptions and experiences of dynamic male-dominated tech education and workspaces.

It’s clear that, in the face of this underrepresentation of women in tech industries, young female students could easily feel discouraged, or even put off completely, from pursuing a career in computer science, coding or software development. Following on from this, 66% of women suffer from imposter syndrome at work, meaning that they may feel mistakenly inadequate and incapable, despite evidence of success.

Thankfully, for our Head of Product, Imogen Hetherington, the disheartening statistics were not a deterrent.

Introducing our Woman in Tech- Imogen

Imogen is a Coding Bootcamp graduate, with a (perhaps surprising!) background in degree-level Mathematics and Philosophy. She joined the Slingshot team in April 2020, during the height of the pandemic, and as one of the core start-up developers, moving from London to work in our Leeds office.

Could you explain your role within Slingshot?

As Head of Product I manage the development of the Compass: EngineTM platform. This involves planning the development of new features, supporting the team in the development and QA process, and leading our daily stand up meetings. I’m also a Web Developer, so I spend a lot of my time building our web platform and writing code to construct APIs.

two young women coding at a computer
Imogen leads the development team in the creation of our Compass: Engine Platform

What inspired you to pursue this career?

I hadn’t considered programming as a career until after I had graduated University and started my first job. During that time, I had the opportunity to take part in the CodeFirstGirls Programme, where I was introduced to web development. It was really inspiring to see the code I had written come to life on my first web page, and the logical, problem-solving element really appealed to me. After that experience I was motivated to continue learning, and eventually found myself in my first developer role!

Do you think there’s a reason you hadn’t considered programming as a career?

I think there is a stereotype that computers are seen as more of a ‘boys hobby’ and that might put girls off from a young age, or even prevent their parents or teachers from encouraging them in an interest in computing. At a university level, computer science is one of the most male dominated courses (only about 25% of computing students are female), and that can be an intimidating environment to enter. 

Why do you think there is a clear gender division within roles such as yours?

That’s a big question! I think that girls and young women definitely experience an unconscious bias regarding certain subjects. However, as coding is being viewed more as an essential skill for children to learn, and they are introduced to it at an earlier age as part of their school curriculum, I am hopeful that this will give more girls the opportunity to see just how fun and creative coding can be. In a few years’ time, this could go a long way in addressing the gender gap in computing.

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Meet the rest of the team here!