Both the technology and finance fields have a reputation for being male-dominated, but in reality they're keen to encourage talented female graduates to join them.
Women in technology
Now is a great time for women to be going into technology. Many industries, including of course financial services, are very keen to recruit those with technical skills, especially those who can combine them with strong communication and teamwork abilities, areas in which successful female graduates tend to excel.
Furthermore, there's now a host of high-profile women in the technology business regularly hitting the headlines. The US has Facebook's chief operating officer, star TED speaker and bestselling author Sheryl Sandberg (pictured) and Yahoo! chief executive officer and "geek at heart" Marissa Mayer. Meanwhile, the UK has its own social media star in Business Ambassador for Digital Industries Joanna Shields, who has formerly worked for both Facebook and Google. Also worth noting is Belinda Parmar, founder of the Lady Geek campaign to make technology and careers in technology appealing and accessible to women.
Perhaps due to the influence of these inspiring women, there are currently many organisations, networks and initiatives for women building their careers in the industry.
- The Lady Geek organisation runs "Girl Geek Dinners" - a networking initiative that aims to support women working in technology.
- BCSWomen (a branch of the UK's chartered institute for IT) provides support for the nation's female IT professionals, as well as encouraging women to embark on careers in technology.
- The Stemettes aim to encourage women to work in technology, and science, engineering and maths, through panel events, hackathons and exhibitions featuring female role models. The group was set up by a woman who's worked in technology in finance.
Women in finance
Investment banks and other financial institutions are extremely keen to recruit women. Having a good gender balance is not just a PR move; these institutions have realised that if they don't successfully attract female applicants they're missing out on 50 per cent of their potential future stars. Furthermore, having a diverse workforce means a range of ways of thinking and approaching problems, which makes institutions stronger.
As a result, you'll find plenty of initiatives at your university for female undergraduates organised by employers in the finance world - from open days to women's dinners to sponsorship of netball teams.
And once you start working in the finance world, you're likely to find a number of workplace programmes designed to ensure you can meet other women across the bank and access any support you might need.
- Many finance employers have women's networks, which allow you to meet female colleagues in different areas and of different levels of seniority to you. In addition, there may be a network specifically for women working in technology.
- Taking part in a mentoring scheme, both as a mentee and later in your career as a mentor, is a great way to build your knowledge and skills and to learn how to solve problems quickly.
- Flexible working arrangements and/or childcare support are very likely to be available if you need them.