Break through the IT barrier

grace hero

Grace Benedek-Rooney's passion for technology helped her overcome the stereotype of IT being just for men.

There are massive opportunities and support for women in tech. Go for it. - video

We're here at the Auckland office of Trade Me.

My job is a developer, so I work for the Motors team, I develop the website that you see.

I think I'm actually the only person at Trade Me in the motors team who can't drive a car.

Which is kind of crazy!

What would you say to young women who are unsure about diving into the tech world?

I think just go for it!

It might seem like a risk but with risk comes a massive amount of opportunity.

Have you always been interested in IT growing up?

I was really interested in tech and sound and AV actually from quite a young age. I kind of took the opportunity to take on computer science courses wherever I could.

Something I found really useful for getting into tech and getting my first job was actually the Summer of Tech programme, it offers you hands-on training for free as a student at university.

Were there any challenges or difficulties that you had to face and how did you overcome them?

Definitely as a woman, I was aware of the fact that tech tends to be male dominated and that kind of seemed like quite a scary thing.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are other women here, which is awesome!

And there are support systems for women to access in the tech industry. 

Break through the IT barrier

It was Grace Benedek-Rooney’s passion for technology that saw her break through her own mental blocks about working in a male-centred field.

“Definitely as a woman I was aware that tech tends to be male-dominated and that seemed like a scary thing. However, it was awesome to find that there are other women in IT here at Trade Me.”

Grace works as a software developer for Trade Me Motors – one of a team responsible for writing the code needed to create a user-friendly website for people looking to buy or sell a vehicle.

IT about coding plus teamwork

The stereotypical image of a software developer – someone who spends all their time at the computer absorbed in coding language – holds some truth. But as Grace emphasises, much of the information technology industry is about teamwork.

“We spend a lot of time talking and collaborating, figuring out problems, finding new ways of doing things and reviewing each other’s code.”

Persevere in your passion for technology

Grace’s passion for IT started early, through a combination of teacher support and her own determination to build on her strengths.

“I was really interested in tech, sound and AV (audio/video) from quite a young age. I had some cool teachers who pushed me along that road, and I took the opportunity to take on computer science courses wherever I could. It meant when I got to uni I knew I wanted to do a degree in computer science and information systems."

There’s lots of support for women in IT

It was during an IT internship that Grace’s skills really flourished. The Summer of Tech programme offers entry-level, full-time, paid IT and design internships to tertiary students interested in a technology career.

“It was really useful for getting into tech and getting my first job. And the great thing about the programme is that it offers you free hands-on training at university.

“I was able to access support systems when I was at uni, like She #. I gained confidence knowing that I was going into an open and accepting industry where I could reach my potential.”  

Take a risk to reach your potential

If you’re a young woman who is unsure about getting into the IT world, Grace offers these words of encouragement.

“Just go for it. It might seem like a risk but with risk comes a massive amount of opportunity. I love it, and it would be great to have more women working in tech.” 

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Updated 23 Jan 2019