Women in Tech: Toni Procter

Women in Tech: Toni Procter

Another day, another successful Women in Tech meetup. This time the ladies at PushON got the pleasure of meeting with Magento specialist Toni Procter. Being 1 of 2 women in her department at work and in a male-dominated role, we wanted some insight into what’s it’s like being a woman in web development.

It’s no secret that woman developers are outnumbered by men, so let’s run through some numbers. Currently only 17% of employees in the UK tech industry are women and back in 2016, girls taking ICT or computer science at GCSE and A-Level fell by 12%. These subjects may appear to be the typical ‘laddish’ subjects which puts younger girls off. However, we’re on a mission to turn that around and help spread the message to help the ladies be much more confident in making decisions!

So we brought in Toni to give us some insight into her coding journey and what she thinks about younger girls taking on these roles.

We learned from Toni’s meeting that she has a charismatic approach when it comes to going the extra mile to get to the position she’s in: a Magento Certified Frontend Developer. And she’s absolutely killing it! Starting off in SEO, she sacrificed a promotion for a slight cut to start as a junior developer and climb her way up. Toni took her own time outside of work to complete a coding programme to add to her profile. We really admire the sacrifice she took in order to follow her instincts into coding. And her talents don’t end there: on the side she’s a fitness instructor!

We really admire Toni’s enthusiasm and want to see this with the younger generation of girls going into their A-Levels and choosing their career paths. There’s nothing more empowering than a woman who believes in herself and goes out to do what she loves.

And as Oprah Winfrey said:

Forget about the fast lane. If you really want to fly, harness your power to your passion. Honour your calling. Everybody has one. Trust your heart, and success will come to you.

And because I love quotes from Oprah, here are a few more to ponder on…

I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.

The challenge of life, I have found, is to build a resume that doesn’t simply tell a story about what you want to be, but it’s a story about who you want to be.

Q&A time:

What do you think about the situation we have where not enough women coming into the tech industry? Is there a way we can solve this problem and encourage young girls?

I follow quite a few non-profit organisations (girlswhocode, womenwhocode, etc) that are trying to encourage more women in tech and I think they’re doing a great job! I think creating more awareness that women CAN be involved in the tech industry is the way forward as it’s not really an avenue that is pushed for young women in schools and colleges.

Tell us how you started off and how you progressed into being a developer.

I never went to university as I just didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left college, so I started out with an entry level marketing position. Here I paid for an ICS Marketing qualification and this gave me more confidence to move on to a Digital Marketing position which involved running all aspects of a busy eBay and Amazon store and three websites. Then I moved into the world of SEO which was definitely an interesting area but when the opportunity arose to move into the frontend dev team in the company I applied straight away. My husband (PushON’s Tom) had started his own development company a few years prior to this and at the time I wanted to help out any way I could so I started learning how to code at that point. The role was less money as it was a junior position but sometimes I think you have to take a few steps backwards to move forwards! Once I moved over to the frontend dev team I just focussed on trying to learn as much as I could as quickly as I could. I booked the Magento Frontend exam without telling anyone because I thought if I had a goal to strive for then it would ultimately help me focus on training! I’m pleased to say I passed first time and my colleagues/managers were over the moon for me! All about them goals!

Did you encounter any difficulties on your journey due to the imbalance in men to women in your particular role?

I think I have been very lucky in my particular role as Limitless Digital is a forward thinking workplace. I don’t think it matters too much which gender you are, as long as you can get the job done! I have encountered difficulties in the past at previous companies where there was a much higher proportion of males to females, but mostly I think that comes down to the individuals and how they’ve been brought up to treat women.

Is there any advice you’d give to your 16 year old self?

How long have you got!? Worrying solves nothing, you are literally wasting your time fretting about a situation that could never happen. Also, there are so many things to do and learn that you should NEVER be bored! You’re never too old/young to learn a new skill. And, throw the glittery dog collar away…no one needs to see that! 🙂

Do you feel like you gender has affected your career progression at all – has it made a positive/ negative impact?

The only way I can think that my gender has affected my career progression negatively would be how I saw myself in the early days. I probably limited myself in my head as to what I thought I was capable of. But then as I got older I realised how silly that was and that if I want something I just have to apply myself and work hard. That goes for anything in life not just career progression!

Developers are predominantly male, and being a female, have you ever felt like your co-workers have behaved/ treated you differently?

Again, I think I am very lucky in my role at LDG as we have a great IT team and I think we’re all treated pretty equally. We have a great time aboard the banter bus!

What was it like working with Vinai?

Vinai Kopp is an absolute beast! He hurts my head every time I see him but in the best way possible! He’s just a massive legend and I feel so privileged to have him as a mentor. Nothing is ever too much trouble for him and he’s always so willing to share his knowledge…which is seemingly never ending!

Takeaways from Toni’s meeting:

  • Trust your instincts (they don’t lie!)
  • Work hard for what you’re passionate about
  • Do more than is required and opportunities will follow

Toni no doubt gets a stamp of approval from us; as an inspirational woman in tech!

Lastly, I found this very interesting: the 100 inspirational women from Greater Manchester on the MEN. It’s always a great thing seeing women celebrate each other’s success!