GETTING OVER OUR FEAR OF TECH
Yes robots ARE taking over the world. Let us greet them.
For those of us who grew up watching Tomorrow’s World, it does indeed seem that world of the future is finally is on its way. However, where Tomorrow’s World may have portrayed tech as our saviour, freeing us from mundane jobs and making our lives easier, for many of us it can feel disruptive, bringing with it new ways of working and even thinking.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that tech is something for the millennials and centennials who have grown up with it, but in reality mid-lifers are pretty good at it and hate the way we’re patronised when it comes to technology. In fact six out of 10 of over 50s find tech fascinating according to The Elastic Generation report by JWT. Tech offers huge opportunities for anyone, of any age, and whether they’ve previously worked in tech or not. What’s more, it’s here to stay and the reality is that the sooner we embrace the ways tech can enhance our lives and lose our fears, the more fun we can have with it. So here are some thoughts for anyone who’s just a little bit technophobic…
But what does it mean?
We hear the word “tech” and somehow it feels shrouded in mystery, yet tech is of course already a huge part of our everyday lives, from the App that allows you to check whether your bus is on its way, to your central heating being regulated by your phone. Equally mysterious are terms like “digital” and “cyber”, yet these are nothing but words. Digital media is just good old articles, but online. Cyber sounds even more futuristic, but all it means is anything that takes place in cyberspace, ie online again.
Getting confident with tech
There comes a point when getting to grips with tech can be fun. Yet we can have a tendency to hold ourselves back. One of our Supermums’ graduates Susan Groves said of her thought process: “It’s easy to put barriers around yourself and explain why you can’t do something – for me a lot of those barriers were around thinking it was too late to change and do something different – but I knew that I liked working and that I needed to be learning new things and upskilling so I could work as long as I choose or need to.”
I’ve noticed that confidence can be a huge barrier to women when it comes to tech. Our careers are so bound up with our identities that if we’ve never worked on something tech-nical, it can be hard to think of ourselves in that way. But tech isn’t all coding or number-based work.
“Confidence can be a huge barrier to women when it comes to tech”
Tech is used by almost every industry nowadays. Look at marketing, for instance. Once upon a time marketing was about creating personas for a target customer, like “Samantha” who lives in Surrey and drives an electric car. Now, we don’t have to imagine Sa-mantha, because all the data out there allows us to find out exactly how old Samantha is, how often she visits a website and what she spends her money on. Understanding how to use data allows us to stay up to date with the industry thanks to technology, but it’s still plain old marketing in the end.
Here’s what I’ve learned about getting to grips with tech:
1. There is a learning curve. Don’t expect it to be easy from the beginning. But it does get easier.
2. Celebrate your bravery and really feel the courage you are showing in trying something new.
3. You may fail at first. Accept that this is a whole new landscape and it takes time to get to know it and you will find it easier. Be kind to yourself.
4. Find all the support you can. We set our participants up with a peer mentor and this is key to helping keep up confidence and resilience. For you, it might be someone in your current workplace who is tech savvy, or even a teenager in your household!
5. Keep the long goal in mind.
The advantages of tech
There are even more reasons why getting to grips with tech makes sense. The tech industry has had a huge impact on and led the way in flexible and virtual working. This could mean taking on work that can easily be combined with time with family, caring for par-ents or travelling (many tech jobs can be done from anywhere) or bringing in a regular income while you start your side hustle.
At Supermums, where we train women (and some men) in Salesforce, our participants have combined their flexible working with travelling the world, starting their own property businesses, or moving abroad and creating a way of working that is truly virtual. We know women who have retrained in tech from careers as diverse as teaching, charity fundraising, marketing and law. Some have even done it after 13 year career break. From an employer’s point of view, they’re an attractive prospect, bringing diverse skills, life ex-periences and knowledge to the workplace. So fight the fear. The future is here.
Supermums Training CIC propels mums into the Salesforce Ecosystem. Heather is an ad-vocate for women in tech. As well as the Supermums project, Heather runs webinars and speaks on flexible working, retraining, working parenthood and women in tech.