To celebrate International Women’s Day, Manchester Digital is running an inspirational role model meet-up as part of their Digital Her programme.

The event will be held on Tuesday 8th March from 5-8pm at Manchester Technology Centre on Oxford Road.

Click here for more information and to register.

Digital Her was set up to help end inequality and increase diversity in the technology and digital sector by inspiring and encouraging more women across Greater Manchester to consider careers in technology and digital.

Jen Openshaw, software engineer at BAE Systems, is one of the two speakers.

Openshaw started her career within the National Trust, but after having two boys and moving to a rural part of Lancashire, she wondered what was next. Having studied history at Cambridge and a career in operations, she decided to investigate a tech bootcamp that could be worked around her young children.

“I had always been interested in software engineering so I started doing a few free online coding tutorials. It’s a cliché but most engineers can remember the first time they make ‘hello world’ appear on their screen – it is such a satisfying feeling to write yourself some code,” she said.

She got a place on an online bootcamp with Manchester Codes from Sept 2020 to March 2021. She was then offered a job as a software developer with BAE Systems in June last year and now leads the BAE Systems partnership with Digital Her and mentors other women inspired to make the jump.

“The team at BAE Systems have been so supportive and positive in terms of me continuing my development – through mentoring, more training courses – and of course, encouraging me to mentor other women too,” she added.

Lucy Donnelly, trainee software developer at Autotrader, will also feature.

Donnelly completed a degree in Medieval History and went into a career in HR. She said she didn’t naturally gravitate towards maths while at school, but was always interested in computing, website design and problem-solving – the perfect combination for a career in software engineering. 

Offered a scholarship to study programming with Code Nation, she was offered a trainee position with Autotrader, one of Manchester’s biggest tech employers.

She explained: “Every day is really interesting because I’m always learning something new. The best bit is when something clicks, or you solve a problem after struggling for days and you get that ‘Aha!’ moment.”

In terms of advice for women considering a career in tech, she added: “Remember that being a developer isn’t the only role in tech, there are so many options out there. You could be a tester, product owner, business analyst or delivery lead. Look at some jobs and think about how they fit in with your skill set or skills you’d like to develop and go from there. 

“You can also go to meet-ups or tech events as they are really helpful for meeting people and getting a feel for the area you want to work in.”