Paving the way for women in tech in Northern Ireland

The traditionally male-dominated tech industry has witnessed a slow but steady progression towards closing the gender gap.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 6:00 am

Having experienced a resilient 2020, despite the pandemic, there was an increase of 0.8% of women in the industry, bringing the total number of women working in tech roles in the UK to 208,400.

Thirteen of those women have roles at Holywood-based cloud solutions company 3EN. And 3EN is determined to help bridge the gender gap within the sector and encourage more women and girls to explore careers in tech.

As one of the world’s leading Oracle NetSuite Enterprise Resource Management Solutions Partners, 3EN has a 35% female workforce, a figure that the company hopes to see rise even more in the coming years. The women who work at 3EN are pivotal to the company and hold positions at all levels. Three of 3EN’s female employees give an insight into the journey they took to establish a career in tech and share where they think the industry is moving in Northern Ireland

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Andrea Johnston, Oracle NetSuite Consultant
Andrea Johnston, Oracle NetSuite Consultant

3EN’s Sharon-Louise McKay, Chief Financial Officer, Laura Blacklock, Head of Client Services and Andrea Johnston, Oracle NetSuite Consultant all believe that the future is promising for women in the local tech industry.

When asked about the current picture for women working in tech in NI, Andrea said: “We have a way to go yet, but we are definitely moving in the right direction. FinTech companies are opening offices in NI more regularly, having recognised the level of talent in the market, and that has opened doors to a lot more opportunities for women to enter the industry. We do, however, need to ensure that girls are encouraged to study STEM subjects and are aware of the career options open to them.”

Sharon-Louise added: “Like Andrea, I think that we need to be nourishing and educating girls and women from school right through to university on the options open to them in STEM subjects. The gender split in the tech industry is definitely starting to balance, but I think if we focus on feeding the funnel of the large tech resource requirements we have here, we will begin to see an even better proportional representation of women in the industry.”

Having previously studied Child Psychology, Laura unexpectedly found herself in the tech industry, but has progressed at 3EN for the last nine years. Laura explained: “When I began working at 3EN, I had planned to take on the role part time while finishing my studies. I quickly realised that the mix between tech and business was incredibly appealing and I put time and effort into my development within 3EN. I would urge any girl or woman thinking about a career in the tech industry to jump straight in, no matter how daunting it may seem!”

Laura Blacklock, Head of Client Services

With a career spanning 23 years in finance, most of which has been in the tech industry, Sharon-Louise added: “In the early stages of my career, there were a lot more challenges being a woman in the tech business, most of which came from frequently being the only woman in the room. However, things have changed, and are still changing, for the better. People are starting to realise that it does not matter what gender you identify with, but most importantly, it’s about the person’s passion to be good at their job.”

The common theme among the three women when asked what advice they would give to someone starting their career in the tech sector was “speak up and ask questions.”

Sharon-Louise pointed out that it shows “tenacity, not a lack of knowledge”.

They also urged other companies to create both a supportive and flexible environment where all members of staff are championed, regardless of gender.

3EN’s Sharon-Louise McKay, Chief Financial Officer

3EN’s cloud technology helps businesses to drive growth through improving efficiency with seamless integration between Oracle NetSuite and other software platforms. 3EN’s clients include Fitbit, Medguard and B-Secur.

To find out more about the services and products 3EN can offer visit

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