#Inspiration

Anouska Streets On Why Gender Imbalance Is Still Significant In STEM

Anouska Streets

Anouska Streets is the Head of Engineering for FINkit at Fiserv, a leading global technology provider serving the financial services industry. She is responsible for the development and operation of the FINkit technology platform, overseeing developer and operational teams in the UK and Turkey.

Growing up surrounded by her two energetic younger brothers and supportive parents, her family never expected her to adhere to societal norms – she was always encouraged to be herself. She spent most of her early years playing with her brothers, riding her BMX, and building Lego. She feels she was a pretty average student until she left school and started university. That’s when she got the chance to focus on things that really excited and engaged her – notably computer science.

“When I was in junior school I got introduced to the BBC Micro Computer, developed by Acorn as part of the BBC Computer Literacy Project. The aim of the programme was to give young people an opportunity to develop computer technology and coding skills in an accessible way – something that is still a hot topic in education all these years later!

Using the Micro, I learned how to programme rudimentary games using BASIC. My parents supported my new passion and the following Christmas they gave me a Commadore 64 computer. That was the start of a lifelong love!”

Despite being one of only two women on her university degree course, she never felt out-of-place, either in the classroom or in the workplace. Throughout her 20-year career, she has always worked with hugely supportive and talented colleagues.

“We help banks comply with new regulation and then stay fit for the change that new developments will inevitably bring to the market. Ultimately it is about helping banks get compelling new products into consumer’s hands quickly.”

Explaining her current job profile Anouska says, “I am currently focused on our ‘Open Banking’ offer. It is a very exciting time for the banking technology industry, which is experiencing significant change due to heightened consumer expectations as well as regulatory requirements. Our Open Banking solution was built-in response to the rapidly changing market. We help banks comply with new regulation and then stay fit for the change that new developments will inevitably bring to the market. Ultimately it is about helping banks get compelling new products into consumer’s hands quickly.”

Anouska informs that getting back into her career after the birth of her daughter was a significant challenge. As many working mothers will know, balancing a career and a young family is tough, but she asserts, it can be done!

“Becoming Head of Engineering for FINkit was a great milestone. It really is my dream job – I work with amazing people every day and we are building a great product using industry-leading development methods and tools.”

The software engineer points out that gender imbalance is significant in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries – only 21 per cent of the overall UK STEM workforce is female. Because of this, there are fewer women in senior positions to mentor the next generation of women in the crucial early stages of their career.

“This has a negative impact on the number of women leaving their jobs after five or 10 years because they are not getting enough support, which collectively, as an industry, we must address.”

“This has a negative impact on the number of women leaving their jobs after five or 10 years because they are not getting enough support, which collectively, as an industry, we must address.

There are some bright spots. Across India, the number of women in tech is much higher – currently at 30%. Because of the higher proportion of women in the industry, there are now plenty of senior role models for young girls and women including Kumud Srinivasan, former president of Intel India, and Vanitha Narayanan, chief executive of IBM India. These women set the standard for others, demonstrate what can be achieved, and why tech is such a rewarding career option,” she says.

Anouska feels that we are certainly not close to achieving parity. But there is still a silver lining.

“There are several brilliant organisations such as Stemettes, Women in STEM, and the WISE Campaign that are making strides in encouraging and supporting young girls and women to enter the UK’s scientific, technology, and engineering sectors. Many of these run great mentoring programmes that are aiming to close this gap,” she adds.

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