I was always fascinated by computers when I was young. Ever since I first saw a Commodore 64 – after my cousin brought one home – I was keen to learn more about them and how to programme them. We would use it to write simple programmes and play games, but it really was the start of something for me. My cousin was older and already a pioneering woman in tech, working as a computer analyst. It turns out she was an excellent role-model.
However, my earliest ambition was to be a pilot. I was a bit of a dreamer, and the idea of flying sounded wonderful. I grew up in Turkey, and when I was choosing options for university, my dad suggested I might want to study medicine. It didn’t interest me, so he didn’t push it. My mum didn’t get the chance to finish school so she was determined that her five daughters would have a good education whatever speciality we might choose.
I was always quite good at maths and so I studied it at Middle East Technical University, one of the top universities in the country at that time. While there, I chose modules in the topics I was interested in, like programming and algorithms. This gave me an insight into the endless possibilities of what could be achieved with a computer and really excited me about my future.
My first job was as a support technician in the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). I worked with the team who set up the first internet connection in the country. It was a dream job; I could work, earn money and study at the same time. Importantly, it was a lot of fun too.
My career decisions were driven by wanting to enjoy my work and earn enough money to fund my hobbies; I like pottery and photography. I also wanted to travel and I felt working in IT would give me lots of options. I left Turkey to work in Amsterdam, where I met my husband – a Brit – and we soon moved to the UK together.
With my role in tech and my husband’s job running a web development company, our eight-year-old can’t escape the ‘techy’ influence at home! And while she doesn’t quite understand what we do at work, she likes to use the internet and we’re pleased she’s also already learning digital literacy at school, as well as how to stay safe online. It’s quite important for her to email her friends on a Saturday morning – but equally important to know that she is safe doing so.
In my role as a DNS Analyst, I work with maths and algorithms every day but my work is still mainly about problem solving. I look for patterns or anomalies in the domain name system (DNS) that could tell us if something untoward is happening in the .UK domain. The most useful thing I learnt at university was how to approach problems and think analytically and strategically about things. In my job, it’s also important to be a good communicator so I can share the insights I get from the DNS with my colleagues and the business.
I have always worked in predominantly male teams, but I have never felt uncomfortable. And while sometimes I missed having female company, my colleagues have always been very supportive. It was difficult when I had my daughter, though. I worked part-time, which meant a job share role, so sadly I missed out on some of the more interesting projects. However, with more flexi-working and a better understanding from businesses as a whole, this is increasingly a thing of the past. What’s also great is that flexi-working is not just for women. Now my husband can help more with childcare too, so when I joined Nominet I started working full time again. It feels like a positive new start for me.
In Britain, I am surprised to still see so few females in technology jobs – in Turkey we have more women working in the industry. I picked a career based on potential for earning, job opportunities and travel prospects. Roles in the tech sector are great for all those things so I highly recommend it to any young woman thinking about what a career in tech might offer.
Meet more of our Women in Tech here.