E26 - Ashley Burke at WaveHQ12 September, 2023
On today’s episode of the Women in Tech spin-off series, we’re joined by our host Eve Mckenna and special guest Ashley Burke, Information Security Program Manager at Wave HQ. During today’s episode, they discuss some of the biggest challenges Ashley has faced during her time in the tech space as a woman and how she navigated those challenges. She also shares some exciting prospects that she wants to look towards in the future.
Ashley’s journey started in the academic world, where she was working as a professor and a career exploration specialist. Her passion for helping individuals find their career paths and assisting them in securing tech jobs was solid. Yet, upon her successful career in career counselling, she began to notice a recurring theme while going through countless resumes: a range of tech skills that piqued her curiosity.
Ashley decided to take action and took a simple but powerful step. Written on a sticky note, she wrote, “I will be in cybersecurity,” and stuck it to her computer. Little did she know that this small note would manifest her future. She began by attending intro classes to build a foundation of knowledge. It wasn’t long before she stumbled upon an online conference dedicated to women in technology. At this event, she crossed paths with Angie, a mentor who took Ashley under her wing and provided guidance on navigating the world of tech. Ashley enrolled in a web development boot camp offered by Digital Nova Scotia. Gaining new skills, she wanted to apply her knowledge in the real world.
Seeking advice from her mentor, Angie, on how to translate her new skills into a career, Ashley found an opportunity at Wave HQ. Without hesitation, she submitted her application and got the job offer on the very same day.
Ashley soon came across a common issue: imposter syndrome. Despite her ability to understand technical concepts and her understanding of the field, she struggled with feelings of inadequacy. She knew she wasn’t a hacker or a coder in the traditional sense, so this was huge for her.
Being a woman in tech
Throughout her career, Ashley has been influenced by her identity as a woman. Being a woman in tech has undoubtedly shaped her experiences and perspectives. However, she shares that the impact of her gender has been more positive than negative.
One standout moment in Ashley’s journey occurred when she attended an industry conference where one aspect stood out as a glaring issue: the overwhelming male representation among presenters. Ashley even reached out to the event’s director and offered her assistance in planning future editions. She recognised that representation matters, and you can’t envision yourself in a field if you don’t see individuals who look like you succeed within it.
To those facing challenges, especially women, Ashley’s advice is clear: keep going. Obstacles are a natural part of any journey, and they should never push you away from pursuing your dreams. She encourages individuals, particularly women, to embrace their identity and speak out about what matters to them as both women and human beings.
Tune in on the 12/09/2023 to hear the full episode!