This blog is part of our on-going Women in Technology series.
Grace Hougey is a Systems Architect on the Platform Engineering team here at Consilio. She has been with Consilio for over a year now as a result of the DiscoverReady acquisition. Grace has been working in software development and legal technology for about 15 years. She is primarily self-taught, aside from various software development classes and training courses throughout her career. To Grace, the most exciting aspect of working at Consilio is the variety of unique opportunities for innovation and problem-solving.
Can you speak on particularly impactful experiences in your career that got you to where you are today?
I’ve had the opportunity to work for both small startups and very large corporations, which has given me a wide range of experience. On the one hand, I’ve learned to navigate the bureaucracy of corporations. On the other, I’ve also been exposed to the energy of a startup and the innovation and entrepreneurship that goes along with that.
That diversity of experience and knowledge allows me to view problems from multiple perspectives and has been valuable when dealing with both clients and internal groups.
What is your advice for women in a male-dominated industry, such as tech?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is not to be apologetic or to choose wisely when to apologize. Be thankful and gracious with colleagues, but don’t be defensive about real or perceived shortcomings, and don’t apologize for having an opinion. You do not need to justify your existence.
How have you witnessed gender playing a role in your career?
I feel there is a tendency to encourage women to aim for management roles because they are perceived as better communicators and team builders. Frequently, this perception is correct. In our society, women are socialized to be more accommodating, to nurture, to avoid conflict, and to encourage consensus. These skills are valuable when managing teams or projects. However, there is often more room for growth, learning, and creativity on the technical side. The technical roles were not always what was offered to me and I had to work hard to keep my career on that path.
I would like to see more women encouraged to pursue a more technical path if that’s where their interests lie. In addition, I would like to see more value placed on so-called “soft skills” in technical roles.
What is your advice to people looking to enter the tech industry?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or admit that you don’t know something. Also, developing your communication skills in addition to technical skills is key.
When you are not working, how do you spend your free time?
Volunteer work is something that is really important to me. I find this really fulfilling, especially since I spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen, not necessarily talking to people. Additionally, I travel, run, and hike. I also spend time with my pets: three dogs, three chickens, and two cats.