https://100years100women.blog.gov.uk/2018/11/13/vanita-barrett/

Vanita Barrett

Profile

  • Job: Frontend Developer
  • Organisation: Government Digital Service
  • Years in public service: 1

My mother is a…

My mother moved to the UK from Mauritius to complete her nursing studies.

Following that, she worked for the NHS for approximately 25 years. First as a qualified nurse, then as a school nurse, and most recently as a Children Continuing Care Commissioner.

A few months ago she graduated with a Master's degree in Public Health and Health Services Management from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which she studied for whilst working full-time.

My grandma on my dad's side got qualifications in shorthand and typing and worked as a typist and then as a secretary.

She became a housewife when she had children but later returned to work, working part-time in a school and after retirement, volunteering at a local hospice.

Me in a paragraph

Going to an all-girl's school, I don't think I ever thought there was a job I couldn't do because of my gender.

I graduated in July 2017 with a degree in Computing and Information Technology, and a few weeks later joined the Civil Service as a developer at GDS.

Education and learning has always been extremely important to me, and it's not something I want to stop now I've left university.

As most of my weekdays are spent thinking and working in a very logical and technical mindset, I try and balance this out in my spare time by getting involved in activities that let me express myself more creatively, such as baking and photography.

While I like spending time with other people, I'm also very introverted so really value the time I get to myself to recharge.

This can be difficult for some people to understand, but I'm incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many strong women that I'm proud to call my family and friends, and who continually inspire and support me.

My role

As a Frontend Developer at Government Digital Service (GDS), I work on GOV.UK which is the UK government website and the place to find government information and services.

Many people imagine a software development job to involve sitting in an isolated bubble and coding in front of a laptop all day long.

While I definitely do that a lot, it's more varied that you might think! Day-to-day, I may also be involved in sketching sessions, hypothesis workshops, observing user research, or helping with/attending the many events put on by the Introverts and Mental Health Networks (some of the wellbeing networks we have here at GDS).

The best part of my job, by far, is when I get to see the real impact the changes I make have on our users.

When you're making a very small change on a page, it can be difficult to imagine the impact that can have.

But when you see the number of people who rely on GOV.UK to interact with government, you realise that change is actually a huge accessibility improvement that will improve that experience for so many people.

If I had a magic wand, what I would do to accelerate gender equality?

Something I've come across a lot in my area of work is gender stereotyping when it comes to jobs.

When I was at school, only 3 women opted to study Information Technology at A-Level and there were only 8 in my intake at university.

It's not about "getting more women into science and technology", it's about providing everyone with the same knowledge, role models and opportunities to allow them to enter into the career they choose, without feeling like they're an outsider or that they don't belong.

No one should think they cannot do a job because of their gender.

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