An Underexplored 

Pathway for Women in Tech

April 5, 2024

So you're out there, rocking it as a developer, engineer, or analyst, right? 

But maybe you're feeling a bit stuck, wondering what's the next move in your career journey. Ever thought about architecture? Making that leap into architecture can seem pretty intimidating. Trust me, I've been there. When I had the chance to switch from coding to architecture, I was nervous. I mean, I've been deep in the code for years, and now you want me to switch lanes? Crazy, right? But let me tell you, it took some courage to take that step. And yeah, it wasn't all smooth sailing. But guess what? I'm here to demystify the role for all the tech-savvy ladies who might not have considered architecture as a career path.

What is Architecture?

Architecture is all about crafting a structured solution that aligns perfectly with both business needs and technical requirements. It encompasses translating the characteristics of an application – like reliability, flexibility, scalability, and security – into a blueprint for top-notch software. We're making sure these apps are not just good but great – scalable, efficient, secure, and perfectly in tune with what the organisation needs to thrive. This process requires strategic decision-making on technology choices, platform selection, and governance to ensure everything stays on track.

Now, here's the deal – you don't have to be an expert in every tech area to be an architect. Nope, you just need a broad understanding of the different aspects involved – networks, hardware, software, security, data management, etc. – and specialise in one or two. This way, you can tackle diverse challenges, apply your expertise where needed, and dive deep when necessary.

Breaking into Architecture as a developer or engineer?

You're already halfway there! Think about it – you're solving problems, making design calls, and implementing solutions like it's nobody's business. You're weighing the pros and cons, diving deep into algorithms, and feeling firsthand the ripple effects of those choices. So, trust me when I say, the transition to architect ain't as far-fetched as you might think. You're already flexing those muscles – identifying problems, foreseeing future hiccups based on past experiences, and making calls that stick around for the long haul.

Now, let's talk strategy for getting your heel in the door:

💻 Learn Domain-specific Principles and Patterns:

With this knowledge, it enables you to make informed decisions tailored to specific project requirements. You get to tap into tried-and-true best practices instead of starting from scratch every time. By selecting the most appropriate patterns, you can address requirements while balancing trade-offs such as performance, complexity, and extensibility – it allows you to leverage established best practices rather than reinventing the wheel.

👻 Shadow Architects: 

There's no better teacher than hands-on experience. Get in the trenches with architects, honing your style, and learning how to articulate challenges, sway opinions, and defend your ideas.

🙋 Seize Opportunities:

If you're handed the chance to dive headfirst into a purely architectural role, grab it with both hands! There's a world of knowledge waiting for you as you apply your engineering mindset to foresee integration snags and challenges before they even rear their heads.

💅 Polish Those Soft Skills:

Communication, presentation, negotiation – they're the bread and butter of an architect. Embrace online learning opportunities to sharpen these essential tools in your arsenal.

Starting Out?

Architecture is not typically an entry-level role as architects are expected to have some years of experience in their specific domains. But fear not, even without experience on your resume, you can still get your heel in by showing off some serious aptitude and a proactive attitude towards learning. Plus, some organizations are breaking down barriers with entry-level routes into this career path – cue the junior architect roles! The same strategy as outlined above still stands, with a few extra nuggets of wisdom:

🤝 Team Up with Developers and Engineers from Day One: 

Don't go it alone – share those genius ideas, hash them out with the devs and engineers. They'll help you spot any potential potholes or blind spots you might've missed, especially since they'll be the ones rolling up their sleeves to bring your vision to life.

🧐 Observe, Listen, and Ask Away: 

Keep those eyes and ears wide open – there's a whole world of office politics and power dynamics at play. Figure out who's calling the shots and how they prefer to communicate/be approached. Understanding their motivations will help you adapt your approach and navigate the playing field like a pro.

🥸 Fake It Till You Make It: 

Confidence is key. It takes guts to take the lead, challenge the status quo, and articulate your ideas assertively. Use your team's wisdom to your advantage and find savvy ways to disarm any skeptics by backing up your perspective with solid facts and earning buy-in from the seasoned architects and influencers on your team.

In closing, ladies in tech, the journey to becoming an architect is within your reach. Despite the initial doubts and uncertainties, there's a world of opportunity waiting for you in the realm of architecture. By leveraging your existing skills, embracing new challenges, and seizing every opportunity to learn and grow, you can carve out your path in this exciting field. Remember, it's not about having all the answers from the start – it's about taking bold steps forward, learning along the way, and ultimately shaping the future of technology with your unique perspective and expertise. So, go ahead, break down those barriers, and unleash your full potential as women in architecture.