Where are the women in technology?

1E-Sponsors-Womens-Technology-Award

1E Sponsors Women’s Technology Award

Why have a Technology Award for women? Because over the past 30+ years in the IT industry, there has been very little change in the proportion of women in IT departments, despite many more women studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects, and becoming more familiar with technology from early age (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_computing).

A bit of personal history: I started my career as a graduate trainee at Accenture (then Andersen Consulting LLP) in the early 1980’s – one of three women in an intake of 40. My first role was developing programmes for an international bank before progressing to a team leader. There were no female partners in the business and the most senior woman was only a few years older than me.

I spent the next decade working for Marks and Spencer leading teams developing software to support every area of the retail business. There were some other female team leads, but most of the women in the IT department were business analysts from the retail side of the business. Next stop was Head of Development at Ladbrokes, the high street bookmaker. Not many women in head office there at all and certainly not in IT. Since leaving Ladbrokes seven years ago I have had several different roles as a consultant/development programme manager, always finding myself as one of a handful of women in the IT department. Last year I joined 1E as Head of Process Services. We do have a good number of women within Engineering, but I know from attending external events that this is still relatively rare industry-wide. The candidates who apply for our Engineering vacancies are 90% male.

So I was delighted to be invited to join the panel for an award aimed at young women starting their careers in a technology (or STEM field). The award has been set up by the Girls Day School Trust, of which my old school in Ealing is a long standing member. The award’s purpose is “to help support alumnae with potential in particular fields who would not necessarily be able to do so without financial assistance. This year we are focusing on women in technology and encourage any alumnae aged between 18-30 who are working towards a future in this field and would benefit from financial support to apply for the award.” (http://www.gdst.net/3431/alumnae/emerging-talent-award/). The award was jointly sponsored by the Trust, the panellists and their companies, of which 1E was a contributor.

GDST Alumnae Network The applicants came from a variety of STEM fields: an IT technician providing training and support in rural Australia; the youngest female stereographer working for one for the three main visual effects studios in London and a trainee plastic surgeon researching bio-printing and regenerative medicine in Wales. We were impressed by what they had already achieved and by their initiative and ambition in their chosen fields. They would all be able to act as excellent role models for young women starting on their careers.

What I find most exciting about being involved in this award is the fact that it chimes so well with 1E values. The applicants all showed intellectual curiosity and subject matter expertise. By sponsoring and taking part, I – and 1E – have been contributing to the wider community. I hope that this initiative will contribute to change so that when we look back in 30 years’ time, women and men will be much more evenly represented in the workforce.

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