In recognition of International Women’s Day (Sunday 08 March), we wanted to shine a spotlight on Women in IT.
While there are more women coming into the STEM sector as a whole, the technology and IT industry is still lagging behind. According to the latest Government figures from the Office for National Statistics, just 16.8% of tech roles are filled by women. However, women are crucial in achieving the ambitious growth targets the sector faces. According to a 2019 report by the Inclusive Tech Alliance, one million women must be recruited to work within the UK technology sector.
To find out what it’s like to be a woman in IT in 2020, we’ve interviewed some female colleagues across Trustmarque to discover what attracted them to the tech sector and what more can be done to broaden the appeal to new female recruits.
As few as 4.4% of CEOs in the fastest growing tech firms by annual revenue are women.
(source: Inclusive Tech Alliance)
In the UK, the proportion of tech roles filled by women has flatlined at 16% since 2009
Trustmarque Women in IT
ITAM Services Manager
What attracted you to IT? 30 years ago when I joined, IT was new, exciting and mostly an unknown. My degree included some computing so it seemed natural to follow that interest. My first job was in London and to a new graduate it was the best adventure ever (and well paid compared to other options). I have two brothers so the fact it was male oriented was no issue.
Do you think the culture is changing and is it becoming more ‘female friendly’? The attitude towards women in the workplace is changing generally. IT is no different. Due to flexible working and men being more involved in the family – change had to happen. It’s about who can do the job.
What would you say to a woman interested in IT? Ladies – if you are qualified to do the job, can meet the work requirements the same as anybody else, just go for it. Don’t be hung up on if an industry has more men or women in it. If you can to do the job and are willing to work according to the requirements of the job – go for it. I have honestly never found being female a disadvantage in IT.
Why is IT a great industry to work in? Due to improvements in technology, IT roles can frequently be carried out remotely. So regular home working is often an option. Together with part time or flexible hours, it is great for those who need a home/work balance. If you are organised, enjoy a challenge and want to keep up with change then IT is for you.
Head of Marketing
What attracted you to IT? I pursued an opportunity and ended up in a fast-paced, interesting and exciting industry. I’ve always been a Sci-Fi fan and wanted to work in an industry where we can make some of those ideas a reality. Before you know it our meals will be vacuumed packed and we’ll be able to stay forever young by making copies of ourselves – forget Botox. Of course these are hypothetical, but some things you see in Sci-Fi aren’t that far away. That is exciting.
Who are your role models? Marissa Meyer, Whitney Wolfe Herde, Sheryl Sandberg, Ginni Rometti, Cindy Rose. They are all examples of women in tech at the top of their game and showing it can be done.
How do we attract more women to the industry? It’s about breaking down stereotypes. As you can see from this article, we need to show that IT isn’t dominated by men. It is inclusive. It is also important people know that IT is not scary, overly complicated and “techy”. I think those considering a career in IT need to remain open minded and recognise that it is a great industry to build a rewarding career.
What attracted you to IT? I love efficiency and anything that can allow me to do a job quicker and save time. The world we live in today is much faster paced due to the technology we can access. From ordering food to travel, every day seems to get more improved and efficient with the use of tech – I’m all for that.
Do you think the culture is changing and is it becoming more ‘female friendly’? Historically, tech was not so prevalent in everyday life, so I feel now more women and girls will naturally be drawn to the industry. Previously, it was positioned as more male orientated but times have changed and so have working conditions, with flexibility for men and women. However, it would be great to see more women in leadership roles and to push through the “imposter syndrome”.
How do we attract more women to the industry? There are many roles to suit all personalities. We need to ensure that the variety of roles available, are fed into our schools, colleges and universities. When tech companies are recruiting, its important to outline the skills required for the job and the expectations of each particular role. That way anyone, not just a woman, will understand what the role looks like and won’t be deterred.
Do you need to be technically proficient? No. I’m not hugely technical myself and I work for a large tech company. In my role it is more about drilling into the customer challenge and the outcome they want to achieve. Then working with subject matter experts to achieve that. If you are not interested in the nuts and bolts, there are always other routes.
Microsoft Operations Manager
What attracted you to IT? While technology had always interested me, it was not my intention to have a career in IT. However, once I joined Trustmarque I realised how interesting and fast-paced the industry can be. You feel what you and the company does are at the forefront of society’s drive towards the future.
How do we attract more women to the industry? The culture needs to change so that early on in schools and universities they are encouraging women to look at STEM subjects. I saw recently on LinkedIn that Microsoft had an event for teenage girls, showcasing their careers and inviting them to join technology workshops. It is great to see and something the channel should do more of – active engagement.
What more can employers do? It is also important that tech companies showcase their female employees and leaders as role models. Positive changes to the gender pay gap in the sector are also extremely important, to show it is an inclusive environment.
Why is tech IT a great industry to work in? The industry is fast-paced, ever changing and modern. I see the way work-life has changed in the advent of moving to the cloud. You can work from anywhere with everything at your fingertips. The case studies showing the impact of AI and data intelligence in the real world, impacting real peoples lives, is amazing. As someone who thrives on change management and rethinking how we can work best in the future, IT is the perfect sector.
What attracted you to IT? I have a background in operational management roles, and in all honestly moved into the IT world reluctantly. However once working for Trustmarque I very quickly was able to see how I was able to adapt my skills to the IT industry. The industry is fast paced and ever changing which is a big draw for me as I welcome learning new skills, knowledge and ways of working.
Do you think the industry is becoming more ‘female friendly’? Having worked in the industry for 14 years, I have definitely seen lots of changes. The number of female employees has rapidly grown in comparison to 14 years ago when you were very much in the minority, particularly in sales roles. The culture is definitely shifting. That’s been enabled by tech. For example, having laptops instead of PC’s for remote working and part-time work become a norm. Also seeing strong female leaders within Senior Leadership teams has become commonplace.
What can employers do to support their female employees? I think for all staff, regardless of gender, it’s about support and balance. Trustmarque has been incredibly supportive in terms of their flexibility over the years. Allowing me to continue to develop my career, whilst still maintaining a good work/life balance. In particular returning from maternity leave and allowing me to support my family at trying times.
What attracted you to IT? I sort of fell into it after college, I cant say it was a conscious decision. However, I am so happy this is where I ended up. I began my career in credit control before going into finance then operations and then into sales, which is where I am now. I love the fact that I am providing advise, not just selling. I need to support my customers to make the right decisions on their IT strategy, which is rewarding.
How has IT culture changed in your career? In the 90s when I started, IT was dominated by males. The change in the past 10-20 years to attract more women has been a very positive step for women in IT.
Who are your role models? I have many: Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou (who I just found recently), Richard Branson.
What is the most exciting thing happening in IT at the moment? For me personally, the thing that is particularly exciting is that there is an increasing focus on security. I have key strengths in managing timelines and keeping customers abreast of what they can and can’t do, so there is a huge opportunity to provide advice in this area.
By Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast and woman in IT