I am delighted to be named the winner of the 2012 everywoman in Technology Awards Rising Star of the Year Award, which is awarded to a woman aged under 26 who is excelling in her technology career. No one was more surprised than me to hear the news and I’d like to congratulate the other 3 finalists in my category.
When I was a little girl and people asked me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” working for a technology company wasn’t at the top of my list! I have always enjoyed using technology since a young age – I played games on the family computer, I used the internet as a valuable tool for my homework and I even used a computer to write my Christmas wish list to Santa [I was amazed when Santa wrote one back to me using the same template as mine!]. However like a lot of young girls these days, a career in technology just never crossed my mind, even though I won the business studies award at school and achieved high marks in all my IT exams.
And this is precisely the problem. Although 47% of the UK workforce is female, only 18% of IT & Telecoms professionals are female and this is down from 22% in 2001. And as I discussed in my earlier blog, I think one of the biggest challenges that we face is that girls, particularly, those at school think that technology equals science and geeks and they think they need an engineering degree to enter the world of technology. When I went back to my old school, St George’s Ascot, the present girls didn’t realise the variety of careers in a technology company – Communications, Marketing, Legal, HR, Sales, Engineering, Project Managers, Program Managers, Researchers…the list goes on and on.
In my mind, one of the key strengths of the technology industry is its diversity -- the range of people who have different degrees, have worked for different companies and come from different backgrounds. It makes it a much more exciting place to work and a creative place of work because you can draw on this diversity to fuel innovation and creativity in our work. We need science and technology graduates in the technology company but we also need other graduates from the arts, languages and humanities departments.
We need to do more to attract young women into the technology sector. When young women are deciding on their future careers and the subjects they are going to take to help them on their journey, this is our insertion point for us. This is where we provide our strong and visible female role models to assist in career talks, this is where we showcase the range of opportunities in a technology sector, this is where we show how creative the IT industry is.
2012 is our year. Let’s change that 22% into 47%….