“Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval.” – Karl Marx
Last Thursday, women in IT braved the disheartening British weather to come together and celebrate the 50 most influential women in UK IT, hosted by Computer Weekly.
Nine of these influential women, joined by Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones (former UK government cyber security chief), were invited to give a 10 minute speech about whey they thought the number of women in the technology industry is decreasing every year and the opportunities women have to lead their organisations to a successful economy recovery. Here are the main themes from their power speeches:
Technology is not sexy and we know it. We’ve heard it before -- the IT industry is just not “sexy” for many young women. Technology has connotations of geeks, engineers, programing, software versus a career in PR which is connected (wrongly I can say from experience) to lavish parties, wining and dining journalists and a jetsetter lifestyle. But don’t we have a huge PR opportunity on our hands to turn this negative image of the technology sector around?
- Figures show that more women use social media and gaming than men. Again, a huge opportunity is awaiting us.
- GCSE IT is boring. Gender imbalance is prevalent across IT related courses as qualifications like GCSE IT is seen as out of date and dull. In many of these courses, student learn about how to create formulas in Excel, how to create a mailing list in Word rather than more modern every day skills such as how to extend one’s influence on social media sites.
- Technology is more than just science and engineering. With a background in arts, this is something that is very close to my heart. We hear a lot about the lack of women who enter careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Although this is very important to fuel innovation, what about women who don’t have a computer science or engineering degree? Technology is more than just science and engineering – it’s a world full of opportunities including management, marketing, communications, legal, human resources, social media.
- Women played a leading role in the Industrial Revolution, it’s our time to lead again. The Industrial Revolution in part was fuelled by the economic necessity of many women, single and married, to find waged work outside their home in domestic service, textile factories, piece workshops and in the coal mines. Today, many more women are educated, have longer life expectancies than the Industrial Revolution – think about the extent of women’s influence in the Technology Revolution.
All of the speakers agreed that the Technology industry would benefit from a diverse workforce, both men and women, as both have different skills, experiences and styles of working that they can bring into the workplace. Women are the most underused human resource in the technology sector today. Ladies, we can make a difference.