From tapping our contactless cards, to life saving machines, the rise of the selfie and every painfully slow computer update we sit through on a Monday morning, it is increasingly clear that technology is a fundamental component of our daily lives. Some of us love it, some of us not so much- but one thing is for sure, in some way, we all use it. As technological advances continue to amaze us (I’m looking at you, Sophia), and break boundaries that years ago, were pipe dreams, one thing is for sure- technology isn’t going anywhere (except maybe up- after all, the only way is up, right?).
Of course, this begs the question- if we do all use technology, then why are we not all represented in the work force? Gender diversity in the technology industry has long been a talking point. Research shows that, despite industry growth, over the last 10 years’ female representation in the industry has stagnated- only 17% of those working in the industry are female and when looking higher up the ladder, things aren’t that much better – only 1 in 10 are IT leaders. With only 7% of students taking Computer Science at A-Level being female, there is a clear need for action to encourage young women to pursue a career in the field of technology.
I caught up with Vicki Gavin- Compliance Director, Head of Business Continuity, Cyber Security and Data Privacy at the Economist Group to get a little bit more insight on this issue:
What issues do women currently working tech face?
I think that the biggest issue women in technology face is nature of the work environment. In general, the environment in the core technology areas; support, infrastructure and development is very competitive. The nature of the work is such that practitioners are being challenged in some way to work harder, smarter or faster. Thus, practitioners are constantly having to prove both to themselves and to others they are capable. Many people may find this sort of environment uncomfortable and choose not to do these sorts of roles.
Are there any signs of success/ progression towards a more diverse workforce in the tech industry?
The number of women choosing a career in technology is increasing overall. As with all change the pace is slow but the numbers are increasing. In fact they are increasing quite rapidly in the technology governance, and risk management functions. Women are less well represented in the support, infrastructure and development teams, but I think this may be down to the work environment. I think that those of us in the industry need to stop undervaluing the technical governance and risk management functions and start treating them as the technology roles they are.
How can the Industry encourage young women to pursue a career in technology or cybersecurity? Whose responsibility is it to do this?
Hiring managers need to ensure they do not introduce bias into an already limited candidate pool by identifying the minimum requirements for the role and when reviewing CVs look for reasons why each candidate might be able to do the job rather than looking for reasons not to hire. Candidates can help themselves by writing a cover letter which summarises for the hiring manager how their skills match the job posting.
How would you sell your current career path to the younger version of yourself- what advice would you give yourself? What challenges would you tell yourself to expect?
My advice to everyone regardless of the career path they want to follow is to do what you love. When you do what you love, you’ll love what you do and be pretty good at it. Which will naturally lead to career progression. A couple of cautions, don’t be a shrinking violet, volunteer to take on new responsibilities and don’t be afraid to tell people when you’re good at something. Finally, while having a career plan is a good starting point, don’t be a slave to your plan. Be bold, be prepared to take opportunities when they come your way.
By Michelle Marriott, Account Executive at Eskenzi PR
Stats from http://www.womenintech.co.uk/