Unfolding plans 142 – Women in IT

You know that this is one of the areas that I am interested in.  It’s not just me though.  SOCITM has launched it as one of their key themes, getting more women into Information and communication technology.

Last Wednesday marked the launch of their (its?) ‘Women in IT’ initiative held in Central London.  The event was billed as ‘designed to create a networking environment to provide support, share and learn from our collaborative experiences across sectors and apply these to the public sector, celebrate the success and discuss how we advance the prospects of women in IT and digital’.

Nadira, said that it was her key objective as the President of SOCITM.  It was a great event.  There were some interesting and entertaining speakers.

For once I was at a technical gathering where I was in the minority.  It was well attended and while there was a few of us men about we were well outnumbered. (Was this a good or bad thing?  Is ‘women in IT’ a female issue or a male one? Should more men have come to help with the solution, or is it just a thing to note? Indeed is it about gender at all or rather making use all of our talent?)

As with all of these events we started off with some statistics.  Harry from Mortimer Spinks took us through the results of a survey.  He told us that the average technology team has 86% men and the figure is worse in contractors; Over 90% of people working in tech are happy that they work in tech, irrespective of gender; 25% of men now think tech is cool and is filled with opportunity while only 14% of women do; Women make up 27% of IT teams in the public sector and 29% in the private sector, yet there are more women in management in the public sector yet fewer apprentices.

But what does it all mean?  Interestingly half of the people surveyed has not heard or been involved in a discussion about gender diversity in the work place in the last year or don’t remember if they have. If it isn’t being talked about then it just isn’t happening.

So what did I take away that I could do something with?  After all it was an early start and a long trip down.  Martin from SOCITM said that we need a collaborative style of organisation, a more feminine approach and that each of us can play a small part by thinking more about the issue.  We need to think about the language we are using in job descriptions.  Are we using the language of young people, of girls, of parents when recruiting?  Perhaps we shouldn’t use the word technical at all.  This stuff is important and so we need to make it relevant and  fun.

Nive from Cap Gemini said that intervention in schools is most important as soon as possible including years 1 and 2 as stereotypes start early while Caroline from Canon told us about their effective talent strategy and their learning style events that help the team educate themselves about what is possible.

Chi reminded us that diversity is not a nice to have, as diverse teams are more innovative and more resilient, that women’s stories need to be told and that we need more ethics in technology.

I wish I could have stayed longer but I had a train to catch.  I have been left with a lot of thinking to do though.

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