Women in Tech – where are you?

That’s a strange title I hear you say but it’s an honest question.  I’ve worked in IT now for over 20 years and have got used to working in an office full of men.  In my current role out of about 10 members of the technical team there are 2 of us which, makes it 16% which I feel is a very low percentage.

What’s the reason for this? For a long time,  I thought it was because I was of an age where IT was not really considered a career choice, even though I did CSE IT at School which was fairly unusual.  3 years ago I did some university lecturing and from a class of about 80 I’d say there were approximately half a dozen women. So it appears that higher level computer education still does not attract very many women.

What can be done about it?  Should we join the STEM programme and go out to schools and encourage girls to get into tech, make them realise that it’s an interesting, challenging and in a lot of cases, well paid career.   In my career I have been involved in projects that I have been so proud of, I’ve helped create a solution that saves the NHS money and improves patient care in Doctors Surgeries, I’ve worked on a pre-Dementia study which is something that is very close to my heart.  It’s allowed me to travel around the world. I also met my husband through my job not sure if that’s something to tell the youngsters though!!! I love what I do and I wake up in the morning and look forward to what the day brings me. I personally feel very lucky to have a career that I really thoroughly enjoy.

I was chatting to someone recently who said that in other countries women are actively encouraged to go into IT and the proportion of men to women was 50/50 but I’m not sure if that’s something that’s happening here in the UK.

I remember when I first got involved with SQLBits you could count on one hand how many British female speakers had ever presented at the conference. We (the SQLBits committee) are actively trying to change that and have a directive to address and include diversity . The number of female presenters has definitely increased but there is still a very large gap in the proportion of men to women.  However the percentage of female volunteers at SQLBits, at 25%, is considerably higher than the percentage of female speakers (approx. 15%) I think this shows that that there are women involved in IT and in the data community but perhaps they aren’t as interested in speaking, or perhaps have feelings that put them off from speaking.

Maybe there are women in Tech but maybe we aren’t aware as they are not actively involved in the Community, or maybe it’s just the data platform community.

I’d be interested in any comments on this and your thoughts on what can be done get more women involved in working in IT and involved in the technical community.