Encouraging the opportunities for women in tech

In the latest of a series of opinion articles from our PCR Women of the Year Awards 2015 judges, CompTIA’s Nancy Hammervik looks at the importance of encouraging opprtunities for women within tech…

In the last decade, technology has shifted from a support and back office function to something that underpins all aspects of business. Once the remit of the IT department alone, every member of an organisation now uses technology every day for work and leisure.

As such, far from being isolated coding in a cubicle, a job in IT now means working with different people in different departments of a business to help them do their jobs more easily and effectively.

These new aspects of IT require new skills that many women have in abundance, such as good communication, empathy and diplomacy. Indeed, women in IT find that they are actually well suited to their jobs. Last year, CompTIA found that 73 per cent of female IT professionals believe that their job makes good use of their talent/skills (much higher than the percentage of men who thought so).

With the changing role of IT, jobs in the sector have diversified hugely. A career in IT can now mean anything from cyber security to data science, project management to product marketing, app development to user training. There really is a job role to suit anyone.

The high demand for IT skills means that there are plenty of jobs available for those starting out in the sector, and that they pay well. In fact, a recent report found that one in six cyber security professionals earn over £100,000 – nearly four times the national average wage.

There is no doubt that we are making progress attracting more women to the industry, but we still have work, calling attention to the tremendous opportunity. The media has great power in influencing young people’s life choices. The popularity of programmes such as Silent Witness and CSI led the number of people applying to forensic science courses in the UK to double. Imagine what a similar programme featuring female IT professionals could do to spread the message about diversity within technology.

Role models and examples also need to be seen on the ground level, where they can have a direct influence on young women. This is exactly what CompTIA’s Dream IT initiative aims to do, providing female IT professionals with the tools needed to inspire the next generation, and young people themselves with career resources and guidance.

We also need to do more to celebrate and publicise the achievements of women who have made their mark on the Industry. UK schemes like WiSE and Girls in Tech have done a stellar job of raising the profile of technology as a career that women excel in, and shouting about the biggest female stars in the sector.

Kudos to PCR for celebrating the women who are making a difference and congratulations to this year’s Women of the Year winners!

For more information about the PCR Women of the Year Awards, including ticketing and sponsorship oppprtunities, visit www.pcrwomenoftheyear.com.

About the author

Nancy Hammervik is Senior Vice President, Industry Relations at CompTIA.

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