Mentoring crucial to creating gender equality in tech

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

The momentum towards creating equality for women in the technology industry shows no sign of slowing down and that’s very welcome.

For too long the industry has side-lined the issue to the detriment of both businesses and customers, but we’re starting to see things change.

Take Martha Lane Fox’s comments at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. The founder said: “The absence of women from the teams that are making the internet, the product designers, the coders, the engineers, the absence of women in the venture capital community [is baffling]. I think it is really profoundly important because this is where the industrial revolution of our time is. If women are absent from it I think we will go back in time.”

More and more people are speaking up and it is gradually becoming accepted wisdom that the presence of women is vital to each and every company’s success.

Grant Thornton, a business advisory firm, found that publicly traded companies with male-only executive directors missed out on £430 billion of investment returns last year. This stark illustration will hopefully add to the long list of reasons for creating a more equal workforce. We’re making some progress on the percentage of women employed in technology, and on the gender pay gap, but more action is required.

We also need to dispel the notion that a career in IT or technology is a ‘man’s job’. A lot of this should be done at an early age when women are choosing their degrees and careers, and offered the chance to code at school. And once they enter the workforce, we need to offer support to ensure women don’t leave to pursue another career outside of technology.

This vital support often takes the form of mentoring and the presence of role models that women can emulate. That’s why I’m so honoured to celebrate the amazing work that is currently underway here in the UK as part of the judging panel for the PCR Women of the Year Awards 2015.

Those nominated are at the cutting-edge of their fields, and are managing and building companies that are competing and winning at a global level. To say they act as an inspiration for women coming into the industry is an understatement, and it is very difficult to choose just one winner in each category.

My colleagues and I are very excited to welcome the winner of the Rising Star category award to CONTEXT and will be delighted to introduce them to an in-depth view of drivers in the technology market.

Just finally, I’d like to say good luck to everyone involved!

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

About the author

Adam Simon is Global Managing Director of Retail at Context.

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