black woman working on computer in the hallway, diversity, SysAdmin Day

SysAdmins: The backbone of our organisations

SysAdmin Day has arrived, giving us a chance to show appreciation for our system administrators.

black woman working on computer in the hallway, diversity, SysAdmin Dayblack woman working on computer in the hallway, diversity, SysAdmin Day

They are the ones who undertake the work on the front line of the IT world, handling everything from system failures to updating hardware and a variety of other tasks in between. Unfortunately, because much of the work they do takes place behind the scenes, they are often under-appreciated despite being so integral to day-to-day runnings. We spoke to ten technology experts to give us a better insight into the vital work SysAdmins carry out and how we can appreciate them going forward.

The lack of acknowledgement of SysAdmins seems to stem from a lack of understanding their work.

Mike Gosling, IT Service Platforms Manager at Cubic Transportation Systems expands, “whilst SysAdmins are respected within the IT profession, many people do not understand the scope and complexity of their role. High quality IT services are often taken for granted, with the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ proving indicative. Indeed, organisations have a tendency to recognise customer facing staff more than roles like the SysAdmin, which keep systems running behind the scenes”.

In order to rectify this under-appreciation, it is first important to realise what the role of a SysAdmin involves. Paul Farrington, Chief Product Officer at Glasswall explains: “SysAdmins are vital employees – from ensuring that system patches are rolled out on time, to monitoring the performance of all IT systems to ensure they’re working effectively, SysAdmins keep their organisations delivering services to customers”.

Advanced skillsets demanded of SysAdmins

The position also requires a great deal of multitasking as Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK highlights. “SysAdmins not only have to contend with day-to-day tasks, they also have to be crisis managers in the event of a natural disaster or cyber attack. In addition to this, they also have to keep up with the latest IT trends, home working and introduction of BYOD – no mean feat by anyone’s standards. When it comes to multitasking and wearing many hats, SysAdmins reign supreme”.

David Miller, SVP Technology, at Fluent Commerce also touches on the many roles SysAdmins cover: “they have evolved into DevOps, cloud, and site reliability engineers (SREs) in the age of the cloud. These individuals are the backbone of organisations by ensuring shipping software is cost-effective, reliable, secure and performant. By converting committed code into value that is delivered to clients, they empower users to have all they need to accomplish their jobs securely.”

He adds “they are the foundation for ensuring that performance and availability are increasing globally. On SysAdmin Day, we are proud to honour their dedication and hard work.”

With technology advancing, this only means the requirements expected of SysAdmins are increasing. Richard Orange, Vice President EMEA at Exabeam furthers, “their job is getting harder every year. Challenges now facing SysAdmins include supporting a geographically diverse workforce, while contending with an ever-expanding attack surface and diminishing distinguishable corporate perimeter.

“And, as organisations become increasingly cloud-focused, SysAdmins are doing a huge amount of the heavy lifting when it comes to migration. Accelerated cloud adoption is also removing some of the previous security controls inherent in provisioning on-premise infrastructure, causing further complexities for our SysAdmins”.

Working from home impact

The pandemic thrust everyone into the unknown territory of working from home, meaning different things for different professions and industries, and SysAdmins were no exception. Steve Young, UKI Sales Engineering Director at Commvault, explains, “as working from home has doubled in the UK in the past two years, more employees are remotely accessing company networks than ever before. At the same time, the threat landscape has grown dramatically, with 39% of UK businesses suffering a cyberattack in 2021. Not only are there now more potential entry points for bad actors to access systems, but files are increasingly being stored locally, creating a greater risk of data loss as a result of shadow IT and files not being backed up. For this reason, the job of a SysAdmin has never been more necessary”.

Despite these added challenges, SysAdmins continue to persevere. Rob Gilbert, Managing Director for Commercial and Logistics Business at Totalmobile discusses how this is evident within the transport sector. “Despite this increase in workload and simultaneous decrease in team members, SysAdmins have worked around the clock during the past few years and helped to successfully keep the country moving – literally. It’s important therefore to take the time to appreciate them for keeping drivers on the road. Just one of the ways businesses can do this is through training and development: creating a clear path for career progression through regular training sessions and opportunities to take on greater responsibilities, supported by fit-for-purpose and innovative technologies that enable them to deliver maximum value”.

Valuing your SysAdmins

No one can argue that the role of SysAdmins is easy, by any means, therefore we must remember to value them and the work they do. Gregg Mearing, CTO at Node4 notes, “SysAdmins quietly bear the full-force of any and all IT business challenges thrown their way. And while they bear the huge responsibility of making sure every piece of equipment and technology runs correctly and efficiently, a SysAdmin’s job is often overlooked. We should appreciate these crucial workers everyday – if you rarely notice the work of a SysAdmin, it proves how good of a job they do! Take time this SysAdmin Day to celebrate the unsung heroes of your business”.

There is a role we can all play in appreciating SysAdmins. Steve Cochran, CTO, ConnectWise advises, “the best thing an organisation can do to support its SysAdmins is to find the right programs to provide insight into workflows and efficiency while facilitating system response monitoring. This frees up SysAdmin to address other, more pressing issues so they are able to be more proactive and handle reactive situations with ease”.

Hugh ScantleburyHugh Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Aqilla concludes, “they play a central role in maintaining applications, coordinating cloud services and environments, managing data storage and business continuity strategies, and supporting the broader IT infrastructure. They’re the people who keep our networks up and running, rain or shine. We simply would not be able to work without them”.

A Google pixel 3XL showing Covid-19 information from the Google News app

Looking back at 2021: Our top tech news stories of the year

In the second installment of our series of looking back at the past year, we delve into some of our favourite and most important tech news stories of 2021.

While this year’s main focus was once again the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 has still seen Wally Funk make history and become the oldest person in space; Dame Stephanie Shirley and Ray Ozzie receiving a distinguished fellowship from the Chartered Institue for IT; as well as many diversity and gender initiatives launched to help women into tech and STEM.

We look forward to bringing you all the latest news, debates and thought-provoking articles in 2022!

Glassdoor Best Places to Work 2021January

In January, it was announced that Salesforce, Google Apple and Microsoft were among the best places to work.

Glassdoor, the worldwide leader on insights about jobs and companies, announced the winners of its 13th annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honouring the Best Places to Work in 2021 across the UK and four other countries. Unlike other workplace awards, the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards are based on the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback by completing a company review about their job, work environment and employer over the past year.

The Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards highlight Best Places to Work across the UK, France, Germany the U.S. and Canada. Winners are ranked based on their overall rating achieved during the past year.

BT & Code First Girls partnershipFebruary

In February, BT launched a partnership with Code First Girls to help close the UK gender skills gap in tech.

The partnership, which included funding from BT, helps enable Code First Girls, to provide £10,000 worth of free education to every woman undertaking a course with them and to upskill upwards of 900 women. Participating women will also benefit from the expertise of BT’s world class technologists who have helped to shape the Code First Girls courses, ensuring the next generation of women in technology are equipped with the skills they need to succeed.

We also reported that Dragon’s Den star, Piers Linney had joined a campaign to help increase diversity in tech roles.

Former Dragon’s Den star, tech entrepreneur and diversity champion, Piers Linney, called for more to be done to raise awareness of tech careers after new research has revealed that a lack of awareness is preventing young people from entering the technology industry.

Promisingly, the research, conducted by global emerging talent and reskill training provider, mthree, found that despite rising levels of youth unemployment, 78% of Financial services, insurance, pharmaceuticals and life sciences businesses continued hiring for entry level and graduate tech roles throughout the pandemic in 2020, while 92% are planning to do so in 2021.


March saw us celebrating International Women’s Day – with a number of tech companies launching initiative to support women in tech.

Entain, the leading global sports betting and gaming entertainment operator, were one such company, launching a series of international initiatives to support girls and young women interested in building careers in technology.

Entain partnered with Girls Who Code, an international non-profit organisation working to close the gender gap in technology; and The Tech Girls Movement in Australia.

School of Code also launched a new part-time bootcamp to help transform lives and diversify tech during the COVID-19 pandemic.

School of Code is on a mission to get more and different types of people into Tech. They are closing the digital skills gap by turning diverse cohorts of people into work-ready full stack developers suited to remote, Agile teams. The bonus: It’s free to attend. Funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority, corporate sponsors, and employer partners levels the playing field and eliminates barriers to entry.


In April, we celebrated International Girls in ICT Day!

Girls in ICT Days aims to encourage and empower girls and young women to consider studies and car​eers in the growing field of ICTs,​ enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector.

International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of April.

woman wearing a white lab coat working on an engineering project, International Women in Engineering DayJune

June marked International Women in Engineering Day – with it being reported that female engineers are more likely to be victims of recruitment bias.

Women trying to return to the engineering industry after a career break are more likely to experience recruitment bias than men, according to a survey by STEM Returners.

The survey, published on International Women in Engineering Day, showed 27% of women feel they have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to their gender, compared to 8% of men. Furthermore, 30% of women said they feel they have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to childcare responsibilities compared to 6% of men.

Blue Origin First Human Flight Wally FunkJuly

In July, Wally Funk became the oldest person to go into space!

Wally Funk made history by becoming the oldest person to go into space, and finally realised her dream of being an astronaut.

Thanks to Jeff Bezos, Funk was finally able to go into space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard first crewed flight to space. The journey was New Shepard’s 16th flight to space.

Wally is an American aviator, commercial astronaut, and Goodwill Ambassador.

She was the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, the first female civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the first female Federal Aviation Agency inspector.

Wally is also one of the Mercury 13. The Mercury 13 Women in Space Program was a privately-funded program to see how women would cope with space training.

The women were put through the same rigorous physical and mental testing as male astronauts. Wally passed her tests and was qualified to go into space. Her score was the third best in the Mercury 13 program.

However, despite completing their training, the program was cancelled, and none of the thirteen flew.

Wally never gave up her dream of going into space and  when NASA finally began accepting women in the late 1970s, Funk applied three times. Despite her impressive credentials, she was turned down for not having an engineering degree or a background as a test pilot.


In September, it was reported that women and BAME indivduals are disproportionally affected by cybercrime.

The ‘Demographics of Cybercrime’ report, conducted by Malwarebytes, a global leader in real-time cyberprotection, and US-based non-profit partners, Digitunity and Cybercrime Support Network, found that uncovered that certain demographic groups are disproportionally impacted by cybercrime.

The report, which polled more than 5,000 people across the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, details how consumers experience cybercrime worldwide, demonstrating cybercrime does not impact everyone equally. In fact, the report illustrates that demographics impact how often individuals are targeted, as well as their emotional response to becoming a victim.

Overall analysis of data suggests disadvantaged groups facing barriers in society feel less safe about their online experiences, are more likely to fall victim to an attack, and at times report experiencing a heavier emotional burden when responding to cyberattacks.

On a more positive note, Tech She Can became a charity – inspiring more young girls and women into technology careers.

As a charity, Tech She Can, working together with its board of Trustees and member organisations will be able to extend its reach and impact.

Tech She Can was created in 2018 with 18 founding organisations following a research initiative into why girls and young women are less likely to study technology-based subjects, and pursue tech careers


October saw Supermums launch a new campaign to help mothers bounce back from the pandemic.

The campaign will help to shine a light on the career opportunities that exist for women (and beyond) that can give them flexible, well paid, resilient careers and financial independence. They will also be sharing positive new stories and sharing educational stories and information to help mums bounce back.

Supermums was founded on a mission to help mums secure a flexible well paid resilient career. The idea originated from our founder Heather Black when she personally experienced the trauma of losing a business and career when new economic and political changes were imposed beyond her control in 2011 which proved to be a turning point in her life. She had to find a way to bounce back and to launch a new career path.

Dame Stephanie Shirley & Ray OzzieNovember

In November, Dame Stephanie Shirley and Ray Ozzie received a distinguished fellowship from the Chartered Institue for IT.

Global IT entrepreneur and workplace revolutionary turned ardent philanthropist, Dame Stephanie Shirley CH, and software industry pioneer Ray Ozzie were awarded Distinguished Fellowships from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

The awards are given to individuals whose contribution to computing is seen in terms of major importance to the overall development of computing, with substantial personal recognition through peer review over a substantial and sustained career.

Dame Stephanie arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied child refugee in 1939. In 1962, she founded an all-woman software company that pioneered remote working, upending the expectations of the time. It was ultimately valued at almost $3 billion and made 70 of her staff millionaires. Since ‘retiring’, her focus has been on philanthropy, and she has given away almost £70m to fund strategic projects in autism and IT. She joined the BCS as a student member on its foundation in 1957 and was its first woman President in 1989-90.

Ray Ozzie was formerly best known for his role in creating Lotus Notes. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1979 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked on the PLATO system. He began his career at Data General Corporation where he worked for Jonathan Sachs. Ozzie then worked at Software Arts and was later recruited by Sachs and Mitch Kapor to work for Lotus Development to develop what became Lotus Symphony.

'The perception of what it is to be a scientist needs to change,' says Dr Emily Grossman

Dr Emily Grossman is a force to be reckoned with. A scientist who has achieved a double first in science from Cambridge University, she has since become a writer, educator and science broadcaster, known for the Sky 1 programme, ‘Duck Quacks Don’t Echo’ and her regular appearances on news channels.

Dr Emily Grossman headshot 2Having recently suffered at the hands of Internet trolls, Grossman is now using her power to educate and reform people’s attitudes towards science and particularly towards women in the field.

In 2015, Grossman gave her opinion on a debate that had been sparked from Nobel prize-winning scientist, Tim Hunt’s comments. Hunt had said that, “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.”

Speaking of her decision to speak out, Grossman said, “I spoke out [against Tim Hunt] because his comments were irresponsible. Even if it was meant as a joke, it was an irresponsible thing to say, especially when so many girls lack the confidence to pursue careers in STEM.”

However, Grossman faced a huge backlash on Twitter and YouTube, with users making sexually aggressive comments, stereotyping female scientists and sending vulgar and insulting messages.

She says, “I was totally shocked by the backlash I received. What I found most disturbing was the misogyny and stereotyping – low lying and institutionalised sexism.”

After lots of self-reflection, looking after herself physically, spiritually and emotionally, and receiving support from End Online Misogyny, Grossman is now using her experiences to highlight that there is nothing wrong with being emotional and crying.

Her Tedx talk, entitled ‘Why science needs people to cry’, incorporates this idea and focuses on the concept of three ‘C’s – compassion, collaboration and creativity. Grossman argues that these are as essential to science as they are throughout any aspect of life.

“I wanted to share my experience so that other women would never feel as alone as I felt and so they might feel that they too could speak out.”

“My experiences have given me a platform to talk about online misogyny and offer support to other women. My response has not come from a place of anger, but education.”

“I just want to live in a world of equality of opportunity.”

Despite establishing an amazing career in science, Grossman confides that she hasn’t always had confidence in herself.

Having grown up with a supportive family and attended an all-girls school, Grossman says that she ‘didn’t have any inkling that a passion for maths and science was anything out of the ordinary for a girl.”

However, while studying at university surrounded by ‘male students, male lecturers and male tutors’ she began to question her abilities.

“I felt very, very out of place and different. At first I took that as a challenge but about six months in I lost my confidence.”

She now wants people to understand that, “science is not just about logic and analysis but also creativity and imagination.”

“The perception of what it is to be a scientist needs to change.”

Enticing women and girls into STEM is still a problem and Dr Grossman argues that we need to show girls all the exciting careers that are on offer. She also suggests that more role-models, a change in teaching methods and more available support would help encourage more girls to think of a career in STEM.

“We should be showing all young people that whatever qualities they possess, as long as they are excited about understanding the world, then STEM will welcome them.”

You can find out more about Emily and watch her Tedx talk here.

If you are suffering from online abuse and misogyny, you can find more information about End Online Misogyny here.


UK companies lack data, security, Python, Ruby, UI and UX talent

The tech sector lacks talented candidates in data, security, Python, Ruby, UI and UX, according to report into IT skills.

The report, by Hired, investigated supply, demand, interview requests and job offers.

Job Interview - Via Shutterstock
Job Interview - Via Shutterstock

Demand for security engineers spiked by 234% in the last 18 months alone and in addition the report found that the average salary for tech workers in London are lower than in Silicon Valley and New York. Salaries were found to be 38% higher in Silicon Valley than the UK and 35% higher in New York.

Hired conducted a survey to find out the views of companies and candidates. As a result the Mind the Gap report was created to identify which digital skills are in demand.

Jacqueline de Rojas, techUK President, provides a forward for the report in which she writes: “Digital skills are not just about the needs of tech companies – be they start-ups or multinationals. The UK needs people with the skills to help them keep pace and thrive in a digital future.

“This starts with inclusion – we must make sure that no part of the UK is left behind in the digital revolution, and people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds are given the tools and access to education to develop their digital skills.”

She added: “We must commit to challenging our employees and peers to learn new skills, or to update their current set, to ensure we remain ahead of the curve.”

Commenting on the report Claire Cockerton, CEO of ENTIQ, said: “Over the last decade the UK has worked tirelessly to become a centre of excellence in innovation and technology; today the industry is worth an incredible £161bn to the economy and supports more than 1.5million jobs across the country. Yet, as Hired’s report reminds us, there is always more we can, and indeed must do.”

“The statistics revealed a yawning skills gap emerging, with new skills such as data and security both vastly underserviced with talent. When considering the potential impact of Brexit, this becomes an even more concerning statistic. To address it, as an industry we must ensure we support free movement of talent and review the list of skills that are open for working visas, particularly in these key areas of technology that are currently underserviced.”

“Secondly, we must look to the long-term and work together with the Government to solve the education issue. There is a need to implement new initiatives in the curriculum that are consistently updated to reflect the ever-evolving nature of technology. Not only that but we must begin to celebrate our successes – and indeed openly address our failures; we must work together to showcase our technology entrepreneurs to the wider world to inspire tomorrow’s leaders. For the UK to remain a global player, it must address both of these points now, working to upskill current talent, as well as addressing the next generation. Only by doing that can we futureproof UK GDP. A failure to do so will see us fall behind on the global scale.”

Richard Shea, Managing Director EMEA Search of Futurestep , said: “This report has highlighted something the industry has been talking about for the last five years; but obviously, not enough action has been taken. The growing digital skills gap is worrying. By 2020, the UK alone will require 2.3 million digitally skilled workers. But according to these latest findings, supply is already falling incredibly short of catering to demand.

“To start bridging this gap between the cry for technology talent and the shallow pool we have on offer, we need to look to our grassroots and begin with education. As the UK continues to develop its digital economy and fuel the UK’s Plc, we are seeing an absence of students going on to study technology subjects at higher levels. This is where the pipeline of talent begins to leak and we lose potential members of the tech workforce.

“Yet too many organisations are waiting for governments or even competitors to do something to address it. All companies within the technology sector must take ownership of helping educate the younger generations; whether it’s through early employment careers, graduate recruitment or simply visiting schools with role model spokespeople, to solidify the UK’s future as a leading global hub with tech talent being the centre of its success.”

Paul Brown, Head of HR, Business and Application Services at Fujitsu EMEIA, said: “The findings of this Mind The Gap report make for concerning reading - particularly the fact that the uptake of technology degrees is falling over time. Our increasingly digitally-led business environment and society means that STEM and digital skills are essential in the UK, both within technology firms and virtually every other industry. Expertise in the fields of data analytics and security are increasingly important for all organisations, but we are already battling against skills gaps in these areas.

“STEM subjects clearly still suffer from an image problem. It’s often assumed that the only jobs that you can get with a degree in maths or engineering are highly technical and perhaps dull. We need to tackle these misconceptions and showcase how roles in technology are addressing some of the most important issues in society and creating new career paths as well as advancing economic growth.

“It’s also important to recognise that creativity and innovation can be as important as technical skill in ‘Digital’ jobs. Through engaging a diverse array of young people in STEM subjects and maintaining their interest through education and in to the workplace we will help protect the UK’s future competitiveness.”


The impossible art of being a female leader


New research launched by Mortimer Spinks revealed that the number of women tech bosses is doubling year-on-year.

And while this certainly doesn’t spell the end of the glass ceiling, it certainly shows that great cracks are appearing.

Female Leader
Via Shutterstock

This is brilliant news for the technology industry. Having a greater number of women in the workforce, and in positions of seniority, has clear benefits for business. Beyond more diverse and fresh ideas, it has also been shown to lead to better profitability. Indeed, research from the University of Leeds Business School found that having at least one female director on the board helped cut a company’s chances of going bust by 20 per cent, with that risk decreasing further with a higher female representation on the board.

But despite the benefits, “being the boss” remains a challenge for many women. Indeed, many of us must still tackle the impossible art of either being ‘too soft or too bossy’ and ‘having it all’ (otherwise – and more appropriately – known as a work life balance).

Dawn of the alphazilla

A great contributor to the boss vs. bossy issue is the continuation of the traditional, male-orientated work culture. Women sometimes feel inclined to emulate male culture to reflect expectations of how a woman ‘should’ act in the workplace. This is not surprising because ‘fitting in’ is one of the most important aspects of cultural acceptance, especially as woman climb the ladder. There is a lesson for us all in learning from the successful conduct of our own leaders – whilst also maintaining our authenticity and focusing on being ourselves rather than playing the part of the ‘alphazilla’.

Frequently we can find ourselves in a paradoxical situation where we want to emulate the management style of those bosses we respected, but then face accusations of being “bossy”. Go too far the other way, women are sometimes labelled ‘soft’ and then struggle to command the respect of their colleagues. It is a fine balance, but I find that being authentic often helps to strike that it.

Not having it all

Women who have chosen to have both a successful career and a family - or other massive commitment to something outside of work - are challenged with the question of ‘can I have it all?’

Personally, I am not sure there really is such thing as “having it all”. There was, for me, just a perfectly imperfect world of a crew of people who helped me at work, at home and at play. I chose not to hide the fact that we had kids or commitments to other things and I suppose there is a confidence in that, which might have been more easily tolerated in the tech industry. I found that a combination of being transparent about what I needed and leveraging technology which enabled me to work remotely on some occasions helped me did get things done. But, I also have to admit that I did tend to work all the hours that God sent to get those things done. In a way, it was my ‘fear of failure’ gene kicking in. Even now I do still, by the way, kill myself to make deadlines.

I do understand though why women often feel like they can’t open up about the struggles of juggling work and home life, for fear of being judged. It is a legitimate fear but there are women’s networks and mentoring that can help here.

It is also, perhaps, also unsurprising given many people’s experiences: for example, 14 per cent of British women report been asked about their plans for marriage and/or children at a job interview. This sets a clear tone for that company’s attitude towards the juggling act they may face in the future. My advice? Choose the culture of your prospective employer wisely - culture trumps strategy every time and the best laid plans can be scuppered by an overwhelming culture.

Holding a more senior role, with the new risk and responsibility that it holds, certainly doesn’t make getting a healthy work life balance any easier. Indeed, for many who feel like more eyes are on them, the challenge is even greater. As a leader though, I also believe that getting involved in women’s networks or creating one inside your own business can help to shift the dynamics. WATC is a great example of that!

A greater climate for success

Despite all of these issues, women are succeeding and creating change in the technology industry. But women, or supporters of diversity in general, should not sit on their laurels and come to expect such a battle against these age old issues. There have been many pieces of legislation to support women in work, which have played an important role in improving conditions. In my mind, though, with these challenges, change will not come from laws and regulations. It has to come from people, cultural shifts, new generational thinking and new ways of working

Now that we do have more women in senior roles, I find that it’s vital to play the ‘generosity game’ and send the elevator back down. I try and play this game once a day – one thing that can make a difference! When were you last late for work because you let one extra car out at that busy junction? When did it kill you to make that introduction to someone, which could have changed the course of that person’s entire career? When did you spontaneously take ten minutes and write someone a fabulous reference?

We already have a great culture of this: many and most women that I know in tech have worked with other women in the industry to support them. It’s really important to “do our bit” to help the next generation of digital entrepreneurs to not only achieve, but to surpass our expectations.

Another important task is to support a move away from traditional working patterns. Flexible working provides a great opportunity for both men and women to better manage a balance between their work and home life. For me, the notion that I can #workhardanywhere has helped me achieve a balance and build trust with colleagues and superiors based on the performance outcomes, rather than how many hours I’ve 'clocked up’.

But for all women to feel the benefits, organisations must do more than just offer a programme, andsupport a cultural shift, with the wider company embracing the end of the nine-to-five mentality. Men and women at the top, to help achieve this, must stand up against practices like “showing face” to ensure that those who work flexibly are as championed as their office-based counterparts. It is ok for any parent to walk out of the office at 2pm to pick up the kids…it really is! I strongly believe that productivity is a better measure than activity in the workplace.

Evening out the bumps in the road

Women are making waves throughout the technology industry – from the top to the bottom of nearly every business. The growing number of women taking on more senior roles testifies to this. But while the road is certainly more travelled, the route to success is frequently met with the same bumps and challenges.

To help support this generation of female leaders and the next, we must ensure that we support each other to build a culture where we are able to be ourselves and unashamedly strive to achieve our priorities – in and out of work. The continued struggles associated with being a female leader are just a waste of everyone’s time but also, perhaps, an opportunity to create a digital nation of significance if we choose to harness all of this fabulous talent…

J De Rojas imageThis article was written by Jacqueline De Rojas who has more than 25 years operational experience in the software industry and is the President of techUK. She recently landed a role at Sage to lead the UK and Ireland business. She will leave her current role at Citrix in September to take charge of a 2000 strong team at Sage UK&I, which is headquartered in Newcastle. At Citrix she led the Northern European business as general manager and area VP. She has held several executive roles at global enterprise software companies. In 2015 she was named Most Influential Woman in UK IT by Computer Weekly and this year made Debrett’s list of 500 people of influence on social media and digital. She also holds several board and advisory positions and is a non-executive director on the board of Home Retail Group PLC.

TWAGs - Tech wives and girlfriends | Why fight for change when you can just follow the money?

With the media having recently coined the term “TWAG” – tech wives and girlfriends – society is being told, “that it’s much for women to marry tech money than make tech money” feminist writer and author Daisy Buchanan recently noted.

Tech wives and girlfriends (TWAGs): Why fight for change when you can just follow the money?
Woman shopping - Via Shutterstock

In an opinion piece for website The Pool she said: “As long as we’re obsessing about the wives and girlfriends of tech billionaires, we are putting women off entering tech.”

Buchanan refers to a sketch in which the late Victoria Wood and Julie Walters play two women catching up over lunch. Discussing her character’s daughter Walters’ says: “Susan’s still assistant catering manager at Wilkinsons, she says in a couple of years, if she plays her cards right, she could become catering manager’s girlfriend!”

Buchanan said the sketch makes her laugh but also makes her sad that despite being from the 1980s, not much as changed and society is still very quick to limit women’s ambitions by labeling them as professional girlfriends.

She noted that a decade ago society started an obsession with WAGs – the wives and girlfriends of famous, highly paid sports stars – and becoming one was seen as a legitimate career goal. She said: “While there was much hand-wringing about what this was doing to the ambitions of young women, we didn’t stop lauding the WAGs for their choice of husbands, handbags and haircuts.”

Buchanan said she first saw the term TWAG in the Sunday Times, which also used “founder hounders” to describe women who date or marry tech founders.

She noted that Model Miranda Kerr has recently become engaged to Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel, Lily Cole dated Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and that Amber Heard is seeing Paypal co-founder and tech billionaire Elon Musk.

With the gender pay gap currently standing at 13.9% for full time workers in the UK, and it taking an estimated 117 years to close, Buchanan questions: “Why fight for change when we could just follow the money?”

She also pointed out that the most prominent TWAGS are successful women with careers of their own. For instance Lily Cole is well know in tech industry as being a Cambridge graduate and a tech entrepreneur.

Buchanan concluded: “If we want to make way for women, something has to alter the way that we talk about ourselves, and what we achieve. We can’t be defined by our bodies and our relationships any longer.”

You can follow Daisy Buchanan on Twitter: @notrollergirl

BT, O2, Vodafone and Ericsson team up to launch ‘Step into STEM’ scheme

Kayleigh Bateman

BT, O2, Vodafone and Ericsson have joined forces to launch a scheme to encourage girls to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Step into STEMThe programme called ‘Step into STEM’ will be working with Girls Talk London, to offer young women advice on how to reach senior business roles.

BT director of field, business and ethernet connections at Openreach Paula Constant said: “This scheme could make a real difference in encouraging girls to apply for jobs that require STEM skills. Research shows that even though girls study the relevant subjects in school, only a minority go on to pursue careers in this area.”

O2 chief operating officer Derek McManus said: “Our research revealed that many girls haven’t yet considered a career in tech or STEM and it’s an issue which is becoming deeply engrained from a young age.

“Far too many young people maintain the belief that these types of careers are most suited to men. Clearly there are some outdated myths that need busting.”

The programme is currently a pilot, with the aim of rolling it out across the UK in the future.

Girls Talk London selected 20 year 12 students last month from four schools in London. The schools are King Solomon Academy, St Michael’s Catholic School, Heathcote School and Our Lady’s Convent School.

The chosen few have been matched with a mentor from the four companies. They each receive one monthly session until October where they learn about their chosen roles and get advice on how to enter them. A week’s work experience at one of the companies in July will also be offered.

Accenture teams up with Stemettes to showcase careers in STEM to 1,800 girls


Careers in STEMAccenture has teamed up with not-for-profit Stemettes to host a series of events, next week, to encourage more girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Taking place on January 28th, across five different locations, girls aged between 11 and 15 will take part in coding workshops, and hear from speakers such as Naomi Mitchison, an IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year, and Carrie Bishop, director of Futuregov. The girls will also hear from representatives from the BBC and women in gaming.

The girls will take part in a hackathon, led by Stemettes, where they will compete using the Hakitzu Code Warriors game which requires JavaScript to choose weapons of choice.

The ‘Girls in STEM’ events will take place in London, Dublin, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Manchester reaching 1,800 students. In London and Newcastle, the attendees will participate in a crypto-analysis and code breaking workshop developed by the FBI to give an insight into digital forensics and cyber security. A virtual reality workshop and a Minecraft ‘hack jam’ which makes use of the Raspberry Pi and Python programming language will also take place.

The events follow on from Accenture’s own workshop that ran in January 2015 and was attended by 300 students.

Accenture and the Confederation of British Industry release a report last year which found despite the number of STEM vacancies rising, 46% of respondents reported a lack of skills needed to fill the positions.

AN additional Accenture survey revealed that 60% of girls aged 12 fell STEM subjects are too difficult to learn.

“It is a serious concern that girls believe that STEM subjects are too hard to learn, so the aim of our events is to showcase the applicability of these skills through interactive workshops,” said Emma McGuigan, senior managing director for Accenture Technology in the UK and Ireland.

“The speakers and workshops across the UK and Ireland aim to inspire girls and educate them about the amazing possibilities open to them.”

Olly Benzecry, country managing director for Accenture in the UK and Ireland, said: “By expanding our STEM events to five locations in 2016, we hope to encourage even more girls to commit to studying STEM subjects.

“As an employer providing STEM-based jobs, we are committed to supporting the work the government is already doing to ensure young people are excited about careers in STEM.”

"We're excited to be partnering with Accenture for the second year in a row to run such a large event for girls in STEM”, said Anne-Marie Imafidon, Stemettes.

“This year the strong attendance at so many locations shows the need for these events nationally. I'm excited to be bringing these girls on their own personal Stemette journeys, hopefully ending up in industry."