Women in STEM

Bridging the gender gap: Tackling the shortage of women in STEM

women-in-STEM-featured

Article provided by Jennifer Deutsch, CMO, Park Place Technologies

As it stands, just 24 per cent of roles within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers are held by women. According to a report by Engineering UK, the UK has the lowest number of female engineers of any country in Europe.

This lack of representation of women in STEM is a longstanding issue. The number of women in technology make up just 17 per cent of all those in the UK tech industry and according to the National Centre for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women hold only 25 per cent of computing roles within UK companies.

What can businesses do to support women in STEM?

Enabling women to flourish in the UK workforce is worth a lot financially. According to research undertaken by the McKinsey Global Institute, gender parity in the workplace could add up to $28 trillion (26 per cent) to the annual GDP BY 2025.

There has been a huge increase in initiatives to tackle the gap and positively affect the number of women choosing a career in STEM, especially within the last five years. Whilst these initiatives are undeniably having a positive effect, especially in awareness, they haven’t yet had the required impact to readdress the diversity balance.

Education is key

Encouraging girls into STEM at an early age, at home and at school, is key to addressing the gender stereotypes that still exist. Currently, only seven per cent of students in the UK taking computer science at A-Level are female, and just half of all those studying IT and Technology subjects at school will go into a job of the same field, according to Women in Technology.

Positive female role models are vital, so companies and organisations should ask their successful female employees to visit local schools to meet with students and share their experiences. By sharing their personal experiences and successes, these female employees can inspire and encourage the students to follow their lead

Businesses can also offer work experience placements or internship programmes, specifically targeted at young girls who are interested in STEM, but who are perhaps unsure about exactly what a career in this field entails.  Park Place Technologies recently sponsored an initiative in Ireland aimed at female college students studying STEM related subjects, who wanted to gain experience in the industry. The two selected candidates have been given the opportunity to fly to our US headquarters for a 10-day internship programme, where they will receive hands-on industry experience as well as the opportunity to network with the senior executive team and go through a leadership training program  Internship programmes are invaluable both for an organisation and students.  For the students it gives them first-hand experience of the type of work involved with that industry, and for the organisation, it can be used as a recruitment process to identify future talent who could one day join the business once they have completed their studies.

Prior to this a Park Place STEM committee was established in Q4 2018, consisting of a diverse group of women at Park Place, many of whom had no formal training in STEM.

More women on the Board

Organisations need to honestly ask themselves how many women hold leadership positions within the company or will have the opportunity to do so in the future? If the answer to this is very few, then you risk losing the already limited number of talented women in your organisation to a more inclusive competitor.  Here at Park Place, there are several high-ranking women who contribute to the leadership of the company.

Benefits to suit women

Employers also need to showcase that they operate a female-friendly environment, and provide reassurance that they adhere to a strong equal opportunities policy that clearly lays out how they are supporting work-life balance and equal pay

  • Flexible hours - Maintaining a work-life balance can be tricky. Women often juggle family responsibilities whilst looking to progress within their career. Many women in male-dominated industries find themselves taking a voluntary pay cut, to have time to spend at home. A working environment that is flexible to the needs of working parents will appeal to more women and encourage them to stay and progress in their career rather than to choose between work or family.
  • Higher salaries - In the same way women feel they must reduce their hours to spend time at home, they also take considerable pay cuts in to maintain a balanced life. Women in Technology found that an alarming 25 per cent of women in STEM want to negotiate a higher salary for their role, but feel they are stereotyped as willing to settle for less money than a man in their same position. Ensuring women can work flexible hours without being forced to take a pay cut is the key to businesses gaining and retaining a key part of the workforce.
  • Opportunities for promotion - Empowering women by offering promotion when it is warranted helps businesses to stand out as drivers toward STEM equality. Many women in the industry feel as though they need to change employers to progress in their careers, whilst research found that 40 per cent of women in the industry have experienced being rejected for promotions that have been given to a less-qualified male.

There is undoubtedly an appetite and acute awareness within the industry about the need to encourage more women into STEM.  The media attention and various initiatives to support STEM diversity are helping to improve the situation, but this won’t happen without widespread industry engagement.  There is clearly more work to do in changing outdated perceptions and unconscious bias and this is where employers can make a real difference -- by showcasing the opportunities available to women in STEM and ensuring access to the same opportunities for all. Employers have an obligation to immerse themselves in these initiatives, and where appropriate drive them to ensure that we are creating a STEM industry that is innovative, creative, progressive and diverse for future generations.

Jennifer DeutschAbout the author

As Chief Marketing Officer, Jennifer leads Park Place’s marketing and communication teams with a focus on growing the Park Place Technologies brand as the global leader in data center third-party maintenance and support.

Jennifer brings over three decades of marketing and brand development experience. She has spent time on both the client and agency side. Prior to Park Place Jennifer was the Founder, COO of Antidote 360 and EVP, General Manager at Doner Advertising. Her client side experience includes past positions at Marriott International where she served as SVP, Global Brand Management where she repositioned and optimized the Marriott brand portfolio. Jennifer began her career at Nestle USA as a Management Trainee and held several positions during her tenure at Nestle including Brand Manager, Lean Cuisine and Director of New Ventures for the Nestle Ice Cream Division.

In her spare time, Jennifer is an avid cyclist and gardener. She is an active community member and on several boards including The Cleveland Film Commission, The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and The Cognitive Health Institute. Most recently Jennifer co-founded and serves as Chairman of the Board of FutureVision, a not for profit organization founded in memory of her father, promoting medical innovation and the visual arts.

Jennifer is a graduate of Columbia University in New York City and the proud mother of two sons.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


Cloud computing featured

Changing working policies and challenging the status quo

Cloud computing, cybersecurityBy Rinki Sethi, CISO, Rubrik

My exposure to cybersecurity began when I was just fourteen years old: I learnt how to uninstall software on my computer that was recording all my chats and blocked my prying parents from being able to reinstall it.

This brought with it a strong sense of achievement and empowerment, as well as feeling truly thrilling. It’s fair to say that sparked my interest in the field of security, leading me to join the security departments of some major brands and international companies, including eBay, Walmart and IBM.

I am now CISO of Rubrik- an international cloud data management company. My dream career became a reality through the vessel of passion. Passion is super contagious. It’s almost impossible not to get on board with someone who is passionate and you’ll absolutely excel by focusing on what you’re passionate about.

I’ve had some great experiences in my career and loved every stage of it. I’ve worked extremely hard to get to this position, but it hasn’t always come without its challenges. Being a female in tech in particular hasn’t always been easy, and for me becoming resilient has been paramount. When I started off in tech, for many years I can honestly say that I didn’t fully understand the impact that a woman could make in the field, which was down to the lack of visible female role models around me. There were very few females in tech leadership positions at the time, which made me feel as if I couldn’t ever go beyond being an engineer. As I began to climb the ranks, it felt as if I was navigating the unknown. How was a woman in a leadership position expected to act? Was I going to be under the microscope? It all seemed very unfamiliar.

With limited guidance and being one of only a few women in the department, I always felt that I would be judged more critically than my male counterparts. I feared the consequences of making the smallest of errors. As you can imagine, the pressure that you put yourself under when you feel as if you shouldn’t make any mistakes takes its toll on you emotionally.

The feeling that we shouldn’t take as many risks is actually a feeling shared by many professional women, with studies such as that conducted by Harvard Business Review pointing to the fact that women seem to be more risk-averse than men. However, this can actually be very damaging both personally and professionally. When I did take risks and made errors, I began to realise that through every mistake, I had learnt a valuable lesson. In fact, with hindsight, the times where I have learnt the most in my career have been when I have made a mistake. I now feel more confident in taking calculated risks and this is definitely something I would encourage other women to do.

As I grew in confidence and experience, I realised I had a responsibility to pave the way for younger women in the industry. When I became a mother for the first time, I was working as a security engineer and was surprised by the lack of support and flexibility given to women with young children. Being a first-time mother is a huge learning-curve and challenge in itself and not having flexibility when it came to child-care was extremely difficult. After many meetings with HR, I worked to change their policies on flexible working, which meant that parents could work from home if they needed to, and also women had better maternity leave.

Achieving this result and making a difference both for myself and other women in the same position encouraged me to take on a range of other initiatives to help other women and girls, such as participating in mentoring communities and speaking on the importance of girls entering STEM subjects. One of these initiatives included leading a project to develop the first set of national cybersecurity badges and curriculum for the Girl Scouts, as a way of trying to inspire the next generation of women in STEM.

What I can say now is that it’s extremely empowering to get involved in initiatives such as these and is something I would encourage all women in the industry to do. There is now much more support and mentorship available compared to when I was starting out in the industry, but it’s a matter of actually finding and making use of this support so that we can really benefit.

We need to think about how we ourselves can help to combat the issues faced as women in a male-dominated industry. We mustn’t shy away from voicing our issues and any initiatives which can help either ourselves, or other women around us, must be taken. We also need to build up our resilience and understand that by having a thick-skin and the determination to succeed, we can make our way to leadership positions. We can empower ourselves by developing our own self-belief, seeking support and challenging the status quo.

Rinki Sethi About the author

Rinki Sethi,VP & CISO (Chief information security officer)

Rinki Sethi is an information security executive known for change, technical and thought leadership across security and enablement disciplines. She is a veteran in the cyber security domain and throughout her career has built and matured technical security teams across security operations, product security, application security, security architecture, and security strategy within the Fortune 500 and other large enterprise including IBM, Palo Alto Networks, Intuit, eBay, Walmart.com, and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Rinki holds several recognized security certifications and has a B.S. in Computer Science Engineering from UC Davis and a M.S. in Information Security from Capella University.

Rinki is a well-known thought leader in the security industry. She has served on the development team for the ISACA book, “Creating a Culture of Security” by Stephen Ross and was the recipient of the “One to Watch” Award with CSO Magazine & Executive Women’s Forum in 2014 and more recently the Senior Information Security Practitioner Award with ISC2 in 2018. Rinki regularly speaks at security conferences and on topics related to women in technology. Rinki led an initiative to develop the first set of national cybersecurity badges and curriculum for the Girl Scouts of USA. Rinki serves as a mentor for many students and professionals.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


Deborah O'Neill featured

Inspirational Woman: Deborah O’Neill | Partner and Head of Digital, Europe, Oliver Wyman

 

deborah-oneil-featuredIn her time at global management consultancy Oliver Wyman, Deborah has supported some of the world’s biggest financial institutions and developed a passion around user centricity for business reporting. She is an alumnus of Imperial College, London, and recently co-authored an article for the Harvard Business Review entitled “Using Data to Strengthen Your Connections to Customers.” Deborah is actively engaged in mentoring the next generation of tech experts and is using her role as a senior team member in Oliver Wyman Digital to help support the female talent pipeline. You can follow her on Twitter: @DeborahLabsOW

You’re very open that you specialised in technology relatively recently. What advice do you give to other people and women in particular – considering a career change into digital and technology sectors?

The first thing is to just believe in yourself and that you can do it. Seriously. It’s that simple. It’s a common anecdote that from a list of ten criteria on a job description, men consider meeting five of them as a reason to apply, whereas similarly skilled women view “just” five out of ten as not being enough to support their application.

In my case, I’d found myself working more and more on data, systems, and tech issues, which I really enjoyed. I decided that would be where I would focus my career, incorporating my other strengths of managing projects and clients and being a fast learner and a team player. The business – Oliver Wyman – recognized my potential and supported my move to our technology arm – Oliver Wyman Digital – because of those skills. So, my advice is to go for the jobs you want and, when you get them (which you will), consider moving away from lists of requirements in the job descriptions you write.

My second recommendation is to ask for help and feedback and proactively seek out a mentor. Many people are great at giving constructive advice on how you can develop but wouldn't think to share their experience unless invited to. If your company doesn’t run a mentoring program, you can encourage them to join the 30% Club who provide mentoring for women in business.

Don’t forget that mentors come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t have to be in the same industry as you, or be female, or even be more senior than you. Sometimes the best advice I received was from peers or junior members of my team who have a different perspective on how I could be more effective in my role. Giving colleagues permission to share their constructive feedback and suggestions builds trust within a team and benefits the business overall.

According to Madeleine Albright, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” What should senior women be doing more of?

Possibly the best advice I was ever given was “lead from the centre, not the top.” Senior women shouldn’t be afraid of acknowledging the gaps in their experience or skill sets and using this insight to surround themselves with people who fill these gaps and elevate the whole team. This approach is far more effective than leading from the top as a means of control. I’ve seen both styles in practice – and I know which one I’m constantly striving for.

Where possible, I think senior women should offer themselves as mentors for other women and advocate for them. It’s also worth remembering that just because they made it to a leadership position, it may not be as easy for others – for a wide range of circumstances – and senior women could be using their privilege of seniority to champion a fairer playing field.

In recruitment situations, I would ask all interviewers to understand the motivations of each candidate. For example, are they looking for a particular development opportunity, and do you believe the role will provide the appropriate challenge? People who are appropriately challenged and motivated will flourish, which is what you need if you want to create a high-performing team.

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

I’m incredibly lucky with the company I work for and the way they supported me moving from financial services consulting into Oliver Wyman Digital. They’ve taken a conscious decision to enable and encourage employees to work in ways that work best for them. Whether this is reducing hours to start a family or a business, they’ve recognized that the best talent may not want to work a five-day week with standard office hours and they’ve adapted accordingly. This has given me a lot of reassurance about my future and that I don’t have to trade off career success against other personal ambitions.

This means that in ten years’ time, I can see myself doing anything I want to do – whatever that may be.

If you had to tweet your top three career tips, what would they be?

In your #career, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback, & for help if needed. It's a strength not a weakness.

Remember: other people DO want you to succeed. #mentoring #career

Go for it! Bring your uniqueness to the challenges you face. #diversity


Career in STEM

A career in STEM: It may surprise you

Career in STEMIf the past few years are anything to go by, I’ve been very successful in what is traditionally a male-dominated industry.

Along with gaining my chartership as an engineer, I was shortlisted for two awards for my professional review submission. I also had the privilege to lead the structural design on the quickest hospital project ever completed for the NHS, which was the largest project to date for engineering consultancy Perega.

I’ve been a structural engineer for 15 years and currently hold an Associate role. While I love my work and knowing that it makes a difference in people’s lives, I wouldn’t describe my path into engineering as an obvious or smooth one.

Expect the unexpected

As a high school student in Poland, I hadn’t even considered going into engineering. My plan was to study architecture. I did the required preparation and drawing courses, but on the date of the university entrance exam, I was in hospital. While I was offered another date, it was for a civil and structural engineering course. University is free in Poland and it was something to do in the year before I could take the exam I really wanted, so I signed up. Six months in, I realised how interesting engineering is. I never looked back.

I was fortunate to go to a high school with fantastic teachers who encouraged us and opened our eyes to many different careers, regardless of our gender. This was exceptional for the time, which I came to realise upon starting university. Around 40% of the whole year were women, but the vast majority of lecturers were men with a very traditional perspective. As a result, we had a harder time and less support than our male peers, and at times were told that we wouldn’t finish the course so there wasn’t much point in helping us. In response, we developed a thicker skin.

A lot of work has been done in recent years to increase diversity in construction. When I finished my degree, that wasn’t yet the case. My first job out of university was on site. Out of 120 people, I was the only woman. While I had to deal with workers who weren’t used to seeing women on site along with the occasional joke, I think it helped me build more resilience at a crucial time in my career.

Top tips

There are a number of factors that helped motivate me throughout my career. The first, and one of the most important, of these was having a mentor. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career, having someone who will support you and who you can learn from is crucial. When I started my first job after university, my site manager helped me get through the difficult days and build up my confidence, offering advice on how to gain my colleagues’ trust. Even more recently, having a mentor was important as I worked towards gaining chartered status. As I balanced my chartership work with my personal life and responsibilities as an associate, there were times I thought I couldn’t do it. Having someone in my corner to encourage, push and help me along the way made a world of difference.

There is so much to be learned not only from mentors, but from your colleagues as well. Once I’d settled in at my first job, I started to talk with the other people on site, whether it was a bricklayer, a foreman or a painter. Not only did I gain insight into their specialisms, once they saw my enthusiasm and willingness to learn, they started to appreciate me as well. By working on site and talking to everyone there, I had an edge once I moved into a design office because I could appreciate the importance of buildability in the design process.

I’ve met quite a few engineers who graduated without ever going to a site. They can’t see in their heads what they’re designing. So, get out of the office. Whether you’re an engineer, an architect or anyone else behind the design of a project, go see the sites where it gets built.

Whatever career you choose or path you pursue, the final goal can seem impossible and the challenges along the way insurmountable. For me, it helped to prioritise and plan. When I was becoming chartered, I drew up a plan, identifying what needs doing, breaking tasks down into manageable chunks and setting small deadlines for myself. When you’re able to cross items off a list, you can see progress, giving you the encouragement to keep going.

Above all else, don’t be scared. If a career in STEM is what really interests you, push for it. You may not know right away exactly what you want to do, and that’s alright. If you enjoy science or maths, find something you can do with it – you may end up surprising yourself.

Ewa AmbrosiusAbout the author

Ewa Ambrosius is an associate in the London office of Perega (formerly Thomasons Ltd). She holds a masters in civil and structural engineering, designing structures for education, housing and healthcare, including the Chase Farm Hospital.


Women in Technology International (WITI)

Women in Technology International (WITI)


Exploring the Gender Imbalance | Spring Technology

Women in Technology

Whilst the country’s 1.2 million IT & Telecoms (IT&T) professionals make up just 4.2% of the UK’s total workforce, they are both the power behind the sizeable information economy and the backbone to every other sector. Could industry be doing more to increase its power? Is the workforce a fair representation of a modern day society?

With news emerging from Silicon Valley that women typically comprise less than 30% of its workforce, Spring Technology was keen to look at female participation in the UK IT & Telecoms occupations. Startlingly, our research found that, in 2014, women accounted for just 16.4% of the country’s IT & Telecoms professionals.*

To understand why so few women are entering and staying in the profession, our research looked into:
  • Education: What’s being done to improve technical and digital skills and increase interest levels in working in the profession
  • Early careers within IT & Telecoms, progression opportunities, and the availability of opportunities at a senior level

From this research - which comprised qualitative interviews, a survey across our comprehensive network, and extensive data analysis - we unearthed issues that not only impact women, but the workforce as a whole.

I hope that the findings from our research will prove useful in helping to shape the future of IT & Telecoms recruitment, and to improve the prospects of the profession at large.

Download full report here


Female Engineer

Beating the bias: unpacking the new female industrialists

female engineer in ship yard, engineering
Image provided by Shutterstock

To celebrate women in business, leading packaging supplier Rajapack have looked at gender diversity in the workplace.

Speaking to female industry experts from sectors that have been traditionally male-dominated, such as construction, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, packaging and engineering, it’s clear that parity benefits everyone, on both an individual and corporate level.

Gender diverse companies perform 15 per cent better, so Rajapack looked at how female representation in traditionally male-dominated sectors is progressing.

Wanting to get first-hand insight into what it’s like to work in these fields, they spoke to a range of women who are leaders in their industry:


Construction & Manufacturing

Perhaps traditionally seen as the industries most unsuited to women, construction and manufacturing conjure up images of noisy building sites and factories, with lots of heavy lifting and heavy machinery. There are stories of the only women on a construction site being given a pink hard hat to wear. 51 per cent of women working in the construction industry said they were treated worse because of their gender. But the construction industry is changing for the better, according to the women who work in it.

Emma Porter – Head of Operations, Story Contracting

As Emma’s father owned his own building company, she was exposed to the industry from a young age. Despite this, and having worked in the industry for over ten years at the likes of Arup and Story, she reveals that she has had to prove her competency with every new team, stating that you will be talked over, patronised, and ignored sometimes: “I have felt like I’ve had to prove myself more and occasionally need to push a little harder to be heard”. However, she often brings a different perspective to the team, which is a huge advantage: “It’s easier to stand out if you’re different from the norm; clients, prospective employers and other stakeholders are likely to remember you.”


Packaging, Logistics & Supply chain

Packaging, Logistics and Supply Chain are all industries that have been traditionally male-dominated. However, there are female trailblazers. Rajapack, a French privately-owned company operating throughout Europe, was founded in 1954 by two women, Rachel Marcovici and Janine Rocher. Today, the company is run by Rachel’s daughter, Danièle. There is also Women in Packaging, a group dedicated to recognising and supporting female employees within the packaging industry.

Clair Ball – Head of Customer Services, Rajapack

With over a decade’s worth of experience in packaging, Clair believes that the sector has been a male dominated field due to the industrial nature of the business. However, since starting at Rajapack 14 years ago, she has seen more positions filled by women. “I have noticed a change in the industry towards being more customer focused, whilst also offering flexible hours and equal pay to benefit working parents”


Engineering

Engineering covers a vast spectrum of occupations, yet the amount of young women studying in this field has remained virtually unchanged since 2012. 25 years ago only about 20 per cent of A-level physics students were female, and this number has not changed today.

Helen Wollaston – CEO, WISE

WISE is a campaign aimed at getting more women into the science, technology, and engineering workforce in the UK. Providing expert advice, WISE advises educational institutions and employers on how they can attract, retain and improve opportunities for girls and women in these subjects and industries. “Engineering has a male image, more so in the UK than other parts of the world. It has become something of a vicious circle – girls don’t see any female role models working in these industries, so they assume it is not for them.” Helen believes that we must challenge out-dated perceptions about the industry and so called “women’s jobs” and “men’s jobs”.

To view what other women have to say in order to obtain a more equal professional sectors head here.


Women in Technology: Leaders of Tomorrow | Accenture

It seems like today women are better positioned than ever before to rise to leadership roles in technology.

Not only do companies have many kinds of support structures in place, such as women’s networks and leadership development courses, but there is an increasing number of women at the top who can serve as role models or inspiration. Externally, groups like the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, Girls Who Code, and other organizations aim to support women in the industry and increase the percentage of women entering the tech space as well.

Nevertheless, women are still a distinct minority in the technology workforce –and an even smaller proportion of corporate leadership. In the 1980s, women represented a peak of between 35 and 40 percent of the computing and information technology (IT) workforce in the U.S. By 2011, that percentage dropped to about 25 percent, according to NCWIT. This coincided with a decrease in the percentage of women majoring in computer science degrees in college.

Our research in this area shows that while women in tech are working hard, they don’t necessarily believe they know how to get to the top. At The Glass Hammer’s November 2012 Women in Tech career event, we repeatedly heard that young women were confused about the practical steps they need to take to make it to leadership.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT


FMD-Logo

Getting back to business | Returning to work after a career break

 

Are you looking to return to work after a career break of a year or more? Do you have five plus years business experience in areas such as project management, project support or business analysis? Join FDM as a Business Consultant through the FDM Getting Back to Business Career Programme.
FDM-Logo

We will provide you with seven weeks of training to refresh and upskill your knowledge. Upon completion you will become a full time Consultant working onsite with one or more of our 180+ prestigious clients across various sectors such as finance, banking, media and the public sector.

As an FDM Consultant, you will work with us for a minimum of two years. After that time, you could either transition to the client permanently or stay with FDM as a senior Consultant.

You will receive:
  • Fully-funded professional business and technical training in our state of the art London training centre (includes PRINCE2 certification)
  • Flexible training hours of 9:30am – 4:30pm, Monday – Friday during the seven week training period, to help accommodate personal commitments
  • Fast-track career progression to get you back into business·
  • Job security for a minimum of two years (with options open to you after this time)
  • Competitive starting salary
  • Continuous support and development throughout your career journey
Essential Criteria
  • Looking to return to work after a break in your career
  • Previous experience in either Business Analysis, Project Support or Project Management
  • A strong aptitude and interest in business
  • Be able to commit to a two year contract with FDM once the seven week training period is complete
  • Be able to work full time

Please click here to send us your CV for immediate consideration.

If you have any questions about the programme, please contact Julie at [email protected]

We are looking for professional and dedicated people to join us now. The next course will begin early 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

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BCS Women and WeAreTechWomen discuss emerging technologies

BCS Women, together with WeAreTheCity, to discuss emerging technologies and automation with women from across the technology sector.

After arriving to reception drinks and initial networking, guests were introduced to the discussion by Sarah Burnett, Deputy Chair of BCS Women and Vice President at Everest Group.

Opening the night, Burnett said, “The sector is struggling to hire new talent and with new recruits, they are about more than bits and bytes.”

“From personal experience, there is a lot of very capable girls at university that had no idea what technology could offer.”

“The face of tech is not being talked about enough and we still refer to it in very techy ways.”

Introducing Automation

Continuing, Burnett said, “Emerging technologies are creating new jobs, but some of these still sound very technical. They are becoming more humanised though and user interface has become better and better. We all use iPhones, Galaxys and the like.”

“Automation is creating more interaction between the two sectors – tech and business. This might appeal to more women who are looking for more than bits and bytes.”

Joined by keynote speakers from robot automation companies, BluePrism and Thoughtonomy, the panel spoke of the benefits of automation.

Alex and Mandy, BCS Women event

Alex Bentley and Mandy Downham, from BluePrism told the audience about how companies were introducing robots to their teams more and more. Using the example of Xchanging’s embracement of automation, they argued the benefits of freeing up employee’s time.

Bentley said, “The pace of the business world moves so fast that the technology world can’t keep up with traditional methods.”

“Automation will take away and almost free up, those mundane issues so that employees can focus on other things.”

“We don’t want to focus on it from an angle of getting rid of people. That scares people and they think robots will take over the world.”

Downham continued, “Just consider you have 24 hours in a day and you do get three times as much productivity from robots. You don’t have to deal with awkward leaving do’s, emotional things or out of offices.”

Terry Walby, BCS Women event

Encouraging more women into tech

Terry Walby, Chief Executive of Thoughtonomy, said, “It is refreshing to be in an industry event, where I am in the minority, because it is genuinely very rare.”

Speaking about encouraging more women into the industry, Walby said “A lot of new roles are being created, but what is less great is the distribution of our staff. We have a reasonable good diversity but not a very good gender diversity.”

Concluding the evening with light refreshments and a panel discussion, Walby asked, “How do we attract more women into these roles?”