Over the past 18 months, V3 has attended numerous talks about the need to encourage more women to enter the male-dominated technology industry.
Yet despite this veneer of progress and raised awareness for the need for gender parity and diversity in the IT world, the industry still struggles to attract and retain female employees.
While we have spoken to several women who hold senior positions in technology companies, they were predominantly on the business side of the technology industry rather than the techie side.
To get an idea of why there is a distinct lack of female technologists in the industry, V3 spoke to three women at the coal face of coding and programming: Kate Mallichan, a research engineer from the Labs division of Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Rachael Berry, a former product manager at Citrix now at Nvidia; and Samantha Ritter, a software engineer at MongoDB.
Increasingly major technology companies are pushing diversity agendas, but there is a recurring theme in that the pipeline of female computing talent coming up through schools and universities is just not enough to cope with the demand.
Berry (pictured) noted one problem is that smart female graduates with computer science degrees and IT skills have a lot of employment options in the technology industry where skills are in high demand but the supply of talent is lacking.
“There are a lot more choices if you’re female these days,” she said. However, she added that there is still a lack of awareness among students of the rich and varied jobs available in the tech sector, and that until this is addressed the supply of female talent will never come close to reflecting the scale of opportunity. Berry said simply having technology companies go to schools every now and then to talk about IT careers is simply not enough to rectify the situation.
“Tech companies generally do tend to be very proactive. [But] we’re pretty much stuck by the academic pipeline to how many people we can recruit,” she said.
“We’re probably nibbling at the edge; there might be someone thinking about doing biology that may [end up] thinking about doing computer science, but we’re not going to double the numbers.”
Instead Berry wants technology careers to be promoted by schools at the grassroots level, rather than be left for external parties to showcase during school visits.
She also believes internships with technology companies need to be more widely available, as getting a first taste for a career in IT during an internship at IBM fuelled her interest starting a career in technology.
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