The position of women in technology is on the cusp of change driven, by growing opportunities in the industry, according to a panel of women in technology and politics.
Karen Price, chief executive of The Tech Partnership, said at the 2014 Parliament & Internet Conference attended by V3 that "the tide is turning" on the proportionally small number of women working in technology.
"I think we have a fabulous opportunity. I think we're sitting here at a moment when we have the choice to turn the ship around. We mustn't take our foot off the gas. There are opportunities for everyone now," she said.
Chi Onwurah, MP and shadow minister at the Cabinet Office, agreed with Price's statement, adding that the position of women in the technology industry is being transformed.
"We are witnessing a real cultural change in many areas of the industry and society," she said.
The panel discussed the growing opportunities in the technology industry for women with digital skills.
These opportunities include job roles that did not exist a few years ago, such as digital marketing managers, social media managers and other simlar roles that mean gender and cultural stereotypes have not been established for these jobs.
The panel also agreed that young people need to be taught the digital skills they will need for employment in the digital sector to ensure that women play an equal part in its growth.
A significant element of this will be encouraging young females to believe that a career in technology is as valid for them as it is for men.
Kathryn Parsons, chief executive of Decode, said that, while the technology industry may present an unwelcoming environment for women, technology itself is enabling and empowering a younger generation of women to gain access to digital skills through a diverse range of education options.
"We've come to refer to [technology] as the problem, but it is also the solution. Education is undergoing a revolution driven by technology. It's going to be one of the most incredibly empowering things. There have never been more ways to learn," she said.
The panel also said that women in technology, such as themselves, need to lead the way for younger people, acting as role models and examples of women who have made the most out of the opportunities the technology industry presents.
Despite this positive sentiment, the controversial topic of 'GamerGate' was presented to the panel. This refers to a movement that campaigns for more clarity in games journalism, which has been accused of misogynistic attacks using social media.
Onwurah believes the controversial elements of the movement are the last throws of inequality in a sector neighbouring the technology industry. "I do hope that is the last dying flailings of that particular part of the internet, because it can only exist when the gender balance is so out of kilter," she said.
While the panel presents a positive outlook, there are still challenges that remain if equality is to be fully achieved in the technology industry.
Part of this would mean ensuring that leaders of major technology companies, such as Microsoft's Satya Nadella, show a positive attitude to women in the industry.
Some companies are leading the way in this area. Pinterest recently trumped Twitter and Google when it comes to hiring women.
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