Fewer than ten per cent of senior IT leaders in the UK are women, according to a recent report from KPMG, whilst findings from other sources puts that figure even lower.
Computing has launched its Women in IT Excellence Awards, designed to champion today's successes, and inspire the next generation of female senior IT leaders.
But what else must organisations do to encourage more women to embark on a career in IT, and receive equal promotion prospects?
Computing put this question to the industry. Here is their response.
CTG: What should organisations be doing to encourage greater diversity in senior IT positions?
Laurie Anstis - Senior - Associate Solicitor, Employment Boyes Turner: To encourage greater diversity businesses need to recognise that there is a problem and want to solve it. They will only do that if they recognise the benefits of diversity and the risks posed to them. The benefits include different ways of thinking and approaching problems with people with different backgrounds and experiences, and this helps to retain top talent. Greater diversity means more opportunity to progress.
In order to do this, businesses need to make sure that hidden biases are uncovered. Firms must not accept recruitment simply on the basis of fitting in, they must ensure that maintaining diversity is a core belief, and expand the talent pool that is recruited from. Companies can write down goals and challenge themselves to achieve them.
Therese Stowell, principal product manager, Pivotal: Culture is key in retaining women in these tech roles. Coding culture is changing, and the industry must change too. Coding is now a team game - we work hand in hand in multi-discipline teams to share knowledge, skills and expertise. I was drawn to Pivotal's culture of empathy and collaboration; the healthy, ‘no blame' culture is remarkable in the tech industry and makes for a highly inclusive working environment. Of course, culture doesn't just happen. It needs direction from top, as well as encouragement and nurture to be maintained.
To get more women into senior management, and to retain women in tech, we need more of a sponsorship model where a senior leader helps to plan and promote the careers of women. It's well established that women self-promote less than men so to get more women in leadership we all need to work together. Research has also found that women leave technology roles because of a lack of opportunity for advancement, and recommends that women interested in leadership roles have sponsors - people who are actively looking for advancement opportunities on behalf of the woman.
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