Women in IT

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Nick Parkin

Fostering an IT culture that supports women is everyone’s job

It’s 2023 and yet, just 26% of those working in the UK tech force are women. In my own experience, the chasm seems to be getting worse. With the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day being “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” I wanted to reflect on some of what I’ve seen – and what we’re doing at Proceed Group to help change the status quo.

Looking back at Bletchley Park, the principal centre of Allied code-breaking during World War II, it was virtually all women who ran the first computers. A lot of programming languages were written by women. It was a British woman, Ada Lovelace, who is largely credited with being the first computer programmer, and we can’t overlook the contributions of Grace Hopper, Katharine Johnson and so many other women who have had a profound impact on science and technology. These women were phenomenal talents, but they aren’t anomalies. As industry leaders, we have an impetus to help foster and encourage the future Grace Hoppers and Ada Lovelaces to pursue STEM careers by building opportunities.

Creating a more supportive culture

Focusing on training and education will be key to levelling the playing field. It should start early, at primary school almost. It is crucial to instil in young girls the belief that they can succeed in these fields. This can be achieved by investing more money in education, particularly in further education. If we’re going to make big strides in inclusivity, we need help from two main sources: the government and universities. We need to focus on training young minds and making resources available to support women interested in careers in STEM.

From a business standpoint, the shift is already happening. Previously, companies didn’t take on many graduates, but now there are huge graduate programs that are bringing through a good mixture of male and female graduates. Whether you’re in the UK, America, or Germany, if you go to lunch, you’ll see this mix.

Unfortunately, there’s still a lack of diversity in the majority of CIO positions, and that’s ridiculous. On average, a woman fills only one in every four GAFAM roles (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft). It’s necessary for business leaders to examine any discrepancy in gender representation, as well as pay, and take action to address it.

Putting our money where our mouth is

At Proceed, we prioritise the individual needs of our employees. Our culture is built on supporting our male and female employees in every stage of their lives, whether that means offering flexibility for childcare, family responsibilities, bereavement, or health needs. We don’t rely on policies to dictate our approach; rather, we tailor our support to the unique circumstances of each employee. While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to become more flexible, we’ve always embraced a flexible approach. Our goal is to foster an inclusive and supportive environment where all employees feel valued and empowered to thrive.

We’re proud of the experience and expertise that our female staff members bring to our organisation. In fact, 40% of our staff are women, well above the industry average of 26%. We place a heavy focus on training and supporting women as they pursue their careers in the IT industry. If our company was all male, then we’d all go mad. You’d never have that check and balance and I think here, we need that check and balance.

Personally, I make sure that everybody has a fair chance here at Proceed, so there is no discrimination between male and female. It’s the best person for the job, and that’s that.

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