Tomorrow’s Women, Tomorrow’s World

It’s not a good sign when even the most brilliant IT minds in the country are unable to get the projector working. Sue Black did a great job, but yesterday’s BCS event was not a success.
The purpose of the evening was to address the perennial issue of the low number of women working in technical jobs and what we can do about it. Although I didn’t expect much, Sue, who was the panel’s chair, opened the discussion with an interesting point. About 50% of IT departments in the 60’s and 1970’s were women. The number of women in IT departments has stabilized at 20% over the past 20 years. All the initiatives Sue and the other members of the panel were involved in have failed.
(Alison Phipps is the author of a book on women’s participation ICT. She comes to the same conclusion. While we are grateful for our efforts, the initiatives have not had a significant impact.
Rebecca George, a partner at Deloitte with 20 years of experience at IBM, stated that this lackluster impact was due to the fact that we had been trying small, independent, and fragmented initiatives. She is the chair of the BCS’s Women’s Panel Strategic Forum. She is currently working with other bodies and networking groups to encourage only two to three major initiatives with men. Last night, she stated that if the IT profession is made accessible to all, it will benefit women.
It is crucial to get women into IT jobs, including IT project managers, as soon as possible. Rob Macredie, Brunel Professor of Interactive Systems, stated that “the number women studying Computer Science is woeful.” He believes the numbers will drop the higher the university is ranked. This gender imbalance is also evident in the staff.
Education proved to be a sensitive subject. Someone in the audience pointed out that there wasn’t a Computer Science course back then, which is why there was more diversity. Employers were forced to train Medieval History graduates. Rob stated that employers expect graduates who can do jobs from universities these days. Specialization is essential in today’s job market. You should choose a PMP(r), PRINCE2(r), Practitioner if you are looking to hire a project manager who has mastered their trade. Not an English graduate who requires training. Rob stated that if you’re going to be a specialist in education, it is a good idea to ensure that there is a good balance of genders on the course.
Rebecca said, “The reason I’m still there is because we will make an impact if we keep trying.” I believe she’s right. The most diverse teams are the best, whether they’re working on IT projects or not.
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