Girls need to be targeted much earlier in their lives - before their GCSEs - to make a real difference to the low representation of women in IT jobs, ReThink Recruitment’s managing director Michael Bennett said recently.
Efforts by companies like Capita and online groceries retailer Ocado show that this is not earth-shattering news to the industry.
Ocado has developed coding teaching resources for primary school teachers who are starting to deliver the new computing curriculum, while Capita has started to provide schools with virtual Computer Programming Environment software to help all young boys and girls to learn programming in a safe and controlled environment.
But these practical endeavours need to be combined with promoting female role models in technology, says Eleni Antoniadou, co-founder and chief of science of Transports without Donors. Antoniadou was crowned ‘woman of the year’ at the 2013 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards, a competition that aims to highlight role models and ambassadors for women in technology.
“The importance of having visible women in leadership shouldn’t be underestimated, since the younger generations are drawing from women within their immediate circles, not just from history books,” she tells ComputerworldUK.
So in a bid to raise the profile of successful women in technology, ComputerworldUK has spoken to some of this year’s winners of the FDM everywoman in Technology Awards to find out what about the industry inspired - and nearly put them off - a career in technology, and what they believe businesses can do to grow the proportion of female staff.
Anne-Marie Imafidon, enterprise collaboration strategist at Deutsche Bank and head Stemette at Stemettes, from London
Winner of rising star of the year category at the 2014 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards
At what age did you decide you’d like to have a career in technology?
I've always loved technology (since I was four) but only realised it was a career when I was 13.
Who inspired you to have a career in technology?
Tim Berners-Lee and his World Wide Web inspired me when I was younger. But aged 13, it was a careers questionnaire at school that put me on the track.
Who or what encouraged you into a career in technology?
It wasn't one person in particular, but experiences like internships which helped me realise it was the place for me.
How did they/it encourage you?
I enjoyed working on real tech projects and solving problems.
What appealed to you about the industry?
Definitely the ability to be creative and solve problems.
What does the industry need to do to encourage more girls into technology?
The industry needs to take talent attraction seriously. By devoting energy, heart and budget to opening up the world to girls and their influencers. Showing how creative, altruistic, fulfilling and rewarding it can be should be the priority. That’s our message at the Stemettes (an organisation the promotes girls in technology).
What one thing about the industry would you change to encourage more girls into technology?
Promotion processes. I think the industry needs to be a lot more aware of unconscious bias and the talent it is making us miss out on.
How do programmes such as the FDM everywoman in Technology awards help to create role models and raise awareness of the opportunities available?
They give women in tech a platform to be seen and recognised, then give them an opportunity to interact with the next generation directly.