According to the Diversity and Inclusion in UK Tech Report by government-funded growth network Tech Nation, around 50% of workers in the labour market are women, whereas in the tech industry, women represent only 26% of the workforce.
Increasing female representation within the tech industry is essential, as women bring diverse skill sets, viewpoints and experiences to the workforce. In return, women should be encouraged to work in a male dominated industry by receiving access, opportunity and the necessary training to acquire and retain rewarding, well-paying careers equal to their male counterparts.
There are numerous reports and varying data sets on the topic which is not surprising as many tech leaders are now mindful of longstanding problems such as the gender pay gap and the lack of women in the tech talent pipeline. It is clear that more needs to be done to support women in tech industries, whether this be through cultural change or family friendly working policies.
On the lead up to International Women’s Day (IWD) we reached out to Jayne Hartley - Technology Industry Leader and Love Tech Committee Member, to find out more about what attracted her to a career in technology and her views on growing female representation within the tech industry.
Where do you work and what position do you hold?
In 2012 I joined PDMS, a software development company on the island as a Business Analyst. In 2018 I was appointed to the Board of Directors and held the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO). In this role I was responsible for the delivery of all software development projects and customer support, along with the teams of developers, analysts, testers, UX designers and project managers. In March 2023 I will be starting a new role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Elite Group IT. Elite Group IT are a Telecommunication and IT service provider specialising in connectivity, networking, voice, cloud, managed IT and security solutions.
How long have you been involved with technology and what first interested you in technology?
I have worked in technology since my first job as an information analyst in Barnet Health Authority back in 1999. During that time I completed a Masters degree in Business Systems Analysis and Design. This course introduced me to the world of systems development and the role of a Business Analyst. I always enjoyed engaging with the users and understanding their wants and needs. Translating the information into logical models and requirements to enable software developers to create solutions to meet these needs. I was always curious about why things were the way they were. I enjoyed digging into the detail of processes and understanding how improvements could be made. Although I have worked in technology my whole career I would not describe myself as a ‘techy’. For me the interest lies in solving complex problems, understanding user’s motivations and improving business outcomes and ultimately people’s lives with the technology solutions we provide.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the contribution women make to our society, our economy and our culture. As a woman working in technology, which is predominantly a male dominated industry I have often been the only female in the room. At the start of my career I would often be the one who was asked to make the tea or take the notes! At PDMS however, over 50% of the Executive Leadership Team are female. I am proud to be in a position where I can be a role model to young girls who may be considering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related education choices and women who are forging their career in the tech sector. Seeing more women in technical and leadership roles will help narrow the gender gap. This is why initiatives such as Love Tech, that aims to inspire young girls to explore opportunities in STEM through events, workshops and mentorship in the Isle of Man, are so important and why I choose to get involved with this charity. IWD is a day that we celebrate this and promote role models which will further encourage more females into technology and leadership positions.
Why is balanced representation of men and women important in the tech industry?
It is essential that women get involved in technology. There is a digital skills shortage and simply not enough people with the necessary skills to drive technological innovation at the pace that is required. Women make up ~50% of the global population which means there is an abundance of untapped talent out there. It is also necessary that women help shape technology for other women. If the teams building technology are not diverse, they will not create inclusive and balanced solutions.
How can we encourage more women to pursue careers in technology?
Raising awareness of the opportunities in technology is vital to help break down the gender bias. Gender stereotypes start at a very young age where children as young as 6 years old are aware of activities for girls and activities for boys. Girls are considered ‘caring’ while boys are considered ‘tough’. Ask a child to draw a Nurse, they will likely draw a female. Ask a child to give the Fire Fighter a name, it will likely be a boy’s name. With such strong gender bias it is easy to see how girls can consider a career in technology, as ‘not for them’. So early intervention to raise this awareness is vital. Creating inclusive workplaces is also imperative as is ensuring companies have flexible post-maternity return to work and enhanced family leave policies to make it easier for men and women to share the childcare.
We must also identify women in technology to promote as role models. This can have a huge impact on encouraging women into tech in the future as it is inspiring to see people who you can relate to, putting a dream into action and being successful in doing so. This is why IWD is so important.
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given as a woman in tech?
Be authentic. Be yourself. I spent the early part of my career in technology trying to be more like a man. I put on a hard exterior, acted tough. When I became pregnant with my first child I did not change my working habits. Late nights, early starts, if the men could do it so could I. I was not going to be considered weak, just because I was pregnant. Then as I got a bit older I realised being anything other than me, was insane. Why battle to be something you are not. Be yourself, be tough when you need to be but don’t be scared to show vulnerability either. Being human and showing this to others makes you a better, more approachable leader.
What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about a career in technology?
There is so much more to a technology career than coding! The opportunities to work in technology are vast. Coding is one part of the process but there are so many more ways to contribute. Got a creative eye for design? Think about a career in UX. Good at problem solving and communicating? Maybe you could become a Business Analyst. Tech products need to be marketed and sold so if your strength is in advertising and marketing, then this could be your angle. Great people person? You could consider a role in HR or recruitment specialising in talent acquisition for highly sought after technical roles.
Finally, do you have a female role model in the tech industry?
Sheryl Sandberg – Sandberg is a successful American tech executive having held leadership roles in Google and Meta Platforms throughout the last 20 years. Her book ‘Lean In’ has sold millions of copies worldwide and has been inspirational to many women as it explores professional, personal and societal hurdles holding women back from leadership positions in the workforce.
Celebrating International Women's Day provides an opportunity to improve our collective awareness of women's history and increase our understanding of bias, discrimination, and inequity. This can lead to actionable steps by organisations and individuals that can create positive changes.
The next Love Tech event ‘A practical workshop on gender equality’ is on Tuesday 21st March and is for anyone who works with others or is a parent. Taking an alternative approach to this much mentioned topic, Love Tech will guide you through the reasons why gender equality remains an issue, how to navigate it and introduce some easy and practical ways on how we can all be part of the solution. For more information and to book a place visit the event page.
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