Women have contributed greatly to the evolution of science and technology throughout history although their involvement has on occasion been underplayed within the industry.
Ada Lovelace is widely considered to be the first computer programmer. She created The Analytical Engine over 150 years ago – and it had all the crucial elements of a modern computer. A woman with a vision.
100 years later Joan Clarke, a cryptanalyst, and numismatist, working with Alan Turing, broke the code used by German U-boats in the second world war. The Enigma Machine was beaten, and the war was won shortly after. She helped save lives and bring peace. An inspiration.
Jump forward another eighty years and although not as many as there could be, women are working in technology today actively influencing its direction and growth.
Some would say that to truly be a woman in technology means you can write code. Today however that seems to be an outdated requirement as there are so many areas in the industry in which to work. Surely a service delivery manager’s knowledge of the products they sell results in technical knowledge. The technology industry has simply grown so much that anyone should be able to work, and with skill and dedication, advance.
As it stands, however, the numbers aren’t quite there yet.
Close to 1m women must be recruited to work within the UK technology sector to reach gender parity, a report claimed in April 2019.
Women account for around 16.8% of workers in the UK’s technology sector, with the proportion of women working as IT business analysts, architects and system designers falling to 14.1%, and further still to just 12.5% of programmers and software developers.
There are however women at all levels leading the charge across the sector and the various woman in technology awards celebrates them.
Women of Silicon Roundabout is the flagship event in the world’s largest conference series for women in the technology sector, Women of Silicon Roundabout is Europe’s biggest celebration of the successes and innovations being engineered by women from across the technology industry.
Woman in Tech awards in Birmingham celebrates the vibrant spirit of women in Tech. Promoting a gender-balanced workforce across the sector working to ensure an ongoing involvement and engagement of women in the tech industries.
In June 2012, Sheryl Sandberg became the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board of directors. That same year, she made Time’s 100 Most Influential People list. Before her work with Facebook, Sheryl was the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and was later employed at Google, serving as Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations.
After working with Morgan Stanley for decades, serving as their Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Ruth Porat became CFO of Google in 2015. In 2011, Forbes named her #32 on their list of the worlds’ 100 most powerful women.
Technology still has a reputation for being a male-dominated field, but these women (and more like them) are proving that gender is no barrier to success.
I do find however that I don’t meet many women with the same interest, and very few who want to take on a truly technical role. There are women in the marketing sector who achieve to a very high standard, and help the world understand the solutions and variations available – and true leaders driving growth and advancement – but they don’t necessarily want to work with the technology directly, preferring to drive other elements of the sector.
I’ve been in vaguely, if not directly, working technical roles within the communications industry for most of my working life. Moving from support to account management and now into solution design, I enjoy the problem solving and continual advancements that my generation have seen.
My feeling is that ultimately gender shouldn’t matter – ability and dedication are key. But the industry is still male-dominated, whether due to lack of encouragement or not, all you need to do is attend a technology conference and you’ll see the difference!
I hope that as technology and world views evolve we can move into the future offering opportunity to anyone willing to work for it – but for my part, I’d encourage any woman to get involved, make noise, make a difference! Technology of all forms is quickly becoming the foundation of our society. And woman, as they always have been, are an essential part of the story.