This time last year, after Computer Weekly announced the first of our now-annual list of the 25 most influential women in IT, I wrote in this blog about why we don’t want to have to write about the issue of women in IT anymore.
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Simply put, if we had a workforce in IT that reflected the diversity of the audience that the IT industry seeks to serve, we would no longer need to. And as long as that remains a failing, it’s an issue we will continue to highlight, and we will continue to recognise the female role models who are at the forefront of making a change.
This year’s list of those women is a reflection of that goal.
Fifteen years ago we were writing about how it was an embarrassment for the tech sector to have less than 20% of its workforce female. Today, that figure has still not changed.
So there is clearly a bigger problem to be tackled, and it is this: What to do about the men in IT.
Men remain the primary decision-makers in IT recruitment and career development. And while many of those men will genuinely express their hope to see more women in the technology workplace, very few actually do anything about it.
As a male-dominated profession, it is only really the men who can change things. Successful, talented women will always do well – but they are too much of an exception to be able to make a difference across the whole sector. They can – and do – change the situation when they can. But to effect widespread change – sorry guys, that’s entirely up to you.
To reiterate an important point – this is not about recruiting women for the sake of recruiting women. It is simply unsustainable for the UK technology scene to take its rightful place in the economy without the broadest range of skills available, and the diversity that demands.
What will it take for men to take the issue of “women in IT” seriously? That’s a tough one to answer – and we would be very keen to hear from anyone who has any suggestions. Nobody has found the solution yet.
Our challenge at Computer Weekly is to make our event next year to celebrate the most influential women in UK IT one that appeals equally to men and women, with an audience that reflects the diversity we all hope to see in future.
But meanwhile – to all men in IT: the lack of women in IT is your problem to solve. Only you can bring about the change needed.