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Top 10 women in IT stories of 2015

Computer Weekly takes a look at some of the defining moments for women in the technology industry in 2015

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Technical skills

The year saw ups and downs when it came to the subject of women in the IT industry and, although positive initiatives were launched in 2015, many were left disappointed in the lack of progress over the last 10 years.

1. BCS establishes female network in Stem and IT

In the beginning of 2015, the BCS established a network to encourage more women to pursue careers in IT and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects.

The former president of the BCS, Liz Bacon, said the IT sector was made up of only 16% – a statistic that was just not good enough.

Bacon said that, by launching the network, she hoped it would encourage women already in the technology sector to support other initiatives aiming to help women enter and stay in the IT sector.

2. Martha Lane Fox unveils 'Dot Everyone'

As part of her speech at the Dimbleby Lecture, Martha Lane Fox launched her "Dot Everyone" concept.

Alongside a digital education for everyone and an ethics review of the internet, Lane Fox proposed the institution aim for women to be at the heart of the technology industry, making vital steps towards digital inclusion and industry diversity.

3. CompTIA prepares for 2015 women in IT and skills drive

Halfway through 2015, companies started to gear up and encourage young women into IT-based careers.

Among these was cyber security show CompTIA, which launched its Skills Boost online programme allowing UK schools, teachers and parents to fully understand what roles the technology industry offers the next generation.

This aimed to dispel some of the myths around the “typical” IT worker and encourage a wider audience – including girls – to consider IT careers.

4. US women technology executives 'need board code of practice similar to UK'

The UK was held up as an example for code of practice when looking into the issue of the number of women serving as board members.

Lisa Hook, president and CEO of Neustar, said the US would benefit from having the same voluntary codes of practice that came out of the UK's Lord Davies Review into women on boards, as it would encourage a higher level of commitment at corporate level.

As a result of the report, Davies recommended all UK FTSE 100 companies should have boards comprising at least 25% women, and suggested companies should set targets to make sure more women were appointed as board members.

5. UK female developers on the rise

The UK found that, in 2014, more women joined the developer community than men despite women only accounting for 4% of all developers in the region.

Despite the small numbers, research commissioner Stack Overflow Careers claimed the main indicator for growth of women in the sector was the fact that females were employed despite 19% of them having no previous experience in the sector, while only 3.4% of men said the same.

6. Socitm launches women in IT network

Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) jumped on board to encourage women into the IT industry by hunting for industry partners to help launch a network for women in IT.

The network aims not only to act as a support for women in the IT industry, but also to promote collaboration among companies who are already making progress in the sector.

7. Number of women in digital drops to 26%

Although the number of women in some technology-based careers is on the rise, the numbers of women in other areas are declining.

In 2015 the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) found the number of women working in digital jobs had dropped from 33% in 2002, to 26% in 2015.

The research also found the average number of women in other industries was 47%, highlighting the stark contracts with the digital and IT sectors.

8. Women in IT meet prime minister David Cameron's gender pay gap news with scepticism

Women in the IT industry responded with scepticism in 2015 when prime minister David Cameron announced that firms with more than 250 employees would be forced to disclose employee salaries.

The measures will be rolled out over the next 12 months in the hope that companies will be publicly forced to acknowledge any gaps between men's and women’s pay, aiming to close the gender pay gap.

But women in the IT industry were sceptical about how useful this step would be, with some saying firms may hide true figures using pay grades, while others claimed industry laws could act as a barrier to publishing.

9. IT sector needs 're-framing', says 2015's most influential woman in UK IT

In July 2015 Jacqueline De Rojas, area vice-president for northern Europe at Citrix and deputy president of TechUK, was crowned Computer Weekly's most influential woman in IT.

She claimed that, if the IT industry wants to attract more women, it should consider re-framing how it presents itself to make IT jobs more appealing.

De Rojas labelled women the “crisis managers of the world”, saying the IT industry would benefit from having more, but will have to work on how industry job roles are advertised before it attracts them.

10. Monster launches Tech Talent Charter for IT industry diversity guidelines

The year rounded off with recruitment agency Monster launching its Tech Talent charter, designed to provide the IT industry with guidelines for diverse hiring.

The recruitment firm partnered with several technology and skills organisations to develop a code of best practice for how to actively address the lack of women and minority groups in the technology industry.

The charter aims to facilitate change in the industry by advising member organisations to take steps such as appointing internal responsibility for the cause, helping to support the IT talent pipeline and encouraging the adoption of diversity best practice.

Read more about women in IT

  • Meet the men that have mentored some of the leading women in tech to find out how men can help tackle the diversity gap in IT.
  • Sweden is considering writing off student loans for women who study IT in an attempt to improve the gender balance in the sector to support digitisation.

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Very interesting to have this list of highlights, some good news, some bad news.

I'm particularly interested to see how the UK's new law regarding disclosing salaries plays out. I wish we had something similar in the US; I think that a lack of transparency when it comes to salaries can only benefit the employer, never the employees.
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@abuell: I agree totally. If a female co-worker is doing the same job with the same responsibilities they should get equal pay. These are things we will never find out unless we change our rules here. They may find some weird set of conditions to validate what they are doing but we would see why. Is it certifications? higher degree? I they expose their rules then there may be employees that will try yo meet those rules to get a pay increase.
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