When Computer Weekly announced the first UKtech50 list of the 50 most influential people in UK technology, back in 2011, just seven women were included. Now, as we publish the 12th annual list, not only is there a female winner for the second year running – and the third in four years – but 48% of the top 50 are women. It’s hugely satisfying – and long overdue – to see so many female leaders breaking through the silicon ceiling into senior roles in the tech community. We’re proud to have the opportunity to recognise their growing influence.
Next week, we launch the process for identifying the 50 most influential women in UK tech – the 11th time we have run this programme. We launched the female-focused version with a specific aim to raise the profile of the many role models in the sector, to help encourage more women into the profession on the basis that, as the saying goes: if you can’t see them, you can’t be them. The changing profile of the UKtech50 seems to suggest that the “see them” part is working. But it’s still not enough.
For the “be them” part, so little has changed. Eleven years ago, 17% of the UK tech workforce was female. The rate of progress since then has been such that now, erm, 17% of the UK tech workforce are women. It’s a shocking situation – made worse by the recent revelation that 44% of UK IT professionals think it’s not important for men to be involved in integrating women into tech teams – an increase on previous years. We could not fundamentally disagree more with those 44%.
The UKtech50 list is as diverse as the customers it serves, featuring individuals with a wide range of profiles and backgrounds – from public and private sectors, from large companies and small, from tech suppliers and major end-user organisations. We have already seen many examples of the problems that arise when tech development teams fail to reflect the experiences of the people using their products. Commentators talk about the unintended consequences of new technologies, and it’s fair to say this will always be an issue – but delve deeper, and so often those consequences have come about simply because the creators of the products don’t understand the full lived experience of everyone that will become their customers.
You can bet that if there’s one issue that all of the UKtech50 list – the most influential people in UK technology – would agree on, it’s improving the diversity of the IT profession. You can see these leaders – please, be them.