Women are breaking the glass firewall in IT - but they need the men in IT to do more

One of the most pleasing aspects of this year’s UKtech50 – Computer Weekly’s annual list of the 50 most influential people in UK IT – is that over one-third of the nominees shortlisted for the reader vote are women.

It’s a sign that more and more women are breaking through the glass firewall in technology and achieving positions of influence and seniority. Bring them on. And bring on a big increase in young women choosing technology as a career too – we need them all. The current figure of 16% of IT professionals being female is a disgrace to the industry.

But for all the great networking groups set up for women in IT, and work done to highlight the need for more females in the industry, I’d bet that if you asked each of the 17 women on the UKtech50 list to name the people to whom they owe the most for helping them up the ladder, every one of them would mention some men.

There is no escaping the fact that the people who need to do the most to get more women into IT are the men in IT. Men still make most of the recruitment decisions, the promotion decisions and write most of the job specifications.

Two years ago, we published a list of 10 things that men in IT can do to help women in IT, and it bears repeating:

  1. Be a mentor for women in IT
  2. Offer work experience
  3. Specify a target for female CVs from recruitment agencies
  4. Review your HR policies
  5. Offer training for returners to work
  6. Improve your female contact network
  7. Review your skills profiles and person specifications
  8. Speak at schools
  9. Encourage more female speakers at IT events
  10. Encourage your children to consider science and technology

You can read more about each item on that list here.

Computer Weekly recently talked to some of the men who do item one on that list – the mentors who have helped successful women reach the top of the profession, as nominated by the women they mentor.

We talk a lot about the importance of female role models to attract more women, but these male role models are just as important to show the men in IT the vital importance of helping to address the shocking diversity gap in technology.