WIIT Awards: MI6 chief reproaches “Bond” stereotype to encourage women into tech

MI6 head Alex Younger spoke to more than 1000 business and tech specialists at the awards ceremony for the 2017 annual women in IT awards.

Younger claimed the secret intelligence service is increasingly in need of technology specialists as tech continues to cause disruption at a rapid pace.

Using the awards as an opportunity to pitch to the mostly female crowd about the roles available in MI6, Younger claimed increasing the number of women who choose IT roles is important for the industry.

He said: “As the head of a human intelligence organisation, but with technology right at its heart, I am delighted to have the opportunity to demonstrate my support for an event which recognises the outstanding contribution by women in the IT industry, a contribution I am determined to grow and enhance in the Secret Intelligence Service to make us the best we possibly can be in utilising talent.”

Technology roles often carry a negative stereotype, with many women choosing not to pursue careers in technology as a result of these pre-conceived notions of how people in technology look and act.

Younger spoke out against the James Bond stereotype that is often attached to MI6 officers and claimed this often causes the same issue within the agency whereby only a certain type of person applies for roles.

He said: “The more different people you have in the room, in these high-pressure circumstances in which we operate, the better the decisions. So, success for me is a deeper, broader range of technological skills in MI6 and more diversity, in particular more women.”

The Women in IT Awards, which is organised by Information Age, aims to showcase some of the great women in the technology industry.

The winners of the 2017 Women in IT Awards are:

Advocate of the Year

Bernadette Andrietti, Intel

Highly commended: Vicki Cadman, BT

Business Leader of the Year

Sophie Harrison, Panaseer

Business Role Model of the Year

Wendy Tan-White, Entrepreneur First

CIO of the Year

Maggie van’t Hoff, Shell

Highly commended: Alison FitzGerald, London City Airport

Digital Leader of the Year

Beverley Bryant, NHS Digital

e-Skills Initiative of the Year

Amali de Alwis, Code First: Girls

Highly commended: Accenture

Editor’s Choice

Vladlena Benson, Kingston University

Employer of the Year

Rolls-Royce

Highly commended: Thoughtworks

Entrepreneur of the Year

Brynne Herbert, Move Guides

Highly commended: Nancy Cruickshank, MyShowcase

Future CIO of the Year

Claire Priestley, City, University of London

Global Leader of the Year

Bethany Mayer, Ixia

Highly commended: Yasaman Hadjibashi, Barclays Africa Group

Innovator of the Year

Estelle Lloyd, Azoomee

Highly commended: Joanna Wake, RAW Digital Training

Rising Star of the Year

Harriet Lester, Internet Watch Foundation

Highly commended: Eleanor Harding, Twitter

Security Champion of the Year

Michele Hansom, Transport for London

Transformation of the Year

Helen Gowler, Avon

Woman of the Year

Alison Ross, Auto Trader

Teentech founder and CEO Maggie Philbin

presented the awards, and in a bid to demonstrate how women’s paths into an IT career are different to men’s she asked all of the women in the room who did not intend to have a career in IT to stand up.

With a majority of the room upstanding, Philbin urged: “We’ve got to do better than just falling into careers by accident.”

Phibin claimed the industry needs to do more to fill the gender and skills gaps in tech roles.

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