I’m Nadira Hussain, Socitm (Society of IT Management) President 15/16. The Society is for the benefit of all those who use IT to deliver services for the public benefit. I am championing the ‘Women in IT’ initiative for my term in office.
Women in IT/digital/tech roles
As we all know very well, the representation of women in digital or IT/tech related roles and careers across the board, is disappointingly low. Despite some considerable effort being made more recently across sectors, the position continues to remain quite static! It is commonplace to hear about poor numbers relating to the percentage of women that make-up the IT/digital functions of companies and organisations; predominantly around the 12-16% mark (ref Lord Davies report and the McKinsey report Women Matter). The same is true of the public sector; we continue to struggle to attract women to the tech roles in the sector (at all levels, even as apprenticeships), are not able to retain women once they secure a job, nor can we see their progression to more senior positions within the sector once they are recruited. That cant be right….!
Establishing the Socitm ‘Women in IT’ group
I feel really passionately about this issue and so in response, I have established a Socitm ‘Women in IT’ initiative for the public sector, primarily Local Government, which will help improve the visibility of women both within the Society itself and more widely across the sector. This group is helping with the following aspects:
- provision of a support network for women colleagues already working in IT and digital services,
- raising the profile of talented and experienced women, promoting them as role models,
- increasing the participation by women in decision-making particularly, at a regional level and for the Society as a whole,
- addressing the diversity and inclusivity agenda for the Society, including the current gender imbalance in membership and in positions of seniority and more of course more widely,
- to continue to improve the quality and variety of contribution from women colleagues at regional meetings, events, conferences, debates etc and presenting greater opportunities for public speaking and other engagements, and
- offering learning and development opportunities.
Establishment of a dedicated group is giving women in IT in local government a stronger voice, providing the environment to share best practice and lessons learnt, especially where initiatives have been used or developed to address gender imbalance in local environments and providing mutual support and development opportunities. This group is using existing repositories of information and making reference to examples of best practice. Knowledge Hub (KH) is the collaborative tool that we are using to share information, experience and expertise; details about the group, members, info updates etc can be found on the KH space here
Objectives of the group:
An immediate goal is to address the under-representation of women in IT. It is important to use the group to gain insights into the barriers preventing women joining IT and progressing their careers. The group has physical and virtual meetings and uses KH to provide the communication and support.
The Group is not restricted to Socitm members only; it is enabling colleagues from all sectors to participate and contribute to the forum.
A second objective is to offer work experience and development opportunities to young women to facilitate appraisal of career options and to encourage them to believe that IT is a real choice for them. We need to do some further work to determine the structure and delivery mechanisms of this aspect of the programme and want to achieve the following outcomes:
- raise awareness about the breadth and application of IT and digital services in the work environment; focusing specifically on the opportunities presented by the public sector,
- offer a personal development opportunity for young women – in line with the Top Talent programme the Society has been delivering over the previous few years which has provided people in the IT industry a vehicle to personally develop, network and share experiences and
- offer an introductory experience of working within the IT industry – with access to public and private sector environments.
Using a Steering Group to help shape the agenda
A Steering Group has been set up to talk about the things that matter to the members, our communities and to promote the initiative and cause. We progress actions from meetings and events (we’ve had two key events since the establishment of the group last year; really successful, positive and energising!), are developing a forward plan, work with other networks to collaborate on effort and to continue with raising the momentum, meet with stakeholders and interested parties like suppliers (who provide support and sponsorship), have created a mentoring pool, broker seminars and events of interest etc.,…..it’s fun and so rewarding. But more importantly, it’s making a difference.
‘Empowering Women in the Digital World’ (EWDW)
The other great achievement has been the establishment of the ‘Empowering Women in the Digital World’ (EWDW) Leadership Programme for our women colleagues who have expressed an interest in learning, developing and aspiring to progress their careers. This course is an opportunity to self-reflect and tackle some of the common barriers and challenges to self-improvement and promotion. More details about the course and contents can be found here
How you can help make a difference…..
We need to continue and propel the discussion and movement further; to ensure that the sector is aware of the benefit and value that workforce diversification brings and to increase the number of women role models. Please join the group to gain the benefit of networking with passionate, committed people who want to make a difference! It would be great to have you on board to champion the cause….contact me via KH or at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further reading:
1. Women in technology: no progress on inequality for 10 years