We recently kicked off our IT Girls Rock monthly events with a panel discussion featuring my favourite IT Girls from student days in Manchester, England in the1980s. This event was designed to set a baseline for our events where we feature speakers from all walks of life whose common vision and mission are that we need to work towards creating a more inclusive industry that attracts girls, women and other underrepresented people.
WOW! What an amazing group of wise women in technology I know. Or as one of the participants pointed out:
In indigenous culture the wise elders are called aunties and uncles. You’re all aunties!
Whilst my friends and I all knew that we were onto something pretty cool and futuristic in those days, I don’t think any of us realised what our careers would be like and how “lonely” it could be. There were 15% women doing a BSc (Hon) in Computation in my year, and according to statistics, there were 35-40% women in key roles relating to IT in those days.
The frustrating thing for me is that these numbers have gone down instead of up, and it saddens me when the 2018 OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report found that only 1% of 15 year old girls across ALL OECD countries are interested in IT-related careers. If we pair that with the fact that by 2030 pretty much every job will be impacted by IT, we have a pretty dire picture of our future.
Never one to despair, I have faith in humanity and positive mindsets, and I am convinced that if we all work together collaboratively, we can create a future where the creators of technology are representative of the people and communities that we solve problems for. The sole purpose of the IT Girls Rock global, community is to tease out how we might achieve this and at the same time support our individual members on their journeys.
To set the foundation for our future events, we covered a variety of topics and questions including the following which we will dive deeper into over the coming months.
- Why women should look at a career in IT?
- Would you recommend IT to your daughters, nieces and friends?
- Why are women not choosing IT or leaving IT?
- How do we need to design IT roles and organisations to attract more women and girls?
- How do you stay on top of IT – trends and changes?
- How does a diverse and inclusive IT industry look?
- What unique value do women bring to IT?
- Why is it important to have a global community for IT Girls Rock?
If any of these topics tickle your curiosity, why not check us out and take us for a test ride on the IT Girls Rock platform where you can sign up for future events, access past recordings and other resources, and participate in workshops and group coaching sessions.
Some of my favourite moments, were the responses to an audience question What is the one thing you would do differently in your career?
I would find a mentor or coach much earlier in my career so there was some sort of method to the madness. I am a mentor now and it is so inspiring to work with and meet the amazingly talented women in IT.
We all need mentors and coaches, and they don’t all have to be older and wiser than us. I often lean on younger people, but they know stuff I don’t. Coaching and mentoring is always a two-way street for me and most people I know.
I’d get a coach and step into leadership earlier. I would definitely take more risk – by taking risks and chances, you get more challenges.
How true is that?! As women we often shy away from the leadership challenges because we have been conditioned to not step up (“tall poppy syndrome” in Australia and “Janteloven” in Norway don’t help). Sometimes having a sounding board, coach or mentor can give that extra boost to your confidence that you need.
I would be conscious of taking more space, work more on my confidence and communication skills, more on my beliefs that what I know and can is as good as everyone else.
Let’s imagine the ripple effect of taking more space in terms of not only backing yourself AND being a role model and inspiration for others.
Having only recently launched, we had participants originating from Australia, Norway, England, Canada, Peru, Bulgaria and India, which goes to demonstrate our diversity and inclusion.
To learn more about IT Girls Rock and what we do…