More than ever there is an increasing emphasis on encouraging women to pursue careers in the technology industry. From STEM programs in schools to a push for more female representation in the boardroom, great strides are being made to get more women in the business world.
We recently sat down with Sarah Lewis, Director, Field Marketing at Ivanti, to talk about her latest project, Women in Tech.
Q: What is Ivanti’s Women in Tech movement?
SL: Ivanti Women in Tech is a new community, both online and face-to-face, for women working in the all areas of the technology sector. I hope we can empower women and encourage support and collaboration.
Q: Why did you set this up?
SL: Although there are plenty of online communities across the globe, I felt that there was a missing opportunity to tie the Women in Tech movement’s networking events to industry events already running. Those of us who do work in the technology sector attend these events but rarely do we have the time or the opportunity to get together for networking, advice sharing, and mentoring. I would like to fill that gap and support this growing and important community.
Q: Do you have any personal experience of gender related equality issues?
SL: To be honest, no. I started my career in IT over 18 years ago and was welcomed into the role by my seven male colleagues. I guess the worst I have experienced was the occasional awkward moment when conversations got a little “laddish” but I was always happy to speak out if I felt uncomfortable. I am now very lucky to work for a company where equality is important and women are respected, and well-represented at all levels.
Q: Do you think women are under-represented in technology roles?
SL: Have you ever been to a technology related event or tradeshow and had to wait for the ladies’ bathrooms? No? Me neither, and that is a sign to me that there are not enough ladies in the industry. I mean, that would never happen at a concert or in a bar, right?
My other pet peeve is swag! How many times have you been offered swag at a tradeshow only to find that the t-shirt is a men’s cut or the socks are massive, giant man-feet sized socks? Honestly, that drives me bonkers!
Q: Who inspires you?
SL: I am inspired by many people, but in terms of this project, I have been very much inspired by the women I work with day to day. From Melanie Karunaratne and Karen Peacock who work on STEM projects at local schools to Heidi Dillon on our web team and Sally Bogg from Leeds Beckett University, who commits so much of her time and love to Women in Tech projects – so many talented women! I love working with strong, smart women. I am not a programmer, developer or technical genius but I am a woman who believes in equality and women’s issues and I am in a fortunate position to be able to facilitate collaboration between these wonderful ladies.
Q: What are you reading right now?
SL: Well I have just finished Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office by Lois P Frankel. It was a really interesting read and, despite the title, it is not about being mean! It is a really interesting look at the things we are taught as young girls that can hold us back as women. Maybe this is a bit controversial but I think, as women, we blame the industry and sometimes blame men for the lack of diversity when, in fact, we hold the keys to our own destiny and with small behavior tweaks we can open many more doors for ourselves. I certainly learned a few tips and tricks that are helping me already!
Q: What are you working on right now?
SL: I am working on some really interesting projects at the moment including an event with the SDI – ITSM & Gender Equality on 21st June in Manchester and a really exciting networking event at The Service Desk and IT Support Show in London on 5/6 June with a fab special guest! I cannot wait to spend some more time with this community and I am sure, I will learn about other ways these ladies would like to collaborate and network. This project is still in its infancy, I am sure it will grow quickly.
Q: Any tips on hiring women into technology for employers?
SL: My tip would be think about the recruitment process from end to end. For instance, will women be part of the interview panel? Do you have examples of women in the team that have moved up the career ladder? In addition, do you have female members of the team who could spend some time speaking about their experiences in the organization? For me, personally, it is important to know that my role will involve collaborating with other strong women.
To find out more and stay up to date on news from Ivanti Women in Tech, follow us on Twitter @TheTechieGirls