Women in Technology: What it means to me
01 June 2015
I work in the health sector, mainly with National Health Service organisations, but also with the pharmaceutical industry. I also lead the Women in Technology initiative at PwC.
Some things are improving for women. There are more women in the health sector than ever before. Where Medicine was previously male dominated, this has turned around and it has benefitted hugely from women's contributions, becoming richer and more diverse as a result. However, you still don’t see many female CIOs in National Health Service organizations, and this is a common theme across most business sectors. If you have time, take a look at our introduction video for some insights into why there are so few women, especially senior women, in technology roles.
And so I wanted to share some thoughts on what I have learnt throughout my career on this situation and what can be done about it.
Strangely, it is not always the technical skills that progress your career and make you a leader in Technology – it’s skills such as building authentic relationships with people and being able to “walk in the shoes” of others that can often make the difference. Honesty and having an open mind are important, as is the ability to consider other’s points of view even when they conflict and don’t always feel comfortable. It is these skills that I have drawn on over the years, and focused on developing the most, as they are what bring me a sense of achievement and happiness.
What I am trying to point out here is that many girls and women think they need to be heavily technical to have a career in technology, but actually to rise to the top you need to have a broad skill set around building relationships with individuals and clients, which includes project and programme management.
These abilities often come from who we are as women, not just our formal management skills. We have to recognize and celebrate our abilities. We must stop beating ourselves up through lack of confidence or pretend to be confident even if we are not.
And if, like me, you wake up and have a little internal scream with your cup of tea worrying how you are going to manage the sheer complexity of your project, or scale of your workload, while organising the kids and having a life, you are not alone. If, like me, just getting out of the house in the morning for an early meeting is something of a minor miracle after sorting out the children’s demands and having put your foot through two pairs of tights, there are many of us in the same situation.
We need to share our experiences, support one another, and make sure women have appropriate representation in senior roles. If you support this objective and want to make a difference, and let’s face it, we all need to take responsibility, then help us create a movement for change.
Become an ambassador for the world you want to live in and the workplace you want to work in.
Get involved with the Women in technology – Change the ratio initiative at PwC.