Sadie Redgrave, head of business IT Support at Mobile Hawk gives her thoughts on the gender disparity across the IT sector and provides some advice for young women looking to break through and make a name for themselves in this male orientated world.
In the summer of 2001, I embarked on a career in the IT industry. Back then it was obvious I was going to be part of a largely male orientated industry, but latest statistics show that the IT & Telecoms sector is suffering from a decrease in female personnel.
So, if I found the challenge of dealing with lack of female companionship difficult back then, young women trying to forge themselves a career in the IT industry today are going to face an even tougher task.
Below are a few pieces of advice I have picked up along the way, which have helped me and will also help you through the tough reality that is female progression in a male dominated arena.
1. Communicate with men effectively. Just as I had to listen to male instructions in the early part of my career, I now have to hand them out. What I’ve picked up from years of work based conversations with the opposite sex is that it often helps when you;
- Communicate in bullet point fashion – straight to the point, as men will often lose the trail of thought.
- Use statistics and diagrams – I’ve seen both males (and females) find information much easier to break down when given visual aids.
- Embrace humour – men often have great senses of humour and as silly as it sounds, will often take you more seriously if they can communicate with you on both a formal and informal level.
2. Be confident. I don’t want to sound stereotypical but confidence really is the underlying factor into any success. Back when I first started out IT studies and computer technology I was too shy to give any input to my groups. This causes people, in my case the lads, to auto assume I was useless at database creation and installing IT networks. I wasn’t, but until I developed the confidence to express myself I wasn’t able to prove them wrong either. This article has some useful quick fire tips to boost your confidence.
3. Make your value known. This is certainly the case for women in the IT industry. Bosses and colleagues will judge your ability by your skirt and hair, what you need to do is challenge their ideas and prove them wrong. Nothing is more satisfying than proving your idea is right, luckily for me I was right a lot of the time (probably because I was setting up large scale IT systems before most of my colleagues had even used Microsoft Paint). Stepping up to the plate and showing your way of thinking is right will almost certainly get you noticed and see you move up the career ladder.
Consider the points above and align yourself with where you feel you’re currently at. There is no reason why women cannot overtake men as the drivers of the IT industry here in the UK. After all, isn’t attention to detail and the ability to multitask two of the most crucial factors required in the IT world?
Another crucial point we must consider is how do we stem the tide and reduce the gender gap in the IT industry? I feel very little is being done to encourage young women into a IT related career or to even highlight the growing role IT plays across the music, fashion and design sectors, which would certainly spark some interest in developing ICT skills to a further level.
Sadie Redrgave is head of IT Support at www.contractphoneswithfreegifts.com, part of the Mobile Hawk group. Her day to day tasks ensure all staff can work freely without disruption as well as moving the business forward by creating a technology roadmap for the company, including choosing between leasing vs buying, when to upgrade and why and installation of phone systems, etc.