Career DIY

Read my article on helping to progress your own IT career on Business Computing World, featuring quotes and advice from top female technologists: http://www.businesscomputingworld.co.uk/?p=2153

More paternity leave in store?

Could this be the step forward that we need?

The FT reported this morning that the government has backed more flexible parental leave, allowing women who return to work after six months to transfer the remaining maternity leave to their partners. This means instead of the mere two weeks leave that men are now entitled to, they will instead be able to take up to six months – three paid and another three unpaid. This would also apply to gay couples.

This is somewhat of a breakthrough. At W-Tech, one member of the audience came out with a statement and her shock and frank words summed up the current situation. She said: “I’ve been living in Sweden since 2003 – how much time do guys here get for paternity leave? Is it two weeks or something? In Sweden a guy can take up to one and a half years – there’s no discussion about who’s at home with the kids, you both are.”

This seems like a major step forward in the battle for equality – but as always, the war is not yet won. Many businesses are not happy about the changes due to the ‘administrative nightmare’ that it could cause them. And there is still speculation as to how many men would take advantage of the leave. But regardless, this news is definitely a step in the right direction and gives some very real hope for the future.

What do you think? Will we move towards a world where men and women will share the family responsibilities? Or will the women that reach the top continue to be the ones who have made the big sacrifices? Would you be happy to give some of your leave to your partner? Or are the gender roles that we’re in now just so long established that this move just isn’t enough?

Female events

wtechSeeing as one of our main focuses is events and training geared towards women in IT, I read the recent blog entry “Do Women Want Female-Only Tech Events?” with interest. It’s understandable that female technologists can feel slightly patronised when invited to a women only event; they often pose questions like ‘why should we be treated any different?’ And if this post is anything to go by, ‘why should we pay for the privilege of going to an event which happens to be attended by women?’ But I agree that these are valid questions!

I can only comment from my own experience, which is that anything for ‘women only’ is not a particularly great idea. Our events are instead tailored to women but very much open to men too – in fact, we’d love for more men to attend! The fact of the matter is that there are issues that effect women in the workplace more than men and so addressing these problems for a female audience is often necessary; for example, events that we’ve held in the past include building a confident brand, achieving as a woman in technology and political savvy. However this doesn’t mean that no men are welcome, that the event is going to be based on gender stereotypes or that we will charge a small fortune for the privilege of an all women meeting.

The purpose of our female focussed events is to empower women with knowledge that can help them in their careers whilst helping them to meet other technical women. This allows attendees to build up a bank of useful contacts, chat to people in similar circumstances as themselves, get advice and generally feel part of a bigger community in what is a very male dominated industry. And that’s why I think they’re a great idea! Many women that have come to our events in the past have commented on how much they enjoy going to a female event, but often women will need to go to one to get a taste of what it’s like before they make their mind up. They may not be for everyone and I’d certainly recommend going to mixed events too – but if they’re done properly, events for women in IT are a must.

Be politically savvy and smash the glass ceiling

We all know about the glass ceiling and all the challenges that women can face in the workplace. And we all know that there are a lot of things in politics, business and society that need to change to break down these obstacles. But let’s face it – these are big issues! And they’re not going to change overnight.

So, the question is: what can we do to help ourselves climb the career ladder?

This is just one of the questions that W-Tech aimed to answer. One workshop aimed to help attendees by informing them how to become more politically savvy – ran by Michelle Brailsford from Jupiter Consulting Group, the workshop gave a useful insight into how to become more of a political ‘animal’. 

A survey that womenintechnology carried out last year showed that 77% of female technologists didn’t feel that they had the sufficient skills to manage politics effectively in the office – with over half saying they’d been a victim of sabotage or labelling. Handling office politics is obviously a big issue for female professionals, so we’ve put together a white paper based on Michelle’s presentation which will hopefully be of use! To get your hands on a free copy, just click here.

Women in IT dream of being the boss

When we held W-Tech back in June (wow was it two months ago?!) we asked all the female techies that attended, a simple question: “what is your dream job?”

Almost 400 women answered the question and we got a wide range of interesting responses. The results showed that the majority (about 14%) all gave an answer to do with being the boss and reaching the top, whether this was being an entrepreneur or a CIO. With the fight against the glass ceiling and the struggle for more flexible hours continuing, it’s no great surprise that women in the IT industry are reaching for these goals.

  • Project management was also a popular choice with 12% of the women surveyed opting for this
  • 8% opted for consultancy
  • 7% said they would like to help people, with answers including “taking IT to schools in Africa” and “coaching and mentoring”
  • 6% mentioned that their dream job would involve a better work / life balance, with less travelling time and more flexible hours.
  • Encouragingly, over 10% of the women said that they were already doing their dream job!

Some answers were more intruiging – dream occupations included animator at Pixar, professional blogger and education minister. Others decided that they’d ditch IT altogether and become a comedienne , cruise liner DJ or a bakery owner!

Check out some coverage of the survey here.

What would be your dream job?

“We’re all in this together” say women in technology

There are many changes that need to take place to make women a more powerful force in the IT industry, but this is something that needs support from all sides including men, women, the government and the business world. That was the message from W-Tech, the first dedicated recruitment showcase for women in IT held by womenintechnology.co.uk and the BCS, whose panel of successful females in technology said “we’re all in this together”.

In what was an information packed day, many issues were touched upon. High profile female technologists agreed that the UK needs pay audits, that IT education needs to change to make it more appealing to young girls, that maternity and paternity provisions need to become more equal and that women in IT should seek good mentors to help them in their careers.

“So many interesting things were discussed at W-Tech and so many points were raised” says Maggie Berry, Director of womenintechnology.co.uk and an organiser of W-Tech. “It was a great day packed full of positive messages which I hope the women that attended will take away and be able to put to good use in their careers. We’ve received some really positive feedback and already have ideas on how to make W-Tech bigger and better next year. Thanks to all that attended for making it such a success!”

W-Tech was held at the IET in London on 24th June. Around 1200 women who wanted to get on, or get into, the IT industry registered for the event which held a series of career development workshops, a CV clinic, recruitment fair and networking session. womenintechnology.co.uk and the BCS organised the event to address the lack of women in IT and the issues that those in the industry face, from the gender pay gap to the ‘motherhood penalty’. More information can be found at http://www.wtech-event.co.uk/.