Aileen Wynne, ICS Fellow has recently organised a number of events for Women in IT. Here she shares her experiences of these events for those who did not attend. Thank you Aileen for sharing.
This year that “Dock into the Dark Side” GSE UK conference was held from the 5th - 7th November in Whittlebury Hall, Towcester. This is the largest mainframe conference in Europe. There were 534 delegates taking part over the three days. with 220 hours of delegate sessions in over 20 streams and 7 keynote sessions. Aileen Wynne FICS, organised and chaired the Women in IT stream and co-organised/chaired the Network stream there.
The first WITS event was an exercise in diversity entitled “The Game” facilitated by Resli Costabell, an award-winning international speaker, trainer and coach. The session was well attended and delegates got to stretch their brain and look at things from a different perspective, while having fun and a great time. The session provided excellent, thought provoking, conversation starters for the remainder of the conference and beyond.
The next session was a talk entitled “IT is from Mars, Women from Venus” presented by Sarah Burnett, Executive Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Everest Group, BCSWomen Chair and founder of AI Accelerator. Sarah began with an introduction of herself and her experience, then discussed the current state of the market, using the research of the BCS (“Inclusive IT – Gender” report 2019) and her work at Everest Group. She then expanded on some of the main issues – skills shortage, poor and costly product design, the perception of women that it’s hard to get a job in IT etc. She then gave a number of suggestions for IT/Tech managers to attract women to work in the sector. These included using less masculine and more neutral wording of job specifications and ads, promoting the flexible working opportunities in the sector and ensuring equal pay.
The final WITS session was a panel discussion entitled “Mobilising the Power of Women” facilitated by Resli Costabell, with Sarah Burnett, Linda McGrath, UK/Ireland Account Director, RSM Partners and Sue Parsons, Senior Security Consultant, RSM Partners on the panel. Here the panel gave a brief introduction to themselves, their career path and how they ended up being successful in such a made dominated industry. The then spoke about working in the industry and how they encourage younger, newer graduates etc to participate. Sue and Linda spoke about the MITs (Mainframe in Training) programme that RSM Partners run. A number of the younger delegates said that discovering the multiple paths taken to get to where the speakers are now was one of the most useful parts of the conference for them.
Interestingly, the attendance at this years sessions was about 1/3 men, 2/3 women. The main takeaway was that we need to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be exposed to the industry and to have a chance to get involved.