I was asked whether the #WomeninIT campaign relates to our department. Computing Services is made up of three work streams: Infrastructure, Management Information Systems and User Services. The percentage of women in these work areas are almost 5%, almost 21% and almost 19% (these figures were worked out using our organisation chart).
Computing Services needs a change in workplace culture if it wants to meet the goal highlighted by International Women’s Day - Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.
Campaigns like #WomeninIT
Will a campaign like #WomeninIT help us to encourage more women to apply for and get jobs in Computing Services? We thought we would ask the women in our department. This does show the more exclusionary aspect of these campaigns. We did not ask others in the department. The survey was a quick snap-shot and the number of replies was limited. However, the replies were really interesting.
None of the respondents had a computer science educational background and many had started working in IT by accident. Respondents enjoyed their work for reasons that included: ‘liking the variety’ and ‘being able to use some of my maths skills (e.g. logic, statistics, analysis) in coding’.
Skills that were identified as useful to work in IT included:
- ability to think logically
- a desire to help
- being analytical
- being good at problem-solving
- having good communications skills
- having an attention to detail
- wanting to learn new things
There was no one skill set that echoed for everyone, there was nothing gender specific about the stories behind the replies.
The majority of the respondents strongly wish that more women would apply for jobs in IT and join them.
Dispelling the agreed narrative of who is good at IT
I really like this response to describe why campaigns like this are useful.
For some reason, too many women (and people in general, actually) have the idea that it’s either a great mysterious sector ruled by genius man hackers, or incredibly dull and tedious… Good examples of all kinds of women, i.e. relatable figures, in the industry, help disperse the mystery …
It’s fun seeing the variety of people being highlighted with the hashtag, people that are interesting that I’d not have heard about without it. Good to see how many of us are out there, too – and how positive we can be toward each other.
So are the campaigns useful?
Campaigns highlight awareness and allow us to recognise that there are issues, however, they are not enough in themselves. I'm not optimistic about seeing the ratio improving in Computing Services by International Women's Day 2018 but I'd love to be proven wrong.
There is not one type of person that should work in IT. Look out for #ITjobs on our twitter account and please apply.