Contributing Editor Ian Hunter asks readers to bear with him,
“I will get to the point but it’s a little known fact that I like to get out on the floor and have a dance. My wife and I are both keen Soulies, followers of the Northern Soul scene in the UK and we take off two or three times a year for soul music weekends and have a dance or three.
What can I say?
For the last 20 years or so I’ve been attending industry events, such as the Comms Business Awards, and when the music comes on after the ceremonies and photographs I always think, oh, it would be good to have a dance. But there’s no women. I’m not one to either dance on my own nor turn to my dining partner and say, ‘Hey mate, fancy a dance?’. I’ve spoken to other blokes that are similarly challenged.”
So what’s going on? Why are there so few women in our business?
“Positive discrimination is in my opinion not the answer. For me, the best person should always get the job or promotion on merit. In fact the last CEO I interviewed said she would rip out my spleen if I mentioned she had succeeded in a man’s’ world. Fortunately for my spleen we were both on the same page.”
One person who is taking an initiative is Anna Guest who has spent 29 of the last 30 years in tech oblivious to gender or anything else because, as she says, ‘it should not be an issue’.
“I’ve spent the last year or two increasingly annoyed at the amount of noise in the press and online about how difficult it is for women in tech. I wondered if it was just me but the more I sounded out other women I know, the more I found that they are also baffled and frustrated because it hasn’t been their experience either.”
Guest says it took a long time to reconcile her conscience and figure out what to do about it – if anything.
“Finally, I decided that as still only around 20% of the workforce in tech are female – no real change in 30 years – there’s a reason for it (even if those reasons are perception). I’m not suggesting that discrimination and unconscious bias never happens but if we don’t balance the negative with the positive stories then more girls will be put off pursuing careers in tech and that’s already a trend that’s happening.”
“I agree that positive discrimination isn’t the answer and nor is setting women apart from men in our own ‘club’. I think TechRoleModels, which launches today, has gained support because it doesn’t promote either of these but does give a platform to share all our positive experiences of working in tech, regardless of gender. We want to show that the vast majority of amazing people in our sector value their colleagues and contacts for their individual contributions and qualities and that our choices of career paths are many, varied and rewarding.
How to get involved.
Use #techrolemodels on LinkedIn and Twitter or go to www.techrolemodels.com to read and share the first stories.
Add your own story – whatever your gender – to show gender really shouldn’t and doesn’t matter.