We interviewed Sarah Glastonbury, part of the Senior Leadership Team at Creative ITC on her experience and thoughts on women in tech.
I lead on marcoms strategy for Creative Group, which comprises three complementary tech companies: EC (our IOT business), CX (our digital experimentation agency) and ITC (our award-winning cloud services provider). My role entails conjuring up imaginative joint go-to-market opportunities with our partners and cool ways to attract and retain customers. For example, by leveraging integrated campaigns across the full mix – marketing content, digital, web, social, PR and events.
I joined the IT sector as a marketing exec in the heady days of the retail dot.com boom when businesses first moved to online sales models. It was just after the Y2K drama and before the bubble burst. Looking back it was a fresh and exciting time to join.
Yes, I’ve been working in the sector since 2001.
Definitely. The IT industry continues to be dominated by men – statistics show that just 19% of the overall tech workforce are women. At Creative we’re really proud that a third of our team is female. Yet, within the IT industry this seems to be the exception rather than the norm.
There’s a lot of benefits for companies employing more women. A diverse team combining a mix of genders, ethnicities and backgrounds will incorporate different perspectives and viewpoints to enable better problem solving. Companies which become known for encouraging a more diverse workforce also benefit from attracting a wide talent pool.
Women have become known as natural multi-taskers. Many of us are working mums – we’re used to keeping lots of plates spinning, which is a great skill to have in such a fast-paced, ever-changing industry. I think women bring more empathy, too.
Unfortunately, the IT industry continues to be dominated by men. Similar to engineering there’s a false assumption that tech roles will be male filled. One female member of our technical services team was recently crowned employee of the year and another is one of the top virtualisation gurus on the planet. It’s are slowly changing, but we need to lose the perception that you have to be a male geek to work in IT.
If you’re naturally analytical and method-minded, you’ll certainly be a good fit. Personally, I would love to see lots of young women coming up through the tech ranks. There’s no reason why you can’t do that as well as be interested in shoes and handbags!
It starts at grass-roots level. Sadly, only 35% of girls study STEM subjects beyond GCSE, compared to 80% of boys. We need to change that and convince young women that starting a career in IT is a smart move.
Two of the things I’ve most enjoyed about working in this sector are variety and the energetic pace. There’s always something new on the horizon. It’s fascinating to see how businesses go about adopting digital tech for competitive edge. The drive to be faster, smarter and leaner adds tremendous buzz and energy. The industry needs to get better at communicating this to attract the best talent.
We need to bring that dream alive – for example, by celebrating female tech leaders more. It’s important to have a variety of role models that young women can identify with. When you bring women into senior positions, you show that others have the opportunity to succeed too. Better online and media representation of females working in tech would help as well.
I don’t think so. It really comes down to false assumptions. IT just isn’t seen as a female-led industry, when actually there’s never been more opportunity for women. Believe me, demand is a lot higher than supply. The sky’s the limit.
Many women have been put off pursuing tech careers by lack of flexible working. However, one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic is stigma around working from home has disappeared. It’s become completely acceptable to acknowledge that we’re all juggling work with personal lives. Conversations on maintaining work-life balance and wellbeing are now commonplace – and we’re all more relaxed as a result, men and women alike.
Every single business, regardless of the products or services they sell, is now reliant on technology. And the industry will only grow. So, starting a tech career is a smart move.
The diversity of roles within the sector is not widely understood. You don’t necessarily need to be good at maths or understand binary to be a software developer, for example. Neither would women intuitively associate an IT job advert with an opportunity that could lead to a long, lucrative career, which might take them around the world.
One of the biggest challenges is that IT job adverts are often written by men, for men. To encourage greater diversity, recruiters need to get better at crafting job opportunities. Women are likely to be attracted to roles offering the ability to work creatively, travel and be well-rewarded, with benefits such as working flexibly around childcare and better maternity packages.
First and foremost, ditch the outdated misconception that IT is all about code, ones and zeros, soldering motherboards, and so on. The truth couldn’t be more different. Cool new technologies constantly create new career opportunities. Jobs in AI, virtualisation and robotics simply weren’t around a few decades ago, and today’s youngsters will be taking up new roles in future that don’t exist today.
My advice would be to research which part of the industry is of most interest and find out how your own unique skills align with the role. There’s always technical position out there that plays to your strengths. It’s just finding the right one that will enable you to thrive. And there’s never been a better time. The global IT field is crying out for young female talent.