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The IT industry desperately needs more women but they need to network better

The IT industry desperately needs more women – but they need to network better

This was the surprising message that emerged from the fourth IT’s not just for the boys! which took place in the London offices of Bloomberg on Friday 26 November. 122 female technology undergraduates from 49 different universities took part in a series of case studies, exercises and networking with high-achieving role models in IT. They told the students that there was no discrimination in the sector, that women brought much-needed skills to the workplace but their advancement was often hindered by their failure to create networks. Cheryl Newton and Marion Ballard (Lloyds Banking Group and IBM) told the undergraduates that women were not as good as men at building networks but you need them to progress at work and be noticed. Their advice was simple: talk to more people!

The keynote speaker was Dr Sue Black from UCL who has been campaigning for gender equality since 1998, founded the network BCSWomen in 2001, was voted Tech Hero by ITPRO magazine, won the Women’s Inspiration Award this year and fought a national and successful campaign to save Bletchley Park from closure. Her inspirational talk was called & lsquo;If I can do it, so can you’ and focused also on the need for women in the sector to harness the power of networks – as she has done herself.

IT’s not just for the boys!, part of TARGETjobs Events’ national STEMinism awareness campaign, is aimed at promoting careers in IT to career-motivated female undergraduates. It seeks to address and challenge the stereotypical image of the industry as a place for geeky men. 14 employers sponsored the event, including Bloomberg, Microsoft, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Sky and IBM – proof that top employers are very keen indeed to attract more women into IT jobs.

Stephanie Robinson, Staffing Project Manager, UK Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Microsoft, said: “At Microsoft, we're proud of our partnership with STEMinism UK from TARGETjobs Events. By supporting events that showcase how women can add unique value in technology-related industries and by developing a network designed to support exceptional female technologists, we hope to lead the way in developing the next generation of women in STEM”.

Jenna Follett, Recruitment Marketing and Events EMEA at Bloomberg, commented:  "Bloomberg are proud to be a sponsor of IT's not just for the boys! By working alongside TARGETjobs Events, Bloomberg are able to support the development of female IT grads."

One of the students at the event, Sonali Warriar from the University of Nottingham, highlighted the benefits of a more balanced workforce. She said: “As the speakers said, having diversity increases creativity in a group, particular within something so important and evolving as technology. I do also believe that women are very good at mediating discussions and forming effective solutions – the IT industry would benefit from this”.

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