NWED 2016: Why we need more women in technology
Today we’re celebrating National Women in Engineering Day. This is a fantastic opportunity to further raise the profile of women in engineering and technology, while encouraging more girls to consider STEM subjects and careers in our amazing industry.
It all started with Alice Perry, the first female engineering graduate in Ireland and Britain in 1906 in Galway… She paved the way for other women like me to study engineering.
For me personally, as someone who has enjoyed a long career in engineering and technology, I feel very strongly about the difference women can make. I had the great honour of being President of Engineers Ireland in 2014/15, only the third female President in 178 years. I want to continue pushing the female agenda in the engineering and technology sectors.
Let me explain why. It’s estimated that less than a quarter of all jobs in IT will be held by women by the end of the year. This is the same proportion as it was in 2015. To me, it’s a tragedy this number is not improving.
And it’s not just an economic cost (Deloitte estimates the gender gap to be worth $4bn a year in the UK alone) – there is a social cost as well.
Women make up a large proportion of our customers both professionally and personally, so neglecting them in the workforce is a costly mistake.
A big part of this issue starts at school level, and we feel passionately about combating this issue at Fujitsu.
It’s our view that all IT stakeholders, from government to small businesses, should take responsibility to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects by girls at school and university.
Technology touches every aspect of human life, and for its future success we must ensure that both men and women are aware of the exciting and diverse career paths available. Living in the hyper-connected world means we are vulnerable to the same risks and share the same challenges. The world’s population just passed the 7 billion mark and continues to grow and change. We are ageing and we are moving into cities, creating new challenges for our social infrastructure. We are facing the threat of climate change as evidenced by the conference this week in New York. We must provide food for the growing global population and improve food yields. We must respond to natural disasters.
So how do we respond to the challenge of the hyper-connected world? How do we take advantage of the opportunity? How do we guard against its many risks? These changes have huge implications for enterprises and bring new challenges for resource management, healthcare, disaster mitigation and our environment. Put simply, we need more engineers and technologists in our world!
There is both a global and local challenge to attract and retain talent into our profession.
This is an important point that I want to use to help encourage more women into a career in engineering and technology. We should also continue to challenge stereotypes that jobs are extremely technical, ‘nerdy’ or even plain dull. I know first-hand that this isn’t the case. I don’t see myself in this way and certainly Alice Perry our first female engineer didn’t fit the stereotype either!
Gender diversity matters
We believe having a diverse workforce enables an organisation to be truly innovative.
Fujitsu values diversity and inclusion, and this is underlined by the fantastic work of our Gender Network.
This has helped the number of female employees in our organisation grow – the proportion of women starting our graduate programme is up to 45% this year. On top of that, the proportion of female new starters has increased from 21.7% to 28.1% since the gender network launched.
But we have to continue this great work. I would strongly encourage any women who are considering their career options to consider one in engineering or technology. It’s massively fulfilling and the fact that technology touches every part of our lives gives you an opportunity to make a huge difference in the world around you.
And secondly, today some of our female engineers are taking to Twitter to tweet photos of themselves and their teams to help raise awareness of women in technology.
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