Why are women such a problem?

Silhouette of a woman sitting at a desk in front of a computer

Let's talk about toilets. As a female journalist working in the IT sector l love attending conferences. Sure, there's the networking and great information, but it's also the only public place I generally don't have to queue to use the loo.

I jest not. Women in the industry overall are still such a minority. Such a minority that I was at a mid-sized event a few weeks ago (I shall refrain from naming and shaming) were the demographic of the attendees was such the organiser saw fit to change some of the ladies' toilets into gents for the duration. Great for the blokes, but a sad reality check of just how far we really haven't come in IT.

While some may argue we have at least made baby steps forward, we have not, in reality reached a stage where we can honestly say our IT industry is truly diverse or representative. Indeed, it saddens me to re-read a piece I wrote on this very issue three years ago I could have simply changed the publication date and I doubt anyone would have called me out on it, because it rings as true today as it did back then.

One thing has changed though. While I remain frustrated that we keep having to talk about this issue to bring it into the public conscience and effect real change, I make no apology for doing so.

Up until last year, while I recognised the issues having experience most of them myself, I didn't want to risk furthering the divide or even feed the trolls.

My stance (as written in that piece three years ago) being: "I've done my best, during my 14-year career as an ITjournalist, to avoid writing too much about Women in IT.' My thinking largely being continuously pointing to us as a minority and different' only furthered the divide between the sexes."

But, you know what? Nothing will ever change if people just shut up and sit back. So I'm taking my responsibility seriously. My responsibility to get this issue discussed and debated so much so that it is no longer an issue. So it's something consigned to history.

Yes, I hear you say, I would say that as I happen to be female. But it's just as much your responsibility to do the same if you're a guy who works in IT to talk about this and get it sorted. It's not just a female thing either. It's about diversity generally.

Any workforce is better for having a diverse set of people working for it. People from different races, of different gender, different sexual orientations, different abilities, different strengths and different weakness.

I had a conversation recently about hiring talent, where a company told me they would give someone who lived on the moon a job if they could if it meant getting the best person to do the job. Let's open our eyes to the issues, open our ears so we are listening and open our minds to the possibilities. Then, hopefully, minorities already working in IT won't feel alone because the industry will be seen as attractive and inclusive to all.

We're all adults. We are all clever people (or at least think we are) so please, can we work together on this so I can get off my soapbox and write about the brilliant things our diverse and inclusive tech industry is doing?

IT Pro's spotlight on women in tech month read all our great content here has come to an end, but we will continue to shine a light on the issues and champion the cause as part of our wider diversity coverage.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.