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THE Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT) group celebrates its third anniversary today at a conference attended by 100 women, focusing on how to assess the political environment in the workplace and develop a personal communications strategy around this.
Launched in September 2010, SWiT is made up of influential technology industry professionals in Scotland representing Dell, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM, Skills Development Scotland, Oracle, Scottish Enterprise and Perceptive Partners Communications.
SWiT’s goal is to attract, inspire, empower and retain women in the technology industry by developing a network to help grow their contribution in the IT business.
The group is the brainchild of Silka Patel, international marketing manager at Cisco.
Silka was involved with a similar group in London and could see the benefits of encouraging women into technology in Scotland too.
Silka Patel commented: “This sector is a brilliant place for women to work and progress, yet we are very much in the minority.
“Through our activities we hope to retain female talent in the sector as well as encouraging more women into this exciting area, to develop their skills and so maximise the contribution to our economy.
“The tech sector offers fantastic roles for women and young people, but at the moment these opportunities are mainly overlooked.
“We know that there is a stereotypical image of the tech geek but this is very one-dimensional and totally underestimates the exciting opportunities that are within the reach of many young people and women in Scotland.
“I don’t have a technology background, but have managed to carve out a successful career with a blue chip organisation which is really stimulating and varied.
“Thanks to the technology available, the working patterns are very flexible, so this gives me a good balance between work and home life as mum to my young son.”
Says a spokesperson: “Women still account for less than 20 per cent* of the workforce in science, engineering and technology in Scotland despite the flexibility as well as the career and economic opportunities available to employees in the sector.
“The technology companies represented in SWiT regularly run workshops and other educational sessions to High Schools in Scotland to help raise awareness about careers in Technology at a time when fewer students than ever are opting for subjects that would ultimately equip them for careers in the sector – this is especially the case for girls with a gender mix that can be as high as 80/20 male/female.”
Ishbell MacPhail, sales director and Scotland deputy site lead, Dell, commented:
“The IT industry must work together to ensure that Scotland rises to the challenge of producing the talented graduates needed to meet the demands of the world- wide digital revolution.
“The group of companies that make up SWIT embrace diversity of all kinds, recognising that diversity is essential not only for business and economic growth and success, but for the retention and development of team members.
“SWiT’s core objectives remain focussed on attracting more women into the technology industry, working closely with schools and careers services to encourage young women to study subjects that will give them access to excellent career prospects in a thriving industry.
“Dell is proud to be hosting this event aimed at existing female employees, ultimately to provide insight into the politics at play in the workplace and enable access to tools to better influence in their own work place.”
Annabel Goldie, MSP will launch today’s event with a keynote address sharing her personal experiences of a distinguished political career, leading the Scottish Conservative Party and the MSP Group.
Ms Goldie commented: “Scotland is blessed with many able and remarkable women making a vital contribution at all levels to the economy and to Scottish society.
“Consistently, they are making their mark in key areas of Scottish business and professional life.
“Immensely important in that endeavour is the ability of women to share one another’s company, share experiences, network and derive mutual benefit from such activity.
“Today’s event organised by Scottish Women in Technology is a very positive example of that activity and a very clear demonstration of the female talent abundant in Scotland. It is a privilege to be asked to speak at such an important event.”
Heather Campbell, founder of CommsMasters, will lead a group session on ‘The Female Business Politician’.
An expert in leadership communication, Heather comments: “The basis of improving our ability to communicate well is surprisingly simple – the secret is to focus on changing our thoughts rather than our behaviours.
“Get the thinking right and the right behaviours will automatically follow.”
Varry McMenemy, managing director, BellCom and president of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, will facilitate a follow-on panel discussion with Annabel Goldie and Heather joined by participants from IBM and Dell.
A master class on ‘Politics of Social Media’ will be run by Julie Moulsdale, managing director at Perceptive Partners Communications.
Here, attendees will learn how to leverage social media politics to help build their profile, relationships and their careers.
Adds the spokesperson: “eSkills are predicting 9,600 new entrants will be required in the Scottish IT Sector each year for the next three years in order to meet the growing demand for skills in software programming and big data analytics alone.
“ScotlandIS, in its Scottish Technology Industry Survey 2013, also identifies commercial roles in pre-sales and marketing as being key skills in demand as well as leadership.”
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