Welcome!

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Article

Inspiring Change - Why We Need More Women in Tech

An interview with Anne Bryson, Group Technical Manager for iomart

Set against the backdrop of this weekend's International Women's Day  theme of Inspiring Change, I had the pleasure to sit down with Anne Bryson, Group Technical Manager at iomart.

As one of Europe's leading cloud companies iomart has long championed the employment possibilities that working in the field of technology offers to women. Sadly current statistics show that our industry is still falling short. According to research by e-skills UK, only 17% of employees in IT & Telecoms are female.

Anne was asked for her thoughts on why this might be and to provide some background to her own career journey in the hope that it encourages more women to consider this industry as a great career choice.

What led you into the world of technology?

Anne Bryson: My story is one of Music to Macs. I originally studied music as a student at Glasgow University. My course was one of the few non-computing courses to use computers as a central part of our studies. I got the chance to work on some very advanced systems. We used NeXT Step computers (a precursor to the Apple Mac) and one of the more challenging projects involved actually writing computer programs in C to make sounds for electronic composition. Not an easy task when you had never coded let alone in C before!

Those programs could be used for musical notation and composing electronic music and they got me hooked. I decided to study further and gain an MSc in Information Technology, covering topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Systems Analysis and Design and software programming.

I'm often asked why I went from music to computing as they seem worlds apart but for me they were interconnected, both relying on an element of logical, mathematical thought. It proves that you don't need to have studied computing at school - anyone who can think logically should be able to follow a piece of code even if they don't quite understand all the hieroglyphics!

What was your first job in Tech?

Bryson: My first job in tech was with iomart back in 1999 and I'm still here today and loving every minute of it!

When I joined as a fresh young graduate, iomart was a brand new start-up company about to launch a new ISP called Madasafish. It was incredibly exciting and as one of only a handful of staff I got the chance to get involved with new technologies right away.

My first job title was Junior Developer. Fifteen years on and I've risen to the position of Group Technical Manager. iomart has also grown into a leading provider of cloud and managed hosting and a PLC listed on the London Stock Exchange. My role now encompasses the technology that supports over 300 staff and the thousands of customers who use our network of UK data centres.

My responsibility is to manage the development of the group systems for iomart which covers all our internal management systems (CRM/reporting/provisioning systems etc.), developing our core products and also our customer-facing systems such as our control panels, online order portals and helpdesks. I have to ensure that the systems we develop cater for all our business requirements and that projects are delivered for our customers to specification and on time.

Did you have female colleagues when you started work?

Bryson: When I first joined iomart, the development team was small but what was unusual for the time was that there was an even ratio of women to men. As the company grew however that trend didn't continue. We employ over 300 people and about 60 of them are women -that's approaching 20 per cent of the workforce, better than the UK average but not as high as we'd like.

I wish I could say there are more women in technical roles compared to when I started, however from personal experience, whilst there are plenty of women in non-technical roles within technological firms, when it comes to the "techie" positions, men still far outnumber women. Today, 23% of my development team is female and when we are running recruitment drives we rarely get female applicants, which is a real shame.

Are there enough women in technical roles in industry in general?

Bryson: Personally, I don't think there are enough women currently in technical roles. I truly believe women are as strong mathematically as men and arguably more logical and practical however when it comes to technical roles, there is still a vast disparity between the number of men versus women.

What needs to be done to encourage more women into technical jobs?

Bryson: I think there needs to be more information available on what possibilities exist in the marketplace for women interested in technology. I never knew much about what programming or technical employment possibilities there were until I started my MSc and we were introduced to a lot of the different "core areas".  Even then I don't think I really grasped the different types of roles which existed just within programming itself let alone other areas like databases, networking etc..

It's also difficult for someone to decide what role is for them when they don't really know what a job entails. I know from personal experience that if I try to explain my job or the services iomart provides, I am commonly met with blank stares so it is much easier just to say I "work with computers."

If more could be done to demonstrate first-hand the types of jobs there are and the exciting new products and concepts you can work on and the huge career progress you can make, I'm sure it would help potential female "techies" realise that it is a path they want to go down.

What is your message to women wanting to work in the technology industry?

Bryson: My first point would be that I work in one of the most exciting industries in the world. Even in the UK the tech sector has outperformed the rest of the private sector for employment over the last decade. According to a recent report by KPMG and Markit, our industry is more upbeat about its prospects than any other. New technology start-ups are being created every day and a lot of these companies are doing incredibly exciting things.

My second point would be that the technology industry should not be a "man's world." Women should be able to progress well in it especially if they can bridge the gap between technology and business. These days, more companies are looking for people who can carry out not only the technical function but can also understand the business impact their involvement has and can communicate well with other "non-technical" people within the business.

What I'd conclude by saying is, don't be afraid to dip a toe in the water and see if there is something in our industry that can inspire you.

And that's not a bad statement on which to conclude our interview. If reading this has given has roused your curiosity and you're now interested in investigating a career within the technology industry then please do something now! There are thousands of careers and educational establishment websites sitting out there waiting to provide you with advice. Or if you'd rather hear stories such as Anne's direct from women working in the Industry then don't hesitate to visit companies at trade shows, events or seminars or go with the direct method of contacting them by phone or web. You'll be surprised at the reception you'll receive - we want to talk to you. It's a great Industry, it's a growth industry and its driving the world's economy and we need you to join us.

And if you're interested in iomart specifically please visit our careers section for more information.

More Stories By Phil Worms

Phil is a 30 year IT industry veteran with a passion for education and has personally led many school and higher education initiatives designed to engage young people and showcase the broad range of exciting and fulfilling roles in IT.

A full and varied career has seen Phil move through various senior product/project and marketing positions with companies as diverse as Centrica plc, One.Tel, VarTec Telecom and iomart Group plc. Phil is working on a project to create an intergenerational social hub that will celebrate creativity and achievement in Helensburgh, birthplace of television pioneer John Logie Baird.The Heroes Centre will provide people of all ages with the new media and content creation skills required to engage fully in the digital world. Follow his progress on Twitter and on Facebook

Latest Stories
Digital transformation is changing the face of business. The IDC predicts that enterprises will commit to a massive new scale of digital transformation, to stake out leadership positions in the "digital transformation economy." Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, Oct 31-Nov 2, will find fresh new content in a new track called Enterprise Cloud & Digital Transformation.
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, will discuss how given the magnitude of today's applicati...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere Systems was created by file systems experts determined to reinvent storage by changing the way enterprises thought about and bought storage resources. With decades of experience behind the company’s founders, Avere got its ...
Microsoft Azure Container Services can be used for container deployment in a variety of ways including support for Orchestrators like Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and Mesos. However, the abstraction for app development that support application self-healing, scaling and so on may not be at the right level. Helm and Draft makes this a lot easier. In this primarily demo-driven session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, a Cloud Solutions Architect/Evangelist at Microsoft, wi...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...