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
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Digitization is driving a fundamental change in society that is transforming the way businesses work with their customers, their supply chains and their people. Digital transformation leverages DevOps best practices, such as Agile Parallel Development, Continuous Delivery and Agile Operations to capitalize on opportunities and create competitive differentiation in the application economy. However, information security has been notably absent from the DevOps movement. Speed doesn’t have to negat...
Leading cloud-centric IT organizations are establishing core capabilities to improve productivity, control costs and provide a highly responsive end-user experience. Key steps along this journey include creating an end-user cloud services catalog, automating workflows and provisioning, and implementing IT showback and chargeback. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Jamensky, executive vice president of Products at Embotics, will walk attendees through an in-depth case study of enterprise I...
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service. In his session at 19th Cloud Exp...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Your business relies on your applications and your employees to stay in business. Whether you develop apps or manage business critical apps that help fuel your business, what happens when users experience sluggish performance? You and all technical teams across the organization – application, network, operations, among others, as well as, those outside the organization, like ISPs and third-party providers – are called in to solve the problem.
Digital transformation is too big and important for our future success to not understand the rules that apply to it. The first three rules for winning in this age of hyper-digital transformation are: Advantages in speed, analytics and operational tempos must be captured by implementing an optimized information logistics system (OILS) Real-time operational tempos (IT, people and business processes) must be achieved Businesses that can "analyze data and act and with speed" will dominate those t...
While DevOps promises a better and tighter integration among an organization’s development and operation teams and transforms an application life cycle into a continual deployment, Chef and Azure together provides a speedy, cost-effective and highly scalable vehicle for realizing the business values of this transformation. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, a Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, will present a unique opportunity to witness how Chef and Azure work tog...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...