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Encouraging women into IT is more important than ever

I’m often asked if I have advice for women interested in getting into IT, and all I can say is ‘go for it!’. When I joined the industry as a Graduate Developer in 2005 it was a very different world, both in terms of the scope of what was possible, and the way women were perceived in that environment. The good news is that times have changed, and certainly at LV=GI there is no distinction between men and women in IT. You’re part of the team, you’re accepted, your opinions and skills will be valued. Being a woman should never be a blocker.

In the early days I was often asked ‘how did you get THAT job?’, and I really thought I had to prove myself because I was a woman. But I’m a naturally competitive person and it just drove me to prove them wrong. Now I don’t give it a thought – I lead an IT team of 120 permanent staff and 30-40 contractors, where the only thing that matters is WHAT and HOW we deliver.

Diversity brings different opinions and perspectives to the table. In IT, there are often many ways to tackle a problem and there isn’t always a right or wrong answer. Having breadth of thought and ideas gives us the opportunity to approach problems from different angles. Building relationships with peers from different backgrounds, ages and genders makes us so much stronger – we feel like a unit rather than a collection of individuals. We complement one another.

Women are still underrepresented across IT and STEM subjects, and it’s more important than ever to address this. In another 15 years my own daughter will be embarking on her career, and technology will have made even more enormous shifts. The ability to code and programme will be a given, an absolute essential. So, we need to inspire kids now to embrace maths and science as something amazing. Small changes make a difference – you see science kits in the shops now, and there are pictures of both girls and boys on the box. In my day it was only boys! We are heading in the right direction, but we need to keep the momentum up, and it needs to start as early as pre-school and follow through to primary education.

At LV= GI we’re signed up to the Tech She Can Charter, and we’re making plans to work with schools to support with lesson plans and talks from female technicians. For the most part it’s cultural – companies like LV= GI having open conversations about change and showing women that this is an environment in which they can thrive.

Katie Hermans
Head of IT Risk and Compliance

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