Encouraging Diversity

Encouraging diversity within the IT industry and the software teams in which I work is a cause that has become increasingly important to me over the last year. Women are an under-represented group within IT, and for me this is a key area I would love to see improve.

It’s not uncommon to interpret ‘encouraging diversity’ as ‘having targets’, and this was exactly my opinion not so long ago. My recent experiences, however, have shifted my views and the more I learn, the more I want to contribute to the cause.

Why is it so important? Because more diverse teams are generally more productive, with a better variety of ideas, and are more pleasant places to work.

In my personal experience as a consultant, I’ve also found it much more pleasant when working away from home to have another lady around to socialise with.

Targets are bad. They shift focus to hitting a goal of a number – by the right or possibly the wrong means – instead of instigating a lasting change. But encouraging diversity, particularly gender diversity, means truly understanding and tackling the underlying issues that cause IT teams to be so male-dominated – in a way that can change the industry for the better, and for the long term.

As a lady in a male-dominated industry, I’ve always worked on teams with at least one female member (obviously). Watching the first two episodes of The Apprentice this season, I found it interesting to see the marked difference between the infighting in week one – where the teams were split by gender – and week two when at least on Team Apollo, Stella took a firm hand with the bickering boys.

Over time, I do hope to see attitudes shift. One day, maybe the majority of teams I work in will be balanced between women and men!