Nescot College’s Adrian Mann Theatre played host to a presentation on Leaders in the Digital Age, which highlighted the growing opportunities for women in technology. The talk, on the 12 October, by Lesley Hume, Director for the Government IT Profession and Deputy Director for the Government IT Profession Kate Silver, looked at the growth of IT services from the age of the fax, through emailing, to current mobile technology and instant messaging.
IT users were categorised as: Digital Natives, technically confident good communicators who are usually of school or college age; Digital Neanderthals, older users who are suspicious of technology and change and worry that their inadequacies will be exposed; and Digital Exiles, who display a mixture of traits from the first two groups.
Digital Natives may be adept at using the latest technology to communicate but may have few of the skills required within a formal working environment.
Digital Neanderthals, on the other hand, are likely to have mastered office politics and hold positions of authority but may feel threatened by the rapid pace of technological change.
Clearly the two groups have much to offer one another and, for the Natives, their easy familiarity with the tools of new technology can offer the chance of rapid advancement in the modern workplace.
The presentation also looked at the so called ‘softer skills’ often associated with female workers, and pointed out that, while IT was often seen as a mathematical or technological career path, modern IT careers were all about communication.
With the real boom in IT services stemming from the communication and social networking sectors and careers in IT offering the flexibility to create a satisfying work life balance, the industry should be a magnet to talented young women. However, with IT careers still suffering from the outdated supergeek image, many are overlooking it as a career path.
The final part of the presentation looked at how an IT services career path should be considered a profession with the need for an improved professional attitude within the IT services sector.
The future of the industry lay less with coders and more with tech literate, business savvy individuals with the organisational abilities to deliver and manage multi million pound projects and solutions to deliver and improve the UK’s GDP, the speakers claimed.
The speakers said there is an untapped source of skill and expertise amongst youngsters and in particular women, who have the communication skills to have successful careers in IT but are rarely offered it as an attractive career path.