SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Ian Khan, Liz McMillan, AppDynamics Blog, Harry Trott, Blue Box Blog

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, Microservices Journal, Linux, Virtualization

Cloud Expo: 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 the Chief Marketing Officer of one of the UK's largest managed hosting and cloud computing services companies - iomart Group plc. He is a 30 year IT industry veteran, having started his career with BT plc, joining the company as it emerged into a brave new commercial world following privatisation.

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 and VarTec Telecom, Phil has been described as “an old head who has been around the block more than once” who “continues to be a powerhouse of ideas in all areas in which he provides his considerable experience to” - which probably means he should have been pensioned long ago.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
DevOps Summit, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developmen...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
Application metrics, logs, and business KPIs are a goldmine. It’s easy to get started with the ELK stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana) – you can see lots of people coming up with impressive dashboards, in less than a day, with no previous experience. Going from proof-of-concept to production tends to be a bit more difficult, unfortunately, and it tends to gobble up our attention, time, and money. In his session at DevOps Summit, Otis Gospodnetić, co-author of Lucene in Action and founder...
While Docker continues to be the darling of startups, enterprises and IT innovators around the world, networking continues to be a real mess. Indeed, managing the interaction between Docker containers and networks has always been fraught with complications. Without automation in networking, the vision of running Docker at scale and letting IT run the same apps unchanged on the laptop and in the data center or for any cloud cannot be realized.
“The year of the cloud – we have no idea when it's really happening but we think it's happening now. For those technology providers like Zentera that are helping enterprises move to the cloud - it's been fun to watch," noted Mike Loftus, VP Product Management and Marketing at Zentera Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
“We are a managed services company. We have taken the key aspects of the cloud and the purposed data center and merged the two together and launched the Purposed Cloud about 18–24 months ago," explained Chetan Patwardhan, CEO of Stratogent, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CenturyLink, Inc., a leader in the network services market, has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the United States and is recognized as a leader in the network services market by technology industry analyst firms. The company is a global leader in cloud infrastructure and ...
Database apps on mobile devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate for IBM Cloudant, will discuss how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again), whenever an Internet connection is available. He will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with mobile devices in order to build offline-enabled mobile apps that can provide a better,...
In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Simone Brunozzi, VP and Chief Technologist of Cloud Services at VMware, will review the changes that the cloud computing industry has gone through over the last five years and share insights into what the next five will bring. He will chronicle the challenges enterprise companies are facing as they move to the public cloud. He will delve into the “Hybrid Cloud” space and explain why every CIO should consider ‘hybrid cloud’ as part of their future strategy to a...
"Blue Box has been around for 10-11 years, and last year we launched Blue Box Cloud. We like the term 'Private Cloud as a Service' because we think that embodies what we are launching as a product - it's a managed hosted private cloud," explained Giles Frith, Vice President of Customer Operations at Blue Box, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Puppet Labs on Wednesday released the DevOps Salary Report, based on salary data gathered from Puppet Labs' industry-recognized State of DevOps Report. The data confirms that market demand for DevOps skills is growing, and that DevOps engineers are among the highest paid IT practitioners today. That's because IT organizations today are grappling with how to be more agile and responsive to the business, while maintaining the stability of their infrastructure. DevOps practices, such as continuous ...
"SOASTA built the concept of cloud testing in 2008. It's grown from rather meager beginnings to where now we are provisioning hundreds of thousands of servers on a daily basis on behalf of customers around the world to test their applications," explained Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Docker is becoming very popular--we are seeing every major private and public cloud vendor racing to adopt it. It promises portability and interoperability, and is quickly becoming the currency of the Cloud. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bart Copeland, CEO of ActiveState, discussed why Docker is so important to the future of the cloud, but will also take a step back and show that Docker is actually only one piece of the puzzle. Copeland will outline the bigger picture of where Docker fits a...
“This win means a great deal to us because it is decided by the readers – the people who understand how use of our technology enables new insights that drive the business,” said Matt Davies, senior director, EMEA marketing, Splunk. “Splunk Enterprise enables organizations to improve service levels, reduce operations costs, mitigate security risks, enhance DevOps collaboration, create new product and service offerings and obtain deeper insight into customer behavior. Being named Best Business App...