Socitm | The Society of IT Management

Press releases

Diversity in public sector IT must improve, says Socitm

Socitm, the body representing IT and digital professionals across the public sector, is supporting the need to achieve a better gender balance in local government.

The society has published a new policy briefing Leading Edge Women Leading Digital to highlight the importance of recognising the talent and contribution that female employees can bring to public sector IT.
 
The briefing says there is a strong business case for widening access for women in IT: not just for promoting ‘cognitive diversity’, but also for creating an inclusive culture for greater productivity, inventiveness and sustainability.
 
It calls on councils to:
• Challenge those who control recruitment and interviewing to design recruitment, retention, reward and progression paths that resonate with women
• Design and implement structured programmes to support more women in visible positions of leadership
• Invest in local initiatives (such as Tech Mums, Rewise Learning and CoderDojo) allowing anyone of any age and experience to embrace technology in everyday situations to make their lives better
 
The extent of IT's diversity issues has been laid bare by BCS, the chartered institute for IT, in a recent report detailing the lack of gender and ethnic variety in tech.
 
Just 17% of IT specialists in 2016 were women, BCS's Diversity in IT 2017 report found. The percentage of women in IT roles didn't rise above 20% in any UK region, according to the report's analysis of ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey data.
 
Only 10% of women in tech worked as IT directors, with the percentage falling to 9% for IT engineering roles. The highest proportion of female workers, at 25%, was found in tech project and programme manager roles.
 
Socitm is leading by example in tackling the gender imbalance in public sector IT. In 2015 it set up a Women in IT (WiT) group, which aims to help tackle the poor representation of women in IT, especially at decision-making levels, and provide a forum for women to share problems and solutions.
 
In addition, it runs an Empowering Women in a Digital World (EWDW) programme, which aims to help female IT professionals develop their leadership skills. The programme, which is about to run for the fifth time, provides training, a discussion forum, one-to-one coaching and networking opportunities for women in the IT field.
 
Participants of the first two cohorts of Socitm's EWDW and Top Talent (mixed gender) leadership programmes were interviewed as part of the Leading Edge Women Leading Digital project. Their testimonies and experiences are explored in this briefing.
 
Ruby Dixon, Socitm WiT steering group member, said: “Local authorities should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and I absolutely support the call for greater commitments to address the depressingly small number of women working in digital and IT roles in the public sector. The Socitm WiT group is working hard to improve the visibility of women in IT, through raising the profile of talented and experienced women working to deliver local public services, promoting them as role models and presenting greater opportunities for public speaking and other engagements.
 
“There is much more we can do however and I will be doing all I can – working with fellow WiT members and other local authority leaders nationally – to ensure that the sector is aware of the benefit and value that workforce diversification brings and to increase the number of women role models. This will include working with central government initiatives such as the Government Equality Office’s returner programmes.”
 
There are still some places available on the next EWDW programme which starts in February 2018 in London. For further information, please visit the EWDW page or email layla.flack@soctim.net
 
Leading Edge Women Leading Digital can be downloaded from the Socitm website.
 
Notes to editors:
Ruby Dixon now works for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on leadership, workforce, digital and efficiency. She contributed to this press release in her capacity as a Socitm WiT steering group member. The views expressed are her own.