Women in IT under the spotlight

29 March 2011

A ceremony to celebrate women’s achievements in IT took place on 22 March attended by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.

As patron of WISE (Women into Science, Engineering & Construction), the campaign to encourage girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths, Princess Anne honoured a wide range of female achievers in IT.

As well as being a celebration and showcase of women’s successes in IT, the event launched a new call to action for industry to attract a stronger pipeline of girls into IT. By creating more female role models, WISE is hoping to encourage more businesses to improve the prospects available to girls in IT careers.

Her Royal Highness presented two awards during the evening, the Breaking the Mould Award, which celebrates entrepreneurship amongst young girls, and the CWT everywoman in Technology Award, which recognises women who have already entered the profession.

Six pupils from Kendrick School in Reading were winners of the Breaking the Mould Award, which is supported by the Mail on Sunday.

Winners of the CWT everywoman in Technology Awards were:

  • Woman of The Year: Christine Hodgson, Executive Chairman of Capgemini UK plc.
  • Business Leader of the Year (sponsored by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT): Bernadette Wightman, Managing Director, Partner Organisation, Cisco UK & Ireland, Cisco Systems.
  • Rising Star of the Year (sponsored by womenintechnology.co.uk): Stephanie Nicolaou, ICT Systems Analyst, AgustaWestland Helicopters.
  • Team Leader of the Year (sponsored by Ebay Classifieds Group): Billie Major, Core Assets Portfolio Director, Capgemini UK.
  • Innovator of the Year category (sponsored by Thomson Reuters): Naomi Chayen, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Imperial College London.
  • Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by BP): Wendy Tan-White, Founder and CMO of Moonfruit.
  • Inspiration of the Year (sponsored by Computer Weekly.com): Nikki Walker, Senior Director Inclusion, Diversity & Sustainability Europe, Cisco Systems.

Maxine Benson, MBE, Co-founder and Director of everywoman commented: ‘The number and calibre of nominations was exceptionally high, so congratulations to all of our award winners. Our winners are all phenomenal role models whose success we applaud and whose passion, commitment and drive we celebrate.’

Eileen Brown, Founder of the Connecting Women in Technology (CWT) initiative said: ‘The fundamental tenets of CWT are to transcend organisational boundaries and celebrate the success of women in each technology company through collaboration, mentoring and sharing best practice. To this end, I am thrilled that each individual IT company is delighted to come together to support everywoman in this celebration of amazing and passionate women working in technology.’

Just 14.4 per cent of IT professionals in the UK are women and one in four IT service delivery employees are female.

Annette Williams, Chair of WISE, wants the awards to act as a catalyst for industry to do more to attract girls into IT careers. She said: ‘Teachers and parents have a responsibility to encourage young girls into IT, but it is the responsibility of industry to ensure there is a pipeline of opportunities for everyone in the sector. Women bring different skills to the workforce so diversity is crucial if the UK is going to be able to compete globally in the industry.

‘These awards not only highlight the excellent work being done by women in IT, but they also demonstrate the entrepreneurship and enthusiasm of both women and girls to take on the technological challenges of the 21st century.’

Ms Williams concluded: ‘We urge the IT industry to improve their recruitment processes to encourage more females into IT roles, to monitor their gender equality progress and to create true diversity in the sector.’