More women needed in IT, science, maths and engineering professions

6 February 2015

President's DinnerProfessor Liz Bacon, BCS President, is establishing a network of senior women involved with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. Those involved aim to encourage more women to consider careers in science, engineering, maths and IT.

Liz Bacon explains: “We need to continue to encourage more girls and women into careers that involve science, engineering, maths and IT. In IT women account for just 16% of the UK IT workforce; this is a serious issue for both the UK and the IT profession.

“As part of my presidential year, I’ve invited senior women to join a network to support work already being done through collaboration with other groups, to address the lack of diversity in the professions, particularly women, at all levels. Our aim is to look for new ways to inspire the next generation of women. We will also be supporting existing approaches such as offering mentoring and work shadowing schemes, acting as role models, publicising success, as well as encouraging good practice such as supporting women returners to work with training and flexible working patterns.”

The network was launched at the recent BCS Presidential lecture and dinner delivered and hosted by Professor Bacon.

Maggie Philbin, CEO of Teen Tech, President of Institution of Engineering Designers, who is supporting the network says: “I'm delighted to be part of a network which sets out to make a real difference not only to the number of women working in science and technology companies but to the number reaching their true potential and leading, managing and creating those organisations. It's not enough to parachute a few women in as Non-Execs or to encourage girls to consider STEM careers. Companies and academic organisations need to look at how they can build structures and cultures which are genuinely welcoming and to promote those who are already doing this. Otherwise women will continue to vote with their feet.”

Women who have so far volunteered to support the network include:

  • Gillian Arnold, Director, Tectre, Chair of BCSWomen
  • Jenny Body OBE, Immediate Past President, Royal Aeronautical Society
  • Dawn Bonfield, President, Women's Engineering Society
  • Naomi Climer, President, Sony Media Cloud Services LLC
  • Rosemary Cook CBE, CEO, Institute of Physics & Engineering in Medicine
  • Sarah Fray, Director of Engineering, the Institution of Structural Engineers
  • Rebecca George OBE, Partner Deloitte, Vice President and Trustee, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
  • Trudy Norris-Grey, Chair, WISE
  • Judith Hackitt CBE, Chair of HSE and Past President Institution of Chemical Engineers
  • Professor Dame Wendy Hall DBE, past President, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
  • Joanne Hannaford, co-head of Enterprise Platforms, Goldman Sachs Technology and partner
  • Professor Dame Celia Hoyles DBE, President, Institute of Mathematics and its Applications
  • Dame Sue Ion OBE, Chairman Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board
  • Dr Joanna Kennedy OBE, Patron of WISE, Patron of WISE, former Director and Global Project Management Leader, Arup
  • Professor Elizabeth Mansfield, Vice-President Learned Society, Institute of Mathematics and its Applications
  • Maggie Philbin, CEO, Teen Tech, President of Institution of Engineering Designers
  • Professor Isobel Pollock OBE, Chair National Measurement Office Steering Board, past President Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  • Kate Russell, Technology report and author
  • Dr Frances Saunders, President, Institute of Physics
  • Elizabeth Sparrow, past President, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT
  • Sue Sumner, Director, Global Finance Technology and Solutions, Barclays
  • Helen Wollaston, Director, WISE
  • Professor Lesley Yellowlees MBE, President, Royal Society of Chemistry

Dr Frances Saunders, President of the Institute of Physics adds: "Girls do need to see that there are inspiring women they can identify with having successful careers in STEM before they will be convinced that it is something they would want to do themselves. We need to encourage them to join us in our professions rather than just tell them that studying science and maths will be good for them.”

BCS is committed to encouraging women into the IT profession and leads several initiatives including unconscious bias training, mentoring and workshops. The Institute recently won an international award presented by GEM Tech for its work promoting women in the ICT sector.

Photo shows from left to right - (taken in the Painted Hall, The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich):

Front row: Helen Wollaston, Director, WISE, Professor Isobel Pollock OBE, Chair, National Measurement Office Steering Board, past President Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Professor Liz Bacon, BCS President, Joanne Hannaford, co-head of Enterprise Platforms, Goldman Sachs Technology and partner, Professor Dame Celia Hoyles DBE, President, Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, Elizabeth Sparrow, past President, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

Back row: Sue Sumner, Director, Global Finance Technology and Solutions within Barclays, Sarah Fray, Director of Engineering, the Institution of Structural Engineers, Judith Hackitt CBE, Chair of HSE and Past President Institution of Chemical Engineers, Dawn Bonfield, President, Women's Engineering Society, Professor Elizabeth Mansfield, Vice-President Learned Society, Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, Gillian Arnold, Director Tectre, Chair of BCSWomen, Professor Dame Wendy Hall DBE, past President, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, Kate Russell, Technology report and author

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