When you hear "a career in technology" do you think coding? Like the guys who were "wired in" for hours at a time in the movie about the creation of "Facebook". Well you are not on your own - lots of people do. And let's be honest, IT's got a bit of a nerdy reputation which can be off-putting, probably more so for girls than boys. At least that was the conclusion of a recent study released by Google last month. The company surveyed about 1,600 men and women, and the words the women who were not in computer science used to describe IT were "boring," "technology," and "difficult."
There's a massive gender gap in the technology industry with women making up only about a quarter of the workforce. This is partly because girls aren't really encouraged to study IT. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of women studying computer science in the US has dropped from 37% in the mid 1980s to 18% in 2012 - that's a huge change and UK figures show similar trends too.
In Spring 2014 an introductory computer science course at University of California Berkeley had more women enrolled than men (106 to 104) for the first time since the school has been keeping records. So what did they do to make that happen? They changed the name from "Introduction to Symbolic Programming" to "Beauty and the Joy of Computing," and female enrolment increased by 50%!
So on the face of it, there's a problem of perception. And whilst it used to be fairly true that IT was all about coding, it's no longer the case. In terms of roles, "I work in IT" includes a whole range of activities and functions like project management, information security, data analysis, software expertise in platforms like SAP or Salesforce, and customer support.
It also crosses several different disciplines such as e-commerce, logistics and engineering. IT can be thought of as interdisciplinary because it's used as a bridge between groups. In fact, at Thomson Reuters, we combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in professional markets. That doesn't sound like boring coding does it?
"Technology" today is a complete eco-system: it's the core components we build on; plus the applications - whether that's something we get from an external supplier or something we build ourselves; plus the data centres, tools and infrastructure; plus, perhaps most importantly, the skills and innovation we need to bring all those components together. To be honest the technical skills are not always the most important element - IT is a lot to do with creative thinking, innovation, project and organisational skills.
I didn't actually start out wanting a career in IT myself. I originally qualified as a chemist. My speciality was in utilities - water and wastewater chemistry and, although I liked the field a lot, I decided I didn't want to keep working as a chemist. I was more interested in creating 'end-to-end' business systems such as the water quality reporting application I put in place, which meant plant operatives didn't have to rely on the marks on their wellies and the wall to know if a piece of kit was dosing correctly.
Women are interested in technology and according to 2012 research by Intel's Genevieve Bell, in western countries women use the internet 17% more than their male counterparts, they use their mobile phones more, use location-based services more, are the fastest-growing and largest number of users of Skype, and use most social media sites more often.
They are also in the majority in terms of ownership of tech devices. So we clearly know what works. I also believe that technology needs to be purpose-driven, and it can have a real impact - whether that's in business, in medicine - for example, computer modelling of the spread of infections to help control epidemics - working to help resolve social issues by designing, developing and marketing apps, or connecting non-profits and fundraising groups.
So what's not to like? IT has good prospects, it's a very diverse field with many roles to be had in almost every company worldwide and it offers incredible opportunity to innovate and solve challenges. Some of the best kept secrets suffer from bad PR ... so it's time to get behind all of that negative hype and give IT a closer look.
Christine joined Thomson Reuters in July 2013 and is SVP, Technology leading Enterprise Business Systems (EBS). In 2014 she oversaw a fundamental reshaping of EBS to enable it to better serve its business stakeholders and to support the CEO's strategy for the corporation.
She is Executive Sponsor for Diversity within Thomson Reuters Technology and is actively involved in promoting women in technology including: the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology; the 2015 Teen Girl Champion conference; and the City Women Network. In March 2015 Christine was invited to speak at the Royal Institution's conference for sixth formers Celebrating Women in Technology.
In 2014 and 2012 Christine was voted one of the top 25 most influential women in UK IT, and in 2015 ranked 53rd among the UK's top 100 CIOs. She is passionate about communicating the attractiveness of IT as a career choice by being a STEM ambassador. She is also a Chartered Fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and an active participant in a number of industry advisory boards.
Christine has a background in utilities, natural resources and telecommunications. Before joining Thomson Reuters she was globally at BG Group (BG). As BG's EMEA CIO, she led significant change by transforming the organisation and the global services offered by IT to enable improved ways of working.
Prior to that, Christine was Group Strategy and Technology Director at Transport for London (TfL) helping to prepare for the 2012 Olympics through the design and architecture of key public services including the acclaimed cycle hire scheme - now known as the "Boris Bikes".
From 2001 to 2008, she held key positions at BP ultimately Chief Information Manager running some of the world's largest business process and technology infrastructures, and creating some industry firsts such as the first ever carbon trade. She was instrumental in influencing BP's philosophy of 'living on the web'.
Before moving to BP, Christine held group level roles at Lattice, Caudwell Group, Octel and in the Water Industry.
Christine served as a non-executive director of the Passport and Criminal Records Agency for 5 years. She also served on BCS' strategic council for 4 years authoring articles on innovation through crowdsourcing.
Christine is originally from the North West of the UK and now lives in Berkshire. She is a keen fund raiser and has done many charity bike rides and runs.