Maggie Berry is committed to increasing the number of women who are working and achieving in the UK’s IT profession. Maggie is a founder of womenintechnology.co.uk, a leading online job board and networking forum for women working in the technology profession in UK. Her company regularly host and co-host networking events, run personal development and career orientated training courses and provide in-depth information about key matters affecting the IT industry and the people who work within it.
She’s a great person to know if you’re looking for a job in a technology sector : )
Tell us a bit about yourself – your background, profession and organizations/initiatives you are involved with?
I graduated with a degree in history and French language from the University of East Anglia in Norwich. After working at home in Scotland for a few years, I moved down to London in 2000 and worked in IT recruitment in the City for four years gaining lots of experience of helping job seekers to find a new role. I’ve been running womenintechnology for over five years now and am involved in lots of different initiatives within the women in IT space including BCSWomen, Intellect’s Women in IT Forum, Girl Geek Dinners, the City Women’s Network and the Women’s Engineering Society. As the MD my roles includes a wide variety of responsibilities such as building relationships with client sponsors, organising events, creating plans for the website, public speaking and I really enjoy the mix of my day to day activities.
What is ‘Women In Technology’ and how did you come up with the idea?
womenintechnology.co.uk is an organisation committed to increasing the number of women who are working and achieving in the UK’s IT profession. The idea for the website came about after a piece of diversity research showed the distinct lack of women working in technology – the website launched as a simple information portal in March 2005 and over the last five years it’s grown into an online community for women working in IT. We provide a complete recruitment service, offer a dedicated online IT job board, regularly host networking events for our 6000-strong membership, run personal development and career orientated training courses and provide in-depth information about key matters affecting the IT industry and the people who work within it. Any firms looking to hire more female technologists in the UK – highlighting why they are an ideal place for a woman to have a successful technology career – should have a chat with us! And any ladies working in the industry looking for connections, career advice or networking opportunities, should join our free mailing list.
You don’t have a technical background, what motivated you to start a forum for women in technology instead of banking or finance which were more familiar to you?
As I’d been recruiting IT professionals into roles within the banking sector, my expertise really sat more within the technology space rather than finance. I could also see that employers were always interested in female CVs and our diversity research showed that it took women fewer interviews to secure a role compared to men – so it’s more time effective to hire a female in IT! I also feel really strongly that there are loads of great roles in IT that women miss out on them and so, in turn, the industry misses out on a wealth of female talent. The business case for having a diverse team is well proven and we’ve created a tool (through our online job board and recruitment services team) that employers can use to help them hire more female technologists.
We have seen one of the worst global economic turmoil in last 1-2 years. How it impacted the career opportunities for women who are planning to make a career in Technology?
It’s been tough and if I’m honest, things will probably remain tough for a while longer yet. For ladies looking to enter the industry without any previous experience, the competition is pretty fierce and for those already in the industry, the opportunities for moving around have been reduced. But, IT is a growing profession and the European Commission has predicted that there could be a shortfall of 20 million skilled workers in science and technology by 2030 so there’s lots of IT employment potential there!
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in Information Technology?
The IT profession is incredibly broad and there are so many different jobs that you could embark upon. So if you’re looking into working in this area, you need to do your research into which area of IT you’d like to work in – support, development, business analysis, project management, change management, security, online, databases – the opportunities aren’t quite endless but there is a lot of choice! We have lots of role models online and you can read about their career paths and how they’ve got to where they are which can also be useful when thinking about what you’d like to do and just go for it – IT is a great profession and there are loads of interesting roles working with cutting edge technology that allows you to work directly with the business, positively impact the bottom line and help firms increase revenues and profits.
And lastly, how do you keep inspired and motivated? What’s next for you?
To be honest, I have no idea what’s next for me! I very much enjoy running the organisation and I like doing lots of different things every day. I also meet loads of interesting people which is always good fun – I think the networking opportunities have been one of the areas of my role that I’ve enjoyed the most. I also enjoy providing our members with the opportunity to meet and network with other women working in IT and seeing how valuable that is to them, keeps me motivated. I enjoy helping our sponsors to attract more applications from and hire more female technologists – it’s a long term activity and one which gives us a buzz when we can see how we’re helping firms change the gender makeup of their IT teams.
Maggie’s social profiles:
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