Network to jump barriers, women told

Network to jump barriers, women told

The ergonomic keyboard is the major industry contribution made by bustier IT women, according to visiting Microsoft UK IT Professional team manager and self-proclaimed techie Eileen Brown.

However, a crowd of mainly Tech Ed conference participants heard from Brown and a panel of local technology industry females that the list of contributions extends into more serious issues revolving around forming a positive workplace.

Brown likened her early experience of the IT industry to her previous career in the British Navy, where she was the only woman on her ship at the age of 16.

“I always had to work twice as hard just to be accepted.”

She cited the results of a Microsoft UK survey of women in technology released in April, which found many perceived obstacles to women entering IT and furthering their careers.

More than 60 percent of respondents said more should be done to encourage women to return to the sector after having children, though it was claimed they missed out on important and interesting projects when they did return.

Some respondents to the UK survey said the industry had a culture of working long hours and that it still had a geeky image.

Microsoft general manager and mother Helen Robinson, who was on the panel, says it is essential to draw boundaries between work and home life.

“You have to compartmentalise, don’t merge work and home. Unless something catastrophic is happening, I’m at work, but when I’m at home I’m at home.”

Panellists encouraged women in IT to network more and participate in Women in Technology events.

Unisys account director Terry Shubkin says such involvement by senior member helps their younger counterparts. “It’s about sending the elevator back down,” she says.

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