Information Technology (IT) is a great career and one I constantly recommend as a work choice, it is always challenging and interesting. There are so many different aspects to the IT industry, and you can work in different sectors. A friend working in HR suggested IT to me as a completely random remark when I was at university, there are always loads of IT related jobs. I started as an analyst/programmer at a major oil company after a Science degree from Kings College, London and since 1999 have worked as a project manager mostly in the financial sector. I have worked on many different projects from cyber security to regulatory and with some great people too.
Over the years, I have had 3 maternity breaks – all prior to 1999 and have never had any issues in returning to a new role after 6 months to a year off. I originally thought that my skills would become outdated but that is not the case, there is always a shortage of talented people in IT. I have also had a career break for cancer treatment. I have done both permanent and contract roles at different times in my career depending on what suits me best at the time eg a permanent role when the children were small.
I love the challenges of project management, picking up a new project, understanding what needs to be delivered, motivating the team and planning the work. I completed the Open University project management qualification, PRINCE2 (with multiple recertifications) and I’m also a Fellow of the Association of Project Management (FAPM) with the Registered Project Professional qualification. I think it is important to have the practical experience in the role together with professional qualifications. I am a member of the British Computer Society and a Chartered IT Professional.
It isn’t possible to emphasise enough that women need to be involved in all aspects of Information Technology and we must encourage them to look at it as a career option. Also, to retrain later on in their careers as there is so much opportunity. Employers need to recruit from a wider base so for example they state they require a ‘Windows 10’ or a ‘GDPR ‘ project manager when a well-qualified project manager could easily successfully deliver the project even though they don’t have the specific experience. Often the technology is new too so no one has the experience anyway – we all have to learn. In this case it is the project management skills which are important not the technology.
The last few years, I have worked as a contract project manager, but I am now finding it increasingly difficult to get roles. I think the double whammy of being an older woman, and increasingly being passed over in the job applications (possibly due to AI cv screening by recruiters) together with such specific job requirements as mentioned above – even though I am perfectly capable.
The lack of women in IT seems to be getting worse. A recent IT advert I saw on LinkedIn doesn’t have a single woman in it not even a ‘token’ one. We are invisible. Read ‘Invisible Women’ by Caroline Criado Perez.
There is a NY Times article on the subject of recruiting older women – Hire women your mum’s age!
Why wouldn’t you hire your mum, she can do the job, has the time, qualifications & the experience and is actually keen to work!