“I think there’s a nature vs nurture argument with why women do not join careers in STEM ”
I have over 20 years of experience in the civil service, all in IT facing roles. I started on the helpdesk, and went through the majority of ITIL, before moving into a central facing/parliamentary role. I looked after the development of the annual business planning for what was the Information Technology Services Agency.
In the year 2000, I worked on a huge outsourcing exercise involving the TUPE of over 2000 developers to EDS. This gave me a thorough grounding in strategic sourcing, and the issues associated with large PFI deals. I then moved to Cabinet Office, eventually leading the commercial workstrand of the G-Cloud programme. Our main contribution was the concept that is now the G-Cloud framework agreement. I left government in 2011, and contracted for a few months before becoming one of UKCloud’s first employees.
My average day at UKCloud varies. When working from our Farnborough office I get in around 8:30, it’s here where I try to get all urgent issues sorted and deal with contracts and queries. I also spend quite a lot of time in London, at meetings and events to influence government policy that could impact UKCloud and its market. Sometimes I also spend time with customers. So, my average day is typically quite varied, and busy. I am also getting UKCloud ready for GDPR
I think there’s a nature vs nurture argument with why women do not join careers in STEM. In my time at school, it was expected that women would generally go into softer careers, so that’s what most women did. Due to this, I think that the technology workplace became very male-dominated which doesn’t appeal to many women. Even today, women – well known known as being better at multi-tasking than men, will often choose a career away from the often quite grey-looking STEM workplace as they have so many available options.
As a woman in STEM, I have faced challenges. In my past, I think when organising people, in order to make things happen, it was easy to be pigeon holed as a glorified secretary. I had to be selective about what I did as to not be perceived as somebody else’s bag person. I think also, you have to be careful how you present yourself.
I think the workplace generally is improving for women. Over the last 15 years there have been general improvements, such as improved maternity leave and flexible working. Still today though, some organisations are behind the curve with a culture that regards these improvements as a “women’s privilege”. Thankfully UKCloud aren’t one of them.