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Fujitsu UK&I CEO: Parental guidance needed to bridge tech gender gap

The new Fujitsu UK&I CEO talks to CBR about women in technology - 'a long-running issue and unfortunately one that will not be solved overnight.'

By Ellie Burns

In June of this year, Regina Moran was announced as Fujitsu UK & Ireland CEO, adding to a realtively small, but growing, number of female C-level execs in the technology industry.

Beginning her career as an electronics engineer with Amdahl, in 1997 Moran co-founded DMR Consulting Ireland where she held the role of Director of Operations responsible for Project Delivery.

Her journey with Fujitsu started when DMR consulting became Fujitsu Consulting, which then subsequently merged with Fujitsu Services in April 2004 and Fujitsu Siemens in April 2009. Moran then rose to the ranks of COO of Fujitsu Services Ireland in August 2006 and MD of Fujitsu Ireland in May 2009.

Continuing her women in technology series, Editor Ellie Burns sat down with Moran to discuss the long-running issue of women in IT and the challenges and barriers women in tech face today.

 

EB: Why do you think there are less women than men entering the tech sector today?

RM: Unfortunately there remains a stigma around IT and technology positions; largely because it’s all too easy to assume that IT and technology roles are purely technical. Whereas in fact, technology solutions have become more and more human centric, in that technology is being used every day across all countries and cultures and can be used to impact society, not just the IT world.

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This means we in the industry have an opportunity to broaden the appeal of roles in our sector, in this case to attract more females. Technology is now so pervasive across all sectors that our challenge is to people, males and females, visualise the roles available and the exciting career paths that exist."

EB: How do you think we can get more women into tech?

RM: I think there are two approaches. Firstly, we need to find, encourage and give a voice to female role models at every level. These people can share their stories to help break down perceived barriers. Young women in school, college, university or just in the world of work need to look for inspiration and women and IT have a responsibility to provide this.

Secondly, we need to reach out to parents of young girls to describe a future in the technology sector that is gender supportive across the career lifecycle. Technology has traditionally been seen as a male-dominated world which means it is sometimes not thought of as a sector parents should encourage their children to consider.

But look at it this way, the world is increasingly ‘digital-first’ with our DIO research stating that over a fifth of consumers always opt to use a digital services when available. Plus, technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables look set to have truly revolutionary impact on society. I cannot think of a more secure and exciting industry in which to start a career."

EB: Despite a myriad of initiatives, enterprises are still failing to attract female talent. How can companies address this?

RM: The role of women in IT is a long-running issue and unfortunately one that will not be solved overnight. You only have to look around the average IT industry office to realise that the gender gap between male and female IT workers is significant and what’s worse last year only 1,200 girls were enrolled in IT apprenticeship schemes compared to 10,400 boys.

There are many different approaches to closing this gender gap. It would be helpful if there was one common theme across the industry targeting very young age groups where some biases already are formed, i.e. children choosing O Levels and then A Levels.

In parallel to this, other groups such as parents, teachers and career guidance counsellors need to be supported in their understanding of the professions available in IT. Technology is not just about engineering, or IT support – people can focus on product design, or programming – there are a myriad of options and it’s important that’s communicated to young people.

EB: Where do you think the challenge lies in getting more women to the C-suite?

RM: This is not just a technology sector challenge but across businesses in all sectors. However the pipeline of female talent is growing and the number of role models is increasing, creating a virtuous cycle of positive change.

In 10 years’ time – with more and more women opting for careers in STEM professions – the disparity between males and females at board level will likely start to close. What’s clear is that a lack of diversity at board level is not good for business and most organisations are starting to realise this.

EB: What would you say is one of the main challenges facing women working in the tech industry?

RM: The main challenge is persuading yourself that you have what it takes to make a difference in a largely male dominated industry. Confidence can be a challenge when you are in a minority so nurturing self-belief is important, as is finding a good mentor to guide emerging female talent. During my own career in Fujitsu, I have never experienced gender bias. But I have had to work on my communications skills and my ability to project my ideas in largely male environments.

Everyone whether male or female feels insecurities, particularly when you get to C-suite level and are responsible for a large team, the challenge is working through these – with your team – to achieve your business goals.

EB: What advice would you share with women who are thinking of, or have just entered, the tech industry?

RM: Be prepared to back yourself and to adapt and change to avail of new opportunities.

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