Women in Technology – help shape the future
First published in The Scotsman.
By Lara Moloney, Head of S5GConnect.
As we prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, I am still glowing with pride having watched the Scottish women that came, curled and conquered at the recent Beijing Olympics. I also remember the 15,000 women who took to the streets of New York over a century ago demanding better working conditions, inaugurating this day to celebrate women. I agree we have come a long way, but I hope to be part of a future where barriers that prevent women from competing on a level playing field in the work environment are broken down, particularly in science and technology.
In my role as Head of S5GConnect at the Scotland 5G Centre I am committed to unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of innovative leaders. The Scottish Government’s recently launched National Strategy for Economic Transformation recognises the need for bold ideas to transform the economy. To truly enable digital transformation and deliver the outcomes desired for all, Scotland has to provide connectivity to drive accessibility and inclusivity.
I lead the Scotland 5GConnect programme, overseeing a network of innovation hubs and private 5G testbeds across Scotland that exist to provide opportunity and competitive advantage. For cross sector SMEs in urban and rural settings, we can open the door to the potential of 5G. I would like to encourage more female leaders explore the opportunities we can offer their business.
I am not from a technical background, I’ve had a portfolio career across the media, creative and smart city sectors I am now, working with cutting edge enabling technology. It just shows how there are many routes into a career in technology for women. I understand that female founders have to swim against the tide as they receive less investment in the UK marketplace, impacting on important R&D and innovation.
I would like women to see the tech industry as a viable option for career development. A 2021 Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport report stated 30% of jobs available in Edinburgh were in the tech sector – the highest of any UK city and Glasgow wasn’t far behind with 28% of tech vacancies. This is a huge opportunity for well paid and future forward careers.
Maybe women are put off from roles in tech as they don’t feel they have the understanding of “5G” or “digital solutions”. However, the S5GConnect programme is about helping businesses invest and the returns 5G could bring – it is about the outcomes. We should focus on technology as enabling people to connect and solve problems. This could attract more female talent into the sector. As an industry we can support this with flexible working and jobs shares to retain talent. We can also promote the value of transferable skills to overcome perceived barriers.
I joined The Skinny, which went on to become the leading arts and culture magazine in Scotland and third in the UK. I identified efficiencies, I contributed to website redesigns and created a bespoke internal CRM system to manage the advertising, customer database and invoicing. I didn’t think of it as digital or tech: it was about making the business successful. It’s not about sitting in front of a computer coding. It was about creating solutions.
Positive role models are an important element in driving women to the sector. We have a female Chair, Julie Snell, who champions the important role of women in the digital sector and also my mentor. It is important for women to champion women and highlight the people who inspire them. We need to continue building networks, fostering links and Scotland has a wide range of organisations promoting, supporting and championing women.
It’s time to harness the power of women, create female role models in the sector and prime the pump of future tech talent.