Hello, my name is Abbie-Louise Hellyer, I’m 21 years old, and I am proud to be a female in the ICT industry. I am currently studying Business Information Technology at The University of Portsmouth, predicted a first, completing my placement year with Intequal.

From a young age, I was always inquisitive of technology and the places it could lead us to in the future. Growing up in a very anti-tech home, it was sometimes difficult to explore my interests, when I was 15 we STILL didn’t have Wi-Fi in the family home. Studying extra ICT sessions during my time at secondary school was when my real passion developed.

The feeling of being able to help someone through the use of tech is incredible. During my time at sixth form college, I was challenged with facing the Software Development Life-cycle head-on. During this task, I had to take a paper-based Nursery for children and create a functioning relational database system meeting all of their customer requirements. During this, I learned the use of Microsoft Access, basic coding and the creation of relational tables, to create forms and relevant reports for the Nursery to use. Through the process of creating this database came gathering requirements, development, testing, implementation, and training. All recorded in a report for the Nursery to take away for future reference. The Nursery is now using this report, and system for the creation of their more efficient computer system. This for me, although an ICT task was very creative and challenging. Keeping me engaged for 4 months whilst the creation and reporting took place.

Computer coding is a very creative process, however, there are still so many stereotypes that it is a male’s job. I do not believe this! Woman and men think very differently, improving the gender gap within the industry, could significantly adapt and improve the products and services being provided in the Tech industry. Plus, don’t you think it would be awesome to catch out people committing cybercrimes?

The IT industry is so diverse with thousands of different job roles, all of equal importance, to keep the industry going. I have learnt just a small proportion of the skills needed to work in different areas of the sector, including: Managing Data and Security, CRM, IT Service Management, Enterprise systems and processes, Website Design and Implementation, Software as a Service, Social Computing for Business, Systems Management, IT Applications and Management and Digital Marketing.

So why is it that over the last decade, with so much work being completed to reduce the gap we still seem to have barriers keeping women from entering the field? Only 30% of around 7 million people working in the information and communication (ICT) sector are women. We are seriously underrepresented!

In addition to this, with the fast paced industry moving the way it is, there could not be a better time to join the ICT industry. The ICT sector is rapidly growing, creating around 120,000 new jobs every single year. So there really are plenty of jobs going. This could mean a lack of around 900,000 skilled ICT workers by 2020. Could you fill in this skills gap? There are also plenty of ways to gain the skills required to fill one of these roles, and, you don’t necessarily have to get into loads of debt to do so. University was for me, the only option. It is something I have always wanted to do, no one in my family has ever been, so it was something on my bucket list. However, it isn’t for everyone, but don’t panic.

I was completely unaware of apprenticeships when finishing college. However, working in the industry has given me such a big insight into what they are all about. If I wasn’t near completion of a degree, it would definably be something I would consider. The opportunities to get an apprenticeship are also forever growing with Microsoft aiming to run 30,000 apprenticeships by 2020. In addition to this with new azure, and cloud qualifications coming to light there are so many interesting topics to cover. Having sat in on one of the Level 4 training sessions completed by Intequal, the content covered was almost identical to the content I have covered at university. The big difference, the apprentices were being paid to learn it! There really are no reasons for women to not be in the tech industry these days!