https://dwpdigital.blog.gov.uk/2017/09/04/dwps-women-in-technology-group-redressing-the-gender-balance/

DWP’s Women in Technology group: Redressing the gender balance

My name is Carrie Quinn and I’m a capability manager here in DWP Digital. I’ve been in the department for just over 18 months and I became involved in our Women in Technology group when I recently changed job roles.

Carrie Quinn

My main responsibility is to support our sponsor Sue Griffin, Head of User Support Service, in her commitments to the group and to DWP’s Gender Steering Group.

One of the reasons I wanted to take up this position was because I’m really passionate about increasing the number of women in digital roles and breaking down the preconceptions associated with having a career in technology. I studied History at university, so I don’t come from a technology background and I think it’s important that we show women that technology isn’t all about coding. There are so many other roles which require creativity and art, including User Researcher, Business Analyst and Product Owner to name a few.

Our ambitious aims

There’s been lots happening within the group since I joined in March, most notably we’ve re-energised for 2017/18 and defined a new set of objectives that we’re aiming to deliver. Our overarching goal is to increase female representation of technical subject matter experts in DWP Digital to 30% by 2020 and we hope to do this by concentrating on five key themes:

  • Building the community
  • Attracting external talent
  • Promoting equal opportunities
  • Boosting DWP digital talent
  • Building our reputation as an employer of choice for women

I’ve been busy putting together a steering group of volunteers who are going to help lead and deliver our ambitious aims. Our first steering group meeting took place in July and each theme lead presented their group’s initial ideas and plans. It’s really exciting to see how much activity is already being planned and it’s clear that I’m not the only one who’s passionate about making a difference.

Women in Digital event

I was fortunate enough to be part of the organising committee for the recent Women in Digital event, which was run in partnership with my Digital Engagement colleagues. When we first defined our objectives, I identified the need for our group to link up with other colleagues across DWP Digital, to ensure we had a joined up approach to delivering them. I wanted to connect with the Digital Engagement team to find out what their strategy was for attracting more women into digital roles and how our group could help.

I was really keen to get involved in the event as I knew there would be an appetite within DWP Digital and the Women in Technology group to help shape the day. I was responsible for bringing together a range of voices from the organisation to act as keynote speakers, breakout session leads and as delegates. Being part of the event not only allowed me to collaborate and meet colleagues from across DWP Digital, but I was also able to increase my network of contacts from both external and cross-government organisations.  The event was truly a fantastic, empowering experience to be involved in, from its inception to its execution.

For me, a key theme running throughout the day was about collaboration and support. I think it’s important to surround yourself with a support network as it encourages you to have more confidence in what you do. That’s why the Women in Technology group is so fantastic; it brings people from all different backgrounds and experiences together to support and learn from each other.

An exciting place to work

Although I haven’t been in the technology sector very long, I’ve noticed how very few women there are in digital roles, especially in senior positions. We need to show that  DWP Digital is a great place to work in; the technology transformation we’re undertaking is phenomenal and it’s a fast and exciting place to work.

We also need to celebrate the success of some of our senior women and create a sense of community by setting up a visible mentoring network of both men and women. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some great mentors in my current and previous roles who have encouraged me to be confident, to believe in myself and who I’ve learned a lot from. I’m really keen that everyone should get that opportunity.

Being part of the Women in Technology group has also given me the chance to work alongside women who really want to make a difference and create a safe environment for each other, where we can learn new things and share our experiences. As well as what we’re planning to do, we already offer ‘lunch and learn’ sessions - monthly community calls with guest speakers and the opportunity to be involved in events, like the Women in Digital event. Being a member of the group is a great opportunity to develop yourself outside your day job, as well as making a meaningful impact to the department.

The next step for the Women in Technology network group is for our theme leads - along with their working groups - to start focusing on their top priorities for delivering our objectives. I’ll be supporting each group with their plans and ensuring that we have a consistent approach moving forward. I’m really excited to see what our groups are planning in their next sprints and ultimately what we’re able to achieve this year. I’ll also be supporting Sue by reporting on our activities and outcomes for the DWP Gender Steering Group, where she represents DWP Digital.

Ultimately, I really want to see us meet each one of our objectives and reach our target of increasing female technical subject matter experts to 30% by 2020.  I also aspire to engage and reach as many people as possible - both internally and externally - and I want us to tell our story and celebrate all the great things our group does.

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