Tracy Pound Heads to DC to Advocate for the Tech Industry

Workforce Development, Cybersecurity, Privacy, Tax Reform, Broadband Access, New and Emerging Technologies and Global Trade are central to our industry

woman with open doors

This week, our MD Tracy Pound joins the CompTIA DC Fly-In to advocate for technology sector priorities on Capitol Hill during the association’s annual fly-in to Washington, D.C. CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association, through its advocacy arm, champions member-driven business and IT priorities that impact all information technology companies – from small managed solutions providers and software developers to large internet companies, equipment manufacturers, and communications service providers.

As a CompTIA DC Fly-In participant, Tracy will meet with Congressional representatives to focus their attention on policies that develop skills for the 21st century workforce; advance tax and regulatory policies that spur innovation; establish U.S. leadership in secure internet-based platform technologies; support new and emerging technology platforms; address availability and delivery of broadband communications; and expand markets and advocate for sensible rules of global trade.

“Innovation in the tech sector is a key force behind a strong 21st century economy. One of the most important issues facing the technology industry today is the availability of a skilled workforce. CompTIA has been strongly supportive of the CHANCE in Tech Act, that streamlines the skilled apprenticeship program for the technology industry. We will share with our elected officials the importance of internships and apprenticeships as an avenue to train the next generation of IT workers and incentivise educators, students, and employers to adopt alternative education models that will spur economic growth.”

“We look forward to the 2018 legislative agenda and remain encouraged by the conversations on Capitol Hill about issues critical to our membership,” said Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA. “We will work closely with congressional leaders to push legislation that boosts the digital economy and fosters American innovation.”

The Fly-In runs February 13-14, 2018. For more information on CompTIA’s advocacy efforts, visit https://www.comptia.org/advocacy.

Tracy Pound is a member of the CompTIA Board of Directors, owns and runs Maximity Ltd, an IT Training and Consultancy firm in the UK, and is a passionate advocate for encouraging people to consider a career in tech especially women, who remain underrepresented in the industry.

CompTIA: Building the Foundation for Technology’s Future

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is the world’s leading technology association, with approximately 2,000 member companies, 3,000 academic and training partners, over 100,000 registered users and more than two million IT certifications issued. CompTIA’s unparalleled range of programs foster workforce skills development and generate critical knowledge and insight – building the foundation for technology’s future. Visit CompTIA online, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About CompTIA Advocacy

Through its advocacy arm, CompTIA champions member-driven business and IT priorities that impact all information technology companies – from small managed solutions providers and software developers to large equipment manufacturers and communications service providers. CompTIA gives eyes, ears and a voice to technology companies, informing them of policy developments – and providing the means to do something about it.

This really annoyed me: The blindness of gender discrimination.

This afternoon I’ve been on a webinar run by a global software vendor to learn about their future developments.
Fairly innocuous you would think, except…
On screen – on the FIRST slide – was an avatar of a clerk and an MD. Guess which one was the woman and which was the man?
When are people going to realise that they have to wake up to their unconscious bias towards showing men in senior roles and women in lesser roles?
Gender balance in #tech industries is a topic that is close to my heart as a woman who’s been in #IT for 32 years. There are many, many stats that show how few women come into this profession in the first place, never mind how many progress to senior roles. Given the growth rates in the tech sector we need anyone who is capable and willing to, to think about a career in this area and we certainly don’t need to put them off!
We will not achieve gender balance unless everyone is conscious of, and sensitive to, the issues that exist and adopt different behaviours that effect change.
If you are honestly serious about changing stereo typical views of the roles that men and women are capable of achieving, PLEASE think about the subconscious bias you promote through the imagery you use as well as the words in front of your staff, customers, prospects, suppliers and in fact everyone you come into contact with.

The modern tech woman’s business survival guide

Ditch the brain washing of expected roles!

When I was in my late twenties, the good old biological clock starting ticking louder and my thoughts started to turn towards making a decision about having children. I found it very difficult being the only female member of the senior management team in an automotive company, to even contemplate this. So I put it off for a few years, changed company first, and even then started my own business because I didn’t think I could work for someone else and bring up children at the same time. I didn’t think work would be flexible enough to support me, and working in IT can be notoriously tough – I ran a team responsible for keeping IT systems fully operational for around 700 employees spread all over the world – which meant calls in the middle of the night along with trips to the office if something major failed.

Having just read Sheryl Sandberg’s views in her book ‘Lean In’ it made me question whether it was MY subconscious guiding my behaviour because I thought I was expected to not get pregnant. I guess partly my views were based on the many discussions I’d been party to over many years, about how much of a nuisance it was to employ a woman to then find they’d get pregnant and go on maternity leave, leaving the employer to have to keep their position open yet find and fund someone else to fill their role. And fear. And having no mentor.

The thing is, I think actually, that it’s down to attitude: whatever situation we think and aim for to happen, does. We look for signs to confirm our thoughts.

In an environment of mutual respect and trust, women absolutely should feel comfortable enough to have children if they want to, when they want to. Employers should recognise the benefits of having a diverse workforce that includes women with children knowing that they not only rank probably amongst the highest in loyal employees, but also why would you want to lose the skills and experience that person has?

A great deal is down to the company ethos, education and open communication. And as women, we owe ourselves a duty of care to speak up and have the confidence to know that our position in a company has been reached because of our skills and experience. That skill does not suddenly disappear when you have a child, so why should an employer have a problem with this? Why not openly talk about the subject instead of having the usual stand-off dance of both parties not saying what they think and what their real fears are? I’ll never know what effect it would have had on my career had I done this or what it would have been like to have had children in my twenties, instead of waiting until I was 33. If I could have given myself one piece of advice back then, it would have been to not be afraid of starting that conversation with the people I worked with and for.

What else do we condition ourselves to not do; what promotions do we not go for; what new career do we not look for all because we think we shouldn’t. We need to stop letting past times dictate the future and we need to break some moulds about what women are capable of doing and how they’re perceived. And some for men too!

Women and girls in IT!

Sitting on the train to London with no service on my phone a few weeks ago, and no social media to anaesthetise me, I decided to start a blog – as you do!

Why am I doing this? Because I’ve been in the IT industry for over 30 years and want to encourage more people, and especially women, to try tech roles.

There’s a lot of press around the lack of women in tech industries, the lack of women in senior roles and the lack of girls taking tech / STEM subjects at school.

WHY?

How much of it is the misconception that IT is ‘geeky’?

How much is it the misconception that women can’t perform well enough at a senior level?

Or how much is it the misconception that girls should only be interested in hair and beauty courses at school?

It may be something else. It may be the language and imagery of association to gender that we use. It may be a mix of all these and some. Whatever it is, it needs to change.

I have to say I don’t get it. I simply do not understand why anyone should be put off a career in IT. It’s a career that’s served me extremely well for nearly 31 years now and will continue to do so for a few more to come.

I’ve been a programmer; setup and run a help desk without the support of RMM tools! I’ve installed graphics cards, printers, memory chips. I’ve punched cables into data cabs and wired RS232 connectors! I’ve installed Unix from scratch (64 floppy disks), networks, PCs, software and printers. It’s immensely interesting work to do. By the way I have long painted nails and wear heels – although I am sensible if I need to be crawling under desks!

These days my company, that I set up 15 years ago, provides mainly training, consultancy and project management and we leave the really techy stuff to our MSP partner. But we’re still in IT! There’s such a wide range of jobs available but I don’t think I know a single female support technician anymore and I think it’s wrong.

I’m not advocating that companies recruit or promote women for the sake of it. I’m advocating that companies ACTIVELY seek to interview women for tech roles and that women need to start applying for them.

When I was at school I was told I couldn’t study Computing as I wasn’t good at maths. I fought really hard against this decision and ended up taking the options I wanted not what the school thought I should do. Determination can get you a long way as does following your heart! I was one of only 2 girls who took metalwork instead of home economics too!! But I can still cook.

For any young girls wondering what options to take, look at IT. Why not try a job in IT if you’re out of work or looking for a career change? One of the huge benefits of our industry is that in many cases your attitude will determine how far you can progress. We can teach skills but we can’t change mindsets so easily. IT companies are usually dynamic and responsive. They need people who will step up to the mark, be decisive, work well in teams, have good interpersonal skills. ALL the attributes women possess!

Now before any men get their hands on this and complain about the female bias, I’m looking for the industry to have a fair and balanced approach towards women, which by its nature, involves raising our profile so that we get noticed and not passed by. For male employers, perhaps you could think about the image you project and how welcoming this is for women. You could look at how you advertise for jobs and whether you use images that include women on your website and in your literature. You could go and speak at schools and colleges about your business and actively seek to encourage girls to consider IT.

For girls, do your work experience at an IT company. Look at the jobs available. For parents, encourage your daughters to take tech options at school. Tell them they can achieve whatever they want in life. I have a family and I still have a great career in IT and I’ve never had a nanny, or support with bringing up my children except from my very helpful husband!

So this is a call to action; if you’re female at least investigate a career in IT and if you’re male and in IT please consider a woman for that next role. IT is a fast growing industry that’s here to stay and will get bigger as tech touches more and more of our lives with social media, the IoT and more automation at work. IT truly is everywhere!