For International Women’s Day, IT Channel Oxygen shared an article featuring eight female leaders from different IT solutions providers, who share their views on gender diversity in the industry.

  • Sam Mudd, Interim CEO, Bytes Technology Group
  • Yolanta Gill, CEO, European Electronique
  • Hayley Mooney, UK General Manager, Crayon
  • Jeanette Forbes OBE, Founder and CEO, PCL Group
  • Kelly Simkiss, CEO, Cybit
  • Nicola Saner, MD, Chorus IT
  • Andrea Bright, CEO, Ingentive
  • Penny Williams, Vice President of Sales, CDW UK & International

Jeanette Forbes was delighted to give her point of view. She talks about her journey from being a receptionist to becoming an IT entrepreneur, the challenges and opportunities she faced as a woman in a male-dominated field, and the advice she has for aspiring female leaders. She also emphasises the importance of mentoring, networking and supporting other women in the industry.

You can read the full article and see what each of them say here.

Jeanette Forbes OBE, Founder and CEO, PCL Group

How would you summarise your role?

I am CEO and founder of PCL Group, a total IT service company based in Aberdeen but with a global clientele. We have a comprehensive and varied portfolio and deliver a full range of Information Technology services including planning, project installation, support and on-going maintenance to all business sectors.

Do you feel the industry’s gender-diversity deficit is something that needs to be highlighted and addressed?

Very much so. There seems to be a lack of interest from girls leaving school to consider a career in technology, whether that be working for a company or starting up their own business in this sector.

I would like to see schools being more proactive in encouraging girls to consider a career in technology or any other of the STEM disciplines. We should also encourage ambition.  I know a lot of very competent women working in technology, but the barriers between working in a company offering technology services and taking the next step to setting up their own technology business seems to be too high for many. 

There is increasing interest in IoT (internet of things) as a career but there is currently a lack of readily available information, so that interest is often short lived because of this. I often think that the image of a female working in technology is not portrayed correctly. I would ask anyone reading this, whose role includes portraying women in technology, to be aware that this is a fascinating career, with many differing opportunities. Young women of today need to aware of the diversity of opportunities available to them and we need to ignite a spark showing what women in technology can, and do, achieve.

What’s it like being a female leader in what remains a male-dominated industry?

Some of the comments that have been directed at me, just because I wanted to be different and wanted to forge a path for other women to make it easier for them entering this sector, have been hard to take, but at the same time, motivated me to keep going.

Jeanette Forbes OBE, PCL Group

You feel like you are on a roller coaster of ups and downs which ranges from trying to get everything done in a day, to keeping your clients happy, to being a mother figure to your team, picking them up on bad days and celebrating the good things that happen. Ever asked yourself the question, who is there for you? When things get tough, who lifts you up?  I don’t like to use the words “lonely at the top” but that sums it up beautifully. Some of the comments that have been directed at me, just because I wanted to be different and wanted to forge a path for other women to make it easier for them entering this sector, have been hard to take, but at the same time, motivated me to keep going.

Is the industry as welcoming and accessible to women as it could be?

No, I don’t think so. Statistics show that there has been no significant rise in the numbers of women entering the tech sector.   

Do you think the industry has made any headway on recruiting, retaining and promoting women over the last five years?

No, I don’t see much evidence of that. Despite the fact that many of the young women I speak to are leaving school with exceptional physics, chemistry or technology grades, they are still not considering a career in this industry. Why are we not converting them into the right career based on their grades?

While I do see more women in technology than when I started out in 2000, there hasn’t been a huge change in the numbers in the tech sector, and women still trail their male counterparts in terms of pay, leadership roles and representation.

What’s your top piece of advice for women following in your footsteps?

My top piece of advice for women who want to follow in my footsteps would be, always remember as an entrepreneur you can change people’s lives; you can take individuals from the very bottom rung of the ladder to the top. No one is born an entrepreneur, but it is very satisfying when you see people “grow” in your organisation to be much better than you. Only then do you know you have played a part in changing that person’s life and your time and efforts have not been wasted.