Monday 10 December 2018

'It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s good business sense' - Tech companies helping women reconnect with their careers

  • Women ReBOOT launched in response to the gender imbalance in IT
  • Over 20 leading tech players in Ireland backing the initiative
  • Apple one of the most recent participants to get on board
  • Information evenings in Dublin and Cork in October
Gerry Murphy, VM Ware, Rachel O'Brien of McAfee, Maire Hunt, Software Skillnet, Grainne Hegarty, Crest Solutions Hazel Sullivan, Mc Kesson, Ronan Lehane of OVH
Gerry Murphy, VM Ware, Rachel O'Brien of McAfee, Maire Hunt, Software Skillnet, Grainne Hegarty, Crest Solutions Hazel Sullivan, Mc Kesson, Ronan Lehane of OVH
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

The pilot success of an innovative new programme geared towards helping women reconnect with the tech industry after long career breaks has led to national rollout.

A number of Ireland's top technology firms are backing the Women ReBOOT initiative, the first time such a collaboration has occurred, in response to the gender imbalance in IT. 

While the country's digital sector is booming, employing around 120,000 people, the proportion of female employees is reported to be no more than 18pc.

ReBOOT, the brainchild of Software Skillnet, aims to serve both the industry and women finding it difficult to re-enter it by offering coaching and professional guidance to an already skilled workforce.

Over 20 leading tech players in Ireland including Accenture, Liberty IT, Google, Microsoft, SAP, MongoDB, Datalex and MasterCard have already partnered up to tap into the vast talent pool.

Carol Teskey, Senior Director of People in EMEA and APAC at MongoDB, said the software company is always looking for "new ways to find great talent, and change the ratio of women in technology".

"We believe strongly that diversity of people and ideas is vital to our ongoing success. ReBoot gives us access to incredibly talented new recruits who have all had rich and varied experiences.

"It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good business sense as these are the kinds of people that can help give us a competitive advantage," she told independent.ie.

Women who are qualified and experienced in the tech sector , who may have taken career break to raise families or for other reasons, can create a relatively untapped pool of talent for companies.

As part of ReBOOT, industry experts offer guidance in a bid to rebuild confidence in the women involved and support flexible access to work placements with partner companies.

Read more: 'I spent 17 years at home, I didn’t believe that my former career could be resurrected' - Five women's success in returning to the tech industry

Orla Kelly of Datalex said that the programme is the first programme she is aware of which has targeted bringing women in tech back into the workforce.

"The programme provided us with an opportunity to support talented and experienced women re-entering the workplace.  It provided a holistic programme combining skills development, coaching and a work placement," she said.

"We  were happy to facilitate two  people on the initial work placement both of whom were offered extended placements with us here at Datalex."

Ms Kelly said that ReBOOT also gave an opportunity to other people in Datalex to get involved through the steering group, at the launch day and speaking at one of the  workshops.

"It is an exciting and  cutting-edge approach which has provided great benefits even in its pilot form. We are looking forward to being involved in future programmes," she said.

Apple have been one of the most recent participants to get on board and will be contributing to ReBOOT overall, including joining the steering committee.

ReBOOT is expanding nationally and looking for new recruits, with programmes commencing in Dublin (information night on October 5) and Cork this autumn.

Up to 50 free places are now open for applications from women interested in returning to work in the tech sector.

With Mahon-based firm McAfee recently on board, interest in the programme in Cork is ramping up - and information evenings will be held in the region on October 3.

Previous participants came from backgrounds in project management, software development, QA roles, testing, UX/UI design, data analytics and technical writing.

‎Operations Director at Liberty IT Dublin Felim O’Donnell said that "diversity and inclusion is extremely important for any company and in the technology sector we are focused on making it a priority to attract and retain diverse talent".

"Getting involved in the programme the first time around just felt like the right thing to do but having been through that experience with the first graduating class, we are challenging ourselves to see how we can be even more supportive this time around," he said.

According to Maire Hunt, Network Director of the Technology Ireland Software Skillnet, tech companies are seeking world class technology skills but to ensure commercial success they also need people with strong analytic skills, creative skills, human skills, being able to connect to others, being able to persuade and lead. Typically, women commencing second stage careers have honed these abilities.

"The Spring iteration of Women ReBOOT supported our female participants to upskill and develop the confidence to re-engage with the sector. Many of these women have now obtained positions in companies such as Microsoft, Version 1, MongoDB, Abbott,  Datalex, Novitas, Inflight and 3rd Pillar Clinical," she said.

"Most of our participant companies expect to have future job openings that will provide new opportunities for women returning to the sector. Creating a diverse workforce is high on the tech sector agenda."

Registrations can be made at www.softwareskillnet.ie/women-reboot

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