The achievements of women in technology were celebrated this evening in front of 500 of the UK’s most prominent IT leaders.
The winners of the inaugural Women in IT Awards, organised by Information Age in partnership with Salesforce.com to tackle the industry’s gender imbalance, were revealed at the Grosvenor House Ballroom on London’s Park Lane.
Technology reporter Maggie Philbin – known for presenting shows like Tomorrow’s World and Bang Goes The Theory, leading the UK Digital Skills Taskforce, and as CEO of TeenTech – hosted the ceremony, while comedian Holly Walsh provided entertainment.
Dr Steve Garnett, EMEA chairman at headline sponsor Salesforce, and Ben Rossi, group editor of business and technology at Vitesse Media, publisher of Information Age, provided welcome addresses outlining technology's gender gap and why they supported and organised the initiative.
World War II veteran Betty Webb, who was a special guest representing the thousands of code-breaking women who cracked Nazi Germany’s Enigma and Lorenz ciphers, received a warm standing ovation by the audience.
Having gathered resounding support from trade associations, politicians and companies of all sizes and sectors, the event has emerged as the largest and most prominent women-in-technology initiative in the UK.
One report found that tech companies with women on management teams have a 34% higher return on investment, while another predicted that increasing the number of women working in IT could generate an extra £2.6 billion a year for the UK economy.
Through a series of 12 awards, the Awards highlighted the tremendous value that women can bring to IT roles and identified much-need role models for girls, who make up just 18% of students on UK computing degrees, according to results from an Information Age freedom-of-information request.
The UK’s biggest professional bodies for the IT industry also supported the event – including BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT and trade association techUK – while The Guardian assumed the position of official media partner.
Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, who is supporting the Your Life campaign to encourage more young people, and especially girls, to pursue careers in booming areas like technology, lent her congratulations to the finalists.
“Well done to all of the women who have been nominated for the Women in IT Awards,” she said. “You are all fantastic role models and ambassadors for young people looking to study STEM subjects.
“I am sure you will inspire other women to follow in your foot steps and pursue a career in technology.”
Rossi added: “We would like to congratulate not only the winners but everyone who nominated, sponsored and supported the Women in IT Awards – it was a truly special night for all involved.
“There is no easy fix to overcoming technology’s gender imbalance, but by bringing together so many talented and influential people, highlighting new role models and mentors, and showing what an exciting industry it can be, we can significantly contribute towards a more diverse workforce.”
Further insight into how each award was chosen by the judges, as well as reaction from the winners, will be revealed in the February issue of Information Age magazine.
ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR – sponsored by TeenTech
Royal Bank of Scotland
INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Informed Solutions
BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Zayo
Helen Lamb, Fujitsu
PUBLIC SECTOR DEPLOYMENT OF THE YEAR
London Borough of Camden
PRIVATE SECTOR DEPLOYMENT OF THE YEAR
SECURITY CHAMPION OF THE YEAR
Cath Goulding, Nominet
FUTURE CIO OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Software AG
Colette Mullan, BT
IT TRANSFORMATION OF THE YEAR
CIO OF THE YEAR – sponsored by EMC
Anna Barsby, Halfords
WOMAN OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Salesforce.com
Emer Timmons, BT Global Services