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All aboard! Network Rail awarded for scheme to get women into tech

Network Rail has won the IT Ambassador Award at the Real IT Awards for its attempts to encourage women to consider an IT career.

The organisation’s CIO Susan Cooklin took six women from her IT team of 500 people to launch the “Could IT Be You?” campaign and competition.

The aim was to show young females aged 16-18 what their career options are, including the reality of today’s IT profession.

The campaign was a way for Cooklin and Network Rail to address the gap between men and women working in this sector.

The company cited research by e-skills UK that found the proportion of women working in tech roles in country has more than halved since the 1980s, despite the growing role of technology in our everyday lives.

Another survey conducted on behalf of Network Rail claims that two thirds of 16-24 year old women in the UK have not considered an IT career.

Network Rail wants to continue removing barriers

In response to the finding that women do not tend to look towards technology for a career, the organisation decided in 2013 to host the competition for a young woman to receive their first year of university tuition paid for along with two weeks of paid work experience.

But after winning its IT Ambassador award this month, Network Rail made the decision to host the competition again in 2014, in order to continue “trying to bring more women into IT” by “providing them with the knowledge and incentives they need,” it said this week.

“Popular culture has helped create a perception amongst young women that a career in IT is all about writing code in basement offices – the reality couldn’t be further from the truth,” claimed Cooklin.

“Could IT Be You aims to break down those myths and help young women realise how the skills and behaviours they already have, such as good communications, problem solving and working creatively, are exactly what business leaders are after,” she added.