Ann Moffatt founded FitT in 1990, together with 16 other women in the IT industry. In this article, Ann shares her perspective on the biggest change she’s seen in the IT industry in the past 30 years, and the opportunities and issues that women face today and in the future.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the IT industry in the last 30 years?
The biggest change I’ve seen in the last 30 years is the huge adoption of social media. I understand that this function is very popular but I didn’t ever imagine computers would be used for this purpose.
Used appropriately, social media provides a way of linking people to friends and colleagues throughout the world and assists in building business contacts and promoting commerce. However, there is a dark side. In my opinion many people spend too much time pouring over mindless messages and many messages are harmful, especially to young women who are often bombarded with hurtful messages or requests for inappropriate sexually oriented or pornographic images.
Are there more opportunities for women in IT today?
Whilst there are a tremendous variety of roles in the ICT profession, only 20% of people working in technical areas are women. If we do not increase that percentage, we will get the systems men design for us.
Design and Programming is a tremendous profession for women.
In my experience women go to great lengths to elicit details of the business system they are designing whereas men seem to try to impress on their business counterpart that they understand the business need without listening carefully to their business counterparts. Women are also keen to present and design alternatives.
Women pay meticulous attention to ensuring all the business options are covered in their programs. Men seem to just code the most obvious route and ignore the less frequent cases.
Women test, test, test. Women don’t like being found to make errors so they take enormous trouble to test all routes through the system. Men often give a ‘quick whirl’ through often incomplete test data.
Now I’m generalising. I’ve worked with many very competent male professionals but many are not as dedicated as women with delivering a system that is ‘fit for purpose’.
What is the biggest issue to tackle in the future?
The biggest issue to tackle for the future is to develop more robust systems that cannot be compromised by cyber criminals. The second most important is to learn to produce sound estimates. In my opinion too many systems run over time and cost estimates. This is especially true for government systems.