The Minister for Women made a virtual visit to Vodafone recently and spoke candidly with a panel of women to explore how employers and Government could help more young people take up a career in technology.
The Minister was keen to find out if national qualifications and schooling were helping to prepare more young people for a career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM).
“Actually, the STEM title can be a blocker,” cautioned Michelle Willis, Vodafone UK’s Head of Technology Operations. “You don’t always need to be a software developer or have a degree to work in technology.
“I started with no formal qualifications and now lead a team of 1,200 people.”
The frank discussion covered everything from learning new skills and refreshing old ones, to childcare costs after a career break.
Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK, highlighted the company’s new parental leave policy, which is open to all regardless of gender, sexual orientation or length of service.
“What’s been really clear from this announcement is that men have rarely had to consider the cost of returning to work versus the costs of childcare,” Helen observed, drawing on data from Vodafone’s recent Lost Connections report.
Despite the challenges, the group were united in their belief that these new policies would help more girls and women to consider a career in technology.
Michelle has written a blog about her experiences coping with work and family life during lockdown, which you can read on the Goverment Equalities Office website here.