Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has never really been top of females' lists of career preferences...it still suffers from negative 'nerdy' stereotypes and as a result, lags behind other industries in balancing the workforce. But in a world that's changing rapidly, where technology is at the front and centre of our lives, I can't understand why more women wouldn't want to be part of ICT.
And for aspiring and ambitious females at the start of their careers, it may seem like a long and arduous journey to get anywhere near the top in ICT, simply because there are so few female role models on the Boards of large ICT companies.
ICT wasn't a conscious career choice for me - I got into it almost by accident, but I am so glad I did!! I started my career as a graduate trainee, with no definite plan to stay. But I quickly realised that ICT is actually a really exciting place to be - it offers a really wide spectrum of 'jobs' and at 39, after trying a lot of those jobs out, I was appointed the youngest female member of the Board of Fujitsu - an ICT company employing over 11,000 people in the UK and Ireland alone. To top all that off I am now shortlisted in the First Women Awards, founded by Real Business and the CBI, in association with Lloyds Banking Group.
I consider myself extremely privileged to be at the forefront of an industry that is literally leading changes in the way we live and work - the end-user and workplace technologies we all use every day to do our jobs and achieve so much more than we ever thought possible. I am constantly tracking consumer trends in technology and looking at ways in which they impact us in our business lives - let's face it, we all love our devices, and switch endlessly from one to the other without thinking - what a privilege to be able to help shape the future!
The reality for ICT in the UK is that we are short of role models. As a nation we are low on females selecting STEM subjects and school, and choosing ICT consciously as a career direction. We do have to work harder than many other sectors to attract, retain and promote women.
What is reassuring, though, is that 6 of the top 20 CIOs in the Americas are women - check out this article from i-cio, Fujitsu's global publication for CIOs. Unfortunately, in the equivalent European CIO ranking there are only two - clearly there is more work to do.
But if I can do it - progress from graduate trainee to Board Executive before my 40th birthday - anyone can! Women can succeed in ICT, and I'd like to think I am living proof that they don't have to be nerds to do so!!
And...you can listen to me talking about why I think ICT is such a great career choice here.
The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday 12 June and is hosted by Real Business in association with Lloyds Banking Group.