10/11/2011 10:41 GMT | Updated 09/01/2012 05:12 GMT

The Importance of Mentoring for Women in IT

Following on from the "Women on Boards" event, which took place last Thursday, I would like to highlight an important point that was made at the meeting but seems to have slipped through the net in terms of the media coverage surrounding the event - the value of mentoring for women.

Despite the fact that a few of the participants felt that female workers could benefit from the technique because women are not naturally geared towards networking in the way that men are (a bizarre concept I think you'll agree), the discussion touched on this very significant and topical issue.

The impact of the practice was also hit upon by Home Secretary Theresa May, who announced the launch of a £2million mentoring scheme for female entrepreneurs the following day.

As the Chief Operating Officer of a leading IT services supplier I have long been an advocate of mentoring for women and strongly believe that the method is especially relevant for women working within the field of IT.

Unfortunately, the industry remains largely male dominated and just 14.4% of IT professionals in the UK are currently female.

The prospect of operating within a distinct minority, coupled with the fact that there is an even greater lack of women in senior positions, often deters women from this lucrative industry.

A reality that is hindering both the development of the careers of extremely able women, as well as the industry as a whole.

Therefore, although the practice is clearly applicable to all sectors, I believe female mentorship could become an incredibly useful tool for creating and sustaining a strong female workforce within the IT industry.

Forging relationships with women in IT who have succeeded in climbing the career ladder will not only demonstrate to mentees that their goals are fully achievable but receiving encouragement from a woman they aspire to be could also push these women to set their sights even higher.

Providing this level of support may also position mentors as key figures of inspiration within an industry and often improves leadership skills considerably, thus creating an even stronger collection of women at the top.

Therefore, I believe that female mentorship could create a generation of driven, ambitious and confident women in technology, which will ultimately benefit the industry and therefore the economy as a whole.

At FDM Group we are certainly practising what we preach and recently launched our very own female mentorship programme.

FDM Female Champions will be on hand to offer mentorship and advice to female employees at all levels on an ad hoc basis as well as running regular drop in sessions.

I would like to encourage businesses within all industries to realise the true potential of their female employees by launching similar schemes.

I can assure you, you will soon reap the benefits.