November 2018 saw The ITAM Review hold our second annual Australian conference at the Arial UTS Function Centre, Sydney. This year’s theme was ‘Enabling the next generation of ITAM’ and attendees spent two days listening to, and interacting with, our esteemed speakers as well as sharing experiences and ideas, and networking with other ITAM professionals.
As I looked around during the plenaries and workshops, one thing that really struck me was the ratio of women to men. I’ve attended multiple ITAM related conferences and have always found there to be a stronger male presence. This time, something has changed. Not only was the ratio around 50:50, the women seemed to be the audience members speaking out the most and putting forward valued opinions during all the sessions.
As well as our fantastic female attendees, we also had female speakers sharing their challenges and experiences through workshop and plenary sessions. Perhaps the most significant moment of our Australia Conference was the all-female panel session –a first in ITAM Review history and, I think it’s safe to say, a rarity across the industry.
Our panel consisted of Kylie Fowler, Principal Consultant at ITAM Intelligence, Miriam Redding, Director at Navigate Clear, Sarah Bailey, IT Asset and Procurement Manager at Coffey and Anne Cameron, Commercial Manager at Monash University. They covered topics around renewing or securing headcount, security in a university environment and (more controversially) Tinder for ITAM – a topic suggested by one of our strong women.
Following the session, I spoke to a couple of the ladies to get their thoughts on participating in an all-female panel:
What does it mean to you to be part of a fully female ITAM panel?
Kylie: It’s great to be part of an all-women’s panel, but the nicest thing about it was that we weren’t there because we were discussing ‘women in ITAM’… we were there because we all had expertise to share that was relevant to the whole room.
I think it shows progress in the sense that more women are feeling confident that they have something to say that the world wants to hear. My background before I went into ITAM was very much in IT administration, which I think is a fairly common route for women to get into ITAM, and administration is definitely a profession where you are expected to just shut up and get on with things. Recognising that ITAM is a ‘management system’ in which all stakeholders have a role to play means that ITAM managers
are being empowered to speak out about how ITAM should be run and starting to drive change through their organisations rather than just be seen as doing ‘the admin’.
Miriam: What an excellent initiative from the ITAM Review! I think an all-female panel, particularly in a male dominated industry, gives the opportunity to hear a different perspective on a variety of topics.
Sarah: It was great to be invited and I enjoyed the conversation.
Do you think this shows any progress for women in the IT/ITAM sector?
Kylie: It also shows progress in the sense that women are given more space to speak up and be heard – if you’re not asked to sit on a panel, or to speak, then your voice will never be heard. However as someone who organises panels and
speaking events myself, I know it takes a lot of effort to encourage women to participate. Well done Martin and the team for making the effort!! And for women reading this, please, please, please give speaking out a go – whether that is writing a blog about your experiences, or participating on a panel, running a workshop or having a full 40 minutes speaking slot.
Miriam: Having an all-female panel definitely shows progress for women within this sector. It signals respective for our opinions and how we can contribute to the field.
Sarah: Maybe as there was a larger pool of women to pick from. Looking around the room I could see many women who perform really well in their roles and others who are new and the same for men. I joined IT late in my career and have had very few issues that I would tag as being because I’m a woman.
What would you say to encourage more women to become part of the ITAM industry?
Kylie: A couple of people asked me at the conference how I became good at speaking public, and the answer is ‘practice’. If you’re not confident, then start at small, with an audience of your colleagues – volunteer to co-present a business case at a management meeting, for instance. That way you’re not shouldering all the burden, but you are getting practice at speaking out. It also has the nice side effect that your colleagues have the chance to see your expertise in action!
Miriam: I believe many women shy away from roles they feel are ’technical’ in nature, sometimes from lack of confidence or even lack of interest. The ITAM industry requires a myriad of skills, many not ’technical’. This is a growing field filled with attractive opportunities and room to grow with the field as it continues to evolve.
Sarah: Pick it because you think it suits you and your skills and be yourself. Don’t apologise for behaving in what may be perceived as a feminine way. I think men and women can behave differently when communicating and the male way can be perceived as the right way in business. I think this will naturally change over time as the proportion of women increases.
Following on from our all-female panel and the points raised during discussions, The ITAM Review will be exploring new ways to raise awareness of ITAM and how we can engage younger generations to become involved in the industry. We will be looking for people to share their success stories and ‘market’ themselves and their jobs to appeal to the next generation of the ITAM team.
The next ITAM Review conference is in Florida, USA on March 13-14, 2019. If you’re a woman in ITAM and want to get involved in speaking, we’d love to have you! Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a chat.