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A Female Perspective: The Data Centre Industry

Perceived by the public as modern and forward-thinking, it can surprise some that there is still a considerable gap between male and female employment where the pace of technological innovation exceeds that of increasing workplace diversity.

This is not to say that work is not being done to close that gap; female recruitment within the sector is more prominent than ever. However, with a long history of men dominating IT, security, technology, and engineering, it is natural to play catch-up as society changes its mindset to include women in traditionally male spaces.

Women at DCME Summer Event
Women at DCME Summer Event in July 2023.

So, what are we doing in the Data Centre industry to advocate for and include more women in the workforce?

Caroline Hitchins, founder of information portal and organiser of events for the Data Centre industry DATACENTRE.ME (DCME), talks to Meesons about her experiences and how she is proactively increasing her female presence in the industry.

“I have worked within the Data Centre events industry since 2006 and, prior to that, I worked for several years in the telecoms events industry.  It wasn’t until my marriage failed and I found myself a single mother to two young children that I decided to ‘go it alone’.  The reality was that there wasn’t the support for a single mother to work around the kids and travelling to the various events became almost impossible so I decided to take my career into my own hands and DCME was born!”

Issues relating to working mothers are not confined to the Data Centre industry; they are incredibly common in most sectors. Caroline’s personal experience highlights single mothers’ struggles in the workplace. However, without this experience, DCME realistically would not have started, and her voice may not have been as prominent within the Data Centre space.

“When we began our events in 2013, it was noticeable that very few women were present and those that were around were typically in more supportive, organisational or marketing roles as opposed to within the C-Suite. I am delighted to see many more women take up careers in engineering and other high-level roles such as procurement & operations. We have created a welcoming environment where everyone can feel safe and comfortable at our events and, as part of that, we encourage our clients & guests to invite as many qualifying female colleagues to join us too. Having said that, regardless of gender, our priority is always to ensure that we are inviting the “right kind of attendee” so that our event sponsors meet decision-makers high-level influencers with the hope of giving them a return on their investment with us.”

Having run one of the most successful data centre networking businesses in the UK for over 10 years, Caroline’s expertise within the sector is highly valuable and, with DCME being a run by a team of ladies, she knows exactly how women can be better supported across the industry.

“Addressing the real pain points that women are facing within the industry is how we will see wider representation. By offering greater flexibility for working mums, sharing opportunities with talented female staff, and inviting each other to networking events, the limitations we often face can be reduced.”

Caroline Hitchins at Communico event
Caroline Hitchins at Communico event, sponsored by Meesons.

Looking ahead to a more inclusive future

Successful businesses like DCME demonstrate how minority groups can thrive in an industry with their talent and drive. Representation is empowering to workforces and benefits a business beyond ethics. It can help build innovation with new ideas, improve workplace happiness, and create stronger teams. Ultimately, these benefits help sectors such as data centres to continue growing and modernising, while raising awareness of changes happening. And, with the array of initiatives that are now available throughout the industry that encourage diversity and wider opportunities, a more inclusive future is being heavily worked on by the data centre sector.  

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