Addressing the gender balance in technology companies and ensuring that women are retained and re-engaged is an important priority for the Irish tech sector. An innovative new programme – Women ReBOOT – designed and developed by ISA Software Skillnet is connecting highly-skilled women that want to return to the tech industry after a career break, with several of Ireland’s top technology companies.

“Highly talented women can lose belief in their potential and ability if they are out of the sector for a few years,” said Maire Hunt, Network manager of the ISA Software Skillnet. “Building confidence in their potential though technology up-skilling, individual coaching and offering a look inside the sector through engagement with our sponsor companies is crucial.”

Tech companies such as Accenture, SAP, S3 Group, Openet. Version 1 and MongoDB, are among those supporting the initiative. Since the launch, the programme has gained the support and participation of ten more tech companies. Some women may have the impression that the sector has moved beyond them, since their time away, and that tech companies are now dominated by younger professionals and millennials. However, tech leaders say this is not the case.

Founder of global software company Openet Joe Hogan stated “There is a crying need for experienced talent in the IT sector and many women could perfectly meet these key needs with a little re-training. Their abilities would be a huge asset.”

Portmarnock-based Amanda Evans (43) was made redundant from her role as a global project manager in June 2012 following an impressive background in communications and project management. With two small children, she decided to take a small career break – but did not realise how difficult it would be to get back on the ladder.

“I did everything that I thought I should do – I ticked all the boxes, but I just wasn’t getting any interviews. I went back to college and did two Springboard courses, I made sure my LinkedIn profile was up to date, I had a professional look over my CV, I signed up to all the job alerts and I spent several hours a day reaching out to companies.” After reading an article about schemes abroad for women in her position, Ms Evans turned to Google to look for similar schemes here. “I hadn’t seen anything available until I came across ReBOOT,” she said.

As part of the programme, industry experts will offer guidance in a bid to rebuild confidence in the women involved and support flexible access to work placements with partner companies. Monthly seminars and access to customised learning paths in a flexible online learning platform are also available in the programme.

29 women started the programme on the 8th March, 2017, coinciding with International Women’s Day. As part of the ReBOOT opening day, course participants were invited by Accenture to join their Celebration of International Women’s Day, in the Convention Centre Dublin. This was followed by the ReBOOT opening seminar which including a presentation and opportunity for the women to meet Niamh Bushnell – the Dublin Commissioner for Start-ups and a leading voice for the technology sector.