Girls can have it all, says technology chief

02 December 2015

Girls should be encouraged to believe they can do anything they want to, whether that be career, family or both, Cambridge Assessment's Group Chief Technology Officer Darlene Schroeder told a recent conference on gender differences.

Darlene, who is originally from Canada, said she was brought up to believe anything is possible, with her father treating her and her two sisters in a neutral way – encouraging them to take part in activities and buying them presents that were both girl and boy focused. The career she then went on to choose was, and still is, a very male dominated one.

“I chose IT because it’s an area where you have challenges and mountains to climb,” she said. “But once you do that it is an amazing feeling.” 

She told Gender differences – the impact of secondary schooling - boys or girls, who’s winning? that she had also chosen to move to the UK and to work as a contractor to help work/life balance. 

“Here I can be in numerous countries in two hours, but if I’d stayed in Canada, travel would have been much more difficult. I chose to be a contractor so I could make my own decisions, and choose a position based on the organisation, the role in the organisation and the difference I could make, and the location.”

Before making the speech she had asked her teenage children how her career had impacted on them. “They said ‘you were here when we needed you and for all the important things',” she said.

“My daughter said ‘you’ve made me believe I can do anything that I want to do and have anything I want to have’.” 

In conclusion, Darlene said that she believed in helping young females gain the confidence to make the decisions that are right for them. “That might be a career, a family or that might be both,” she said. “If they have the right support both for the culture and family and friends then they can make those decisions and feel open about it.”

You can watch Darlene's talk above and share your views in the comments section below.

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