Latest Public Sector News

08.03.16

GDS head marks International Women’s Day by pledging boycott of all-male panels

For International Women’s Day, the head of the Government Digital Service (GDS) has pledged that the service will boycott all-male panel discussions.

In a blog post Stephen Foreshew-Cain promised to boost the role of women in ICT by making sure that no one from GDS will take part in a panel discussion of two or more people unless there is at least one woman on the panel, not including the chair, following a pledge created by development economist Owen Bard.

He also said that GDS will “ideally” send women guest speakers as often as they send men, which may involve encouraging male management to stand aside for female colleagues.

Foreshew-Cain, who took over as head of GDS after Mike Bracken stepped down last August, writes: “There is a gender diversity problem in the digital industry. There are still many more men employed in it than there are women, a problem that's made (and looks) even worse at the conferences and events we host and attend. Too often, the speakers on stage at those events are mostly, sometimes even entirely, male. That has to change.”

Foreshew-Cain said that GDS will apply the same standard to internal and public events it organises, and will only take part in events whose organisers are “clearly working hard to address gender diversity on stage”.

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