Boss urges IT sector to shed ‘geek image’ to attract more female candidates to roles

Web design and IT support company owner Danielle Holmes is calling for more women to seek careers in the technology sector, which she says is too male dominated.

Holmes, who launched Wiltshire-based Black Nova Designs in 2015 with her husband Kyle, said she doesn’t see enough female faces in IT companies and believes schools and colleges – and the sector itself – needs to do more to make it appealing to young women.

“I met Kyle when we were working at the same company and I was hopeless and didn’t know anything about IT. He was in the IT support team and his colleagues wouldn’t answer the phone when I called with yet another IT problem,” she said.

“Now we have our own company, my aim is always to remember what it’s like to have no IT skills at all and to ensure that anyone feels that they can call us and know that no question they have is seen as silly or small.”

Danielle concentrates on sales and business development for the company while Kyle leads the technical team but she said in eight years she has gained a vast amount of knowledge. “I’m still no expert , that’s what I hire staff for, but I know more than most and I just think this shows that it’s never too late to start anything new,” she said.

She believes although the number of women she meets in the industry is slowly increasing, the pace of change needs to quicken. “I don’t think it’s a career option that is made appealing by anyone because there’s still this stigma around that you’re a geek if you’re into IT,” she said.

“More needs to be done to show young women that it’s an exciting industry and they can progress within it.”

She says the sector itself is as much to blame for the way it is perceived, especially by young women. “We all joke about being geeks so maybe we have to change the way we talk about ourselves because we are doing ourselves a disservice.”

Black Nova, based at the Porte Marsh Industrial Estate in Calne, now employs four staff, has more than 900 customers and last year turned over £300,000. Next year it aims to reach £500,000.