Skip to main content

Breaking down barriers - women in IT

NHS Digital showcases some of our expert women in IT as we state our determination to help break down the male-dominated stereotypes in the technology sector.

We are proud of the expert women role models we have right across our organisation, from apprentices starting their career journey to our chief executive, Sarah Wilkinson, a regular fixture in most influential women in UK technology lists.

For all our progress, the sector remains far too male-dominated. Much more work remains to smash stereotypes and promote the fact that IT jobs are ‘jobs for the boys and for the girls’. Like others, we still have a long way to go here, and we’re determined to be leaders in this pursuit.

Role models are a crucial part of encouraging more women into IT, and we’re proud to showcase just a few of the fantastic women from different areas of our organisation, at different stages of their careers, below.

My story - Wendy Clark, director of product development

Wendy Clark head and shoulders

My first role in tech came about by circumstance rather than design, but had I realised then the opportunities, variety, creativity and practical skills I would use every day, then I would have definitely planned my career this way.

I started out working on an IT helpdesk, where we not only offered advice and guidance, but also built PCs for our customers. I was the first and only female in my department and I didn’t yet have the specialist technology skills that I would later develop. As a result, lots of the men underestimated me, not realising that I love a challenge! It became important to me to prove that I could not only be as good as them, but better. I committed myself both to the role and to a variety of self-learning and development opportunities. During that time I fell in love with technology and knew this was where I wanted to focus my career.

Read more about why NHS Digital is taking action to encourage and support great women to have great careers in technology.

Smashing the stereotypes - our cyber apprentice

Charlotte Roe sitting in office in conversation with a colleague


I’ve always enjoyed surprising people. There’s something quite satisfying about it. As a teenager, people never expected me to have flown a plane or to have a weapons handling licence at 13. That wasn’t what they expected a teenage girl to be doing with her time, but we’re all guilty of making assumptions and putting people in boxes.

Now aged 19, people are shocked when I tell them that I’m a Cyber Security Apprentice, and I like that. Most of my friends at school went on to study arts subjects, but I realised quickly that if I wanted to impress people, I had to be different and do what I wanted to do. So rather than follow my friends, I chose to take my own path, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

Read more about Charlotte's path to being part of a team keeping NHS IT safe from cyber threats...

Why wouldn't you want a role in tech?

Portrait photograph of Melissa

My tech journey started with my mum who, when I was four years old, became a single mother. She took things into her own hands and did a computer engineering degree and was one of only two women on the course. When I wasn’t at school, I would go with her to university and she would always tell me that IT is for everybody, not just the rich or for men (as it was felt in the 80s). My mum has been a massive role model; she was a real pioneer, later becoming a lecturer in her field.

Read more about Melissa's story...

Being creative in a tech world

image of Emma

Technology is a great field for women to work in – offering opportunities for a surprisingly wide range of career options and a chance to be creative in a way that you might not expect.

My background is far from the expected science/maths training normally associated with a career in technology.

I grew up on a dairy farm in North Yorkshire with very little exposure to technology and went off to Nottingham Trent University in 1998 to study a joint honours in art and music.  It wasn’t for me, though, so I dropped out in the first term.

Read about Emma’s journey, blending creativity and self-taught technical know-how to forge a unique path through the technology sector.

Last edited: 8 October 2019 10:00 am