New hire at Derbyshire firm aims to break down gender barriers in IT

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Sarah Wilson has swapped the supermarket shop floor for tech – after bucking the gender trend by landing herself a role in IT.

The 30-year-old is currently the only female member on the technical team at Derbyshire-based True MSP. The former Morrisons worker took the plunge after 11 years in retail and started an apprenticeship with the firm - keen for a change in career but not so eager to head back into the classroom, choosing instead to learn on the job.

Being the only woman on the company’s technical team doesn’t daunt Sarah. She said: “It’s been great. I’ve always been around boys, and everyone has been so supportive.”

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Describing the appeal of a career in IT, Sarah, of Clifton, Nottinghamshire, added: “I’ve always had a fascination with technology - from a young age I was always into computer games. It was a no-brainer - it’s something I enjoy, so I thought I might as well try and make a career out of it.”

Sarah and Neil at True MSPSarah and Neil at True MSP
Sarah and Neil at True MSP

Findings from the European Institute for Gender Equality show that only 17 per cent of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) specialists are women — by comparison, 34 per cent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) graduates are women.

Further research reveals that women in IT jobs are paid on average 19 per cent less than their male counterparts, meaning there is still work to be done towards achieving gender equality.

Sarah believes the outlook is improving. “I think it’s getting better,” she said. “Years ago, IT was seen as a geeky man’s job. It still is male dominated.

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“But I think things are progressing now and there are a lot more opportunities out there for women. To any females thinking of a career in IT, I would say ‘just do it’.”

True MSP co-founder Neil Shaw said: “We always look to recruit the best candidates, no matter what gender they are. However, with so few female applicants the odds are always stacked against a more equitable balance”.

He said: “During a recent recruitment drive, of 35 applicants, only two women applied, which is typical of what I’ve seen during my 25-plus years in the industry.

“The IT industry has always evolved at pace but never managed to attract as many women as men. However, with AI and the cloud playing such a huge part in the future of technology, I’m hopeful more women will want to work in tech because it’s never been as exciting as it is now”.

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True MSP was founded by Neil and Tim Rookes in 2017 and provides business IT support services such as cyber security and hardware management to a wide range of clients. The firm stipulates to its apprentice provider, Derby-based EMA Training, that it simply wants to recruit “the best people”.

“We wish it could be a 50/50 split of men and women, even 70/30, but it’s more 95/5 men to women,” said Neil.

He added: “It’s disappointing, but I think it will change over the next few years, because technology is evolving to include a broader range of skill sets. Some of which may attract more women into the industry”.

To find out more about opportunities available at True MSP, please visit