Kerrine Bryan featured

Inspirational Woman: Kerrine Bryan | Award-winning engineer & founder of Butterfly Books

 

Kerrine Bryan

Kerrine Bryan - an award winning black female engineer and founder of Butterfly Books.

Kerrine has gone on to smash many glass ceilings to become respected in her field.

She was shortlisted in Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 for notable women in business and, in 2015, she won the Precious Award for outstanding woman in STEM. Kerrine is a volunteer mentor for the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET) and is an avid STEM Ambassador. It was while she was undertaking talks at various schools across the country for children about engineering and what her job entails that she became inspired to set up her independent publishing house, Butterfly Books.

In response to this, Kerrine published a series of books (My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is An Engineer and My Mummy Is A Plumber) as a means of communicating to children a positive message about all kinds of professions, especially STEM careers, that are suffering skill gaps and diversity issues. The fourth book in the series, My Mummy Is A Farmer, launched last month - August 2018.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m a chartered electrical engineer.  I’ve worked in the oil and gas industry for 12 years in London, after which I took a two year career break to have my daughter before returning to work 4 months ago into a new role, new company and new country. I’m now a lead electrical engineer for WSP, a global engineering and professional services consultancy. Based in New York, my role is a mixture of technical, project management and business development work. I’m currently working on some exciting power generation projects including cogeneration, energy saving studies and renewable power.

Alongside my brother, Jason Bryan, I’ve also set up Butterfly Books, a children’s book publishing company. Together, we have co-authored a series of picture books targeting children aged seven and younger, which communicates positive messages about all kinds of professions, especially STEM careers that are suffering a skills gap. I think it’s important to provide diverse and positive role models for children at an early age where misconceptions about jobs can develop early. With the books we’ve created, like My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is An Engineer, My Mummy Is A Plumber and My Mummy Is A Farmer, we want to challenge gender stereotypes and instil in children a belief that they can be anything they want to be, irrespective of sex, race and social background, if they work hard enough to make these dreams come true.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I do sometimes set myself five-year career goals, but this can be restrictive. Personally, I like to take on opportunities as they arise and try out new things. Over the years, I’ve learnt that you might discover that there are areas of work you didn’t previously know much about, but – after gaining a bit of experience – you find out that you actually enjoy it, and this in turn can then change your goals. I think it’s always good to plan, but you have to be amenable to flexibility and change because life can be unpredicatable. So long as you are heading in the right direction of your career and personal goals, the path in which you take – which may be wrought with challenges and set backs – can equally develop you with the skills you need to become a better business person.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Working in a male dominated environment brings its challenges.  My first role as a lead electrical engineer a few years ago proved to be a steep learning curve; my team comprised entirely of men, all of whom were older than me. I definitely felt like I had to prove my competency and worth more than a ‘typical’ (read ‘male’ and ‘senior’) engineering team leader would, but the experience helped me to grow professionally as a manager, team leader and person within a short space of time. Ultimately though, I received a lot of support from my male peers who respected me for succeeding in a career in which there are very few female engineers. They understood that the career journey for women like me couldn’t have been easy, and to make it through the barriers was an achievement worth acknowledging. Given that there is still a lot of work to be done to stamp out bias and prejudice in the workplace, not just in male dominated careers but also in all kinds of workplaces, I’d say I’ve been quite lucky. Of course, it shouldn’t be about ‘luck’. In order for these challenges to dissipate, society needs to reframe notions about what work equates as ‘a man’s job’ and what work equates as ‘a woman’s job’.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I think that mentoring is essential for professional development. To receive guidance and support during your professional journey – not just from the outset – but even as you become successful and more seasoned in your field is hugely valuable. I think it’s easy to buy into the idea that we’re the finished article, as there’s always room for self-improvement. Even CEOs need mentoring to a certain degree.  I’ve been a mentor to many early career professionals for over 10 years, and have also been a mentee, so I understand both sides of the dynamic. It’s important to have someone who can challenge your thinking, encourage you to self-reflect and bring out the most in you so that you can fulfil your potential. With this new stage in my career, I will now look for a mentor to guide me in achieving my new career goals.

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

I want to see an increase in the rate of change of diversity within careers and particularly within STEM careers where there is a huge skills shortage. I hope to eventually see diversity at all levels that is proportionate to the diversity of the society. Progress is being made, but the job will be an on-going one. It starts at the grassroots – encouraging children through education to believe that the world is their oyster and that they can work to be whatever they want to be – and it ends with responsible employers doing all they can to diversify their workforce, not necessarily just for moral gain (although that’s important) but because the figures show that it makes economic sense.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

Providing flexible working arrangements for parents (and that means granting this to both the mothers and fathers) after they have had a child is so important in positively changing the opportunities for women at work. For too long, motherhood has often been a choice that professional women make to the detriment of their careers. This is reflected in the way many corporate organisations shape maternity and paternity leave arrangements; these inherently infer that it is the woman’s job to stay at home with the baby (at least for the first year anyway) while the man brings home the bacon. This ingrains further misconceptions and prejudices, which sees working mothers demonised for putting their careers ‘first’ and stay-at-home or flexibly working dads as non-committal and unambitious. Motherhood is one of the keys reasons why we don’t see as many women entering male dominated work, and that includes STEM careers. Until parental leave is seen as of equal importance and a job that requires the presence of both mother and father, and so long as employers continue to remain inflexible in supporting employees who are parents, we will never see progress in equality happening half as fast as it needs to in order to invoke meaningful social change.

For me, the ability to work flexibly was a huge factor in me deciding to go back to work after having my daughter. Creating flexible working arrangements also strengthens the respect between the employer and employee. Work is important, it can give us a sense of worth and purpose, but an individual should never be made to feel that they have to choose between success in career and paying the bills versus bringing up the family when both are so important.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

This year I became a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).  IET Fellowship recognises the high level of experience, knowledge and ability attained during an individual’s career. The appointment will now provide me with the opportunity to shape the future of the engineering profession through the IET’s expert panels, events and discussions.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I hope to be able to help shape the future of engineering in a positive way and also do all I can to encourage diversity in professions, with my children’s books being one of the resources to help make that change.


Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2020

From all at WeAreTechWomen, we would like to wish all of our clients, members and visitors a very happy New Year and a great 2020!

WeAreTechWomen has had an incredible year, and earlier this week, we looked back at our top moments, as well as the top news stories, inspirational profiles, and careers advice of 2019.

You can view these articles below:

Looking back at 2019: Our top tech career advice articles

In our first installment of looking back at 2019, we delved into our favourite and inspiring career advice articles of the year.

WeAreTechWomen prides itself on having the answers you need to take the next step in your career. Our careers advice section offers the latest and most relevant tips on networking, legal advice, CV advice, interview advice and much more.

Looking back at 2019: Our top Inspirational Women in Tech interviews

We delved into our favourite and fascinating Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews of the year.

Our Inspirational Women series of interviews aims to highlight amazing women across the globe, showcase their achievements and raise their profiles.

Looking back at 2019: Our top tech news stories of the year

Continuing on our series of looking back at the past year, we delve into some of the most important tech news stories of 2019.

This year has seen many organisations call for more women in tech and STEM; WeAreTechWomen became its own dedicated site in 2019; and we shined a spotlight on a further 100 amazing women in tech.


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Looking back at 2019: Our top tech news stories of the year

woman reading the news on her phone

Continuing on our series of looking back at the past year, we delve into some of our favourite and most important tech news stories of 2019.

This year has seen many organisations call for more women in tech and STEM; WeAreTechWomen became its own dedicated site in 2019; and we shined a spotlight on a further 100 amazing women in tech.

We look forward to bringing you all the latest tech news, debates and thought-provoking articles in 2020!

January

January started with a bang at WeAreTechWomen, with the celebration of our 2018 TechWomen100 Award winners.

On the 31 January, WeAreTechWomen celebrated the winners of their TechWomen100 awards, at a prestigious ceremony at etc. venues, County Hall, London.

Winners, sponsors, judges and guests celebrated and enjoyed a three-course meal and champagne reception to toast the TechWomen100 finalists’ achievements. The evening was facilitated by Kate Russell, Journalist, Author and Tech Reporter, BBC Click and attendees were welcomed by Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director, WeAreTheCity, and sponsors, Christina Hamilton, Senior Vice President Commercial Development UK & Europe, Worldpay.

WISE campaign featuredFebruary

In February, WISE called on the industry to inspire girls to choose STEM roles.

WISE, the campaign to improve gender balance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), launched a new online game called My Skills My Life, and called on industry to help change the way girls see STEM subjects and how they relate to careers that make a difference to the world.

The call came in response to research showing serious gaps in STEM roles; a survey of HR Directors suggested there is a shortage of 173,400 STEM workers across the UK, costing the economy £1.5bn each year.

Also in February, we asked our readers whether they could be the next Sky Women in Tech Scholar! Sky were on the hunt for five inspirational women to become their 2019 Sky Women in Technology Scholars.

Following the extraordinary success of the first Women in Tech Scholars programme, Sky expanded the scheme for a second time. In addition to winning a £25,000 bursary, the Women in Tech Scholars were paired with an expert mentor in their chosen field. Over the course of the one-year scheme, their mentor will be on hand to provide technical support as well as access to a network of business contacts to develop and nurture the talented entrepreneurs.

WeAreTechWomen logo featuredApril

April was a busy time at WeAreTechWomen HQ - we launched our brand new, dedicated, women in tech website, WeAreTechWomen.com. WeAreTechWomen.com aims to provide visibility of resources for women working in technology who wish to progress their careers and achieve their true potential.

We also announced our 2019 WeAreTechWomen - The Future World of Work conference. This conference was aimed at women working in the tech sector who are looking to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their technology networks. The theme for this year’s conference was The Future World of Work and how innovation and disruption is driving change within the tech industry.

Our aim was to inspire attendees by delivering bitesize learning sessions for our audience. With the help of our amazing speakers and panellists, we provided the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a broad range of technology topics as well as interact through panels, hands-on activities and workshops.

May

In May, it was reported that the UK remains a 'hot bed' for tech talent.

The research, conducted by Tech Nation, found that the UK is in front of Japan, France and Indonesia when it comes to employing high-growth tech workers.

In the UK, Insurtech and Fintech were the biggest employers among high-growth digital tech firms in 2018, employing 24 per cent and 18 per cent of the high-growth workforce respectively.

Cyber, AI, and Cleantech all feature in the top ten sectors for employment in high-growth tech firms. Investment data shows that AI, Cyber and Big Data are growing in importance for UK tech scaleups. This means that the UK may be about to see more jobs generated in these sectors.

Female EngineerJune

In June, the government called for more women to think about a career in engineering, highlighting them as 'an absolute necessity' for the future of transport.

Women currently represent just 12 per cent of the engineering workforce and 18 per cent of the transport sector workforce. Hiring more women is essential for the delivery of major transport infrastructure projects like HS2 and Heathrow expansion.

It is estimated that by 2033 there will be a combined shortfall of around 341,000 jobs in the sector.

The call followed the convening of a roundtable on women in transport this week by the Department for Transport’s Permanent Secretary Bernadette Kelly, attended by senior female leaders in the sector. Representatives from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Ford, Heathrow Airport, Network Rail, the Women in Maritime Taskforce, and Virgin Atlantic were present.

June also saw the Ministry of Defence appoint its first female Chief Scientific Adviser - Professor Dame Angela McLean.

McLean is the first female to hold the role and joins the Department as a distinguished academic with a commitment to science-driven policy. The MOD’s Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) oversees the Department’s core research programme, leads technology strategy, and works closely with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to develop battle-winning capabilities.

TechWomen100 2019 featuredAugust

In August, we opened nominations for our 2019 TechWomen100 Awards.

Our awards focus solely on women working in tech below director level. We hope that by highlighting the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, we can help to create a new generation of female role models for the industry, and a pipeline of future leaders.

Through the awards, we also recognise a number of senior individuals who are championing up-and-coming women, as well as any organisations that have designed and implemented successful initiatives and programmes in order to attract, retain and develop the female tech talent.

Finally, we applaud the often-voluntary efforts of the women in tech networks that operate across the UK, and again would like to formerly recognise these within our awards.

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way.

September

September saw 'Amazon Future Engineer' launch in the UK to help children and young adults from low-income backgrounds build careers in Computer Science.

The UK needs an additional 38,000 workers with computer science-related skills, including 21,000 computer science graduates, to meet labour demands every year – or the economy could lose out on an estimated £33 billion a year by 2030, according to research by Capital Economics.

To help close that gap, Amazon launched Amazon Future Engineer in the UK – a comprehensive childhood-to-career programme to inspire, educate, and enable children and young adults to try computer science. By supporting the recruitment and training of 50 secondary school computer science teachers and over 200 ‘Careers Leaders’, launching robotics workshops for 10,000 children and creating other opportunities to experience computer science, Amazon Future Engineer is set to reach more than one million children and young people across the UK over the next two years.

InnovateHer featuredOctober

In October, InnovateHer teamed up with Sony to bring its eight week technology programme for teenage girls to more locations across the country.

The Digital Bootcamp programme aims to give girls aged between 12-16 valuable tech and interpersonal skills, whilst encouraging them to consider STEM subjects and careers in tech.

Unfortunately, current statistics show that girls make up only 20% of computer science entries at GCSE, and just ten per cent at A-level, with nine times more boys than girls gaining an A level in Computer Science this year. InnovateHer, whose mission is “to get girls ready for the tech industry, and the industry ready for girls”, has promised to tackle these figures by working with schools to reach over 1,000 girls by 2020.

The after school programme will teach girls technical skills, build confidence, and highlight local opportunities within the tech and digital industries. The collaboration with PlayStation has allowed InnovateHer to extend the programme to new locations, including Guildford and London.

The bootcamp is set to launch in selected schools in January 2020, and graduates of the programme will have the opportunity to showcase the work they have produced at next year’s Develop conference in Brighton.

November

Monster Confidence Bootcamp launched in London in November, with the hope of boosting STEM confidence in girls.

Jobs site, Monster.co.uk, and social enterprise, Stemettes, took Monster Confidence on the road to show the next generation that girls do Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) too, and give them the tools and confidence needed to secure a job.

Since launching the events in 2016, over 2,000 young women have attended to receive encouragement and guidance from industry experts on how to pursue careers and qualifications of their dreams within STEM fields. Monster Confidence will be hosting two further events this year across the UK where unemployment and is at its highest and social mobility at its lowest – Teesside and Peterborough.

Winners Banner with logo featuredDecember

In December, we announced our winners of the 2019 TechWomen100 Awards.

The winners of these awards showcase remarkable women within the technology and STEM sector including Alicia Carolina Beylan Navarrete, a Backend Software Engineer at Deliveroo who was recently awarded an exceptional talent visa sponsored by TechNation; Moriah Baxevane-Connell, a Cloud Consultant at Google, who works with customers across Europe to optimise their usage of Google Cloud Platform; Emma Lindley, an advisor and author on digital identity, and is also co-founder of Women in Identity, a not-for-profit organisation focused on developing talent and diversity in the identity industry; and Eva Meyer de Stadelhofen, Founder of GirlCode, an international non-profit and network which aims to reduce the gender gap in the STEM industry by teaching girls of age 8-17 how to code.


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Looking back at 2019: Our top Inspirational Women in Tech interviews

We delve into our favourite and fascinating Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews of the year.

Our Inspirational Women series of interviews aims to highlight amazing women across the globe, showcase their achievements and raise their profiles.

Discover our editor's pick of inspirational tech interviews for 2019 below:

Anisah Osman Britton featuredInspirational Woman: Anisah Osman Britton | Founder & CEO, 23 Code Street

Anisah Osman Britton runs 23 Code Street.

In 2012 Anisah won the Young Entrepreneur Festival in London, which brought together 150 of the best young minds in the country.

Since leaving school, Anisah has pursued internships around the world, learnt to code, worked as ops director for a corporate accelerator and started 23 Code Street.

Anisah believes there are multiple routes to success, and that students need to be shown all possibilities.

Read Anisah's full interview here.


Jacqueline de Rojas featuredInspirational Woman: Jacqueline de Rojas CBE | President, techUK

Jacqueline is the President of techUK and the President of the Digital Leaders board.

She sits as a Non-Executive Director on the board of UK technology business Rightmove plc; on the board of Costain plc, which is committed to solving the nation’s Infrastructure problems; and is also on the board of the online retailer AO World plc. An advisor to fast moving tech businesses and a business mentor at Merryck offering board and executive level coaching. She is the co-chair at the Institute of Coding, advises the board of Accelerate-Her and is especially delighted to lend her support to the Girlguiding Association for technology transformation. Passionate about diversity and inclusion which informs where she places her support.

In 2016 she entered the @Computerweekly Hall of Fame after being voted Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in IT 2015; she was listed on Debretts 2016 500 People of Influence – Digital & Social and named in Europe’s Inspiring Fifty most inspiring female role models for 2017. She was presented with the 2017 Catherine Variety award for Science and Technology and the 2018 Women in Tech Award for Advocate of the Year acknowledging her contribution to diversity. 2018 brought a nugget of acknowledgements including @womenoffuture Fifty #KindLeaders; 2018 @Inclusiveboards 100 BAME Leaders; 2018 Faces of Vibrant Digital Economy; 2018 @Computerweekly Most Influential People in UK IT.

Jacqueline was awarded CBE for Services to International Trade in Technology in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2018.

Happily married to Roger Andrews, they have three children and a new baby grandson.

Read Jacqueline's full interview here.


Inspirational Woman: Olivia Sweeney | Aroma Chemicals Creative, Lush

Olivia, from Reading, has always been interested in sustainability and wanted to work for a company passionate about the environment.

Working for Lush and sourcing and creating their chemicals in a sustainable way has given Olivia the power to make a difference. Olivia is now an Aroma Chemicals Creative Buyer, sourcing and creating the natural and synthetic chemicals for fragrances of Lush’s soaps, bath bombs, shampoo bars… and everything else! She still gets to travel abroad, across Europe, Brazil and the USA to find the best materials and ingredients.

One of Olivia’s projects is figuring out the best way to process waste banana skins, not only getting the perfect banana smell, but in a sustainable and responsible way. She has helped to created a banana facial cleanser that will now be on shelves worldwide! She looks for ways to save energy and water in the making process while also making sure that the ingredients she works with are ethically sourced and cruelty free. For Olivia, chemical engineering means you can end up creating anything based on your own curiosity. Engineers are part of the modern world and help make dreams become reality with their problem-solving skills.

Read Olivia's full interview here.


Didem Un AtesInspirational Woman: Didem Un Ates | Senior Director, AI Customer & Partner Engagement, Microsoft

Following her Electrical Engineering and Management studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Didem started her career with management consulting at CapGemini and Motorola.

After graduating from Columbia Business School (CBS) in 2005, Didem continued her career at Greenwich Consulting (now part of EY) and British Telecom in London, UK.

Her passion for technology led her to join Microsoft’s Information & Content Experiences Group where she and her team signed c. 1,500 partnerships across 60 markets. She held other business development and partner management roles as part of Microsoft Accelerators and the Business AI teams. In her current role, Didem is focusing on scaling Microsoft’s SaaS AI solutions such as Dynamics Customer Service Insights and Virtual Agent.

Didem has 20+ years of multinational leadership experience in business development, management consulting, and product management in executing international roll outs, implementing new market entries, and building new revenue streams from disruptive technologies in EMEA, APAC, and LatAm.

Read Didem's full interview here.


Professor Sue Black featueredInspirational Woman: Professor Sue Black OBE | Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist, UK Government Strategic Advisor, Women's Equality Party candidate for London Mayor 2020, Professional Speaker & Author

Sue Black is a leading academic, campaigner, and advisor to the UK Government.

Black is a Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University with more than 40 publications behind her as well as a PhD in software engineering.

Her academic career has seen her hold leadership posts at London South Bank University, University of Westminster and University College London.

A champion for women in computing, Black founded BCSWomen, the UK’s first online network for women in tech, and #techmums, a social enterprise which empowers mums and their families through technology. The activist is also widely known for her successful campaign to save Bletchley Park, the wartime campus where more than 5,000 women served as codebreakers.

A figurehead on numerous boards, Black is a Comic Relief Trustee and a mentor at Google Campus for Mums. She has previously been a L’Oréal UNESCO prize judge, an expert evaluator for the European Commission and a Nesta Crucible fellow.

Black was awarded an OBE for “services to technology” in 2016.

She today sits as a Women’s Equality Party candidate for London Mayor 2020.

Black is a self-confessed social media-holic. She is a mum of four and a grandmother of four.

Read Sue's full interview here.


Lea von Bidder featuredInspirational Woman: Lea von Bidder | Co-Founder & CEO, Ava

Lea von Bidder is Co-Founder; VP Marketing and President of Ava Science Inc.

The idea for the Ava bracelet came from Pascal Koenig, Philipp Tholen, Peter Stein and I (Lea) around five years ago when we were confronted with our own reproductive choices in the modern world. We almost immediately started consulting with several gynaecologists from around the world, mainly in Europe and the US, asking what is important for women’s reproductive health needs. When Pascal, Philipp, Peter and I founded Ava in 2014, it was with the mission to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research. And I’m proud to share that we’ve just achieved a major milestone: Our clinical research has just been made public in a scientific paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research. The paper demonstrates that five physiological signals change throughout the menstrual cycle, and that by tracking these signals, we can identify the fertile window of a woman’s cycle in real time. Our flagship product, the Ava fertility tracker, is the only fertility-tracking method available that measures all five of these signs.

We have around 120 employees worldwide distributed among Zurich, San Francisco, Belgrade, Makati and Hong Kong. Around 80 of these sit in our Headquarters in Zurich and work in various departments such as Clinical Team, Data Science Team, Product Team, Marketing as well as Customer Success.

We are proud to count over 20,000 pregnancies worldwide and 50 new pregnancies a day among our users

The tracking of a woman’s cycle, fertility, and pregnancy is just the start of many exciting possibilities. Ava continues to conduct clinical studies to improve its accuracy and increase its capabilities. Ava and the University Hospital of Zurich are conducting a new large cohort study with several sub-studies that will address topics such as irregular cycles and pregnancy complications. We are also working with several thought leaders to conduct studies in assisted reproduction and gestational hypertensive populations.

Our vision of wanting to be a long-term companion for women, providing data-driven and scientifically proven insights along all stages of their reproductive lives, as well as our mission, wanting to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research, are our biggest drivers.

Read Lea's full interview here.


Kerrine Bryan featuredInspirational Woman: Kerrine Bryan | Award-winning engineer & founder of Butterfly Books

Kerrine Bryan – an award winning black female engineer and founder of Butterfly Books.

Kerrine has gone on to smash many glass ceilings to become respected in her field.

She was shortlisted in Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 for notable women in business and, in 2015, she won the Precious Award for outstanding woman in STEM. Kerrine is a volunteer mentor for the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET) and is an avid STEM Ambassador. It was while she was undertaking talks at various schools across the country for children about engineering and what her job entails that she became inspired to set up her independent publishing house, Butterfly Books.

In response to this, Kerrine published a series of books (My Mummy Is A Scientist, My Mummy Is An Engineer and My Mummy Is A Plumber) as a means of communicating to children a positive message about all kinds of professions, especially STEM careers, that are suffering skill gaps and diversity issues. The fourth book in the series, My Mummy Is A Farmer, launched last month – August 2018.

Read Kerrine's full interview here.


Cheryl Laidlaw featured

Inspirational Woman: Cheryl Laidlaw | Founder of Website in a Day & London Web Girl

Cheryl LaidlawI own and run a creative design agency Website in a Day in London.

I’m passionate about design and the importance that brand awareness can have, whether you are building a personal brand, small business or a global company. I’ve seen first hand the impact that a consistent brand message can have.

As a Web and a Graphic designer I also become increasingly aware of how social media plays such a critical part in establishing a brand’s presence. In a unique move I extended my services to include Social Media. Offering not just social media set up but also training and consultancy.

My alter-ego, London Web Girl, was officially launched in 2017. Originally something I created in my spare time it has, like Website in a Day, grown into its own brand. The idea originally focused on me, a woman in tech, and all the issues and insight that goes with tech and web, but gradually grew to me talking about lifestyle topics and I am so pleased to say that my current Instagram following is more than 27k. Through London Web Girl, I have been invited to work with amazing brands and individuals and establish myself as a leading light in the tech and web world with a huge passion for helping women in the industry.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I took the leap to start my own business at the age of 26 and formed creative design agency, Reyl Design Group. Myself and my collaborators offer first class website design, logo creation, brand vision and branding strategy, social media marketing and email marketing work, among many other digital and creative services.

As part of our offer, we had the Website In a Day concept and it was so successful that it subsequently spawned an individual brand and business.

Website In a Day has grown and developed thanks to great networking, social media and word of mouth – all of which have been invaluable. The simplicity of the offer: one day, one price, one website, appeals to a lot of clients and I’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastic clients to bring their brand to life digitally.

I feel my value lies in the fact that I make web design human and really listen to my clients’ objectives and vision and design sites with those elements at the centre in order to create a site that they envisaged and more. I am hugely passionate about making technology accessible and enjoyable. Digital can be a scary word for a lot of people and my main aim is to make it less so, by offering an organised and insightful experience with great before and after care to enable my clients to really enjoy and benefit from their digital experience.

My alter-ego, London Web Girl, was officially launched in 2017. Originally something I created in my spare time it has, like Website In A Day, grown into its own brand and I am really proud to say that I currently have more than 27k followers on Instagram.

The idea originally focused on me, a woman in tech, and all the issues and insight that goes with tech and web, but gradually grew to me talking about lifestyle topics.

Through London Web Girl, I have been invited to work with amazing brands and individuals and was recently invited to an exclusive reception at 10 Downing St on International Women’s Day. I have established myself as a leading light in the tech and web world with a huge passion for helping women in the industry. I am currently gearing up to host my course on growing your business through Instagram stories on the Thursday 9th May.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t sit down and plan it as such, but I always knew that I wanted to be a leading light in the tech world in some way.

Due to the growth of both London Web Girl and Website In a Day, I have been offered amazing opportunities and been lucky enough to be rewarded for my work (I recently received the Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday award, was named one of the top #ialso 100 in the recent f:Entrepreneur campaign, I was awarded highly commended in the recent Women Of The Future Awards and am a finalist in The Small Awards in the Digital Star category.

I plan my career and business by setting small, achievable weekly goals (as well as having the huge scary ones on the horizon!) and that has really helped me. Things such as connecting with people on Linked In, writing a blog, setting up a course, meeting someone in the industry for a coffee – it all counts to achieving the big goal.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Loads! When I started (and to some extent still now) a huge challenge is getting paid on time and managing these expectations to try and pre-empt it. It always astounds me how fellow business owners take such a long time paying you when they know themselves how it is.

Other challenges have included getting my work/life balance in order as when I first started, I was working 24/7 which isn’t conducive for anyone. I have now learnt to take a break when needed and know when to say no. Also learning your value is a huge learning – that can be in terms of prices, time and energy. It has taken me years to be able to produce things quickly, accurately and of a premium quality – and I often need to remember that that is what clients are paying for, not the time it has taken me to do something.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There have been a few. Seeing the growth of London Web Girl has been hugely rewarding and not in my wildest dreams did I think that I would get more than 27k followers! This drives me to produce great content and engage with this audience more and more.

Alongside this, it was a huge honour to be one of the small number of business women invited to Downing St recently for an afternoon tea hosted by the Prime Minister where I met some hugely inspiring contacts (including Tech Women!) and it was such a privilege to be invited. I was also hugely honoured to be highly commended in the recent Women Of The Future Awards and to be one of their current ambassadors – the organisation hugely inspires and empowers women so I am so proud to be part of the team.

But the main achievements are the number of websites I have created which are servicing wonderful businesses all over the UK and seeing their success and being a small part of that feels fantastic.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Having no limiting beliefs. Once you work on getting rid of the all ‘if’ ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’ you open yourself up to achieving more and more.  Anything is possibly when there are no limited beliefs. I try to say yes to most things and see everything as an opportunity and a learning and I think having this mindset has really helped me achieve my success so far.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I think this goes for any industry, but as long as you have a genuine passion for your sectoryou will find ways of opening doors and sharing your skill set, thoughts and expertise. As someone getting into tech, I would say make sure you make time to network and get out there and meet other people, engage online through social media and forums and target and speak to people who inspire you in the industry. Always ask questions, be open to listening and learning and just immerse yourself.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Absolutely as it is to some extent seen as a male industry and a bit dull and boring – which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s all about education and speaking to these young women when they are making their choices and decisions and encouraging them to learn more about the reality of working in tech as a woman and speaking to women who are in their about their careers and experiences and get an honest and insightful impression. I think there is an onus of everyone in tech to educate, inform and share our knowledge with the younger generation and support and grow them.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

It’s hard for me to say as I don’t work in this world, but I think the onus is definitely on management to recognise, reward and encourage women in tech and ensure that gender equality is paramount in their offering and values as a company.

There is currently on 15 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I think it needs to go back to education and ensuring that tech is fairly represented in schools with real-life examples, insight and examples which educate all kids and make tech a serious and accessible option to be encouraged and grown.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Sheryl Sandberg has a created a great community for women called ‘Lean In’ which has many groups called ‘circles’ worldwide. Its available to everyone and its free and I feel that is such an inspirational hub to be part of and she is such a great female leader in tech.

There are loads of tech conferences to attend too. I recently went to the web summit in Lisbon which is one of the biggest tech conferences in the world, this year’s attendance was 48% females which was SO encouraging.

I’m not much of a reader but I love to listen to books on audible on my commute. I listen to all types of podcasts on tech, marketing and design.

Some of my favourites are:

Audible:

• Gary Vee: Crust it, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, #AskGaryVee, Crushing it
• They Ask you Answer
• Purple Cow
• Extreme You

Podcasts:

• Goal Digger
• Being Boss
• Ted Talks Daily
• Marketing Companion


young woman on her phone commuting, career advice

Looking back at 2019: Our top tech career advice articles

young woman on her phone commuting, career advice

In our first installment of looking back at 2019, we delve into our favourite and inspiring career advice articles of the year.

WeAreTechWomen prides itself on having the answers you need to take the next step in your career. Our careers advice section offers the latest and most relevant tips on networking, legal advice, CV advice, interview advice and much more.

Job seeking

WeAreTechWomen has a plethora of articles focusing on job seeking – including interview advice, applying for jobs and improving your CV.

Below are just a few of our top articles to get you started:

Using social media to advance your career

How to find the right professional mentor

Five hacks for women to get ahead in STEM

Tackling the digital skills gap

How to gain free digital experience before you have a job

Tips for women in digital by women in digital

Bitesize Career Development

WeAreTechWomen also offers bitesize career development with short, easy to watch videos.

Click here to start watching our career videos.

Returning to work and returnships

Returnships and helping women return to work after taking a career break has been at the forefront of careers advice in 2019.

Whether you are a maternity returner or someone who has taken a career break, there are now a myriad of options which will enable you to return to work. These programmes include training, a chance to refresh skills and meet other women who are in a similar position.

We have a dedicated page for all our returnship programmes, flexible working advice and advice on returning to work.

Discover our returnships here.

Entrepreneurs

WeAreTechWomen has its own dedicated section for our tech entrepreneurs. Here you can discover the latest resources and campaigns open to entrepreneurs, as well as helpful advice articles to get you started.

Click here to discover our entrepreneurs section.

Networking

WeAreTechWomen has lots of advice and tips for productive networking sessions.

We also have a networking directory, which allows you to search for networks in your area and even coaches to gain one-to-one advice and mentoring.

You can find this directory here.

Careers Club

Don’t forget, we have a number of handy tools so that you can progress your career further. WeAreTheCity’s Careers Club provides online access to career development tools, alongside giving our members the ability to grow their personal networks.

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level and are self motivated and looking to meet like minded individuals, then this is the club for you.

We welcome women and men, of all backgrounds, at all levels, from all industries.

You can find out more and join here.

WeAreTechWomen Jobs

WeAreTechWomen Jobs was created to encourage more talented women to pursue their career aspirations and to connect job seekers with companies who are proactively recruiting women and supporting the development of more inclusive working environments.

You can discover a variety of different job roles from top companies such as Airbnb, PwC, Charlotte Tilbury, EY, Groupon, Secret Escapes and many more.

Click here to find your next role.


Stacy-Ann-Sinclair

Inspirational Woman: Stacy-Ann Sinclair | Co-Founder & CTO, CodeREG

 

Stacy-Ann Sinclair

Stacy-Ann Sinclair is the Co-Founder and CTO of CodeREG, a regtech startup codifying financial regulation into machine executable rules.

Stacy-Ann is a Computer Scientist who has spent the last 10 years building trading systems and globally scalable data platforms for UBS, Barclays Investment Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is interested in building complex systems and intelligently extracting meaning and insights from data.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the UK when I was 16. I studied Computer Science at City University London and spent the next 10 years working in investment banking. I always knew computer science is what I wanted to do from a very early age; so the technical challenges posed by the investment banks were exciting. I found my passion in algorithmic and high frequency trading, soon transitioned into building large scale data pipelines, deriving and enabling data driven strategic decisions and predictions.

I join Entrepreneur First in March 2018, to start my own company.  I was accepted onto the Entrepreneur First(EF) programme, EF is a founders first company builder, investing in exceptional founders with deep technical ideas.   I found my cofounder at EF and together we created CodeREG.

At CodeREG I drive both commercial and technical decisions, This involves customers, product, fundraising and technical solution designs. As a founder you need a wide range of skills and be willing to take on a lot of responsibility to get an idea and business off the ground.  Luckily,  I enjoy a varied role and straddling multiple roles is where I am most happy.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never really sat down and planned it, however I am aware of what makes me happy and I always seek out interesting challenges. The moment the challenge curve wore off or if I am no longer excited by my role, I know it is time for a change.

I love problem solving and technology, and usually that was enough to keep me happy.  It's very important that I love whatever it is that I am doing.  The moment that is no longer true, I know it time to reassess the situation.  This is the compass I live by.

I need to be solving an interesting problem, it needs to be technically challenging and I need to be happy doing it, if these aren’t aligned then that’s my trigger.  Money was never really a motivator for me, it was more of a nice to have :-)

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Interestingly a lot of the challenges I faced were only realised retrospectively.  Working in a male dominated industry has its own challenges.  I fought with fair pay for women compared to our male counterparts and bonus transparency - these were both outrageously disproportionate in the investment banking industry, I believe this is changing now, but you had to fight harder to be heard and taken seriously.

Unfortunately the default was that you had to prove why you were good, instead of it being a given, whilst my male colleagues wouldn’t go through the same thing. Their default starting position was the opposite.  I could back up the things I say and could demonstrate why I was good at my job, so I never really noticed what was happening at the time.  I also quite enjoy proving people wrong, so I didn’t notice the negativity behind it all, it shouldn’t be that way.  It discourages women from really growing in that industry.  The barrier to entry shouldn’t be harder just because of your sex.

Most male engineers I come across are actually very cool, helpful and thoughtful in a progressive way - the biases most of them showed were unconscious and wasn’t intended to deliberately cause harm.  Majority of the negativity would stem from non-technical people interacting with the tech community funnily enough and wasn’t just limited to men.

Not having enough female leaders in tech was always a struggle, and it probably affects how you learnt and improve. I had great male colleagues and friends who have helped me along the way, but there are some unconscious biases for sure, I don’t think it was something they did knowingly, it just exists from being a history long male dominated industry. Encouraging more women into tech will undoubtedly change the subtleties.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s Mentee?

I like the idea of mentoring, I’ve had mentors help me along my career and in return I ensured I passed it on, as I’ve seen firsthand its benefits.  I am also a mentor myself, it’s important to give back.

I’ve had some great mentors in the past, both men and women - at different points of my career I had different requirements, so I’ve had mentors who were successful women working in technology at senior levels, I’ve had mentors whose managerial style I really like and I wanted to embody more of their values.  I had mentors from particular industries or areas I was keen to find out about.  I had mentors who were technically brilliant.  I had mentors as an intern, learning from the experience of other recent interns.  The requirement for a mentor may change many times throughout your life/career, this is very normal.

I believe a mentor mentee relationship should be two sided and beneficial for all involved.  Learning from someone else’s experience is super valuable when there is direct and deliberate insight. Being open to new ideas, interesting perspectives, and discussing issues/problems from different angles can add another dimension you were not privy to before.  Always try to give as much as you receive, a mentor/mentee relation that’s one sided may not return the results you might expect.

What you bring to the table could be a variety of things, experience, your views, your approach, your background, your ambition(s), your skills.  Mentors and mentees at different stages of their careers can be massively valuable to each other.

These relationships also need to be fun for both, a mentor/mentee should be someone you get along with well, someone you can talk to in a very relaxed, stress free manner.  Its shouldn’t be rigid, with a well structured official mentor/mentee assignment.  Some of the best mentor/mentee relationships are the ones that are achieved organically.

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

I want to see diversity and diverse skills celebrated and not seen as a tick boxing exercise, I want to see more girls being encouraged to write code at an early age, there is no real reason why there is this divide, it was just something that was always seen as something boys did.

If we teach them how to code and create from an early age with no bias, they may actually just love it.  My little sister at the age of 9 was designing and making games, just from a non biased exposure, it was just something she enjoyed doing.  This stigma of what is a ‘girl’ activity and what is a ‘boy’ activity which is so present in our society usually have lasting effects on the skills we tend to develop.

How would you encourage more women and young girls into a career in STEM?

I am a firm believer in getting them started early.  The pool is very small to begin with and we need to increase that pool of talent from the very early stages - as an example I was the only female to graduate computer science at my university, one from a graduating year isn’t a lot at all; but it just goes to show that the amount of women studying computer science is very small. So seeing technical women in the industry is even harder, at executive level it gets worse, because the pool is so tiny to start with.  The root of the problem needs to be addressed.

I am very involved in initiatives that encourages women into tech, especially younger girls.  Whilst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch I co-founded the Women Developer Group,  the aim was to encourage women interested in learning how to write code, learning from experienced female developers, and delivering solutions together - instead of the traditional male dominated environment.  This is not a setup that you would find easily within tech and we felt it brought a lot of advantages, that weren’t initially obvious.

I love and support the Code First Girls initiative, run by the amazing CEO Amali de Alwis - they aim to increase the number of women in tech, especially women who fancy a career in technology, but don’t yet have the required skills. I have been a keynote speaker at their last two annual conferences and just being able to talk to so many young female entrepreneurs and tech enthusiast is extremely rewarding, I have mentored quite a few of them looking to make a start or grow in the industry.  I try to play an active role in this community whenever possible, it’s really dear to my heart.

I have studied computer science and have always pursued a career in technology, however if you don’t fit that profile, don’t let that stop you entering the industry - writing code is a skill and it can be learnt.  Initiatives like Code First Girl tackle this problem, they teach women with no prior technical skills on how to get started.  ‘Technology’ is a big field and getting started somewhere is a great start.  No matter how long you’ve been doing it, there is always more to learn and more to do, so the best thing you can do is get started and keep going.

Stemettes is another great initiative I’ve had the pleasure of working with and they do target the age group I have the most passion for - they encourage girls from the age of five to pursue a career in STEM - this is a fabulous thing.  Tackling the problem at the root will yield amazing results.

Being a programmer is a creative job, it’s analytical, but it is very creative.  Building something from nothing is a very rewarding experience and I would love to share that feeling with more people.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date is probably CodeREG, being able to create a company that is now venture backed is just amazing. Being able to solve hard technical problems that underpin our intelligent regulation solution is highly rewarding.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to take CodeREG to global significance, changing the way finance operates and changing the face of compliance, making codeREG the defacto for systematic compliance.

Growing a team and driving a culture within the company that is fresh and spearheaded by how I beleive the workplace should be is something I want to make a reality.


diversity, boys club featured

What are the key challenges for diversity in tech in 2020?

diversity, boys club

Article provided by Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer cloud and technology-focused managed service provider Solutionize Global

With emerging trends firmly focused on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and the increased use of tech in vital sectors such as healthcare, building a diverse workforce in this evolving landscape is now more pertinent than ever before.

It’s imperative for enterprises to build solutions encompassing many voices and reflect the input of the talented individuals throughout their teams – to prevent inherent bias in the innovation they bring to the marketplace.

Digital developments introduced by organisations must be truly representative of their end users’ wants, needs and interests. But what does that mean when tackling the immense diversity challenges within the sector that exists and how that will impact on what lies ahead?

To understand the best way to approach this is by reviewing the cool, hard facts on diversity. Yes, times are changing in the technology world – and more importance is being placed on building a diverse and inclusive workforce – but top, diverse talent is still battling to break through into an industry that has innovation and disruption at its heart.

Delving into the data

For example, in 2014 key Silicon Valley companies – including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook published their diversity numbers for the first time – revealing how their teams were predominantly white or Asian men.

Five years on, Apple’s diversity figures still make for grim reading. The phone giant employs the same amount of black technical workers (six per cent), despite 13 per cent of the US population being black.

Meanwhile, delving into Facebook’s released data, 23 per cent of its technical workforce is female – which has seen an increase of 15% since 2014 – and Google reported similar numbers too. And although Amazon don’t publish their numbers concerning the split between technical, distribution and other employees, the e-commerce firm reports that 42 per cent of its workers are women.

When some of the most well-known US tech giants are struggling to make a substantial difference to the overall demographic of their staff list, how can other enterprises realistically make a difference? And how does that translate when thinking about the UK tech landscape?

Analysing the nation’s digital workforces

According to the most recent Tech Nation Report on diversity and inclusion – which analysed 12.5 million UK businesses registered with Companies House – only 19% of UK tech workers are female and 15 per cent are from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds.

In addition, when it comes to leadership roles, 22 per cent of tech directors are women. Comparatively, in the wider business community, such figures are only a little different – with a 71/29 per centsplit between the male and female sexes.

Although things are improving, albeit at a slow pace, it can still make for depressing reading – especially when considering how the last two decades of data show that the proportion of women in tech boardrooms has simply plateaued. And this all comes off the back of many high-profile campaigns and a renewed awareness of how a diverse directorship or senior leadership team can directly, and positively, impact a company’s bottom line.

As the UK tech evolution grows three-times faster than the overall economy – contributing an impressive £200 billion a year – it shows how much it is revolutionising enterprises and providing the exciting, myriad of roles now available to the motivated and digital savvy staff member.

So, why is diversity still such a challenge?

Perhaps something can be said with regards to the lengthy, historical backdrop of poor representation that technology has played when being viewed as a viable career choice for women.

Additionally, education has an important role throughout, as it possesses the opportunity to empower the workforces of tomorrow and showcase the incredible force that digital disruption embodies. For example, ICT has typically been viewed as a sector working in silos and only suited to men with analytical minds. However, it should be highlighted as an exciting, collaborative and innovative career that can truly change the face of how companies now operate.

It’s time to challenge recent research that reveals how 48 per cent of women feel that a lack of mentors was a blocker towards a technology career. This needs to be tackled as an industry and by those working in it.

These are the statistics that really matter to analyse and truly affect change. The Bank of England’s recent analysis shockingly revealed that ethnic minorities in the UK earn around 10 per cent less than white workers.

Could 2020 be the year when enterprises truly focus on recruiting a diverse mix of top tech talent from a range of backgrounds and providing them with a workplace that is inclusive and rewarding to all? Let’s hope so.

It all comes back to one simple question – how can the right digital products and services be built to provide a viable solution for everyone if we all have the same voice?


women only cyber security course

Women-only cyber security course aims to tackle startling inequality

women only cyber security course

British cyber security experts have created the ‘Academy of Cyber Security’ with the intention of re-training women

It’s 2001. Lorna Armitage, a fledgling IT professional, is about to sit her exam in cyber security. Upon entering the exam hall, she finds herself the only woman in attendance, surrounded by over 200 men.

Fast forward to 2019 and Lorna, now a cyber security expert working on behalf of the UK government, enters London Olympia to attend the ‘InfoSec UK’ conference. It’s a packed event, and as she navigates her way through the crowds, she has a moment of realisation.

Cyber security still has a problem… a major problem. At this event, 90 per cent of delegates were male. The facts are, only ten per cent of UK cyber professionals are female, and the severity of this ratio increases when senior positions or deeply technical roles are isolated.

Following this moment of realisation, Lorna and several colleagues wanted to take a radical approach to solving this imbalance, which has persisted since the turn of the Millennium.

In September 2019, the Academy of Cyber Security was incorporated and the founding team of nine agreed that a women-only re-training course would be a priority.

Speaking about the course, Lorna said, "Alongside the clear problem of gender inequality, cyber in general has an urgent skills shortage."

"In the UK, we’re missing around 100,000 professionals and as a result, cybercrime is costing the British economy £27 Billion per year."

"It’s a problem of national security.”

"We’re seeing amazing initiatives at the early stage of education, but a clear lack of initiatives which target the current UK workforce and underrepresented demographics, such as women."

"Women who might be facing redundancy, returning to work, or those who simply want to change their career."

"These demographics can significantly contribute to the cyber security skills shortage.”

Interest in the Academy of Cyber Security has been exceptionally high, but even with dedicated marketing campaigns aimed at women, 80 per cent of applicants have still been male.

“We’ve seen a lot of push back against women-only initiatives."

"We see current industry leaders calling them ‘exclusionary’ and saying, “we just need more people”. If we don’t do anything, then more people just equals more men."

"Something must be done.”

“It’s paramount we normalise the cyber career path for women."

"We need more role models, and if we can unlock this demographic, then it will go a long way to solving the UKs cyber skills gap”.

The Academy of Cyber Security is 16-week re-training programme with the inaugural women-only cohort kicking off in Spring 2020. Applications are now open for aspiring women.

To find out more about the Academy of Cyber Security’s women-only initiatives, or to apply, you can go to: ww.cybertraining.ac/women-in-cyber-security/


WeAreTechWomen Conference 2019: In Pictures

WeAreTechWomen, the technology arm of WeAreTheCity, hosted its fourth full-day conference for female technologists at etc. venues, Bishopsgate, London.

The conference, proudly sponsored and supported by Dell Technologies, saw over 500 attendees from across the technology sector and range of companies including Sky, Amazon, HSBC, Visa, Spotify, ASOS, Tesco, Goldman Sachs, DWP, BT and many more.

The conference was aimed at women in the tech sector who were looking to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their technology networks.

View the event images captured below: