Work-life integration: the answer to workplace burnout?

Workplace burnout stressBy Nicole Bello, Vice President of SMB and Channel, EMEA at Kronos Incorporated

The modern working day is stressful. There might be a rush-hour commute, deadlines to meet, and conflicting schedules to manage, all while trying to balance life commitments.

Burnout is a common problem among modern workers, and achieving a much-coveted work-life balance seems to be more difficult than it used to.

In light of this issue, it might be time to start thinking about going beyond the traditional idea of work-life balance, and embracing a cultural shift to a philosophy of work-life integration instead.

Understanding work-life integration

If organisations are serious about maintaining employee morale and retaining their staff, it is important that they provide working conditions that allow for greater flexibility. This is where work-life integration has a role to play.

Traditionally, many employers and workers have advocated for a clear delineation between in-office and out-of-office hours — a concept also known as work-life balance. However, modern commitments and ways of living are leading to an evolution in the way work and life operate in tandem with one another. The concept of work-life integration is based around having the freedom to choose when and where you can work and complete personal tasks in your own time.

Think of a situation like this: An employee has to attend a personal commitment on a working day, say a school sports day in which her children are taking part. There are two realistic options in this scenario — she can either take annual leave and lose a whole day’s productivity for a few hours of a commitment –  or pick the work-life integration option that involves working from home in the morning, logging off during the sports event (after duly communicating to the office team) and then logging back on later in the evening to complete work tasks. The second option is an obvious win-win for both the employee and the company, with negligible loss of productive hours whilst also ensuring employee wellness.

Using technology to achieve workplace harmony

A powerful enabler, technology is the key reason why today’s employees can choose when and where they plan to work. It has also given managers the necessary tools and platforms through which they can administer tasks and responsibilities, so that work gets done efficiently and effectively.

Technology is helping workers become more fluid and achieve work goals at their own pace. As a working mother myself, I make it a point to be home before dinner, and then go online for an hour or so to clear the work backlog before bedtime. And while I do understand that everyone’s situation is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution, but there is definitely no harm in employing a more malleable approach to a traditional 9-5:30 and use tech to help achieve this.

Eliminating burnout, increasing satisfaction

People are an organisation’s most valuable asset and need to be looked after. After all you cannot expect the same results from a burned-out employee that you would from a fully motivated one. By allowing staff to work in a more fluid manner, employers can help to build a more satisfied, productive and well-balanced workforce that is less anxious about when and how to get things done.  This is why I believe that work-life integration is the way forward.


Inspirational Woman: Dr. Kiki Leutner | Business Psychologist & Data Scientist, UCL

Kiki LeutnerDr. Kiki Leutner is a business psychologist and Data Scientist at University College London (UCL).

She is Director of Assessments and Innovation at HireVue, where she develops innovative, data driven assessments that are fair and psychometrically valid. Her academic work is published in peer reviewed journals, including work on the intersection of machine learning and psychometrics. She is an expert in innovative psychometric assessment, personality theory, and behavioral analytics.

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

I currently work as Director of Assessments Innovation at HireVue and also as a lecturer in the psychology faculty at UCL. HireVue provides video interviewing and talent assessment solutions used by over 700 organisations globally to transform the way companies discover, hire and develop the best talent. My role at HireVue is to ensure that we build the fairest and most predictive pre-hire assessments possible, using the wealth of technology and science available to us. I believe that the key is bringing together business psychology and data science and machine learning.

I came to the UK for university, studying a combination of Philosophy, Psychology and Computer Science. I undertook a PhD at UCL, sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which allowed me to learn about machine learning and data science, and bring this to my Psychology research. I started focusing on developing new methods of personality profiling. For example, I used free text data to develop personality profiles, and also developed an image-based personality test.

There’s so much discussion around ethics in Computer Science. It’s important to appreciate the context of human behavioural data and the specific implications it has. There is a longstanding tradition in Psychology to carefully evaluate datasets. And specifically, in Business Psychology, to check and evaluate how algorithms affect different groups of people, and to make sure they are fair. By working at the intersection of data science and psychology, I try to bring the two together. It is also the focal point of a class I teach at UCL. I lecture both Computer Science and Psychology students, bridging the gap between methodology and specific concerns in handling human behavioural data, whilst bringing a psychology ethics perspective to both.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I never planned my career, but I am always thinking about what I will do next. I am the kind of person who can never do just one thing at a time – I always have several projects on the go.

I feel as though I have been very fortunate in the opportunities that I have come across, and the mentors I’ve met along the way. I try to only pick opportunities that are truly of interest to me, and where I feel good about the people I’m working with. For example, I started working for MindX (later acquired by HireVue) when it was a young start-up because I was very impressed with the fast progress that they were making, and because my work was central to their mission and product.

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

There are challenges in every career, as well as in life in general – it’s important to find a situation in which you are comfortable, working with people who care and are passionate.

In terms of how I overcame these challenges, I strongly believe the answer lies in the people you work with. Having a good team really accelerates your output and shows the value of working with a diverse group of people – everyone brings something different to the table.

Working in technology and academia, a constant challenge will always be the lack of gender parity – you are almost always the only woman, or one of few women. This has meant throughout my career, I’ve had to ensure I’m strategic in how I navigate certain situations. I always wanted to stay true to myself and speak up if I felt something wasn’t right. I believe that being true to my values has worked in my favour.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Learning to trust my own judgement and ability! Especially as a young woman, you probably have more of a clue than people might make you feel. Most people don’t know what they’re doing either!  It’s so easy to become preoccupied by how other people may see you, so empowering myself to trust my own judgement is really important. It’s uncomfortable but it’s totally worth to keep insisting and making sure that people are aware of your background, title, or the work that you do, and to push your own agenda. Do the hard work, but don’t forget to claim your reward for it!

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

Balance! It’s key to have good friends, family and partners in your life, to create a really strong support network. You need to set up a good life for yourself, otherwise you can easily burn out.

I think that this is particularly relevant in the start-up world. You always have to give your most and there are high stakes and high emotions. Having stable relationships and supportive people help to balance this out.

Another key factor is having great mentors – for women especially. Without mentors, I wouldn’t have been able to negotiate things like salary and I probably would’ve said yes to opportunities that weren’t right for me! Knowing that you have someone to turn to when it comes to big decisions helps to build your confidence.

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

Surround yourself with good, supportive people and find mentors you trust and that inspire you. Education, whether formal or not, is so important – I never stop learning and would advise anyone trying to excel in their career to do the same. Trust your instincts with which jobs are right for you and don’t compromise.

One of my mentors always says, “do the job that you want to do – don’t wait for someone to give you permission, just do it.”

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

Of course, there are barriers – not just for women in tech, but for all women. Until women can benefit from the same support from the law, the government, the people around them, they will always be at a disadvantage. Technology is a very competitive industry, so I suppose that often results in people trying to drive out women more – it’s high stakes, both in terms of money and prestige.

I try to lead by example and show that it can be done – it’s important to individually empower women in tech, rather than only speaking about the topic as a whole. One of the best ways to overcome these barriers is to find other women in tech and talk to them! It’s really important to have open conversations – things that we experience in the industry are being experienced by many other women. Shared experiences are valuable and give credence to how you are feeling.

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

I think having structure within the company is key – formal pay structures, for example, have shown to reduce the gender pay gap. Another really important aspect is parental leave – I believe there should be parental leave for both men and women that is normalised and won’t disadvantage any particular individual.

Businesses should see increasing diversity as a great opportunity, as it truly is beneficial – it has been shown by studies time and time again that a diverse workforce makes for a more productive and profitable business. Most of all, businesses need to empower and support the minorities in their company – give them true opportunity and create and inclusive culture that values competence.

I find it really encouraging to work for a company that doesn’t just talk the talk, but also walks the walk! Over 50% of our executive team at HireVue are women, which is quite rare in the tech industry. We were also named on the 2019 Shatter List, which recognises technology companies that are actively shattering the glass ceiling for women in technology, through its programs and culture.

There is currently only 17% 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’d give companies the strength to be bold! We know what tools promote competence and diversity- it’s time to implement! Trust the evidence- this will increase profitability. Formal selection, promotion, and pay processes. Flexible working hours and mentor networks. Parental leave provisions that are equal for both genders, and support with childcare.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are loads of great women that you can follow on Twitter, as a start! A couple of my recommendations would be @cindygallop and @NathalieNahai.

Another area of focus for me is competence – this is a great article on why so many incompetent men become leaders: https://hbr.org/2013/08/why-do-so-many-incompetent-men

Events are an important and easy way to meet likeminded individuals and discuss shared experiences – some of the best are run by Future Females.

Education is important to me – and that doesn’t just mean textbooks! It’s key to educate yourself on the history and actuality of feminism and equality. My starting suggestions would be:

Lastly, it’s important to keep a sense of humour… Laugh about it at @manwhohasitall.


Standing up to be counted featured

Standing up to be counted - on stage, and as a woman in technology 

Standing up to be counted - stand up comedy

For the first half of my life my parents would have told you, sometimes proudly and sometimes through gritted teeth, I was a born performer.

From applying (unsuccessfully) for The X Factor as a teenager, to getting an A in drama. Somewhere along the line I lost my nerve, and over time it escalated into a phobia. The mind is a funny thing, and as the last few years passed the fear got worse, and the speaking didn’t even have to be particularly public; I’m a PR person - the ‘face’ of several brands, and often pitching to groups of people for new business. While I would get through them if I absolutely could not avoid it, I reached a point where I could make myself sick the night before, and waste days getting anxious.

Working in successful digital start-ups and as a media spokesperson (on paper) led to a raft of speaking opportunities, which I quietly declined; but I was frustrated with myself. I’m the first person at a conference to lambast line ups of the same old male experts but by leaving it up to other women to balance the bills, I was being a hypocrite.

I promised myself I would do something about it, leading me to sign up to Funny Women’s Stand up to Stand Out course, that aimed to teach people of all levels a range of skills they could use anywhere from the stage to the board room.

As well as inspiring me to pursue stand up comedy, these are some of the things I’ve learned.

Back Yourself 

The beauty about stand-up comedy is it’s entirely unpredictable. Something that resonates in one room could fall flat in another, and you won’t always get to know why. In that scenario all you can really do is your best, as how you react is only bit you can control, and that is hugely liberating. This is a principle you can apply to any kind of speaking and, unlikely comedy, you have the luxury of knowing your subject matter and speaking to an audience that is predisposed to hearing about it, whether it is at your company update or at a conference. And you don’t even have to make them laugh, just listen. If something doesn’t go to the script in the average scenario, nobody knows, and your only heckler is likely to be your internal voice, so keep your game face on and keep going.

Shake it off 

One of the most interesting things about admitting what I do outside of work is the amount of people who consider it their ‘worst nightmare’ and think it’s an act of extreme bravery, this even from senior professionals who are incredibly good at public speaking. This means that in a situation where you do have to speak, you need to remember that people are already impressed with you just for taking the mic and there is a lot of goodwill towards you so even if you do falter, they’ll be quick to forgive you.

Pay attention 

It’s really valuable to be an active listener. In stand up, not only does watching other acts on a stand up night stop you from obsessing and fixating on your bit, but it also gives you the opportunity to strengthen your set later by referencing a moment that you shared with the audience, so I tend to stay off my phone and get my nose out of my notes.

In a corporate environment, these rules can still apply. If you’ve been invited to a meeting, try to pay attention, even if it’s likely to be dull. If you’re presenting, it means you can tailor it to the vibe of the room, and even if you’re not, it’s a good habit to get into. The most boring meeting in the world can be improved hugely if everyone actively engages in it, and you’re likely to get more done when no one is running on autopilot so, where possible, avoid taking distracting devices into meetings.

Alternative reality 

One of the best things about doing stand-up is how it facilitates a complete switch off from my day job. My career has been a hugely defining element of my character and a lot of my social circle belong in similar roles which can narrow your world a bit if you let it. This interest has taken me out of my element, introducing me to new people and challenges and giving the workday a ‘hard stop’ when I have shows to do. I’ve been a huge fan of stand up comedy for my whole life, so getting to be on stage with comedians I have loved for years has been an absolute dream, coming from something that this time last year I would have described as my worst nightmare.

I have been hugely lucky to have alighted on this as I was starting my role at www.carwow.co.uk and they have not only been hugely supportive of it as a personal objective, they’ve also taken to heart what it means for me as a woman in automotive, an industry that has typically been acknowledged as very masculine. This was one of the reasons carwow sponsored the Funny Women Awards, the providers of the course that helps hundreds of women like me build the skills and confidence needed to represent ourselves in the board room and on conference stages all around the world, as well as finding the best women in comedy and raising up their voices in another industry that is still very unevenly balanced for genders. Yes we can.

Vix LeytonAbout the author

Vix Leyton has been working as a PR specialist for over a decade. Now at carwow, she has previously worked for household name brands from Confused.com, to one of the UK's leading cashback sites, Quidco. She's also a stand-up comedian.


Carrie Anne Philbin | Director, Raspberry Pi Foundation

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Carrie Anne Philbin

Carrie Anne Philbin | Director, Raspberry Pi FoundationWeAreTechWomen speaks to Carrie Anne Philbin, Director, Raspberry Pi Foundation, about her career.

Carrie is also one of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Carrie is holding one of our elective sessions on learning to code. This is a beginner's session and you will learn how to code Python, creating your very own virtual pixel pet and animate it with code.

Carrie Anne Philbin is a teacher, author and a YouTuber focusing on computer science education at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Author of ‘Adventures in Raspberry Pi’ and host of the YouTube ‘Crash Course Computer Science’ Series. Named Computer Weekly’s third most influential woman in IT 2017 and FDM Group’s Every Woman Digital Star 2018.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I’m a computing educator from a town on the East London and Essex border called Dagenham in the UK. I’m passionate about giving every child the opportunity to become creators of technology by providing a great computing education in and outside of school. In 2014 I left the classroom and joined the Raspberry Pi Foundation towards this goal. I’m Director of Educator Support working on resources and training for teachers. I’m also Chair of the Computing At School (CAS) diversity and inclusion group, CAS Include, author of the computing book Adventures in Raspberry Pi, and the host of Crash Course Computer Science on YouTube.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, never. I once took a computer quiz to help guide me to a suitable profession and after some careful deliberation it suggested I become a Royal Marine.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

I am very passionate and enthusiastic about computer science, and love to share my subject knowledge by teaching children and adults to create with code. Audiences seem to enjoy it and learn something, so I’ll keep doing it.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

Guests of my session will learn more about digital making and the current work both in England and beyond to support young people to become creators of technology. They’ll also learn how to code in Python!

What are your top three tips for success?

  1. Be brave.
  2. Be your most authentic self.
  3. Be kind to yourself.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

My biggest challenge has been having time out to start a family and then returning to work. No one can prepare for the emotional turmoil that motherhood can bring. We’re not very good at talking about it. I lost my confidence and sense of purpose when I returned and it has taken a while to build back up.

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

Claire Williams, OBE, deputy team principal of the Williams Formula One racing team. Working in a male dominated technological field, she is a leader, a mother, and an inspiration.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

Our biggest obstacle is ourselves. We need to be the change we want to see in the industry. Let’s not try to act like men in a culture they’ve designed. Let’s talk to one another, let’s be open about our challenges and successes. Let’s hold the door open for women coming through behind us.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Create a statutory family leave policy in place of paternity leave and maternity leave.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Hey 14 year old me, guess what, you CAN get paid for building computers and software! Keep at it.


SECURE YOUR SEAT

WeAreTechWomen logo featured


STEMConnext

STEMConnext

STEMConnext

STEMConnext’s events will bring you a panel of guest speakers, who are paving the way for diversity, equality and inclusion within the industry, an audience Q&A session and a chance to network.

From practical advice on effective ways to navigate your career to the opportunity to learn from the experiences of successful men and women in the industry, you will hopefully come away with valuable and actionable ideas and guidance. We want to build a community outside of London where anyone can network, share ideas and support each other.

Find out more

 


Inspirational Woman: Louise Maynard-Atem | Innovation Specialist, Experian

Louise Maynard-Atem

Louise Maynard-Atem is an Innovation Specialist at Experian.

She began her professional career on the Civil Service Fast Stream, where she was tasked with implementing data and evidence-based policies across the health and defence sector. Joining government immediately after academic research allowed her to work on projects of national significance including NHS four-hour target analysis, funding of specialist hospitals, and major defence contracts for the armed forces.

Her current role at Experian allows her to drive a culture of innovation and agility, using new data sources to develop products and services that will increase financial inclusion and create more value for consumers, with a focus on emerging markets.

Louise is a vocal supporter of STEM education and has worked for many years as a STEM ambassador, encouraging young people to pursue higher education and careers within the industry. More recently, given the increasing under-representation of young girls pursuing further education in STEM subjects, she has taken on the role of volunteer and mentor at the STEMettes charitable organisation, helping inspire the next generation.

Off the back of her role in corporate innovation at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, she decided to start her own company – The Corporate Innovation Forum – which provides a community of best practise for those working in corporate innovation teams. She described this as a career defining moment as it was the first time she’s had the responsibility of developing her own data community from scratch.

Louise also holds an undergraduate & PhD focused in Materials Chemistry from The University of Manchester and lives with her boyfriend in London

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

My name is Louise Maynard-Atem and I often describe myself as a recovering academic, as that’s where I started my career, but it probably also describes me quite well as a person. From a young age, I’ve had my nose in about 3 or 4 books at any one time. I’ve always had a voracious appetite for learning and that continues to this day – I’m currently studying for an executive MBA, as well as teaching myself to code.

I spent a number of years as a material science researcher, after studying chemistry at university, and since then I’ve worked across both public and private sector, primarily in healthcare and defence. I now work in Experian’s global innovation team, developing new data-driven solutions and attempting to solve particularly pernicious problems linked to financial inclusion.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did, in fact I plan and re-plan my career regularly to this day! My friends will be the first to say I love to plan, and my career is no exception. At school, I decided I wanted to win a Nobel Prize, so I worked backwards from there and figured out the steps I would need to take to get me to that end goal. I largely didn’t deviate from that plan (apart from a brief flirtation with going into investment banking, in 2008 of all years) until my late twenties, when I realised that I’d been blindly following a plan I made as a teenager and it wasn’t what I wanted in life anymore. It was at that point that I reframed the situation and started to think more about the impact that I want to have on society, rather than the specific job I want to do. I realised there were a number of ways that I could achieve that impact, so I started to make a career plan with the intention of frequently revisiting it to ensure that it is still aligned with the impact I’m seeking to have. I probably revisit my plans multiple times throughout the year, but tend to only make major adjustments once a year.

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

Absolutely. I’ve had a variety of different roles across different industries, which can often feel like you’re starting again from the bottom rung and have a long climb ahead of you. However, I’ve realised that going into a new area is an opportunity to not only learn new skills, but a great chance to apply the things that you already know to new situations. I’ve discovered that so many of the skills that I’ve learnt in one field/industry are incredibly transferable to any other; so, moving from academia, to government, to various parts of the private sector has actual given me a completely unique view point that has actually been a USP rather than an hindrance.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Career-wise, I’m probably most proud of the external recognition I’ve received for the work that I’ve been doing. Last year I was named as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering, and earlier this year I was named as one of We Are The City Rising Stars. It’s such an honour to be in the company of other great women who I respect and admire, and also be given a platform to share my journey and experiences with others in the hopes that it may bring some benefit to them.

Outside of my work, I’m particularly proud of my involvement with a number of charities that drive participation in STEM subjects and higher education for under-represented groups. Education has always been a huge passion of mine, as I feel it’s a phenomenal enabler for so many opportunities in life; any work that I can do to ensure that the broadest range of people have access to such opportunities will always be my proudest achievement.

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

I think it’s been a willingness to speak up whenever I need to; whether that’s to ask for help when I need it, to challenge something that I don’t agree with and offer my own perspective, or to volunteer for a new project. I think my willingness to change and adapt to new surroundings and challenges has helped me move forward at speed – I’m very uncomfortable with getting comfortable, so as soon as I feel like less challenged, I’ll throw a spanner in the works and change things up to make sure I’m still pushing myself.

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

Technology is ever-changing, and the pace of change only seems to be getting faster so my main tip is to ensure you’re always keeping abreast of those changes and keeping your knowledge as up-to-date as possible. I believe we should all be life-long learners, and nowhere is that more relevant than in the technology sector.

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

I think progress has certainly been made, but there is still a long way to go, you only need to read things like the memo from a Google employee about the suitability of women to certain roles to know that we’re still a long way from parity. How do we overcome this? Well it’s going to take a considerable shift in mindset – we need to have really visible examples of women working in and succeeding at every level of the tech sector, and this needs to be normalised. In the short term we need to keep shining a light on all of the great work that women are doing in technology, but the ideal end state is a time when women being equally as successful as men in every sector isn’t newsworthy, it’s just the norm!

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

The first thing companies need to do is understand what the specific barriers are for women within their organisations. That may well be a lack of flexible working, lack of shared parental leave, toxic environments that disproportionately affect women – but it needs to be an investigation into the factors affecting each organisation, rather than just copying trends/policies that other companies are implementing.

I also feel things like mentoring and reverse mentoring programs are vital to help people at all levels of the business see the world through a different lens and get an alternative perspective on situations that you can’t experience first-hand.

Perhaps the most important thing that organisations can do is create a safe environment for people to voice their issues, and actual commit to making changes rather than just paying lip-service to these issues.

There is currently only 17% 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?

If I could affect only one area, it would definitely be the pipeline of talent coming into the technology sector as I feel that’s the only way to achieve sustained growth and eventual parity. We need to target young girls and women, and encourage them from as early a stage as possible to pursue the full range of careers, including all aspects of STEM, so that they’re not closing themselves off to opportunities before they’ve even begun to explore the possibilities ahead of them.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Getting out there and meeting/talking to other women in the industry is invaluable. I’ve yet to meet other women in tech who aren’t keen to help each other whenever and in whatever way they can – we just need to put ourselves out there more and not be afraid to ask for help or advice. Not every person will be able to help you, but they’ll more than likely be able to point you in the direction of somebody who will.

Organisations like We Are Tech Women, Women in Technology, Women in Tech UK and Women In Data are have fantastic resources, events and growing communities which provide a great start point for women looking to grow their networks. In fact, I’ll be speaking at this year’s Women in Data event, which is something I am extremely excited about.

I would also say to those that work in organisations of all sizes; take advantages of the internal networks within your organisations, and if there isn’t one up and running already, don’t be afraid to start one yourself.


InnovateHer featured

InnovateHer teams with Sony to launch technology bootcamp for girls across the UK

InnovateHer

InnovateHer has 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 10% 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.

Chelsea Slater, Co-founder of InnovateHer has spoken ahead of the launch, saying:

“We’re proud to be working with PlayStation again on our tech programme for girls. The issues we see around the gender pay gap and low numbers of women in the tech community are the culmination of the seeds that get sown early in young women’s academic careers. Our mission is to get girls ready for the tech industry, and to get the industry ready for girls, and a huge part of this is challenging the misconception that girls “can’t do” STEM subjects like Computer Science, equally that the STEM industry doesn’t cater for women. That’s why it’s important for us that our programme reaches girls not just locally, but nationally, too, and that it aims to show young women just what opportunities are open to them. Thanks to PlayStation’s support and recognition, we are able to do just that.”

If your school is based in London, Liverpool or Guildford and wishes to take part in the InnovateHer programme, then an expression of interest form can be found here: http://bit.ly/iher2020


Lesbians Who Tech

Lesbians Who Tech

lesbians who techOur Goals:

To be more visible to each other

We all know that familiar feeling of meeting someone in a work setting, knowing she's a lesbian, and trying to work it into a conversation and make that connection. We're about making that happen: connecting lesbians and building a network of colleagues, associates and friends in the industry.

To Be More Visible To Others

Outside of Ellen, Rosie, Melissa, and now Tammy, what other mainstream lesbian role models can most people name? We need more examples of lesbian leaders and that means we need to come out as the amazing, successful people we are.

To Get More Women And Lesbians In Technology

Lesbians are women first, and right now women are some of the most gifted folks in technology, yet there are far fewer of us than there should be (women account for 1 in 15 people in STEM fields). Because there aren’t enough women, women are rarely quoted as experts by the mainstream media and blogs, on panels, etc. And add the element of being lesbian, it’s equally important for us to represent women, and out women, for our communities.

To Connect Lesbians Who Tech To LGBTQ And Women’s Organizations Who Are Doing Incredible Work For Community

There are so many groups who are fighting for our rights, and they need our support. Lesbians Who Tech provides a platform to raise awareness of their work and connect these organizations to queer women in the tech community.

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Women in Tech Scotland

Women in tech scotlandWelcome to all women in tech in Scotland!

We are a group of female digital technology professionals getting together to discuss topics in tech, with a focus on advocating for better recognition and opportunities for women working in the technology sector in Scotland. This is a group for women working in all areas of digital technology, from education to software development, media to analytics, start-ups to multinationals - come along for discussion, presentations and networking.

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Yuna Lee and Ruth Garcia featured

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Yuna Lee & Ruth Garcia

Yuna Lee and Ruth Garcia featured

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Yuna Lee and Ruth Garcia, both Data Scientists at Spotify, about their careers.

Yuna and Ruth are also two of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. They will be discussing life as a data scientists, narrating their journeys, covering the challenges involved, common pitfalls, as well as some practical lessons from the field as women in tech.

Yuna is a Data Scientist at Spotify in the Premium Business unit in London. Yuna is part of Product Insights team in which she collaborates with User Researchers and other Data Scientists to identify opportunities to improve Spotify user journey. Having a business degree as her background and with hands on experience in Data Science in the tech industry, Yuna provides insights that translate to diverse audience in business. A published co-author in Korea, she continues to explore the opportunities to reach out to people with the drive for learning and development. 

Ruth is a Data Scientist at Spotify in London focusing on user engagement and metric setting. Previously, she was a data scientist at Skyscanner and a computational social science researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute (University of Oxford). She obtained her PhD at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and developed her thesis at Yahoo Labs Barcelona. Her work has been exposed in several international conferences. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking and salsa dancing.

WeAreTechWomen, the Technology arm of WeAreTheCity, is hosting its fourth full-day conference in London, aimed at over 400 women who are wanting to broaden their technology horizons, learn new skills and build their tech networks.

Our unique conference will include the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a variety of technical topics and get involved in Q&A’s, hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Our aim is to provide an environment where our delegates can upskill and grow their skills/networks for the future.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

Ruth: I am from Ecuador (South America). My undergraduate degree was in Computer Science but never really worked on this field in my country. After two years of graduation and working on different fields, I was accepted into a Master in IT in Barcelona which led me to a PhD in the same city. After my PhD, I received an offer to work as a Post-doc in a field called “Computational Social Science” at the Oxford Internet Institute which belongs to Oxford University. After that, I left Academia and joined Skyscanner as a Data Scientist. Recently, I just joined Spotify also as a data scientist.

Yuna: I am originally from South Korea. I left Korea alone one year into high school. Since then, I have been living abroad. I received an undergraduate degree from a business college in Massachusetts US, where I explored the options for a career in business. Soon after starting the business study and starting my first job in the international compensation survey, I realised that behind the case studies, the principles, and operations of successful businesses the key to success is not the instinct of executives acquired from a crystal ball, but always there are data behind which bring the business closer to the goal. That is how my journey in data began.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Ruth: In my case, I did plan what field to “study.” Soon I realized I liked and was good at programming and numbers so I tried to focus my efforts on a technical field. However, I never really planned to pursue a PhD, enter into academia and much less be a data scientist. Those opportunities came as I moved on.

Yuna: It was the opposite of sitting down but I was always on foot for a constant exploration for the right fit for me through various experiences. One can sit down and start writing down steps she or he could take, however, as we all know learning and opportunities come when we realise the gap in the expectation we have and the reality we face. Advice and support from those who are close to me also helped me shape my career. Beside my professors and friends who were already in the business world, I also seek advice from my dad who had a very successful career as an engineer turn CEO.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

Ruth: The encouragement of people at Spotify. I have been inspired by many motivational speakers but I have not been one myself. I still do not see me as a motivational speaker. I just plan to share my story hoping someone feels identified and finds it useful.

Yuna: A few months ago I attended a women working in technology conference in London where Spotify was participating as a sponsor. With such a great opportunity to be a part, I was able to feel and experience many talented and curious women who were so enthusiastic about the tech world and the career in tech. For those who are seeking to become Data Scientists, I wanted to share my experience with the audience where it all started and how my journey has been. Through this talk, I hope I can motivate and help to visualise the exciting career ahead for the audience interested in becoming Data Scientists.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

Ruth: There were many unforgettable events, my favorites perhaps are when I got my first paper published in a conference, my first travel for a conference and when I left academia to join industry.

Yuna: I would not say the favourite per se, but the worst experience I encountered so far in my career became one of the most valuable experiences because the drive it created in me to recognise and to promote the need for the fair and harmonised work culture. In my previous job, I had a chance of working with a team of all male engineers and I used to hear the comments of the team not wanting women in “the engineer’s room”. The comment was inconsiderate and very wrong to say and it very much reflected how unfriendly the working environment was for women in the company. I took more initiatives in projects, put more hours, paid more attention to the work, and the ways I could collaborate with the team. It was the moment when I learnt that there will be many challenges ahead as a woman in the career in tech but through those challenges I also learnt that we can grow and proactively shape the culture around us.

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

Ruth: I hope they will learn about the different ways one can become a data scientist, some of the skills needed and the different ways of working.

Yuna: We need to find what sparks us and continue pursuing it. It is not a straight road and there will be unexpected turns and opportunities on the way. To embrace everything that comes and learn from those experiences and that is how we become a unique talent. There are so many fun and exciting opportunities for women in tech and Data Science.

What are your top three tips for success?

Ruth: Do not let fear stop your actions towards your dreams, do not let others dictate what they think you are (you know yourself better),  take advantage of the opportunities or privileges you have to gain experience, get involved with people who inspire you, ask for feedback and identify constructive feedback, be thankful.

Yuna: Resilience in the face of failure and disappointment. Consistency in our efforts to get to where we want to be. Love and understanding for the people who are in the journey together.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

Ruth: To have research papers published, to teach in front of smart students, to leave academia and join Industry, to move countries to pursue a Master

Yuna: English being a second language and being an introvert have been the biggest challenges. As a person who did not grow up as bilingual, adopting another language as the main language at a workplace was challenging. Even after 16 years of studying and working abroad, still there are times when I cannot understand or elaborate as quick and there have been times when I had to push myself hard to speak up but failed and made everyone confused. However I have not given up and through these challenges I have learnt how to listen to others and notice ways a team of such diverse individuals can collaborate together and come up with unique and amazing insights.

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

Ruth: Angela Merkel, Michele Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Isabelle Allende, Fei-fei Li

Yuna: Women who challenge and overcome prejudices and obstacles we face everyday and women who give back to the society. I find them everyday through the achievements in athletics such as the professional Triathlete, Katie Zaferes and in politics such as the Foreign Minister of South Korea, Kang Kyung-wha.

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

Ruth: In tech I think the major obstacle is that sometimes women are assigned tasks that are less technically challenging. Without experience, it is hard to learn and become expert in complex technical tasks. Men tend to step into more technical complex tasks than women. Second, I think that the effort of many women to be promoted is considerably higher than men. I feel women still have to prove more to get promoted. How to overcome these problems? It is very challenging but one way is companies to evangelize the importance of unbiased thinking for gender and race when assessing skills and competence. Show people the harmful effects of these biases at work.

Yuna: Gender inequality that is presented by the parity in the gender distribution in the industry is the biggest obstacle for women. In most cases, much of discrimination and unfairness I faced was the byproduct of the structural parity. In my opinion, hiring more women in tech could help overcome this obstacle. The environment we are in influences us. It limits us to how we act, how we feel, and how much we see. For us to thrive as professionals, the place we work should enable us to act, to speak, and to see the potential of what we could become which will benefit us all as a community. We cannot do it alone and we should work together as a community. This involves participating in talks and conferences like women in tech and encouraging our colleagues and our friends to share their challenges to help each other.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Ruth: Award companies (tax cuts or honor awards) with gender and racial balance in every level of the company. This would generate scholarships to young girls who have potential and low resources and that come from different backgrounds and cultures.

Yuna: The change starts from an early age. Reaching out to students in their early education to show the diverse options that are out there in their career and possibilities they can achieve. I attended all female middle and high school in Korea and I did not have much chance to know the opportunities in the tech world until later and I am the only person in my group of friends from childhood who has a job in tech. I truly believe being exposed to these options earlier on makes a difference in which path we take later on.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

Ruth: To my undergraduate self: surround yourself with good and smart friends and trust your own research even if you are not 100 per cent sure. Value yourself above everything, do not let  other people's opinions dictate your life. Do not give up your professional dreams for any guy and do not waste your precious time with men who do not value and respect you above all even if you are wrong. The best cure for a heartbreak is to work out and keep busy. To my graduate self: it´s ok to fail, keep trying, devote more time to think about the methodology you will use, make a plan and then execute. Try not to execute without having a plan. Do not fear to ask and get feedback, ask for help and express with confidence your thoughts when you think something is wrong. Be good at time management, practice it over and over again.

Yuna: To dream in colour and to express it without the fear of judgement. To remind myself that it is okay to fail. That success does not mean not failing but it means not giving up on what we believe in despite. How we overcome defines who we are and failures are many parts of our journey to reach our goal.


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