empowering junior women in the workplace featured

How to empower junior women within your business

empowering junior women in the workplace

Veronique Barbosa is the Co-Founder and COO of Flux, a digital receipts and rewards platform that lives inside your banking app and is currently partnered with the likes of Just Eat, KFC, itsu, and EAT.

For women in business, it’s no secret that getting ahead can be a challenge (to say the least).

Just one in five of Britain’s six million businesses is run by a woman.

Only 32 per cent of directorships on FTSE 100 boards are held by women.

And across the top ranking companies globally, only 18 per cent have a female leader - a figure that’s barely shifted in the last few years.

When it comes to women working in the technology sector, specifically, it’s the same story - or rather depressingly, a little worse. Currently, just 17 per cent of people working in tech are women.

Clearly, there’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s my firm belief that if we are to tackle and finally overcome the issue of gender equality in the workplace, empowering junior women is a huge part of the puzzle.

In my career to date - both as COO and co-founder of Flux, and prior to that as Head of Partnerships at Revolut - I’ve been lucky enough to have hired and managed many talented and inspirational women. Here are three things I’ve learnt along the way about how best to empower junior women within your business.

Recognising the barriers

It might sound counterintuitive, but the first step to overcoming the barriers for women in business, is to recognise those barriers. It’s the job of managers and senior leaders within business to acknowledge the challenges facing women, and seek to understand them: where do these barriers stem from? How are they perpetrated? How much of the problem is in deep-rooted bias (a sub-conscious preference shown towards male candidates at interview, for instance), and how much is down to practical systems in place within your business (such as flexible working policies or maternity and paternity leave)?

Once you can answer some of these questions - even if only in part - you are one step closer to being able to break down the biases and address the problems.

Champion change

Secondly, communication plays a vital role. When it comes to business leaders and business founders, there is plenty of data to back up the suggestion that women hold themselves back. In a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group survey, female respondents cited social expectations and gender stereotypes as some of the reasons preventing them from applying for a new position or a promotion.

Meanwhile, data from the Young Women’s Trust found that 54% of women aged 18-30 said they lack self-confidence when it comes to applying for jobs, compared to 39% of men.

Empowering junior women in business starts with getting them through the door in the first place, and that means championing the opportunities that are there. It starts in the education system, but doesn’t stop there; young women need to be made aware firstly that the opportunities are available to them, and secondly equipped with the confidence to apply for them.


Finally, I urge all business leaders to consider introducing mentoring initiatives within their business. These needn’t be directed solely at female employees - after all, we can all benefit from some guidance in our career - but what I would say is that these initiatives should be tailored, and accessible to all. For young women who are starting out in their career, there is huge value in having visible female role models, who have trodden a similar path and can share their own experiences of overcoming certain challenges.

Of course, depending on the size of a business, frequent and readily available mentoring isn’t always a possibility, so I also point my team in the direction of the many useful resources available in literature and online. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is a book I often turn to, and I’m also a regular listener to the Girl Boss podcast.

I am very thankful for the growing community of women who are committed to lifting each other up. Whatever stage of career we’re at, we can all benefit from seeing and sharing relatable, real-life success stories. We might have a way to go, but we’re making unprecedented progress: let’s celebrate that.

How women in STEM can master the job interview 

By Dr Lindsey Zuloaga, Chief Data Scientist at HireVue - the global leader in video interviewing, assessments, chatbot and recruiting automation technology

The world of work has seen fundamental changes with COVID restrictions in place, new working  structures, unemployment and expected influx of jobseekers, fueling fierce competition for roles.

In particular, women have been affected disproportionately in the workforce, with earnings declining by 12.9 per cent, nearly double the reduction for men, and being 1.8 times more likely than men to have lost their jobs.  As women look to re-enter the workforce, it’s more critical than ever that they master the skills of the interview to stand out amidst fierce competition.

Know the company, its culture, and your relevant experience like the back of your hand 

To make an impact during interviews, you should start by knowing the company, what is needed for the role, and how your previous experience makes you the ideal candidate. Research the company, understand its values and who its competitors are, and you will be more comfortable aligning your experience with the requirements of the job. This prep will shine through in your interview.

Practice answering interview questions in the way that works best for you.  The STAR framework is a well used format that can help you organise your thoughts and articulate your answers. Think about situations where you have made a difference in the past and arrange it by Situation, Task, Activity, and Result (STAR) of your work.

The STAR framework is particularly useful for open-ended questions about your experiences (e.g. “How do you work on a team”?). Research found that women more effectively use the emotional and social competencies needed for effective leadership and management than men, so make sure to showcase these skills to your prospective employer.

Prepare for your online Interview 

It’s normal to be nervous about the interview process, so being prepared will help you manage this stress as well as help you perform better in your interview. In STEM focused fields, interviews will likely require you to carry out a technical assessment, such as HireVue’s CodeVue, which assess the extent of your technical knowledge and see how you are able to practically apply it to real-life situations. Preparation is key - you know how to do this work - show them!

Many STEM fields experience high application volume, particularly at the graduate level, so it is also likely that you will need to participate in a virtual interview during your job search. While the experience does not differ drastically from an in person interview,  be conscious of your tech set up. Find a quiet spot where it is possible to devote the time needed to complete the interview without interruptions. If possible, it is also best to stabilise your recording device, whether smartphone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer so that you’re not distracted by trying to hold it steady.

Lean into soft skills to stand apart from the competition

Having the experience and education required for any job you’re applying to is essential, however it's just as important to be able to highlight how your soft skills will benefit the company. 

More than ever, soft skills are being prioritised by employers, with 65 percentrevealing that soft skills are the most in demand and difficult skills to find in candidates. This is an area where women in STEM can particularly capitalise, with extensive data from across 90 different countries and 55,000 professions demonstrating that women are better at utilising their soft skills for effective leadership in the workplace.

By showcasing how you’re able to utilise these skills, you’ll be positioning yourself as an asset to the company, demonstrating value with skills such as teamwork, communication, creativity, and problem solving. In addition to this, soft skills are complementary to technical skills, and by describing those two together, you can help define what makes you the ideal candidate for the role.

As the workforce continues to grow and adapt to these changing times, so must candidates. It is not only imperative for candidates to refine and focus their skills, but to confidently communicate these in an interview setting. By being knowledgeable, prepared and concise, you can ensure that employers see what you bring to the table and why they should hire you.

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

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Five reasons to become a coder in your 30s

Wild Code School_remote learning, woman learning to code

The opportunities and benefits within the tech industry have long been a draw to job seekers.

Indeed, the ONS reported in 2019 that the tech industry had amongst the highest number of job vacancies, increasing salaries and attractive flexible working benefits. And as a largely digitised industry it is no surprise that it has fared relatively well in lockdown with a high proportion of employees able to work from home.

But if you ever thought coding was a young person’s game and not for you, think again. Coding attracts recruits from far outside traditional STEM-based careers and education. In fact, students from Wild Code School, a web development and coding school, are upskilling and career changing from diverse backgrounds that range from dance and textile design to chemical engineering, gaming and communications.

And it’s not just school leavers or people early in their careers – in fact it’s people in their 30s who are leading the charge.

Anna Stepanoff, CEO and Founder of Wild Code School, explains the five reasons people in their 30s are turning to coding:

  • It’s not rocket science – there is an increasing awareness that you don’t have to be a Matrix-inspired hyper-brain to work in tech, and as 30-somethings have inevitably come into contact with the digital world in their existing careers – they’re wanting to get involved and understand how it works.
  • Coding is creative – while the initial draw might be the competitive salaries, we find what keeps people interested is the realisation that coding is a highly-creative industry that allows a person to problem solve and bring their own ideas to fruition.
  • Autonomy and Flexibility – people in their 30s who no longer want to work for someone else are realising that the tech industry provides options to go freelance, to choose their own clients and the flexibility to work from where they want.
  • Being a part of what happens next – from the way we consume music and media, eat out, work from home, communicate and stay fit, the tech industry is changing the way we live, and touches all aspects of our lives. Being a part of that is exciting.
  • In-demand skills – there is a widely-discussed skills gap in the tech industry, and we work with employers to understand what they are looking for and how to ensure training is commercially relevant. They are skills sought by a diverse range of companies and will become increasingly important.

“It’s a myth that if you didn’t get into coding at school, then it’s already too late,” Anna says. “If you’ve got the creativity and the drive, then we’ve got the school to help you realise your ambition.”

During the month of August 2020, anyone curious about tech, passionate about learning or considering a new professional career can register to Wild Code Summer School. Week after week, it is offering a month-long programme dedicated to discovering the tech world.

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Women Developer Academy

Apply for the Women Developer Academy Europe & become a leader in the technology industry!

Women Developer Academy

Google’s Women Developer Academy is currently accepting applications – could you become a leader in the technology industry?

The free 4-week-long program will equip women software engineers and developers across Europe with the skills, resources and support they need to become leaders in the industry through public speaking and other community contributions.

If you are a professional IT practitioner (e.g. software engineer, data scientist, developer, etc.), bringing skills in one of the many Google technologies, looking to land more speaking opportunities, improve your public speaking skills and build your confidence and network, this month-long programme is for you.

You’ll have weekly workshops focussing on specific topics from public speaking to community contributions and have access to weekly 1:1 mentor sessions facilitated by Googlers and technical experts within our European developer community.

Beyond gaining new skills, you will also get to meet, connect, and network with other women developers who are on a similar journey and support you to find speaking opportunities through Women Developer Academy’s developer community network to showcase your newly developed presentations.

They also encourage a big interest in our Google Developer Experts program and support you on the way to become one after the Academy.

Let’s work together to bring diversity to the stage, because impact does not end there, that’s where it starts!

Women Developer Academy

Who are Women Developer Academy looking for?

  • Knowledge, passion and experience in one of the following technologies: Android, Google Cloud, Tensorflow, Machine Learning, Flutter, Firebase, Kotlin, Go, Web Technologies, Google Workspace and the goal to become a Google Developer Expert in the future.
  • Little public speaking experience.
  • Motivated to be active and vocal in the developer community and keen to participate as a speaker in developer conferences and meetups.
  • Available throughout October to attend all workshop and mentoring sessions (virtually) as well as commit to the programme requirements.
  • Based in any of the European countries.


Applications for the Women Developer Academy close on 19 September 2021

TechWomen100 2021 logo


Nominations are now open

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. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.


woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in tech, digital exclusion

Upskilling communities to eliminate digital exclusion

woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in tech, digital exclusion

Digital exclusion remains a growing issue all around the world and the pandemic has brought the problem into even sharper focus.

The past year has demonstrated how a lack of digital skills or connectivity can create an additional layer of social exclusion and exacerbate social and economic problems for communities.

Last month, local councils in the UK announced a collaboration to build a stronger data picture of digital exclusion in their areas, as part of the CCIN Policy Lab Understanding the Digital Divide project. But it’s not just the responsibility of the public sector to address the issue of digital exclusion.

Technology companies have a large role to play in helping to upskill communities and equip them with the ability to be successful in their digital lives. This will also be crucial for addressing the widening STEM skills gap, which is affecting society and industry more broadly. According to a new report from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, 93% of engineering firms do not have the right skills to meet 2050 climate targets.

Here, WeAreTechWomen speak to Sarah Atkinson, director, corporate social responsibility at global software company, Micro Focus, on the role of technology companies in helping to upskill communities and eliminate digital exclusion.

Can you provide us with a brief overview of your career and how you got into running CSR programmes?

I’m a former news journalist, with over 20 years of experience with organisations such as Cisco, BEA and most recently, ten years as Vice President, Communications & Social Responsibility at CA Technologies. Purpose has always been important to me and around 2008, I felt that I wanted to make more of a difference, not just in terms of the workplace but more broadly regarding inclusion at all levels.

I took on my first non-exec role at techUK (a member organisation representing the IT industry in government on topics ranging from economic policy to skills and diversity). Here, I worked closely with the government on various digital skills and I&D initiatives, such as Gender Pay Gap reporting, Returners Programs. I was a founding supporter of the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me Digital, which aims to influence 200,000 11-15-year-old girls to consider a career in STEM. I also had an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Girlguiding to help incorporate STEM subjects into their badges and attended Camp CEO as a role model for Girl Guides.

I joined Micro Focus in 2019 to establish and lead their CSR program globally. Today, I am also a board director at the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Chair of the Nominations & Governance Committee and a member of its Skills, Education & Employment Advisory Panel as well as the LEP’s I&D Champion. I am also a long-standing member of techUK’s Skills & Diversity Council and a trustee at Berkshire Youth, a social enterprise that works to support, empower and inspire young people.

Why is addressing the problem of digital exclusion so important?

Today every business is a digital business. As more and more services move online as digital transformation becomes more pervasive, it is important that nobody is left behind. Industry must continue to play a key role in helping to address this issue, as digital exclusion can also widen inequalities on many levels, including health, social and economic mobility. It spans all aspects of society – whether it’s a school child not being about to submit homework or take part in online lessons. Or those in the community not having the right skills to access important government services, or missing out on competitive energy tariffs. It can impact in many ways.

How has the last year exacerbated the issue of digital exclusion?

Overnight our lives went digital – schooling, socialising, shopping , staying in touch with each other and working from home (where possible) meant that those who did not have access whether broadband, devices or the skills were marginalised even further. We also changed our approach as we quickly transitioned from delivering in person workshops at schools to virtual workshops, where employees were able to connect with hundreds of students in the classroom virtually.

What is the role of technology companies in helping upskill communities and eliminating digital exclusion?

Tech firms can and do play a major role in helping, on many levels.  The Micro Focus INSPIRE program is focused on helping equip communities with the right skills to be successful in their digital lives.  Every employee has four days a year to volunteer and through a number of our non-profit/charity partnerships we have been able to help multiple communities around the world. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, volunteers in Bulgaria and Italy used their volunteering days to help upskills teachers to get online to deliver lessons.

What are the specific steps technology companies can take to address this issue?

Engaging your employees is a great first step. Tapping into the talent and passion you have in your organisation can provide you with an army of volunteers and role models – whatever the size of your business. Secondly, empowering and enable employees to take time in work hours to volunteer. And thirdly, supporting educational organisations/non-profits/charities who are working in this space.

What skills do we need to equip people with to help them be more successful in their digital futures? How does this relate to closing the widening STEM skills gap?

Today every job requires some level of digital skills. Therefore, it’s important to help young people understand that whatever career choices they make, digital skills will be required along the way. In terms of the skills gap, yes there remains a chronic STEM skills shortage in the UK. While improvements are being made, we still have a long way to go.  The issue must be addressed from the classroom to the boardroom – over coming stereotypes, biases and providing more role models as a starting point.  Engaging young people to study STEM subjects and pursue jobs in tech is important. However, we cannot rely solely on the next generation to solve the problem. Reskilling existing workforces for the jobs of tomorrow is critical, as many low-digitally-skilled workers will be impacted by automation and AI, leaving them without the right skills to be successful in the future.

Employers can play a key role in helping to keep their workforce up to date through investments in ongoing learning and development, amongst other things. Attracting a diverse pool of talent also remains an issue. Tech needs talent from all backgrounds. Research has shown time and time again, that to drive innovation we need diverse thinking, ideas and problem solving.  Let’s not forget it is also about equality and fairness. Not all talent gets the same opportunity so we need to help create opportunities for all but also then ensure we have inclusive environments where all talent can thrive.

Sarah AtkinsonAbout Sarah

An experienced leader and former news journalist, Sarah Atkinson has over 20 years of experience in multinational organizations including Cisco, 3Com and most recently spent ten years as Vice President, Communications & Social Responsibility, EMEA at CA Technologies. A member of the company’s leadership team, she also led Create Tomorrow, a program designed to inspire and excite young people, particularly girls, about careers in STEM, as well as the company’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy in EMEA.

From 2015 to 2018, she served on the main board of techUK, a non-profit representing the companies and technologies that are defining today, the world that we will live in tomorrow.

Today, she is the Vice Chair of the Diversity & Skills Council at techUK and is actively involved in several Diversity & Inclusion programs including Gender Pay Gap reporting, Returners Programs and is a founding supporter of the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me Digital which aims to influence 200,000 11-15-year-old girls in the UK to consider a career in STEM. In 2018, she also worked with Girlguiding to incorporate STEM into their badges and attended 2018 Camp CEO as a role model for Girl Guides.

She was listed in Cranfield University’s School of Management 100 Women to Watch report – a supplement to the Female FTSE Board Report 2018 and in the Computer Weekly 100 Most Influential Women in Technology in 2017 & 2018.

A regular commentator on STEM, equality and inclusion topics, she has appeared on BBC News, BBC World and in various publications.

The World of AI featured

What are AI-driven hiring assessments and how do they work?

The World of AI featured

By Dr Gema Ruiz de Huydobro, IO Psychology consultant at HireVue

As anyone who has gone through it recently will well know, looking for a new job is practically full-time work in itself.

Every application requires a significant time investment to tailor your CV and cover letter before completing any specific requirements for the company in question (such as a multiple-choice questionnaire or aptitude test). If you’re then invited to an initial interview, you will need to spend even more time preparing for a short conversation, which too often provides limited opportunity to showcase your full potential.

Meanwhile, organisations continue to drown in endless piles of CVs and struggle to differentiate the deluge of applications. For instance, a financial services company opening new banking centers internationally has been receiving nearly 100,000 job applications each month for well over a year. Such high volumes of applications have led many companies to invest in both on-demand video interviewing and pre-hire assessment tests driven by artificial intelligence (AI). This helps both recruiters and candidates save time and begins to democratise the hiring process by offering all candidates an equal opportunity to be considered for the role. However, if you’re invited to a video interview or AI-driven assessment for the first time, it’s perfectly natural to feel a little apprehensive about how it will work.

Is there really anything to be nervous about?

The role of AI in recruitment

AI in recruitment typically involves machine-learning algorithms which analyse your answers to questions and provide insights to help hiring managers make more informed decisions at an early stage in the interview process. Rather than submitting a CV and cover letter, you may be invited to complete a short video interview and/or games-based assessment to apply for the role. We’ll explain these in more detail later.

Following your assessment, the AI algorithm (also called an assessment model) helps the recruiter to make a more informed decision by evaluating your submission and measuring data points which are scientifically proven to be predictive of successful performance in the specific job role for which you’re applying. A pool of candidates, ranked by their fit for the role, is presented to the recruiter, who then reviews the recommended shortlist, and decides which to progress to the next round.

Sounding straightforward so far? Now let’s look at how video and games-based assessments work in more detail…

Video interviews

If you’re invited to take an AI-powered video interview, you will likely receive instructions via email and will need to follow the link to enter the interview, so you can choose to complete it at a time and place convenient to you from either a computer or smartphone. Most AI-powered video interviews take 20 to 30 minutes to complete. It’s important to note that this video interview may only be the first step in your interviewing process, as those who are successful are very likely to meet one or more people face-to-face later in the process.

You should expect a format which is similar to a traditional interview in which you are asked a series of questions. The questions will be relevant to the success in the role you are applying for and every candidate will be asked the same set of questions. This creates a much fairer process for all candidates and helps to minimise bias.

While it’s natural for most people to feel a little self-conscious on camera, keep in mind that you’re u

nlikely to lose out on the job simply because you don’t smile enough, don’t make enough eye contact, or blink too much. When building assessments, only data features related to success in the role are leveraged. Physical appearance and other demographic factor-related data that have nothing to do with it are not considered - on the contrary, assessments should always be tested for adverse impact to avoid anybody to be adversely impacted in this regard.

Game-based assessments 

Games are another popular part of AI-powered assessments, as they are scientifically proven to measure cognitive skills including problem-solving and working memory, as well as job-relevant personality traits. Their accuracy is similar (and often increasingly higher) when compared to longer and more repetitive psychometric tests.

Again, you will receive an email with a link to enter the assessment, and it can be completed on your smartphone from any location and typically takes just 15 minutes. Safe to say, a game-based assessment is typically more fun than a traditional psychometric test containing hundreds of fill-in-the-circle questions!

Game-based assessments will also be tailored to the role you’re applying for. For example, both entry- and mid-level jobs require cognitive skills, but a manager may need to demonstrate more sophisticated organisational and problem-solving skills.

Preparing for success

Regardless of the type of interview, preparation is key. If you’re invited to a video interview with an AI assessment, take the time to practice potential interview questions, or take advantage of the practice tests often offered with most games-based assessments. This will ensure you aren’t taken by surprise and can showcase your full potential.

It’s also a good idea to create a calm environment where you won’t be disturbed. These types of interviews provide an opportunity to choose a time and location that suits you, so you won’t need to worry about taking time off work, the bus being late or getting lost en route!

Finally, take a deep breath and remember that the premise of this technology is to give everyone an equal opportunity to be recognised as a great candidate for a job, regardless of background, gender or race.  Given the increased awareness on the importance of hiring impartially, businesses have more need than ever to ensure they’re reflecting this in the interview process. Good luck!

Gema Ruiz de HuydobroAbout the author

Dr Gema Ruiz de Huydobro is an accomplished business psychologist with over ten years experience in both academic and business fields. In her current role as I-O Psychology Consultant at HireVue Gema is responsible for designing scientifically validated pre-hire assessments to enable organisations to identify high quality candidates while minimising bias in the selection process.

open plan office, people working an office

Reintegrating the team effectively after lockdown

open plan office, people working an office, returning to work after lockdown

With so many people hankering to get back to working face-to-face now that lockdown is being eased, there is one group who are less enthusiastic: Introverts.

With up to 47 per cent of people in the UK identifying as introverts, they are present in every walk of life and often drawn to work in tech as it can allow them to play to their strengths.

Some of the many myths and misconceptions about introverts are that they are shy, arrogant, boring, tongue-tied and lonely with no friends or social life.  The reality is that introverts may be quiet because that’s what they need to recharge their mental batteries. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, explained that the difference between introverts and extraverts is what drains and charges their mental batteries. Extraverts rely on interaction, active experiences and change to be energised, the very things that can drain an introvert. Their communication processes are different too in that introverts have the more considered and slower paced ‘think-say-think’ approach whilst extraverts tend to have a stream of consciousness, or ‘say-think-say’.  Unless people are aware of these differences, it can lead to people assuming that the introvert has nothing to say for themselves, no opinion, no contribution.  What’s more likely is that there hasn’t been enough thinking time or space in the conversation for an introvert to get to the ‘say’ part of their process. Consciously make the space, in a positive way, and you’ll often find that the quietest voice makes the most profound contribution.

It’s a sad fact that some really talented introverts will get overlooked for promotion because they are less likely to push themselves forward, hoping instead that their work will speak for itself. It’s part of the recognised extraversion bias as people mistakenly think they lack drive and ambition. Full integration and understanding this aspect of neurodiversity is an essential part of the diversity, inclusion & equity agenda.

The team-building misnomer

Listen to the chatter in some of the introvert groups and there is already a sense of impending doom about the ‘team-building’ that might take place once workplaces open up.  These types of activities are typically enjoyed by the extraverted team members as they usually involve the forced interaction and active experiences that recharge them.

Within the team, introverts are often considered arrogant and too serious when actually they just dislike small-talk, preferring instead fewer but meaningful conversations.  This means they don’t often engage in the social chit-chat and will tend to keep their heads down in an attempt to maintain their focus and preserve their mental batteries.

Many introverts have learned how to extravert in order to fit in with the norm but the price they pay can be too high.  It includes overwhelm and even burn-out, which seriously affects their wellbeing.  They’ll need to replenish their batteries just to get through the day and ultimately, feel deep sense of not being enough, as it’s only by pretending that they seem to be accepted.

Extraverted managers don’t always understand or even believe that people don’t enjoy the ‘fun’ stuff. The truth is that some might check to see if they have any annual leave left or even consider taking a ‘sickie’ on the day. The lack of understanding just compounds the bias and does nothing to integrate a team in a meaningful way.  Some people will be worried about their jobs and prospects following the lock-down, especially if they’ve been furloughed, so may feel backed into a corner, imagining they have no choice but to join in. If that happens, the results won’t be what you’re hoping for.

Having spent the last few months in lock-down, teams will benefit from establishing new norms of behaviour.  A useful process to remember here is Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming & Performing model of group development. Nothing will be exactly the same again and it’s been long enough for old habits and patterns to have been forgotten. The chances are though that introverts have quite enjoyed their lock-down experience and will be in no hurry to return to the workplace, especially if they have a quiet household. So true integration is likely to be a challenge.

So how to genuinely reconnect the whole team?

The following series of recommendations are going to enhance the likelihood of success.

  • Establish your desired outcome. In order to re-establish connection, are you looking for improved communication, reconfiguring workloads, establishing new working practices, rebuilding trust? Make it meaningful so that everyone can see the value.
  • Don’t try to make it ‘fun’ or even badge it as such. What people consider fun is very subjective and if you’re serious about integrating the whole team, don’t alienate half of them! Use exercises that positively explore the difference between extraversion & introversion so that understanding is enhanced, and the diversity within the team can be valued.
  • Consider exploring what each team member has found positive and challenging about their lockdown experience and use that to shape your team’s new norms. Tuckman later added mourning to the process, so letting go of the past and ‘what was’ is important for the healthy development of a team.
  • Design something that will really unite the team and improve trust, avoiding the old physical trust exercises. Patrick Lencioni names the lack of trust as being the foundation of a dysfunctional team. Creating a safe environment where everyone feels able to speak up, to admit to mistakes and to ask for help is the goal here. Take the time to establish people’s true strengths, rather than just what they’re good at, so you can enable them to play to those strengths wherever possible.
  • Be mindful of the introvert’s ‘think-say-think’ process, so give plenty of notice and allow sufficient preparation time. They don’t like things being sprung on them at short notice or being asked to make a decision without thinking time.

In Conclusion

Get underneath any assumptions and misunderstandings that may be present about introverts in your team.  There is no good & bad, just different. Engage the whole team in co-creating how integration and reforming might happen in an inclusive and meaningful way.  And, remember to listen to everyone’s views and voices for balance and equity.

Joanna RawboneAbout the author

Joanna has spent more than 24 years working with 000’s of international clients through her own training & coaching consultancy, Scintillo Ltd. During this time, and through her own earlier experiences, she has seen just how problematic the Extraversion bias in organisations is. It negatively impacts employee engagement, retention and productivity. It also impairs the physical and mental health & well-being of employees with the obvious consequences.

 Recognising that it was time for action, Joanna founded Flourishing Introverts, a platform to:

* support those who want to fulfil their potential without pretending to be something they're not.

* educate and inform organisations about the true cost of overlooking their introverts

* promote positive action and balance the extraversion bias

Joanna has a real passion for helping her clients make the small but sustainable changes that really make a difference. Being a functioning introvert, her clients value her ability to listen to more than the words, understand things from their perspective and co-create robust, pragmatic solutions.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.

Career in STEM

Apprenticeships: Championing alternative routes into STEM careers

It is widely known that the tech industry is made up of only 17 per cent women and that less girls study subjects in Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths (STEM).

So with fewer females in the pipeline what are companies doing to attract students to join their firms and why would an A-Level student choose an apprenticeship in STEM rather than attend university?

We asked a selection of experts from technology and engineering to share their experiences of recruiting young people.

Jenny Taylor, ‎UK Graduate, Apprenticeship and Student Programme Manager at IBM, said: “We should of course not deter students from entering university, but we need to educate them about all the options available for their career path.”

Taylor said there is no denying that there is a lack of uptake across STEM subjects as well as a huge gender imbalance within industries requiring these skills.

“For many years now, only a small percentage of females have been attracted to working in the technology industry, and as leader of IBM’s graduate, student and apprenticeship programmes, I am passionate about addressing the situation. The business case for diversity in the workplace is very clear and at IBM we focus particularly on engaging and inspiring younger girls through our Girls’ Schools’ Outreach programme,” she said.

Taylor explained that one of IBM’s current employees – Sadie Hawkins – was inspired to join the IBM apprenticeship programme after attending one of the company’s school outreach events: “She then went on to achieve the National Apprentice of the Year Award 2013, which we are extremely proud of. Sadie is now an integral member of the team within our Global Business Services Division.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to encourage uptake in STEM disciplines and it is clear there needs to be more championing of alternative routes into successful roles with a clear career progression.”

Elaine Rowlands, Head of HR at PCMS, a retail technology developer, is just as passionate about apprenticeship programmes.

She said: “I am passionate about apprenticeships being a credible alternative to university for women looking to break into the tech world – particularly in a fast-paced industry like retail technology, where new products are shaping the consumer experience every day.

“Apprentices have an immediate edge by going straight into on-the-job training, gaining the real-life work experience essential to thrive in a competitive sector.”

Bradbury Group Ltd a UK manufacturer of steel doors, security grilles and cages and currently employees three female apprentices; two work in its technical department and another is a member of its marketing team.

Paul Sweeting, Technical Director at Bradbury Group Ltd, said: “Recruiting technical staff can be a struggle, so we want anyone — male or female — to feel that they’re welcome to join our team if they have the necessary skills or drive to learn.”

Sweeting said it can be difficult to find women for its technical roles, due to the lack of women coming through the pipeline: “It’s more difficult to find female candidates for our technical department, likely due to the fact that engineering has long been considered a male-oriented field.

“Therefore, we make an effort to encourage more women to consider a career in engineering. For example, we supported National Women in Engineering Day 2016 through our social media channels and website. Plus, we published two blog posts written by our female technical apprentices about their experiences with our company.”

Bradbury Group Ltd has been working on its strategy to recruit and retain young talent in general: “When we began recruiting apprentices, North Lindsey College helped us access and review potential students. We ran an open day and 20 students applied for positions. Six were successful and joined the Bradbury Engineering Academy, which our female apprentices are a part of.

“We recognise that these young people have become valuable assets to the company and we want to give them a career. Therefore, they’ll all be offered full-time jobs with us after completing their training.”

A new centre has opened in Oxfordshire aimed at tackling the skills shortages faced by technology and engineering companies in the area.

The centre will train 125 young people annually and is a joint venture between the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Training provider JTL has been appointed to manage the centre.

The training aims to create ‘work ready’ trainees, apprentice engineers and lab technicians through training in the workplace. As a not-for-profit, all funds are set to be invested back into delivering training.

David Martin, UKAEA’s Chief Operating Officer and ex-apprentice himself, said: “With the support of high tech sector companies in the area, Oxford Advanced Skills will help resolve the critical skills shortages we are currently experiencing. This venture highlights how seriously we take the need for exceptional quality young people making it into the workforce in this area.

“JTL has huge experience in providing work-based learning across England and Wales, with over 6,000 apprentices currently working towards qualifications with them across the building services engineering sector.”

Jon Graham is JTL’s Chief Executive, said: “These are really exciting times for apprentices in the Oxford area. We have been working in Oxfordshire for many years but decided recently that in order to be able to provide the quality of training that young people deserved we needed to launch our own training facilities, which we have now achieved with our premises at Culham.

“Through the work we do there and what UKAEA have seen while on site, it became obvious that there was an opportunity to expand our remit and join with UKAEA to develop this new facility, targeting exceptional young people who are needed by high technology companies operating in Oxford and the Thames Valley.”

IT short courses instead of apprenticeships

David Baker, Director of Datrix Training, said in today’s market we are saturated with technology, and IT skills are more important than ever.

He noted that in the competitive job market skills such as word-processing, using databases, spreadsheets, using the Internet, social media & email and even designing rudimentary self-publication web pages are often asked of as standard.

“Currently the UK is facing an IT skills gap which is affecting businesses ability to grow, thankfully more of us are showing an interest in gaining further IT skills in order to bridge this gap,” Baker said.

“Gaining digital and IT skills is a great way to equip yourself with employability armour, currently two fifths of UK businesses are having trouble recruiting staff with suitable skills to drive their business. A technical IT course, from Microsoft Office to Java Fundamentals is right for any business as the need to succeed in the digital market becomes a key part of all company’s success. These skills will be learned through university or an apprenticeship but can also be accessed through short term flexible learning courses that suit millennial living.”

Baker said gaining technical skills through a short-term course is a great way to jumpstart your career and “give you that digital edge without the commitment to a three or four year course.

“These can often be more suitable than university courses as they don’t have as much ‘red tape’ and the syllabus can evolve quickly with the demands of the IT skills market, always ensuring the courses are up to date. The digital age isn’t slowing down and gaining IT skills that are highly relevant in today’s world is a great way to increase confidence, improve employability and drive career success in a market that’s crying out to hire skilled candidates.”

Lynne Downey, Head of Online Learning at University College of Estate Management, said increasing numbers of industries, such as engineering and chartered surveying, are now focusing on widening participation – both in gender, ethnicity and more.

“This current drive to accommodate employees outside the usual demographic empowers women to pick and choose the facets of both academic education and vocational training that best suit their needs – and find viable solutions for their career path. However, the decision between attending a university and taking an apprenticeship is not as clear-cut as it once was, with many alternative options now available.”

She added: “A traditional degree programme can be the right choice for someone interested in a field of study that focuses on sharing knowledge and carrying out research. Yet for those who want to ‘earn while they learn’, the option to study a degree programme online is becoming increasingly popular. While an apprenticeship may suit someone with an interest in a more vocational field, an apprenticeship programme that takes a blended learning approach – with the opportunity to gain a degree and become accredited in the field – may be the best option all round.”

“Both traditional universities and apprenticeships providers are widening their scopes each year, and opening up more and more varied options for following a career path. With this in mind, it’s essential that the individual chooses a route which best suits their skills and ambitions; whether it’s studying a traditional degree, joining an apprenticeship scheme – or a mix of both – the options are no longer just either attending an institution every day or combining classroom education with a job.”



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Nominations are now open

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. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.


Young asian female chemists with senior caucasian chemist working together in lab, looking into microscope, Women in STEM

Career advice for women wanting to work in the chemistry sector

Young asian female chemists with senior caucasian chemist working together in lab, looking into microscope, Women in STEM

By Heleen Goorissen, Director of Innovation & Technology, Avantium

The chemistry industry often has a perception of being very industrial and even boring, or people working in this sector need to be very science-oriented to have a successful career.

These reasons often deter people, and women, in particular, from wanting to pursue a career in this area. What most people don’t realise is that working in chemistry involves a lot of creativity and can help make a broader difference in society.

Unleash your creative side

Science in general has the reputation to be dull and abstract.  But without creativity or diversity of thought, we wouldn’t see the incredible innovations in the world today. For those people who are looking to recruit new employees and the next generation of scientists, my advice is to expand your search pool and look for candidates with a wide variety of backgrounds. By including others that have a different perspective, it can lead to better ideas, innovations, and ways of working. Diversity is key! For those who are looking to get inspired for a career in chemistry, don’t be afraid to be creative. Surround yourself with different types of inspiration, like going to an art event, visit museums, or attend a concert – it’ll help fuel your ideas and your thinking.

Don’t be afraid to take risks

As difficult as this may seem, I don’t believe in planning for the next 10 years. Reality will often be completely different. Also, planning so far in advance may close your mind to opportunities that may end up accelerating your career path. Follow your intuition and experience everything for yourself – you don’t want to look back and regret anything.

Additionally, inform yourself as much as you can while embarking on your career journey. Whether that is attending open days, networking events, or setting yourself up with a mentor, surrounding yourself with a robust support network can help provide guidance, especially when you come across any challenges. I owe a lot of my success to people who believed in me and gave me challenges even when I thought I wasn’t ready for them. This is why it is important to give people chances to challenge themselves and excel, as well as giving them the support they need to thrive.


If you ever feel stuck or unsure of what your next path is, look to find a coach to help identify your strengths and where you can look to grow. Also, please be kind and honest with yourself by setting your priorities. By figuring out what is truly important, whether professionally or personally, you can achieve your goals and feel fulfilled.

There will be many instances where you’ll be at a crossroads between your career and personal life, such as if you’d like to start a family. From personal experience and seeing other women go through this, the transition to work after maternity leave can be a struggle. Therefore, you need to be proactive in asking your company to support you in finding the right balance and make family life and your career path work for you.  This requires also flexibility form a company.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

TechWomen100 2021 logo


Nominations are now open

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. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.


How to balance your work and personal life as a rising tech entrepreneur

Balance scale, Balance, work life balance

The tech world provides remarkable opportunities to those willing to embrace its complexity, as we’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

People fired or furloughed due to the tough conditions have turned their talents to the online world, finding ingenious ways to succeed and achieve remarkable career reinventions — but the intense pace of internet business takes its toll, and solopreneurs can risk burnout.

If you’re growing your brand as a tech entrepreneur and inching closer to your goals, you need to keep going, but you mustn’t do so in a way that threatens your long-term prospects. In short, you need to balance your professional life and your personal life, ensuring that you find enough free time to stay comfortable without taking your foot too far off the gas.

In this post, we’re going to offer some tips for how you manage this. Let’s get started.

Stick to a rigid schedule

Burning the candle at both ends can feel like the right thing to do when you’re just starting out and eager to prove yourself, and results can back that up: bursts of intense activity can really get your operation moving. But you can’t keep them up. If you don’t proceed with great caution, your working life can bleed over into your free time, leaving you working almost all the time.

To ensure that you don’t overwork yourself, you should lay out a strict schedule and stick to it. That means stopping work at your assigned time and getting away from your computer so you can get your mind off work. You only have so much creative energy, and you need inspiration from outside of work to refresh your ideas. Working 24/7 will quickly exhaust you.

Clearly delineate your finances

When you’re busy coding a website or trialing new software solutions, the last thing you might want to do is pore over profit margins, yet it’s absolutely vital that you do so. Running into negative cash flow can be enough to derail even a promising business. It’s all but impossible to run an effective online business without stacking up small payments: you need hosting, plugins, themes, task management tools, accountancy software, PPC ads, etc.

Now add in all the other payments you make for non-business purposes, and you’ll have a length list that can cause you no end of headaches if it gets too unruly. After all, work expenses must be viewed differently from a legal standpoint, and it would surely be exhausting to have to go through all your payments at the end of a month in an effort to sort them.

This is why you need to delineate your finances from the start. Accountancy software will surely help, but splitting your payment methods will be invaluable: every entrepreneur should apply for credit card cover as a matter of priority because they can get special business-account rates and they’ll need a dedicated account if/when they form a company. If you’re not sure how to approach splitting your finances, you can go online for help with a credit card application.

Outsource when appropriate

One of the reasons why becoming an entrepreneur is so exciting is that it takes the shackles off your potential. No longer do you need to answer to a boss and pursue only the ideas that get approved. You can do what you want to do and follow whatever path you prefer, however unorthodox it may be. This instinct to exert full control is powerful, but it can be corrupting.

The danger arises when you stay in control as your operation grows. One person can only handle so much work before they’re spread too thin, and trying to handle everything yourself will ensure that you start to run into problems. Outsourcing is the right way to go. You don’t need to hire any full-time employees — you can simply take advantage of online freelancers.

Make time for social activity

We mentioned sticking to a rigid schedule so you have a set amount of time to spend on non-work projects, but how should you use that time? You could relax by watching streaming media, playing games, or reading books. And those are certainly great ways to recover from hectic days of entrepreneurialism, but they’re missing the secret ingredient: social activity.

During the pandemic, many people have been highly isolated, and it’s left their personal lives unsatisfying. If you’re bored outside of work, you’ll end up being bored inside of work. Due to this, you must make time for social activities. Do whatever you can to spend time with friends, whether it’s online or offline. This will give you some much-needed contrast.

This isn’t easy, of course, as your friends may be busy when you’re free — but don’t just give up if you can’t find the right timing. If nothing else, you should consider meeting up with other entrepreneurs. That way you can share business advice in an informal atmosphere, giving you work inspiration but also allowing you to wind down.

About the author

Alistair Clarke is a copywriter who loves to delve into all matters technical and practical. When he's not working on content, he's dabbling in everything from design to development, or carefully nurturing his beard.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here