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TechWomen100 Awards | Proud to announce our education partner, Durham University

Winners Banner with logo featuredWeAreTechWomen are committed to supporting the on going personal development of our TechWomen100 winners. This year, in partnership with Durham University, each winner will receive the opportunity to attend a complementary full day seminar with Professor Sue Black OBE, Professor of Computer Science & Technology Evangelist, Speaker & Author.

Vanessa Vallely OBE, Managing Director, WeAreTheCity said “I am ecstatic to be working alongside Durham University as education partners for our TechWomen100 awards this year. This will provide an fantastic opportunity for all of our winners to grow their networks and be inspired by one of the best professors in the UK.  I am very grateful to Professor Black and Professor Love for their support and look forward to working with them in the future.”

Black said “I am very proud to be able to support the TechWomen100 award winners in my role as Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University.  20 years after setting up the UK’s first online network for women in tech BCSWomen women in tech still only represent 17% of the industry, and that needs to change! We will only see progression by continuing to make a conscious effort to invest in these women and by putting programmes and initiatives in place to support their careers.  I am really looking forward to supporting this year’s winners by hosting them at Durham University in June, I am sure it will be a hugely inspiring day for all of us.”

Love said “Durham University is really proud to able to work with WeAreTechWomen as an Educational Partner. We share common goals of increasing diversity in Tech, and we really are excited to host and meet the TechWomen100 winners”.

Durham University have launched a number of initiatives to support women in tech during 2019. This year, in partnership with 16 companies and three universities TechUPWomen was launched. TechUPWomen is a six month training programme focussed in the north, that will enable 100 women to retrain in the technology sector. This new programme aims to address the shortage in the tech industry by recruiting women who want to start a career in the tech sector, particularly from Black, Asian and other minority or under-represented communities. The programme was created by Durham Professors, Alexandra Cristea and Professor Sue Black OBE.

Further details of the TechWomen100 seminar will be shared at the start of next year.

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23/01/2020: TechWomen100 Award's Ceremony

TechWomen100 Awards

WeAreTechWomen is delighted to invite you to our TechWomen100 Award Ceremony.

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

Since August 2019, WeAreTechWomen has been searching the UK for the best female tech talent in the country. Now in its third year and with the support of headline sponsor J.P. Morgan, the awards received over 700 nominations from across the UK and Northern Ireland. Over 40,000 public votes of support were received for the 200 shortlisted nominees. In November, the shortlist was judged by our esteemed panel of judges who helped us identify our TechWomen100 winners.

We are delighted to invite you to celebrate the achievements of these remarkable women who are not only role models for the industry, but who are our future leaders of tomorrow. We do hope you can join us to celebrate their success and toast their achievements.

The evening will be hosted by Julia Streets, CEO, Streets Consulting and gospel choir, Revelation Avenue, will be performing as our special guests.

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Julia Streets | CEO, Streets ConsultingAbout our host

Julia Streets is a champion of fintech entrepreneurship, innovation and diversity. In 2007, Julia founded Streets Consulting, the business development, marketing and communications consultancy. She helped launch the Chi-X brand of international alternative stock exchanges, including Chi-X Australia. Since then she and her team have advised a wide range of firms in the world of capital markets, B2B and payments, and offering specialist technology including blockchain, artificial intelligence, cyber and more. Prior to founding Streets Consulting in 2008, Julia was global head of communications at NYSE Technologies, serving on the Executive Committee and European head of marketing and sales development at Instinet.

Revelation Avenue

About our special guests

Britain’s Got Talent Golden Buzzer Winners Revelation Avenue, was established in the very heart of London, and the members have been singing together as a group for over 15 years. Their journey began on BBC’s Last Choir Standing where their vocal talent enabled them to reach the final 3 on the show. Renowned for their sweet blend, creative arrangements, invigorating choreography and vocal finesse they are definitely not your ‘typical Choir’. Their uplifting message and soulful twist to commercial pop songs left an unforgettable footprint on Britain’s Got Talent 2015 where Simon Cowell distinguished them as ‘One of The Best’ and Amanda Holden described their performance as “Just World Class”.


Agenda

Guests will be treated to a sparkling drinks reception and a three-course dinner, followed by the award’s presentation.

18:45 – Champagne welcome reception

19:45Opening speeches & awards

22:45 – Winner’s photo

22:55 – Closing entertainment

23:15 – Carriages

FIND OUT MORE & BOOK YOUR PLACE


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WeAreTechWomen are proud to announce our 2019 TechWomen100 Awards winners

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WeAreTechWomen and J.P. Morgan are proud to announce the winners of the 2019 TechWomen100 Awards.

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

The winners include individuals from leading firms such as the BBC, Starling Bank, Morrisons, University of Oxford, John Lewis, Cancer Research UK, The Alan Turing Institute, Microsoft and many more.

Alongside the individual TechWomen100 category, we are also pleased to announce the winners of the Champions category, Company of the Year and Network of the Year.

Since August 2019, WeAreTechWomen has been searching the UK for the best female tech talent in the country. The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and to also recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way for future generations of tech talent. This year’s winners join an alumni of 150 winners from 2018 and 2017.

Vanessa Vallely OBE, Founder of WeAreTechWomen, said, “At WeAreTechWomen we have made it our personal mission to shine a spotlight on women working in tech. Our strategic aim is to highlight 1000 female future leaders in technology by 2025. The response to this year’s awards has been fantastic and the calibre of entries has been outstanding! I am so proud to see so many women in tech recognised for their achievements and look forward to celebrating our winners and their achievements.”

The awards were entered by over 700 nominations from across the UK and Ireland and 40,000 votes of support from across the globe. The calibre of entries for these awards was exceptional and all of the judges stated how difficult it was to arrive at the shortlist due to the amazing achievements of our nominees.

The 2019 awards are headline sponsored by J.P. Morgan and supported by Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Dell Technologies, Informed Solutions, Lloyds Banking Group, Oliver Wyman, OpenFin and Worldpay.

The winners will be invited to attend an award’s ceremony on 23 January 2020 at Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster, London. Guest tickets are available to purchase here.

Find the full list of winners in alphabetical order here

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WeAreTechWomen Conference 2019: In Pictures

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

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

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

View the event images captured below:

 


Delegates at the WeAreTechWomen conference

WeAreTechWomen Conference 2019: In Words

Delegates at WeAreTechWomen conference

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

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

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

Facilitator Kate Russell, Journalist, Tech Reporter & Author, BBC Click, kicked off the day and welcomed all the delegates. The morning began with a number of keynotes from speakers such as Dr Pippa Malmgren, Founder, H Robotics; Sheridan Ash, Technology and Investments Director and Women in Technology Leader, PwC; Emma Kendrew, Intelligent Engineering Services Lead, Accenture Technology UKI; and Rob McCargow, Director of AI, PwC.

Across the day, delegates enjoyed listening to a number of high-profile speakers including Deborah O'Neill, Head of UK Digital, Partner, Oliver Wyman; Lopa Ghosh, Associate Partner, UKI Cyber Leader, People and Culture Lead, EY; and Caroline Criado Perez OBE, Writer, Broadcaster and award-winning feminist campaigner, author of Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.

Caroline Criado Perez speaking at the WeAreTechWomen conference

During her talk, Caroline highlighted the issue that gender inequality is more prevalent throughout technology than most realise, with data collection being designed around men.

Caroline went on to discuss that having a female body has led to women often being involved much less frequently than men in medical studies, resulting in a data gap that is impacting our understanding of health care in relation to women. The consequences of data bias is substantial with women often being incorrectly diagnosed because the symptoms for females often look different from those of males.

During the lunch break, delegates were treated to refreshment and had the chance to network with sponsors, browse tables and stands of tech-related products, as well as connect with a number of not-for-profit organisations including Autistica, Raspberry Pi, TechSheCan and Apps for Goods.

Throughout the day, attendees heard about artificial intelligence, big data, cyber security, tech innovation, payments, disruption, cloud technology, transformation, software engineering, and health tech.

Attendees were also invited to put their questions to speakers during a number of Q&A sessions. Topics ranged from increasing diversity in tech, career advice and flexible working.

The afternoon consisted of delegates attending their own chosen elective sessions to partake in hands-on activities and interactive workshops. Alexa, coding, payments, health tech, and data science were just some of the topics covered within the sessions.

Hall of Fame panel with Ortis Deley at the WeAreTechWomen conference

Hosted by Ortis Deley, Host and Presenter, The Gadget Show, the Hall of Fame panel concluded the event and featured Professor Sue Black OBE; Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE; Dorothee Schobert-Sargent; and Jacqueline de Rojas CBE.

Check out more of the conference buzz here.

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WeAreTechWomen announces 2019 TechWomen100 shortlist

TechWomen100 2019 

WeAreTechWomen is extremely proud to announce the TechWomen100 2019 shortlist.

Since August 2019, WeAreTechWomen has been searching the UK for the best female tech talent in the country. With the support of headline sponsor J.P. Morgan, WeAreTechWomen has now identified a shortlist of 200.

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and to also recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way for future generations of tech talent. Highlighting the achievements of these women is part of  the WeAreTechWomens campaign to shine a spotlight on 1000 future female leaders in technology by 2025.

The shortlist showcases remarkable women within the technology and STEM sector, including Alice Williams-Alden, Royal Navy, who assesses, designs and embody repairs to aircraft around the world; Coral Movasseli, Founder and Managing Director of Girls in Tech Dublin, which has grown to be the largest organisation of its kind in the country and has trailblazed entry for women, by holding the first Women in Tech hackathon in Ireland earlier this year; Isabel Ashworth, Senior CAE Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover Ltd, who joined the organisation through a sponsorship scheme and now tests future products to meet the requirements of the customer; and Merici Vinton, who started in tech on the Obama New Media team during the 2008 election, and has since co-founded Ada’s List, a forum for women in technology in London and globally.

The full shortlist includes individuals from leading firms such as Deliveroo, Royal Navy, The Alan Turing Institute, Three UK, Microsoft, Fujitsu, John Lewis, Sky and Mastercard alongside founders and entrepreneurs.

Over the nomination period, we received over 700 nominations from across the UK and Northern Ireland. The calibre of entries for these awards was exceptional and all of the judges stated how difficult it was to arrive at the shortlist due to the amazing achievements of our nominees.

Speaking about the awards, Alison Macpherson, Managing Director, Head of Global Technology Workforce Strategy, J.P. Morgan, said, "The most impactful contribution we make as colleagues and leaders is to enable everyone to bring their best authentic selves to the workplace, so that we are diverse in every sense of the word and representative of the communities in which we live and work."

"We see the value in celebrating what makes us unique and are proud to be sponsoring WeAreTechWomen.”

Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director of WeAreTechWomen said, “"At WeAreTechWomen, we have made it our personal mission to shine a spotlight on women working in tech."

"Our strategic aim is to highlight 500 female future leaders in technology by 2022."

"The response to this year’s awards has been fantastic and the calibre of entries has been outstanding."

"I am so proud to see so many women in tech recognised for their achievements and really look forward to seeing who our final winners will be in December.”

Please find the full shortlist in alphabetical order here

The public vote of support is now open for our 200 individual shortlist nominees. Votes can be cast here.

*Please note there is no public vote for champions, companies or networks.

The TechWomen100 Awards is supported by J.P. Morgan, Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Dell Technologies, Informed Solutions, Lloyds Banking Group, Oliver Wyman, OpenFin and Worldpay.

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We would like to personally thank our judges who all gave up their valuable time to assemble our shortlist and to help WeAreTechWomen recognise the fantastic achievements of all of our amazing nominees.

Congratulations to all of our shortlisted nominees and best of luck in the next round of judging.

The final list will be announced 03 December. Finalists will be invited to attend an award's ceremony in January. Tickets will be available to purchase on 03 December from the WeAreTechWomen site.


Emma Griffin

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Emma Griffin, Sky

Emma Griffin

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Emma Griffin, Director, Group Deputy Chief Information Security Officer, Sky, about her career.

Emma is also one of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Emma is holding a session on her journey from ambulance dispatcher to security chief.

Emma is Group Deputy Chief Information Security Officer at Sky with responsibilities across all aspects of cyber security, including information security strategy, governance, risk and compliance.

With over 20 years of experience in security and technology infrastructure, Emma has worked across a variety of sectors including financial services, insurance and management consultancies. Prior to Sky, Emma has held numerous roles at Worldpay and Goldman Sachs leading and managing global cyber programmes.

Emma has a Master’s degree in Information Security from Royal Holloway.

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 started my working life working for the London Ambulance Service. Covering North West London, including Heathrow airport and Wembley Stadium, I was responsible for managing normal 999 calls alongside hotels on fire, train accidents, emergencies with large crowds and aeroplanes landing with mechanical problems. It was both exciting and stressful and taught me the fundamentals of incident management that I still use today. I then embarked on a career in technology, spending most of my time in the financial sector and now work at Sky as their Deputy Group CISO responsible for everything cyber security.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

For many years I just bumbled along, working hard and hoping I would be rewarded and something good would come along. But I then realised I needed to own and drive my career and so literally sat down worked out what I wanted to do, formalised a plan and even wrote a script of how to have ‘the conversation’ with my manager.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

The important changes in my life and career have been helped by guidance and support from mentors and role models, I realise that not everybody has them, do think it is important to encourage and inspire the person next to you.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

The feeling of empowerment when I convinced my boss to help me change role when no role existed. I was terrified I would be out of a job, but so proud of my bravery and wish I had done it years before.

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

Hopefully they will feel inspired to take charge of their career, form a plan and act on it.

What are your top three tips for success?

  • Never stop learning / studying – life is changing around you all the time.
  • Take ownership of your career and drive it – don’t expect someone else to do it.
  • Build a great team – success is not a solo achievement, you need good company.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

I wanted to change role, but didn’t know what I wanted to do next, just that I wanted something different. Building up the courage to take a leap of faith, and just try something new, that may not be successful.

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

Don’t be shy - Learn to promote your skills and successes, it’s not boasting.


Lopa Ghosha

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Lopa Ghosh, EY

Lopa Ghosha

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Lopa Ghosh, Associate Partner, UKI Cyber Leader, People and Culture Lead, EY, about her career.

Lopa is also one of our speakers at our upcoming WeAreTechWomen: The Future World of Work conference on 22 November. Lopa will be discussing cyber security and how to make it a habit, not a hassle.

Lopa is a leader in UKI EYs Cybersecurity practice, with a particular passion for the human centric behaviours and culture around cybersecurity. Lopa regularly advices clients on how to enhance security through their corporate culture and talent base, by thinking differently in engaging their organisation. Lopa is a strong advocate for diversity of all types in cybersecurity and leads EY UKI Diversity in Cybersecurity network.

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 started in the civil service as a performance analyst and data scientist for the Legal Aid Board and unbeknownst to me, kicked off an going career in technology and defence. Whether it was legal, border, military or cyber.  Despite having a varied career path, through public and private avenues, working in cyber seems a perfect fit.  I drifted into in  cyber in my time in the US when I brought in to work on a large scale regulatory Cyber transformation, it was clear that technology and process alone were not enough to deal with the Cyber threat, people and culture were as important too.  This has lead to my current work in leading cyber culture and transformation for EY.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

All the time.  I used to be focussed on promotion and the “next step” and that got quite stressful.  Through a lot of challenging experiences, both work and personal, I’ve shifted my focus to outcomes.  What is it I want to be doing etc, that always comes first, and I’ve found the rest follows quite naturally alongside.

What inspired you to get involved with in motivational speaking?

As a female and a BAME female, I naturally found myself in a position of mentor.  As I have progressed through my organisation, I am still in the minority and people of all types, colours and gender have sought me out for guidance.  As I have done in the past, looking for people who look and talk like me, to learn from (there weren’t that many when I was coming up!).  It’s important to be visible and authentic.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

I don’t think I have one single favourite experience, but I do have a favourite aspect.  I’m lucky to be in a career where meeting a lot of people is normal and expected.  That’s my favourite part of the job, I learn new things everyday and meet all types of people, which if I had different career, I would not be able to do.

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

That there is a different way into working in technology.  Whilst I have worked on large scale tech and, now most recently, Cyber transformations, you don’t have to have a STEM background to work in the field.  Capability, culture, social engineering all have places in the tech world.

What are your top three tips for success?

  1. Ask for help, you don’t know everything.
  2. Be yourself, trying to be someone else is exhausting!
  3. Find your tribe, find the people you want to have around as success comes, you need friends.

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

Getting through the door.  Until now, I had underestimated how hard I worked to get through the door and the effort it has taken to stay there.  There are many doors!

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

Floella Benjamin – growing up in the 80’s she was one for the few BAME personalities that was not sterotyped on TV, she just had a job to entertain children and didn’t have to put on an act to do it.

Queen – she has remained exactly who she wants to be throughout everything, she also knows when to take advice in order and doesn’t claim to have all the answers.

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

Allies.  It’s wonderful that there are so many programmes to developing women, but when we segregate out the issues into gender, we don’t provide the opportunity to educate others.  It should be a shared responsibility.

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

You’re doing ok


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Carrie Anne Philbin | Director, Raspberry Pi Foundation

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Carrie Anne Philbin, Raspberry Pi

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.


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Yuna Lee and Ruth Garcia featured

WeAreTechWomen Conference Speaker Spotlight: Yuna Lee & Ruth Garcia, Spotify

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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