femtech featured

The importance of 'femtech': Why we need to start breaking old taboos

FemtechTo explain how I created the term ‘femtech’, I need to start with why I started the female health app Clue in the first place.

When I was 30, I realised that my method of birth control wasn’t working for me, and I didn’t feel there were any solutions out there that really suited me. I thought it was insane that we were able to put a man on the moon, but we didn’t have a tool that would help us understand our body’s unique patterns in real time.

I have always been curious about women's health and was interested in incorporating technology and data analysis into my daily life. Now we call that a “quantified self” person, but this was long before I knew the term. These were the drivers to launch Clue - an app that could clue people in with personalised health data and that would give them awareness of the unique patterns in their bodies and their cycles.

We launched Clue in 2013, but it was at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco in the autumn of 2016 that I coined the term ‘femtech’. It occurred to me that while all other available technologies were grouped together in a logical way, the products aimed at women were scattered all over the exhibition hall, looking lost and out of place. I knew that it would be helpful to have a unifying term for all the products I saw emerging in the tech industry addressing needs around women’s biology, so I suggested that we introduce a term for the category we felt part of. We called it femtech. By defining the group of products that are associated with female health, we are creating an entirely new category of technology and, by grouping these technologies, it paves the way for femtech conferences and for VC’s to invest in femtech, building out a femtech portfolio. This legitimises the market.

Legitimising and naming our space in the market goes far beyond seeking investment. Historically, female health - from the first menstruation through to pregnancy and menopause - has been considered a ‘niche’ subject, something that is only relevant to women and which is burdened by a lot of stigma. As such, this has left us in a place where gender inequality still exists, and where research into female health is limited and unrepresentative of the wider population. It still takes women an average of seven years to receive an endometriosis diagnosis, while conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome are frequently misdiagnosed, with women being made to feel that they exaggerate their symptoms.

At Clue, we’re excited to be using anonymised user data to further scientific research. When women track their period through Clue, they contribute an unprecedented data set that is essential for continuing our understanding of female health. Clue is known for working with top research institutions and clinicians, including Columbia University, Stanford University, University of Oxford and Kinsey Institute, to name a few. Our scientific collaborations are exploring questions like: what pain patterns are considered ‘normal’ in which populations? What mood patterns do we see around ovulation? How might our menstrual and symptoms patterns help us spot disease and illness earlier? It is also worth noting that the data we share with these institutions is always stripped of identifying factors, and only aims to answer research questions of a non-commercial nature.

My hope is that femtech will keep being a driver for improving wellness, health and women’s lives in general, and that we will see big commercial successes in the category too, fulfilling the huge economic potential that exists in femtech. From femtech companies, through to scientists, VCs and users, I see that we are finally moving away from the idea that reproductive health is ‘niche’ and something to only be spoken about in whispers. This is a fantastic driver for a more equal and healthy society, not only for women, but for all.

Ida Tin, Co-Founder of ClueAbout the author

Ida Tin is a Danish entrepreneur and author, who is the co-founder and CEO of female health app Clue (www.helloclue.com).

She is also the woman responsible for coining the term ‘femtech’.

training, meeting, Business Intelligence featured

Top tips for building a Business Intelligence team from scratch

training, meeting, Business Intelligence

Article provided by Marcelli Brockmüller, Head of Business Intelligence at Savings United

Since only 17 per cent of the tech workforce are women, it’s no surprise that this decreases even further when looking at women working in leadership roles.

Prior to working with my current team at Savings United, I worked in tech roles for a number of years. I was almost always one of less than a handful of women in each organisation. After finishing studying Computer Science at university in my home country of Brazil, I went on to work for the biggest media house in São Paulo where I began working in technical areas such as management information systems. I later moved to Germany, and joined SU, where I am the Head of Business Intelligence.

Initially, I worked in a Content role in the LATAM region. Quite soon after joining the company, one of the co-founders noticed my skills with numbers, databases and reporting. At that time, a department for tracking key business data didn’t exist and I was asked to build the Business Intelligence department from scratch. Here is a selection of the key lessons I have learned throughout my career on the tools, business functions, and qualities necessary to lead and implement a BI team.

Develop trust and respect

When I began to gather the resources I needed, much of the information was held within the IT team. I had to work carefully and confidently in order to build their trust so that they shared their systems and processes with me. I did that first by getting to grips with what the business needed and working out how best I could help achieve our goals. By aligning myself with the business, I was able to make meaningful requests that my colleagues could see the value in. I was also careful to seek their views and opinions, in order to ensure that I was making use of their skills and knowledge. I developed trust with my co-workers by showing I wanted to learn what they had done before. In this way, I demonstrated that I respected their work and effort, which helped immensely.

Prioritise and distribute workload appropriately

When you work independently for a long period of time, prioritisation is both crucial and challenging. It’s extremely important to remain inline with company strategies and goals, which will help you know where to focus your energy and time. Requests can quickly build up and you can easily feel overwhelmed. You can alleviate this pressure through effective planning and regular catch ups with fellow members of the organisation’s leadership team.

When you work alone for so long, you get used to knowing 100 per cent of what’s on your plate. Although, sooner or later, you will have to take on team members in order to meet the growing needs of your organisation.

Initially, it can be a bit of a struggle to become comfortable with letting and delegating to your newly formed team. It’s paramount that you relinquish what were once your sole responsibilities not just so that you can concentrate on your own priorities but also in order to let your team members grow. However, one of the most important tips here is to have clearly identified roles and responsibilities. This will mean that tasks can be distributed appropriately and effectively, and it will be at weight off your mind.

Invest in time-saving technology

Investing in a powerful BI tool has many benefits. For example it can enable teams from across the business to access reports independently and it means your team can been freed up to work in areas where they can add even more value to the business. Introducing new tools is a big investment, so it’s important to undertake thorough research. Contact a number of companies that offer market leading tools, have in-depth talks with them and make the most of free trials and demos. You are likely to sign up with this company for a long-term. So, choose one that meets your needs most closely and is moving in a similar direction as your company.

Embrace difference

Teams are often made up of people from different backgrounds with a multitude of ways of thinking. My team is very multicultural and includes individuals who each have their own personality and ways of working. Some might be more practical, others more intuitive, and so on. Everybody has their own approach to work, it’s important not to take anything personally. Ultimately, we have the same common goal - to develop ourselves, and work hard in delivering information that helps the company advance. I like to lead my team interactively - we brainstorm and make decisions together. Their input is as important as mine.

Implementing a BI team, or any other team from scratch, is a project that requires dedication and cooperation from colleagues across the business. As a woman working in the male-dominated world of tech, this can seem a daunting task. However, as well as these tips, if you make the most of online and offline networking events, consider finding a mentor and take courses in order to stay up to date with developments in your field, you will almost certainly be a success wherever your path leads you. Remember to keep on reaching out in order to connect and share knowledge with other women in tech. We’re stronger when we work together.

Marcelli BrockmüllerAbout the author

Marcelli Brockmüller is the Head of Business Intelligence at Savings United. Leading voucher code partner of premium media companies, Savings United's partnerships connect advertisers with smart shoppers. Present in 13 countries, Savings United works alongside advertisers to engage a new audience of smart shoppers and achieve their business goals through brand-safe channels.

encouraging girls in to tech, STEM featured

Inspiring the next generation of engineers

encouraging girls in to tech, STEM

Article provided by Alison Horton, principal engineer at built environment consultancy Curtins’ Birmingham office and STEM ambassador.

Inspiring the next generation of engineers will simply come from inspiring the next generation when it comes to career options as a whole.

Children – both girls and boys – need to be better educated on career possibilities and from an earlier age than they are at the moment.

That’s why I’m a STEM ambassador. Of course, we want more girls to be inspired to go into engineering as it is still very much male-dominated, but what we need is the next generation as a whole to be excited, enthused and passionate about their chosen career.

Many schools, teachers and parents are not able to highlight everything that every possible industry has to offer, so it’s important for representatives from all industries to step forward and do just that. From this greater knowledge, students can identify and follow their passions from a younger age to make a more informed choice on what is right for them.

I spend a lot of time encouraging other staff to get involved and giving talks to our other offices as part of a company initiative to promote the fantastic work of STEM ambassadors.

It’s easy to get involved as a STEM ambassador through a simple online application and induction. You only have to get involved with one activity a year, so you can flex your involvement based on how much time you have to spare. I applied when I started full-time work after graduation, having spent my university days helping at open days and being involved in the Women in Engineering society. Since applying, I haven’t stopped!

One particularly memorable activity was den building with students in the Lickey Hills. The students had to build dens using only a tarpaulin and whatever they could find in the woods. After an hour they had to get into their den whilst we threw water to test how waterproof their creations were. That and many of the events I get involved with through the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) are really engaging and hands on, and sometimes involve dressing up as a superhero.

It’s one of the most rewarding things about my career – realising that I could be a young person’s role model was an incredible feeling. I can’t recommend getting involved highly enough – the more we support our next generation now, the better the future of all our industries will be.

For more information, please visit www.curtins.com

About the author

Alison Horton is a senior engineer at the Birmingham office of built environment consultancy, Curtins.

Horton is also a STEM ambassador and is passionate about encouraging more people - both male and female - into STEM related jobs.

Men in Black featured

How Men in Black is giving us the chance to think about inclusivity and diversity in the tech industry

Men in Black

The new Men in Black film has just hit the big screens, with a recent premier on 14th June.

You may be familiar with the original story from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ days – the Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. And this addition to the franchise is no different; in this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organisation.

However, there is a slight twist – this remake is the first time one of the Men in Black has been a woman, Tessa Johnson.  In the spirit of girl power and promoting more women to get involved in their passions, a variety of tech professionals have come together to share their journeys into the tech industry, discuss how to thrive in the industry and the importance of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.

Liz CookLiz Cook, People Director at Six Degrees on how outdated stereotypes are being challenged:

“Working for a technology company, I am constantly inspired by the women I engage with across the business on a daily basis. I was recently privileged enough to present an award at the Women in IT Awards in London, and being in a room with so many brilliant women really drove home the great strides we have made in making technology a more diverse, more balanced industry.

I can see things changing for the better, with various initiatives helping to challenge outdated stereotypes and engage people in promoting gender-balance and driving a better working world.”

Estee WoodsEstee Woods, Director of Public Sector & Public Safety Marketing at Cradlepoint, looks at the importance of innovation:

“As a sector devoted to innovation and connectivity, the technology industry is uniquely positioned to help close the gender gap in the workplace. Yet, as recently as 2016, 43 per cent of the 150 highest-earning public companies in Silicon Valley had no female executive officers at all. As we celebrate the trailblazers of gender equality and women’s rights, we should also reflect on the differing and valuable perspectives that diverse voices bring to the table. We encourage everyone to celebrate the strong women in their lives, personally and professionally, and to empower the women in their organisations. Today, we encourage women in tech to own their voices, to value their intellect and skills.”

Joanna HuJoanna Hu, Principal Data Scientist at Exabeam, celebrates the many strengths of women and the perspectives they bring to technology:

“It’s important to remember that women bring a unique voice to the table, are naturally good at handling interpersonal relationships and help create a harmonious work environment. They should know their worth and not be afraid of advancing. Our communities and companies need diversity in leadership roles to succeed because every person’s individual background also brings a new perspective to the table that can drive the bottom line, culture and overall success of the business.”

Krishna Subramanian 1Krishna Subramanian, Founder, President and COO at Komprise, believes gender shouldn’t matter:

“Striving for a balanced workforce not only fosters gender equality, but it makes good business sense. Half our population is female, more than half of college students are female, so why should we not hire more of these talented individuals into the workplace? Not hiring women makes a business less competitive, because they are not tapping into a vital segment of the talent stream.

It’s essential to focus on hiring the best person for the job regardless of their gender – we have women in key roles across our company. For example, our first engineering hire was a woman, and we have women in key leadership roles across engineering, marketing and sales/channels.”

Bob DavisBob Davis, CMO at Plutora, assesses the power of differences in the workplace:

"Differences in the workplace can be a really good thing – the capabilities of people don’t vary because of their gender, but because of who they are."

"I believe the goal for any business should be to get people to understand that diversity is critical to their success; you will be far more successful if you operate under the notion that differences are powerful.”

Lucie SadlerLucie Sadler, Content Manager at Hyve Managed Hosting weighs in on why women should be encouraged into tech roles:

"Women make up 50 per cent of the UK workforce, but less than 15 per cent in STEM jobs."

Projects that encourage women into STEM careers, coding workshops such as Codebar and Girls Who Code, and mentoring programmes are all fantastic initiatives that nurture women into pursuing careers in technology.”

Caroline Seymour 1Caroline Seymour, VP of Product Marketing at Zerto, contemplates the need for greater diversity:

“Data compiled by Evia showed that last year less that 20 per cent of technology roles in the US were held by women. Shockingly it also found that women now hold a lower share of computer science jobs than in 1980.  

While companies have become more sensitive to the gender gap in the industry over time, there is still so much more to be done to change the industry’s culture to close this gap and encourage more women into high tech careers. I believe that, fundamentally, this culture shift needs to start in school - we need to do more to mentor girls and encourage them to study STEM subjects.”

Tara O'Sullivan 1Tara O’Sullivan, CMO at Skillsoft, considers how unconscious bias is affecting the gender gap in tech:

“The struggle to ensure a more diverse workforce comes in many forms – from gender to ethnic background. The bottom line is that diverse teams make better decisions – this is a proven fact.  They provide much needed differences in opinion, and having a more diverse team avoids the problem of ‘group think’.  

The challenge is we’re still dealing with a huge amount of bias in the workplace – both conscious and unconscious.  We need to treat these two areas separately. Conscious bias is easier to deal with. We can name-and-shame when it rears its ugly head, all while backing this up with facts and figures.  

Unconscious bias is harder to address, and will take longer to eradicate.  Often it’s still hidden, and those holding it are completely unaware.  Studies show that for many people in this situation, when their unconscious bias is demonstrated to them, they hate it – they fall apart at seeing their own prejudice looking back at them.  

The solution? When unconscious bias is identified in an individual, we need to address it across the entire team.  This makes it ‘palatable’ on an individual basis, and allows us to make the required changes.

At the end of the day there’s no excuse. Diversity in the workplace is a social norm, and just like wearing clothes, we need to treat it as such.”

Karina Marks, Data Science Consultant at Mango Solutions, encourages young women to develop a career in advanced analytics and data science:

“I work with a surprisingly high proportion of female data scientists, but can still find myself the only female in a meeting. I have never seen this as a disadvantage though because I have faith in my own abilities and what I can achieve, regardless of my gender. For me, passion and persistence has really paid off, and I am so lucky that the organisation I work for has helped support my journey and helped me to develop my skills and gain an understanding of the analytics industry. My advice for young women keen to develop a career in advanced analytics and data science is to invest in continuous learning and development, share your work build and your community, and develop a laser focus on value.”

Eulalia FloEulalia Flo, Country Manager at Commvault, champions a balanced workforce to reduce stereotypes:

“Gender bias, for both men and women, is more frequent in less diversified working teams. Having a balanced workplace helps reduce stereotypes, and encourages richer decision making, especially in the world of technology. Many companies and senior leaders want to attract talent, and being more aware of gender bias, are now better prepared not to cling to clichés and stereotypes.

As in any other industry, I would encourage women to know their own strengths and to not be shy. You should be open minded, ready to learn new things and be challenged often by new developments that present both opportunities and threats.”

Svenja de VosSvenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb, advises why girls should be encouraged into tech careers:

“It’s vital to get more women into the tech industry but I believe that if more women are to enter the tech sector, we need to start young, showing girls that tech can be fun.

“Being a female CTO today still makes me a bit of a unicorn. And, despite my background and position, some still assume I don’t have technical knowledge. And the worst part is that I find myself getting used to these comments. But my team respects me because of my technical expertise, not simply because of my title or in spite of my gender, and this is always how it should be.”

Sophia ZhengSophia Zheng, Product Manager at Bitglass, appreciates the support of her colleagues:

“In school, kids are immature and they don’t know what lasting impact words like, “she can’t because she is a girl”, might have.

I have been lucky that in the workplace, it doesn’t feel like it is that imbalanced.

There is still an imbalance, but the way people treat you can have a big impact and make all the difference.”

Jeannie BarryJeannie Barry, Director of Technology Enablement at ConnectWise, agrees that young girls need people who can help inspire them to dream big:

“With social media all around us, girls are comparing themselves to other girls, causing a lot of self-doubt and lowering self-worth.  We need to make sure we’re constantly providing opportunities to grow their confidence and ensure they are focused on their own journey and not trying to be like someone else.

“Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, and Karlie Kloss, model and entrepreneur who started Kode with Klossy, are inspiring women to have an interest in technology.  They understand how important it is to get girls interested at a young age and help them build confidence in coding and engineering.  It’s awesome that they are inspiring women to have an interest in technology and to be proud of how smart they really are – I wish I had something like this when I was growing up.”

Kanthi PrasadKanthi Prasad, VP of Engineering at WhiteHat Security is an advocate for mentors:

"The gender gap in the technology industry still exists. When I started working I did not expect equality, but instead started with the assumption that I have to try to work harder than people around me in order to gain equal footing. Nobody can stand up for you better than yourself, so learn how and when to verbalise what you need. Don't be the one who gets easily offended by things around you.

That does not mean it is easy, but choose to concentrate on the long-term outcome than the short-term pain. The right mentor or sponsor can support and guide you through even the most difficult situations. Make time for the women in your organisation to support, mentor and appreciate each other as much as possible."

Kate GawronKate Gawron, Senior Database Consultant at Node4, believes the main challenges facing women considering a career in technology are a lack of role models, and the perceived culture in IT:

“My advice is not to be afraid to say no to a job offer if it doesn’t suit you and your life. I’d never planned to become a Database Administrator, but it turns out I’m more than suited to the job. I believe it’s important to have the confidence in yourself to stick to what is important to you, and more often than not another amazing opportunity will open up.”

Women on the frontline of security

When you think of a ‘bouncer’ or a security guard, you may think of a large male, but women are ideal for frontline security services, as Joy Darch, security officer at VIP Security Services explains…

Being a good security officer isn’t just about how to have the physical strength to defend someone or something, for the majority bearing in mind we have to “do the job” when it comes to it, it’s more about communication, attention to detail, multi-tasking and empathy.

On a day-to-day basis we work alongside our male colleagues and deal with all incidents on equal terms. Many male security guards have quite a physical presence, which can help ward off threats, but not all of us ladies are built in the same way. We may not be the same size or have the same physical strength, but women on the frontline can be more adept at reacting to situations and dealing with potential problems professionally without the need for physical intervention.

It’s tricky to generalise, but like in life, women are usually better than men at dealing with males in heated situations. We’re good mediators and we’re able to get guys to see another side of the argument and to just ‘quieten down’ take some time out, which in many incidents is enough to quell a situation.It’s also ideal for women to see female security guards, as sometimes they may feel more able to talk or reach out to a woman than a man. For example: if a female is in a nightclub and she fears that her partner has given her cause for concern, it’s much easier for her to walk up to a female security guard and ask for help, than one of my male counterparts.

Women are great at empathising with people and able to show compassion. Security officers who work in large retail outlets are often called upon to find lost children. Whilst searching for a lost child it’s also vital to calm down fraught parents. Here it seems females find it easier to step into someone else’s shoes, understand how they feel and give support at a time of need.

It’s often been said that women are great at attention to detail and multi-tasking, it’s true, which also makes us ideal for surveillance or cyber work. Here we’re strong at analysing a situation, watching hours of filmed data whilst also managing other duties at the same time and working as part of a team.

Women are also great communicators and that’s a key skill for frontline security services. Strong communication is ideal on the ground to ensure all team members know exactly what they’re doing, any change of duties. Communication is also ideal to create great working relationships with clients and their customers. The majority of situations can be diffused quickly and efficiently by excellent interpersonal skills and keeping a flow of communication to large groups in queues is also ideal in keeping everyone safe and secure.

We’re also essential onsite at airports and venues where ‘pat-down’ searches need to be conducted; because there is physical contact these ‘frisk’ searches must be carried out by a searcher of the same sex as the person being searched to comply with legislation.

Most women still face a lot of prejudice when they tell others that they work as a security guard as so many people still stereotype. But the world is changing, and the security industry is a great place for women to display their key strengths and nurture a fulfilling and very worthwhile career.

To discover more, visit www.vipsecurityservices.co.uk

Joy DarchAbout the author

Joy has spent the past five years at VIP Security Services working in various security roles, she is currently a team leader. Joys spends the majority of her time front-of-house in licensed properties and acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ at large events. Joy is also a carer to her retired husband, mother and grandmother, with little time for anything else!

tech pioneers featured

Seeing is believing: Why it’s important to increase the visibility of female pioneers

tech pioneers, women in tech

Last Tuesday, Cori Gauff stunned Wimbledon in her debut match by beating the five-time tournament champion, Venus Williams.

It was an utterly gracious and measured performance on and off the court – if you didn’t see it, I urge you to watch the highlights - and in Gauff’s post-match interview, she humbly told us that she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Williams who she said was her inspiration.

There’s no denying, when you can see and relate to someone in a role, you find it easier to imagine yourself walking in those same shoes. Imagination is the starting point of a journey, it’s a magnet for making things happen and this story is the same no matter what the end-goal – Wimbledon Champion or otherwise.

And what, might you ask, does last week’s first-round tournament knock-out have to do with women in tech?

The world is going through a dramatic change with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and although female pioneers have - undoubtedly – played a critical role, it’s a demographic that is systematically underrepresented. So, what’s the impact of this lack of female visibility? It is not possible to imagine yourself walking in the same shoes as someone, if that someone does not exist and although equality strides are being made, the imbalance of the status quo is stifling the diversity in our pioneers of the future. And, if diversity does not exist amongst those who are building the new digital world, we will find ourselves with a world that does not resonate with the people living in it.

Launching a ship in new waters is an exciting endeavor but it requires someone to dare to be the first; challenging conventional ways and stepping outside of their comfort zone to create new opportunities for those around them. I’m VP of Worldwide Sales at Chargifi and pioneering is a major part of our culture - it’s a major building block of our brand and the foundation of our growth. We are always looking for kindred pioneering spirits and to help pave the way for others, no matter what their role in the organisation.

Six-years into the Chargifi journey, we are at an inflexion point in the wireless charging market and we’re at a time that requires us to be more creative and curious than we have ever been to ensure we are not just dipping our toe in this new territory, but that we are seizing the opportunity to lead the way. We are constantly inspired by our growing team, our partners, collaborators and those like-minded pioneers in the industry who are striving to create solutions that will drive our world forward.

Which is why it is hugely important for women and other historically underrepresented groups to be able to imagine themselves doing something, and for that to happen, we must collectively work to increase the visibility of these role models. It takes a much bigger leap of imagination for someone to believe they can achieve something if there is no precedent to follow.Williams’ inspirational story was one of the guiding lights for Gauff on her journey to Wimbledon. With a focused and purposeful effort from the tech industry, we can inspire and support female pioneers of the future, too.

Helen Attia, VP Worldwide Sales, ChargifiAbout the author

Helen Attia began working at Chargifi in 2015 and now runs their Worldwide Sales. Helen is responsible for business development, sales and all customer and channel relationships - proactively driving the business’ global presence and growth.

Throughout her career thus far, Helen has worked at technology firms big and small, including Oracle and Adobe, developing their European, Asia Pacfic and more recently US business. She has extensive experience in marketing too, both digital and traditional.

Chargifi builds foundational technology that transforms the way the world Mass-Deploys, Manages and Monetizes power. We deliver a market-leading cloud management platform that enables the smart mass deployment of wireless charging; our patented solution turns wireless power into a service, delivered by our expert partners, that adds real value to business. Open API’s and SDK allows integration into software and apps, allowing data to be blended for greater insights. This valued and connected service provides a unique touch point and value exchange opportunity that can impact engagement, satisfaction and overall customer experience, which in turn drives revenue.

Chargifi is deployed by over 90 organisations in 21 countries and is backed by leading technology investors including; Intel Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Techstars, Accelerated Digital Ventures, firstminute capital and R/GA Ventures.

Fintech featured

Women in Fintech: driving tech for social good


It’s a hugely exciting time to be working in Fintech.

Like most sectors, digital innovation is at the top of the agenda in financial services, with many organisations looking for ways to improve and transform their offerings in a disruptive market. Interestingly, traditional banks and financial services providers have been slow to integrate new technology and have struggled to adapt their long-established cultures and ways of working to be more agile and innovative. With this backdrop in mind, Fintech has come to the fore, introducing new ideas and markets, as well as creating new opportunities for women in tech.

Opportunities in Fintech

Whether you’re part of a start-up or a more established company like incuto, the benefits of working in Fintech are numerous. Chances are you’ll be working within an exciting, energetic, fast-paced and fast-growth environment, as part of an organisation where technology is driving the solution on offer, rather than simply supporting a wider operation. Fintechs can offer significant opportunities to progress, gain responsibility and really take ownership of particular projects and initiatives. It’s also likely you’ll be closer to customers than you would be in a larger organisation.

It does, of course, pay to have experience behind you if you’re aiming for a leadership role. My own career trajectory started with a degree in Computer Science, closely followed by my first role as a developer for a start-up based in San Francisco. I went on to take up a new role in Dublin, working on c++ and java PKI toolkit for a start-up which went on to float on both the FTSE and NASDAQ – a great learning experience for me of going through accelerated growth.

From there, I became testing and deployment lead for an NHS SPINE project in Leeds. This move to a large organisation running one of the biggest projects in Europe provided me with experience of working on a large, complicated and multi-faceted system. Taking on the CTO role at incuto has allowed me to effectively use my skills and experiences to lead a team and create a strategy to support growth.

There are, however, numerous other routes and opportunities for women with an ambition to work in Fintech. At incuto, we encourage applications from a wide range of candidates for our development team, from school leavers through to experienced developers with 30 or more years’ of experience. In addition, we regularly take work experience students from our local schools to encourage young people to consider a career in IT. We’re also proud to be one of the growing number of Fintechs based outside of London, so opportunities for candidates outside the capital are on the up.

Fintech for credit unions

Our own technology serves credit unions, community banks and CDFIs (community development finance institutions). It enables these institutions to better serve their communities and, perhaps most importantly, take on the poverty premium paid by a large portion of the UK population when it comes to loans and banking services.

14 million people in the UK pay more for goods and services simply because they are from poorer households, and many of these end up turning to unscrupulous payday lenders for support. It is well publicised by organisations like the End High Cost Credit Alliance and Debt Hacker, that these types of loans and the continued financial burden they put on individuals and families can cause ongoing hardship for years to come.

The key to tackling the poverty premium in financial services must lie with those organisations who can offer fairer, more ethical approaches to banking and lending. Credit unions are perfectly placed to take on this role. However, there continue to be a number of significant stumbling blocks for these organisations to reaching the individuals they seek to serve.

For example, credit unions often offer their members limited branch networks (some have no more than two branches servicing a given geographical area), plus they are struggling with legacy technology and paper-based systems which make their service extremely slow and inaccessible. Traditionally members have had to physically go into a branch to either withdraw or pay in money using only their membership number.

Our technology is designed to open up the services credit unions can offer and give access to a wider audience through technology. incuto has also introduced better branch access via partnerships with wider networks, plus a debit card (rather than simply a Membership number) allowing the financially excluded to access additionally services at the same price as the wider population, plus better online access and automation.

Innovative technology for financial inclusion

Like all organisations, credit unions must innovate and transform the service they offer Members. And it’s not just about enabling people to apply online in a faster and more efficient way, it’s about financial freedom and access to services and the same level of interaction and engagement that they would receive from a high-street or online bank.

It’s very rewarding to be part of a Fintech which is genuinely trying to help tackle the poverty premium and lift individuals out of poverty through fairer banking and financial education. Tech for social good offers a fantastic opportunity for women in tech, whether they are starting out or have experience to offer, and the need for this technology has never been more important.

Jen AndersonAbout the author

Jen Anderson, CTO, incuto.

Jen gained experience delivering projects in both tech start - ups and major change programmes in NHS. Recognised in top 100 CTOs in 2019, Jen is gaining prominence as a strong voice in the Tech for Good ecosystem.

'Stacey, can you find us a woman for this role? The rest of the team is male'

Tech Interview Featured

Top global head hunter and Founder of TECHSEARCHERS, Stacey Wilkinson shares her thoughts on Women in Tech and ten top tips, she thinks we could take to address the balance… 

If I had a pound for every time a company said to me, ‘Stacey, can you find us a woman for this role? The rest of the team is male’ I’d be a multi-millionaire!

There’s no doubt about it that the tech world – certainly in the UK - it is dominated by men, but I am sick to death of people pointing this out and not much ever getting done about it.

I see so many articles saying ‘we need more women in tech’ (I know, I wrote one!) or that ‘there’s still no women in tech for X, Y and Z reasons’ - but has anyone actually put a plan together and offered some tangible solutions? Getting more women into the industry isn’t going to happen overnight and it requires hundreds of actions, including rewiring thought processes - as I have found the UK public is largely ignorant towards tech. It seems a daunting task and (similarly to Brexit) and we have a tendency in this country, to avoid tackling issues that seem too complicated, or are likely to offend some people, so they get left to snowball.

People talk about job shortages and the truth is that there is plenty of work out there - if you’re willing to change industry, get out of your comfort zone and learn something new. Tech is a massively growing, ever-evolving industry where about 2/3 of the jobs remain unfilled.

As part of my role as a global head-hunter, in the last two years alone, I’ve had to move 71 skilled people to and from twelve countries, as there wasn’t the local available resource to fill business-critical tech jobs. So what’s going on?

People tend to act on something if there’s obvious benefits and it improves their lives in some way - i.e. makes them look better/cooler/wealthier/harder/better/faster/stronger. With this in mind, the industry needs glamourising a little, and we need to move away from this geeky, nerdy image we once had of ‘computer-based’ jobs, when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. It still exists today…I was at a networking event last week and one of the young female attendees I got talking to said (of someone at the event) ‘the one with glasses, who looks like he works with computers.’ There’s still this ignorance about the tech industry and The IT Crowd it isn’t…

If we exposed our children (and adults) to female role models from the tech world, then that would start changing things, without a doubt. Who do our kids look up to in the UK at the moment? Reality stars from TOWIE, Love Island… where are the women who have revolutionised the tech industry? Kids nowadays grow up wanting to be the next Kardashian/Jenner, not Professor Sue Black OBE, the British computer scientist and world-renowned speaker. The content that the British media and what parents are brainwashing children with needs a complete overhaul, as it’s quite sickening, when you look closely at it. If you compare it to somewhere like India, which has one of the highest proportions of women going into tech than anywhere in the world - here you regularly see women in tech, on billboards, in magazines and in brochures, plus 85% of women working in tech in India say they chose it because of family influence. Over here, most parents don’t even know what tech really is, unless it means posting a picture on Facebook or getting a few more followers on Instagram.

It’s imperative that we get rid of this ‘geeky’ image tech has in this country and add some glamour and sparkle - show imagery depicting teams of women, have female techies/coders going into schools, giving talks and encouraging kids to get interested early. We need to get mums interested too, as they have the most influence over their children, possibly more than anyone.

With these things in mind, I’ve put together ten bullet points for employers, governments, schools/colleges and parents to take note of, if we are to bring girls/women/more people generally into tech:

Primary and high school curriculums need changing ASAP

As a matter of urgency. Schools need to employ qualified teachers (not people who have been given a computing class, as an ‘add-on’ and it needs to be a compulsory for all as well as fun.

Celebrate Women for their brain - less ‘dumbing down'

…films, reality TV, magazines… hardly any woman is celebrated for her brain anymore, in this country. Magazines should be banned from talking about people’s weight and plastic surgery – why is it relevant? It’s all I hear young girls talking about these days and it saddens me. I can’t recall when we last heard about a JK Rowling or Karen Brady type-model, of the tech world (or indeed, any world?)

Target parents!

They won’t support and encourage anything they don’t understand and unfortunately many people over the age of 45 don’t really get the tech revolution here in the UK. We are living in this exciting digital age and yet many parents are still pushing for their kids to be doctors, lawyers and other such ‘traditional’ jobs. Free workshops/drop-in centres for parents would help, as well as targeted government-funded online marketing.

Toys for kids

Toy companies can have a field day here… it’s amazing how toy companies are still allowed to produce toy guns and other weapons aimed at young boys, surgical implements and kitchen/cookery sets etc. aimed at girls, but hardly anyone has thought to create the components of a phone, computer etc that kids can put together. Good toys and techie gadgets, marketed effectively, will pique their interest at a young age.

Tech is Creative and Collaborative

This is one for the Governments and local LEAs, but we need to change public perception that working in a tech role means all you’ll be doing, is sitting in front of a computer and not speaking to anyone. It’s a highly creative and collaborative industry and this would be enhanced by holding tech-related festivals throughout the UK, involving young people, keynote speakers and other entertainers. This is a concept I’ve been speaking directly with the Isle of Man government about, as we want to bring more young people over to fill jobs the tech industry, on the Island. The world needs to realise that coders make a massive difference to all of our lives and that’s an amazing thing to celebrate in itself.

Universities and colleges need to collaborate more with tech companies...

...and get rid of this silly ‘jobs-fair’ mentality we have in this country. I get some young people have no idea what they want to do after studying, but if you know you have a job at the end of your studies, then young people will be more likely to pick that subject, stick to it and gain work experience along the way.

Following on from point 6, why not scrap university fees for tech, or make them very low. I recall the Government giving out ‘Golden Handshakes’ a few years ago, to young people as incentives to go into teaching. You would get a mass surge of young people signing up for tech courses, just to avoid the ridiculously high tuition fees. Then, if point 6 is also followed, then suddenly a large portion of the skills gap in this country is appeased.

Free drop-in coding schools might help

There are sections in society that have been traditionally overlooked industry changers - ex-army, ex-convicts, the old, the sick, the homeless even - groups that often no one wants to touch, but we really need to address the fact that there is a massive untapped resource sitting there and most of them are willing to graft.

Get passionate about Tech

If you’re going to buy your kid a phone or iPad, at least explain the benefits of it, how apps work etc… They’re not just a means of keeping your children quiet! Tech is the best industry to work in, in terms of stability and longevity - it’s constantly involving, tech firms are making millionaires out of kids these days, so remove the worry about your child ever having to find a job, by trying to rouse interest in tech at a young age.

Companies need to quit being so anal about job descriptions

Most tech skills can be cross-trained, taught and transferred. There needs to be less emphasis on matching each bullet point on a job spec and more focus on what the person can bring to your business overall. I get it though, in the past, when companies have been paying ridiculously high recruitment fees, the onus is on ticking every thing on the job spec, just to get your money’s worth. I believe this model is broken and needs to change.

About the author

Stacey Wilkinson is 39, lives in Manchester, UK and is one of the top global head hunters in the tech world and the Founder and CEO of TECHSEARCHERS - a global headhunting business for the tech industry, one which is currently disrupting the traditional recruitment market.

Stacey’s unique no-nonsense approach, has gained her an enviable list of testimonials from happy customers, as seen on her LinkedIn page.

Career Path

Go your own way | Amy De-Balsi

Career Path

By Amy De-Balsi, Head of Partnership and Innovation at Bruntwood SciTech

Successful digital tech entrepreneur, Amy De-Balsi has experienced many twists and turns on her journey to become Head of Innovation and Partnerships for Bruntwood SciTech in Leeds, where she’s helping tech start-ups to grow and championing female tech talent in the city.

Here she talks about her own career path, how she founded the Leeds Digital Job Fair and how there are more routes available than ever for women wanting to get into tech.

My own background is proof that there’s no one set way to build a successful career in the tech sector. I’m a University of Leeds geography graduate and my core skill is project management – which I’ve applied in a range of different roles in different sectors but always around tech. I worked for Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency managing a project portfolio worth £20m before joining Sky Betting & Gaming to deliver technology solutions.

In the seven years I was with Sky Betting & Gaming I moved around the organisation a lot. I was Head of Social Responsibility and Compliance for a while, working with regulators, before a stint as Head of Communications for Leeds. It was only when I left the company that I started to forge my future as a digital tech entrepreneur. When I left, I wasn’t sure where to go - I didn’t have a ‘traditional’ career path to continue along, so I created my own opportunity.

The Leeds Digital Job Fair was borne out of having some time after being made redundant. I was aware employers were struggling to fill digital jobs in Leeds, so I mapped the city’s digital and tech sector, the vacancies in those companies and realised that filling them could boost the regional economy.

From there I worked with Leeds City Council around how to address the issue, and the first job fair was launched. It was a huge experiment, but the risk paid off. The Leeds Digital Job Fair has since become an annual event, covering the whole range of roles in the tech sector, at all levels; from apprenticeships to director appointments. It has over 50 exhibitors each year and approximately 2,000 people through the door. It’s a great way of showcasing the breadth of the digital sector in the North and the different routes into it.

There’s an enduring myth that you must be someone who’s studied computer science to work in the digital sector but that’s simply not the case. Anybody can - people will train you. And you don’t have to start off as a graduate either. Often, employers want bedroom coders or those who have an interest in coding and want to take it further; and you can be trained through degree apprenticeships or graduate programmes. That’s not to say that digital tech is just about coding, of course, there are all sorts of different roles available in the sector and the exciting thing is that new ones are cropping up all the time.

Employers will be looking for people with a positive and passionate attitude, and an ability to work well as part of a team. People who’ve studied music or languages can be attractive to them because of the way they apply logic – you should never count yourself out.

My mum was a coder and when she started there weren’t computer science or computer gaming courses available. Candidates were recruited based on how they approached logical problems.  I think it’s starting to go full circle now, it’s not just about what you study it’s about finding people with multiple disciplinary approaches and backgrounds.

Thankfully, in Leeds, there’s lots going on to tackle misconceptions around entry into the digital tech industry and to boost awareness of opportunities. It’s something we need to see replicated across the UK. Leeds has a Digital Skills Action Plan in place, to create and promote entry points to the sector, like degree apprenticeships or coding bootcamps. We’re very proud to say that the Northcoders coding bootcamp, the first of its kind in the city, is based at Platform, which is also home to a thriving tech community.

Platform, is playing a vital role in providing all the elements that tech start-ups and entrepreneurs in Leeds need to grow their businesses, helping to create new jobs in the city and keeping tech talent in the region. Part of my role as Head of Innovations and Partnerships for Bruntwood SciTech is to work with tech businesses in Platform to develop links with each other and the rest of the city, including universities, professional service firms and corporate tech teams. I also work with investors to broker relationships with businesses that need investment and help start-ups access mentors and business angels.

I understand from my own experience how important it is to surround yourself with the right core network of contacts and advisers and one of my biggest pieces of advice to female entrepreneurs looking to gain a stronghold in this industry would be to network, network, network!

The tech industry is thriving in Leeds and the next generation of talent is being proactively nurtured but we could be doing more to open the door to the sector at an earlier age for women. My daughter goes to a primary school in Leeds and she’s been learning coding since reception. She even has coding homework, which is

amazing. There is a big aspiration in the city to have somebody teaching coding in every school. Let’s hope this ambition is realised. In the meantime, the industry should do all it can to encourage females into tech, whatever route they prefer to take.

About the author

Amy De-Balsi is the founder of the Leeds Digital Jobs Fair, an annual event which now attracts over 50 exhibitors each year and approximately 2,000 people. Prior to this, Amy spent five years at Yorkshire Forward running a £20m portfolio of projects to develop the region digital sector, then spent a further 7 years at Sky Betting and Gaming delivering new technology projects.

Amy recently joined Bruntwood SciTech as Head of Innovation and Partnerships in Leeds. In her new role is focused on bolstering Leeds’ tech cluster, working in partnership with universities, professional services providers, investors and corporate tech teams in the city region to create opportunities.

binary code, data scientist featured

Women in tech - the why, what and how of building a career in data science

binary code, data scientist

By Joanna Hu, Principal Data Scientist, Exabeam

With a growing number of organisations recognising the financial, social and cultural benefits of recruiting more women into data science, isn’t it time to explore the opportunities on offer?

Like many women who graduate with a tech degree, it took me a couple of years to figure out that data science was my niche. Thankfully, I eventually found my way and went on to forge a rewarding career in this exciting field.

With advancements like machine learning and big data now in the frame, I’ve been lucky enough to contribute to discoveries and solve real-world problems in healthcare, energy, and now – as principal data scientist at Exabeam – the cybersecurity industry.

I’m not alone in thinking that data science is a rewarding field to work in. Based on overall job satisfaction scores, the role of data scientist is ranked #7 in the Glassdoor ’25 best jobs in the UK for 2019’ listing – with an average base salary of £46K.

A long heritage

Historically, women have made a significant contribution to the evolution of computer science.  Before the invention of electronic computers, women were more prominent in the computer science field, and contributed a lot to the invention of the first electronic computers.  As well as Joan Clarke, who worked alongside Alan Turing to crack the Enigma cyphers during WW2, the other female codebreakers at Bletchley included Margaret Rock, Mavis Lever and Ruth Briggs.

More recently, there’s been trailblazers like Dame Steve Shirley, who first embarked on a technical career at the prestigious Post Office Research Station in Dollis Hill, where the Colossus codebreaking computers used at Bletchley were created. Founding her own software company in 1962, her team of female freelancers would go on to undertake many cutting-edge projects – including programming the black box flight computer used in Concorde.

Today, a new generation of women are forging their futures within the tech sector. Coming from a diversity of backgrounds, they’re making great strides in the field of data science – and many have done so without an initial background in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

A field rich with opportunities

Make no mistake, data scientists are in high demand. A recent study found that 80 per cent of UK businesses are looking to hire a data scientist in 2019, and IBM estimates that by 2020 the demand for data scientists and analysts will leap by 28 per cent.

That said, while women represent 47 per cent of the UK workforce, they only hold around 19 percent of all available tech jobs. Clearly, it’s time to redress the balance.

That’s certainly the opinion of bodies like the Alan Turing Institute and organisations like the International Women’s Day (IWD) movement. Indeed, the IWD #BalanceforBetter 2019 campaign is making great strides in changing hearts and minds – by showcasing how women in tech are achieving impressive outcomes for themselves and others.

The good news is a growing number of companies now acknowledge there are significant gains to be won by addressing the issue of gender inequality in their tech workforces. As a result, they’re eager to hire more female data scientists. Indeed, Gartner projects that in the next three years, both women and men will equally populate the role of chief data officer (CDO).

Why companies want more women in data jobs

Research organisations like McKinsey have found that highly diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform those that are not gender diverse. Alongside enhanced financial performance, reports by analysts such as Morgan Stanley, McKinsey and Gartner confirm that having more women in the tech workforce creates a more cooperative and collaborative atmosphere.

Their research findings also highlight how women are more aware of risk, which in the field of big data is a major plus. What’s more, women tend to excel at communication, team nurturing and problem-solving—all vital qualities when working in the field of data, where outcomes depend on asking the right questions, and listening to the answers.

Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, the research findings illustrate how women are strong advocates for data-driven decisions and tend to be more solution-oriented than male counterparts.

I’m not a rocket scientist – can I make it in data science?

Absolutely. If you’re a curious person, are passionate about innovation, and have an interest in technology, then this may well be the career for you. Stephanie Glen’s recent blog – charting her life-changing journey from office cleaner to data scientist – highlights that as far as she’s concerned, a love of logic problems is the most important pre-requisite for the job.

Typically, the skill sets required include math, statistics, coding and system design. But, as a recent article in CIO magazine highlights, exacting true business value from data requires a unique combination of skills that includes storytelling and intuition.

Truth is, women with a passion for learning who want to try something new will find there’s a number of big-name tech companies out there that only too ready to help you develop the digital skills you need to embark on a career in data science. Plus, there are organisations like Girl Geeks that are proactively supporting women to enter and progress in the field.

Top tips?

If you’re already working in the tech field, or are ‘data science’ curious, then teach yourself the data science knowledge and network as much as you can.  Before deciding this was the path I wanted to commit to, I spent time talking to people about their work, went on workshops, joined weekend meetups and tried out small projects from the online courses.

These days, there are lots of resources available to women who want to make a go at it in this field. Find out about which new tools you’ll need to learn, then use your free time to hone your skills – pretty soon, you’ll become an expert.

When it comes to seeking out new job opportunities, follow good companies and people rather than high salaries. Ideally, you’ll want to work for companies that have intelligent leaders and care about their female talent. Most importantly, hunt down a great mentor and commit to continuously learning from superiors and peers.

Finally, believe in yourself and, no matter what roadblocks you face on the journey, don’t let anyone limit your potential.

Joanna HuAbout the author

Joanna has rich industrial working experience within data mining and big data analysis for healthcare institutions, energy companies, and retailers. Through her work she aims to help them identify frauds, predict risk and outcome, reduce cost, and estimate product qualities.

Joanna has a Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, in Nanotechnology and a Ph.D. from University of Michigan in computational earth sciences. Before joining Exabeam in 2015 as a senior data scientist she worked at Ayasdi as a data scientist building and improving algorithms for client healthcare institutions to produce the best treatments for patients. Since October 2018 Joanna has been principal data scientist at Exabeam.