Stacy-Ann-Sinclair

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

Stacy-Ann Sinclair

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

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

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

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

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

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

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

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

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

Source: WeAreTheCity - Information and jobs portal for business women


The Girls' Network

Could you be a mentor for The Girls' Network?

The Girls Network

Napanari and mentor

Are you

Able to relate well to others?

Good at working through problems?

Committed and reliable?

Able to provide insight from your personal experiences?

Then mentoring could be for you!

The Girls’ Network aims to inspire and empower girls aged 14-19 from the least advantaged communities by connecting them to a mentor and a network of professional role models who are women. They support over 1000 girls a year via relationships with schools in London, Sussex, Portsmouth, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the North East and Liverpool City Region. Professional volunteers who are women are trained in mentoring and safeguarding by The Girls’ Network and meet their mentees at least once a month for a year. Mentoring is a journey, helping mentees get from where they are to where they want to be.

If you are based or work out of one of the above regions, you can apply to become a mentor to a local teenage girl by visiting The Girls’ Network website or clicking here. London applications are now open for a limited time.

Why mentor?

Mentoring is an amazing way to share your experience and skills with a girl that might not benefit from this support otherwise.
It is also a great way to show a teenage girl that you believe in her, and that she is worth investing time in. This is a powerful combination, and one that we have seen transform the lives of girls and young women again and again.
We are looking for women who have had experience of the workplace, who have time and willingness to support a girl from one of the least-advantaged communities across the country, and who want to support a girl to overcome obstacles and seize opportunities.
We ask our mentors for a commitment of at least one hour a month, over the course of the year.

 The Girls' Network

For other opportunities to give back or volunteer, click here.


women in life 3.0 featured

Mindful optimism for women in life 3.0 | Didem Un Ates

women in life 3.0
MICROSOFT ALICE
San Francisco
June 09 2019
www.mekanism.media
www.laurentiugarofeanu.com
+40734184800

Article provided by Didem Un Ates, Microsoft

“When the wind of change blows; some people build walls, others build windmills.” - Chinese proverb

Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence stretches one’s mind and imagination on how life could be, not just a few decades from now, but billions of years ahead.

By Life 1.0, the scientist refers to our biological evolution based on DNA. Life 2.0 is about our current ‘cultural development’ stage where we can remodel much of our ‘software,’ e.g. learn a new language or pick up a profession. The main focus of the book is of course "Life 3.0" where artificial general intelligence may someday, in addition to being able to learn, be able to redesign its own hardware and software. I strongly recommend the book if you have not read it already. What is missing for me though, is what happens to minorities and underrepresented groups - especially women - in Life 3.0.

Bias, discrimination, inequality and similar issues have been perturbing our societies for centuries, probably thousands of years. And it is indeed uplifting to observe the progress we have made from generation to generation, notwithstanding occasional twists and turns on the way. However; having been a technology enthusiast all my life and working in one of the leading firms and teams as we collectively progress towards ‘Life 3.0,’ I know these issues will get even more exacerbated and amplified if we continue not to have the diverse workforce (and data) needed to foresee and flag such problems from their unique perspectives. Amazon’s recent challenge with their AI recruiting tool being biased against women is just one example of many data sets and AI tools that adversely affect women and minorities. In this case, Amazon’s new recruiting system ‘learned’ that male candidates were preferable and penalized resumes that included the word “women’s” such as “women’s chess club captain.”

On a related note, let’s not forget, there is also the jobs front: According to the World Economic Forum, women are employed in jobs that face the highest automation risks. For example, 73 per cent of cashiers are women, and 97 per cent of cashiers are expected to lose their jobs to automation.

I genuinely believe that we can shape Life 3.0 in a way we would like it to transpire, if we can have diverse teams, especially women; directly involved in building, implementing, and using these technologies. However, the current picture and trends look grim: According to the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, women accounted for nearly 37 per cent of all computer science undergraduate students in 1985. 33 years on, this figure is now only 12 per cent. According to a recent WIRED & Element AI study, the diversity of leading machine learning researchers also happens to be only 12 per cent women. We truly have to work harder than ever, to welcome more women in technology, especially AI.

So what can be done? A LOT. To begin with, we can start with ourselves; e.g. pick up coding courses (online or in person) or training in AI. (All possible free of charge, by the way.) Women’s networks such as Women in AI are also powerful forums to encourage and galvanize wider audiences. Third; we can help other women, girls, and minorities with their upskilling efforts and inspire young ones to consider technology and engineering as a complement, if not a key ingredient, for any passion they may choose to pursue. To this end, I have taken immense pleasure in hosting and volunteering at a number of events:

  • Girls in STEM AI Bootcamp – Athens, Aug 27-31st
  • ‘Girls in AI’ Global Hackathon – London, Oct 13-14th
  • ‘Teens in AI’ NASA Global Space Hackathon – London, Oct 20-21st
  • Code:First Girls Conference 2018 – London, Nov 10th
  • ‘AI & Careers’ sessions at various secondary schools

It is fair to say I probably benefited from these initiatives more than the participants; given the joy, satisfaction, and positive energy I received in return. I am also delighted to have a new passion to scale these efforts so that we can increase that disconcerting 12 per cent figure. Deep at heart, I would much rather work on creating a fascinating ‘Life 3.0’ than retrieving and/or being intimidated by potential doomsday scenarios.

With respect to jobs in Life 3.0, some actually argue that the future is bright for women – provided we prepare to grasp the opportunity. “Empathy, listening, multi-tasking, intuition, collaboration and patience are qualities that will get more prominence as automation takes over the workplace,” states Kate Levchuk, “Both by nature and by culture, women are better placed to benefit from automation. The inherent presence of empathy and collaboration skills makes women perfectly positioned to navigate the complex post-industrial world.” It may be premature to conclude women will be better off in Life 3.0, but there is a good chance to create a historic opportunity from a potential crisis. “Mindful optimism,” is the term Max Tegmark uses to suggest we can and should be optimistic, as long as we plan and work for the future we would like to have. I could not agree more. So back to my Python lab.


Technology Leadership featured

7 tips on being a technology leader: Bridge the skills gap to create diverse, high performing teams

Technology Leadership

Deborah O'Neill: Head of UK Digital and Partner at Oliver Wyman

This month marks my five-year anniversary of joining Oliver Wyman Digital, the business I now head up in the UK and Ireland.

When I think about career progression, mine has been like a level of Chucky Egg – there are long ladders, but also places to hop off and sidestep onto another route. In my case, this was moving from working exclusively with financial services companies for six years into helping businesses across all industries deliver technology transformations.

I started late in technology, but this has not hampered my move into such an exciting and growing sector. I’m now keen to show others – women, non-binary, BAME, LGBTQ+, or any combination of minorities - how they can develop into technology leadership positions.

Click here to read the full blog


Deborah will be speaking at our WeAreTechWomen Conference in London on 22nd November 2019. Our aim is to inspire attendees by delivering bitesize learning sessions for our audience. With the help of our amazing speakers and panellists, we will provide the opportunity for our delegates to learn about a broad range of technology topics as well as interact through panels, hands-on activities and workshops.

You can buy tickets for this event here.

 

 


Computer-Programmer

You don't ask, you don't get | Why coding isn't just 'business for boys'

By Melissa McKendry, Vice President, Implementation Services for Retail Banking and Fraud,  ACI Worldwide

I have been working in IT for over 20 years and to be honest, until a few years ago, the issue of gender has never been at the forefront of my mind.

Dealing with complex IT issues for our banking and merchant clients has always been ‘business for the boys’ and I am used to being one of a small handful of women in male-dominated teams. I have hardly encountered any biases in what was and in many ways still is a male dominated industry but I think playing football helped with integrating in with a largely male population!

However, in recent years I have become more aware of the lack of women in our industry, especially since becoming site leader of our European head office in Watford. The payments and fintech industry is growing globally and offers fantastic career opportunities for young men and women. In years to come the industry will need many more skilled software engineers, computer programmers and data scientists.

However, historically, society has put more emphasis on boys when it comes to math and science subjects. Figures show that in 2017 less than 30 percent of computer scientists were women and that the percentage is on the decline. There is a societal mindset that needs to be changed for a significant impact to take place. Along with educating young girls about professions in STEM, our society and the parents of young girls need to be educated on the importance of including women in such professions.

That’s why a few years ago, ACI launched its Coding for Girls Initiative. The free, one-day camps offer crash courses in computer programming, including HTML, CSS and Java and are designed to introduce girls from year 7 to 9 to the world of technology and careers in high-tech professions. We have run such camps at various of our US sites, and this year we launched the initiative in the UK.

Unconscious Bias is often the point where challenges start

That said, there are fundamental differences between men and women and the way we operate in the workplace. I have found that when applying for a job, men are more inclined to raise the topic of compensation than women.  Men tend to promote themselves more broadly across job skills while women are often more critical of their skills and abilities.

Unconscious bias is often the point where challenges start, but as society changes and is becoming more aware of such biases, as we debate these issues more honestly and openly, these bias barriers will shift and hopefully cease to exist.

Lessons learnt

Some of the main lessons I have learnt during my career and the advice I would like to give others, just starting out include:

  • You don’t ask you don’t get.
  • You can learn a lot of working with men and women, we are very all different individuals so take the time to observe, learn and progress.
  • Keep in contact with colleagues and other people you meet along the way, networking is one of your biggest assets as a human.
  • Treat people as you like to be treated.
  • Be honest with yourself in what you want out of your role and career.
  • Tell people what you are aiming for and this will bring the opportunities.  The only role I have applied for within ACI is the role I took when first started at ACI in 1997, since then opportunities have been presented to me by making my aspirations known or asking for an opportunity.
  • Ensure you have solid work/life balance, it is tough but critical to your happiness

Diversity is crucial in today’s economy

Promoting equal opportunity, diversity and inclusiveness have been on top of my agenda, especially since becoming site leader at our Watford office. At ACI, women sit on our Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Team and hold senior roles across the organization, whether as software engineers, sales executives or product developers. We actively promote dialogue about issues such as gender diversity and inclusion, and we provide mentorship and sponsorship to help women with their career progression. I truly believe that diversity and inclusiveness are not just buzzwords but are crucial to the success of our company.

About the author

Melissa Mckendry is vice president of retail banking implementation services at ACI, having held numerous different roles within the organisation over the past 20 years. One of Melissa’s most notable contributions to ACI, beyond leading implementation services, is being an advocate for diversity and inclusiveness. Melissa has been vocal in addressing these issues and was instrumental in bringing ACI’s Coding for Girls Camp to the UK.


How robotics competitions can help get girls into STEM

As the Competition Support Manager for VEX Robotics in the UK, Bridie Gaynor has witnessed first-hand the positive impact educational robotics can have on primary and secondary students.

Bridie’s role requires her to travel frequently around the UK to facilitate the smooth running of local and regional events, with the competition season culminating every year for the VEX UK National Finals in March. These events are comprised of the VEX IQ Challenge (VIQC) and the VEX Robotics Competition (VRC), designed respectively for schoolchildren at Key Stage 2 & 3 and Key Stages 3 to 5. Whilst VIQC robots are created by teams of students using plastic, snap-together parts, and VRC robots are built with metal & steel parts, both platforms feature impressive control systems, including a brain that can be programmed using VEXcode IQ Blocks (powered by Scratch Blocks) or VEXcode Text.

What is perhaps most striking about the competitions that Bridie attends is the increasing number of young females who are participating. At the 2019 VEX UK National Finals, more than 50 per cent of the 700 students competing were female, a highly promising figure considering the current STEM shortage and the level of engineering, programming and design skills required to compete. Bridie hopes that she can inspire even more females to take part in the future, as the events continue to grow in stature:

“It’s amazing to think just how many female students are getting involved in VEX competitions and at such a young age, particularly when you consider the lack of gender diversity in STEM industries."

"What makes VEX stand out from the crowd is the perfectly balanced practical and theoretical aspects of both the VEX IQ system and VEX EDR system."

"We need to be showing girls that engineering, coding and tech isn’t just for boys, it’s for everyone and there’s so many different avenues in STEM to discover.”

Having worked at VEX Robotics for over six years, Bridie has been part of the journey of several all-girls teams who have been successful in serving as ambassadors for STEM in the wider community, including East Barnet’s Girls of Steel and Welwyn Garden City’s Microbots, both of whom have shared their experiences with tech-industry heavyweights form across the globe.

With the growth of the VEX community and the increasing uptake of female students competing overall, Bridie says it’s important to have more women in leadership roles like her to inspire the future generations:

“What’s fantastic about my job is that I get to serve as something of a role model that girls can look up to."

"It’s great to be in a position where aspiring STEM students can see that women can really succeed in these industries and take charge of what is typically a male-dominated environment."

"I truly believe that robotics systems like VEX give females a chance to get involved in STEM in a fun, exciting and engaging capacity, whilst setting students up for future careers in STEM”.

About the author

Bridie Gaynor is the Competition Support Manager in the UK for VEX Robotics.

She is responsible for supporting VEX events and teams across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.


TechWomen100 2019 featured

Just one week left to nominate for our 2019 TechWomen100 Awards

TechWomen100 2019

Just one week left to nominate someone for our 2019 TechWomen100 Awards.

It is no secret that the technology industry lacks female representation at all levels. Women make up just 19 per cent of the industry. There are some fantastic awards for women working in tech, however, most of these focus on senior women.

Whilst we feel it is extremely necessary to highlight senior and influential women, we also believe the pipeline of female technologists need a platform to shine.

This is why the TechWomen100 Awards were created. Our awards focus solely on women working in tech below director level. We hope that by highlighting the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, we can help to create a new generation of female role models for the industry, and a pipeline of future leaders.

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

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

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

The 2019 awards are kindly powered by J.P. Morgan, and supported by Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Lloyds Banking Group, Oliver Wyman and Worldpay.

NOMINATE NOW

Nominations

Nominations will close after a seven-week period on 20 September.

A shortlist of 200 women from a range of technology disciplines will be chosen in October by an esteemed panel of judges. There will also be a shortlist of three champions, companies and networks.

The shortlist will then be published in November where we will also open the TechWomen100 individual category for public votes of support.

All winners will be announced in December and celebrated at our prestigious award's ceremony in January. There will be 100 winners of the TechWomen100, a Champion of the Year, a Company of the Year and a Network of the Year.

Who should nominate?

  • Self-nominations are encouraged
  • Organisations looking to recognise their emerging talent pool
  • Organisation wishing to obtain recognition for their initiatives
  • Individuals who would like to recognise their efforts of their champions/role models
  • Individuals/colleagues/friends/clients/mentors/sponsors of the nominee

Awards timeline

  • Nominations open – 01 August 2019
  • Nominations close – 20 September 2019
  • Shortlist announced & public vote opens – 18 November 2019
  • Voting closes – 29 November 2019
  • Winners announced – 10 December 2019
  • Winner's celebration event – January 2020

NOMINATE NOW


Sponsored by

TechWomen100 Awards sponsor bubble


Sophia-Cooper-featured

#lifegoals | Meet Sophia Chambers, a software engineer & young mum proving you can have it all

 

Sophia Cooper

Sophia Chambers, 28, is a Software Engineer at Sky Betting and Gaming.

At 24, Chambers started her degree in Software Engineeirng BENG at Sheffield Hallam University.

Here she describes how she juggles motherhood with work, how she began her career in technology and what keeps her motivated.

Tell me about your young family, how was the change becoming a mum?

What isn’t challenging about becoming a mum? Lol! I have three children in total – five, nine and ten years old.

What challenges did you face practically?

The lack of sleep was probably the hardest thing to deal with! With that, the time management – making sure everyone’s where they need to be with everything they need. Whether that’s making sure each child has their PE kit on their PE day, homework or even extra curriculum activities. Between three, this can become quite a challenge, I believe I’ve truly ‘mastered’ the art of multi-tasking, ha ha, well at least I like to think so!

What challenges did you face emotionally?

Sometimes, I think working parents all get the “guilt” feeling. Putting your children into after school, breakfast or even holiday clubs – sometimes can be quite difficult. I think most parents experience the ongoing circle – you want to work to provide your children with great experiences, but you also want to stay at home and spend more time with them – it’s an ongoing circle of events – the realistic key to this is balancing the two worlds – between work and family.

What challenges did you face inspirationally?

You have to learn to balance the work – family lifestyle. Sometimes, this really can be such a challenge. Ambition to do well in your career, can sometimes make you push back on family time and vice versa. I’ve always had high ambition and a want to progress well in my career, to achieve highly, but sometimes you need to be realistic.

How did you come to decide tech was for you?

From the age of 12, I began teaching myself how to code simple websites using HTML and CSS – even at this stage, it became addictive! I had a keen interest in graphic design and created a small site that provided things like wallpapers, profile layouts etc for users to download. I then went more into the programming world, experimenting with PHP and Javascript – producing small websites for local business’ and family members.

How do you make time to study and balance the needs of the young ‘uns?

My interest in tech, developed into a degree and a career. I’m very fortunate to work for a company that allows me to work from home. I don’t actually know how I would function without the flexible work opportunity that Sky Bet provides. As a Software Engineer and a mum, if one of my children is sick or if there’s a school play etc, I don’t need to worry about not being present or being there – because I can. I can work my hours from home and be there for my children when they need me, it really is invaluable.

What did other people say? Were they supportive?  

It was very “50/50” – some were supportive, some not. I found it most difficult within my first year at university, there was around 4 girls in total, the rest male. Which made it slightly harder to enjoy the degree at first, on top of which, it was even more difficult being a parent. I couldn’t really socialise like others within my year and I wasn’t highly interested in games etc, which made bonding difficult. Thankfully, I had a few people including my Dad, Husband and Grandma that were super supportive throughout which pushed me into continuing with a subject that I loved.

Did you ever have self-doubts?

All the time. Literally, ALL THE TIME. It’s a case of “you are your worst enemy”.  I think one of my worst traits is the lack of confidence.

What kept you motivated?

I genuinely LOVE to achieve – in fact it’s probably an addiction! I enjoy hard work and I enjoy the sense of achieving a goal – completing an ambition. I suppose, I’m a bit of a “weirdo” – I have to be doing something all the time – even on holiday. But through it all the main motivation is the ability to provide my family with opportunities and a good life. On a selfish level, it’s to turn back the years in 40 years’ time (hopefully lol) and be proud of the career I achieved, with the steps it took to get there. Ultimately however, I am very fortunate as I genuinely LOVE the job that I do, being a Software Engineer within a company with such great culture and co-workers barely makes it feel like work at all!

What drove you to take the first step into tech?

Pure interest. Genuinely pure interest. I began curious with how websites and the internet worked (I know, sad right?), which was quite difficult growing up as my interests never seemed to align with those my friends had and I began to feel as though I was different.

Now though I love that I am able to support and inspire those who felt the same as me and support them with their journeys into tech related careers.

Were you ever worried it wasn’t the right decision?

Risking my previous career in Dental, to go back to university to finally start my Software engineering career always had its risks. “Was I going to be good enough?”, “What if I fail? “, “What if I don’t gain employment through the degree?” – I think all these thoughts are pretty standard.

What would you say to other women about managing their life choices?

You have to be in a career that makes you happy, if you’re in a career that you enjoy it makes life so much easier to balance. It doesn’t matter what the sector or job role is, as long as you’re happy you will always achieve – if you’re in a career that you enjoy, you’ll never have to work again. The opinions of our social peers does not matter so much when we get older, so take that risk, go back and do what you enjoy! YOLO!


women's body, health, yoga featured

When it comes to understanding the female body, we're stuck in the stone age | Lea Von Bidder

women's body, health, yoga

Article provided by Lea Von Bidder, co-founder and President Ava Science, Inc.

As a woman and the co-founder of a femtech company, I can tell you that one of the biggest challenges and opportunities is the gender data gap. 

We are behind where we should be when it comes to understanding women’s health.

Historically, women haven’t been equally represented in clinical trials. In some cases, even drugs aimed at women are tested on men. (One now-infamous study into the alcohol-related side-effects of “female-viagra,” featured 23 male subjects and only two women.)

This discrepancy has been due to the fear that female subjects might be pregnant, but also because the hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the menstrual cycle have been deemed “too complicated”—a variable that could confound results. It’s an absurd irony because those hormonal shifts are precisely what make us women—you know, the other 50 per cent of the population who would be using the drugs those studies were aimed at.

This bias isn’t just present in drug trials. Most of society’s decision making, from how seatbelts are designed to what we consider ambient room temperature, is determined with men as the primary test case, and women as the unmeasured variant.

On the surface, we don’t question that men and women are different. We have genetic discrepancies, a different hormonal make-up, and different average lifespans—yet research often fails to disaggregate data for sex and analyse it separately.

There’s a burgeoning movement to bring more awareness to women’s health issues, and it centers on breaking taboos around menstruation. In recent years, we’ve finally seen red liquid being poured onto a sanitary pad in advertising (in lieu of the clinical blue), stylish suppliers proudly promoting organic tampons, and a documentary about periods winning an Academy Award. At last, it’s okay to have a period and talk about it.

But that conversation is just the start of what it will take to demystify the female body. To me, menstruation is actually the least interesting part of the menstrual cycle, hormonally speaking. During the rest of the month, women undergo massive shifts in hormone levels with impacts throughout the body. But hardly anyone, from OBGYNs, to women’s health experts, to women themselves, is aware of these changes.

I believe that this knowledge should be fundamental for women and their healthcare providers. Where a woman happens to be in her menstrual cycle impacts her metabolism, sleep, athletic performance, response to certain medications, and, of course, whether she can get pregnant. Information with such broad and profound impacts should not be a mystery. And it doesn’t have to be.

When Pascal, Philipp, Peter and I founded Ava in 2014, it was with the mission to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research. And I’m proud to share that we’ve just achieved a major milestone: Our clinical research has just been made public in a scientific paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research. 

The paper demonstrates that five physiological signals change throughout the menstrual cycle, and that by tracking these signals, we can identify the fertile window of a woman’s cycle in real time. Our flagship product, the Ava fertility tracker, is the only fertility-tracking method available that measures all five of these signs.

With these published findings, we’ve broadened scientific understanding of the menstrual cycle by shedding light on its most central component: the fertile window. It’s rare for a digital health company to conduct its own clinical research and even rarer to reveal the secret sauce behind its technology. But bottom line is only one of our goals; expanding knowledge is another. There’s so much more uncharted ground to cover—and it spans a woman’s reproductive life, from puberty to menopause. Ava is already putting research efforts into some of those unknowns.

At the same time, we’re working to encourage the public discussion around the gender bias in scientific research, so we can take women’s health out of the shadowy domain of mystery and into the spotlight.


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Five hacks for women to get ahead in STEM

women in STEM
Image provided by Shutterstock

It’s a no-brainer: it has been reported that closing the gender gap in STEM fields would mean an increase in EU GDP per capita by 2.2 to 3.0 per cent in 2050.

The World Economic Forum 2019 confirms that despite women making up most of the young university graduates each year, they are drastically underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and Computer Science. When ethnicity is included, the numbers are even less encouraging. The share of science and engineering degrees is even smaller for Black and Hispanic women, and their pay gap larger. On average, boards in the information technology industry are made of only 12 per cent women. This is a clear missed opportunity!

Some of the reasons why women leave these fields are isolation, lack of effective critical feedback and mentoring, lack of support or inappropriate interactions, a clear pay gap, lack of flexible job structures to integrate life and work, lack of role models they can relate to and at times the loss of self-confidence.

Here are some hacks you can implement to get ahead in STEM, which I have gained from my own experience in Technology but also from empowering fellow women for the past 17 years in over 80 countries as an executive coach:

Stick with your passion

If you found your passion in STEM, stick with it. You belong there and your contribution to science, technology, engineering or mathematics is unique and can only come from you. Don’t shy away from sharing it and taking risks, you are where you are meant to be.

Make difference an advantage

Sometimes you may be the only woman in the room but being different can be an asset. You may be the only one that can see the specific problem from a certain angle or perspective. Your unique viewpoint may be exactly what is needed to solve the problem - Make standing out your advantage.

Test the rules

Sometimes the “rules” are not really rules, they are just a set of traditional processes. If they don’t serve you, try testing their flexibility - re-shape them and re-engineer them. You will be surprised how often you can redefine them and how many of them were not really rules, just habits or old, outdated paradigms.

Failure is not the end - only further information

See failure as GPS coordinates. When they don’t get you to where you want to go, you should re-calibrate your coordinates and try again, rather than getting frustrated that you didn’t get there the first time. Failure is just further information that gets you closer to your target.

Be your number one fan

If you don’t believe in your own value, why should anyone do so? Believe in your own ideas - you are worth hiring, listening to and you are a smart contributor. When you are able to express your idea with conviction and enthusiasm, the chances that the rest of your team/leaders will share your enthusiasm is far higher.

Don’t miss critical feedback

Select 2-3 people who are key in your field, who you trust and support your success. Ask them “what do I need to do more of / less of to be a better _____ (fill in then blank with your career path). Try to pose these questions regularly both to yourself and others. You may not like to hear what they have to say, but you should still listen. You can decide how/if you will integrate their advice, but you will always be in a better position for knowing it. These simple, but crucial, questions will always help you move forward for the rest of what I wish is a brilliant career in STEM.

The world needs the talent and ideas of women in STEM if we want to fully embrace the digital revolution!

Gabriela MuellerAbout the author

Gabriela Mueller Mendoza is an energetic, empowering Coach and Professional Speaker. Prior to becoming an Executive Coach, she was an IT consultant for 12 years in the corporate world, working for some of the largest blue-chips companies. Her work reaches over 80 countries, helps thousands of women in tech giants, engineering corporations, academia and NGOs. She is the author of How To Be A Smart Woman In STEM (£14.99, Panoma Press) which seeks to empower all women in STEM with the tools for success.