Women in Tech

Raising the 15 per cent | Encouraging women into tech

women in tech
L-R: Estee Woods, Liz Cook, Lucie Hyve, Crendal Kear, Liz Matthews, Sophia Zheng

International Women’s Day is something that WeAreThe City fully supports.

This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter, promoting the fact that a balanced world is a better world. However, not all industries are good advocates for gender balance in the workplace. The STEM industry is an example of this – it’s often seen as a being very male-dominated, which can actually discourage women from applying to jobs. In fact, women make up 50 per cent of the UK workforce, but less than 15 per cent in STEM jobs.

With this in mind, WeAreTheCity spoke with eight IT professionals – all of whom are women – to get their thoughts on why gender balance and diversity in the workplace is important, and their advice for other women as to how they can get into the tech industry too.

Breaking through gender barriers in the workplace

One of the biggest hurdles the STEM industry faces is the stereotype that already surrounds it when it comes to gender. As Estee Woods, Director of Public Sector & Public Safety Marketing at Cradlepoint points out, “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.”

It’s a shame that this has become the norm for STEM, and as Lucie Sadler, Content Manager at Hyve Managed Hosting comments, these “age-old stereotypes about the industry do not reflect the fast-paced, progressive nature of technology, and this needs to change.”

“This year’s theme of #BalanceforBetter reinforces the need for diversity in our industry,” Sadler continues. “IT companies must strive to be fully inclusive, and this change must come from within. Diverse teams work better, bring different perspectives to the table and make employees challenge their own thinking. And that’s a really good thing.”

This notion of diversity is something that Liz Matthews, Head of Community and Education at Mango Solutions agrees with. “Companies are investing in data-driven digital transformation more than ever before and the diversity of roles available in advanced analytics and data science is certainly increasing,” Matthews says.

With this in mind, Liz Cook, People Director at Six Degrees’ advice for the industry, is to make sure that organisations have a “balanced, inclusive workplace that celebrates and enables everyone’s brilliance.” Cook also goes on to mention that it’s important for businesses to “challenge outdated stereotypes and engage people in promoting gender-balance and driving a better working world.”

Encouraging the next generation towards STEM careers 

“I think there are two main reasons women aren’t working in technology – a lack of role models, and the perceived culture in IT,” believes Kate Gawron, Senior Database Consultant at Node4. “Young kids learn their entire world from what they see, ‘girls like pink and unicorns, boys like blue and cars’,” Gawron continues. “By the time girls come to do their GCSEs and commit to a career path it’s too late, they’ve already been convinced that IT isn’t for them.”

Gawron has really hit the nail on the head when it comes to addressing the association of STEM with men. ”I’d never planned to become a Database Administrator,” she shares, “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.”

This is a subject that Jeannie Barry, Director of Technology Enablement at ConnectWise is also passionate about. “Young girls today need people surrounding them who can help to boost their confidence and inspire them to dream big and follow through on those dreams,” Barry says. “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.”

Encouraging the next generation into choosing STEM as a career path is something that almost everyone agrees as being the first step in solving this imbalance of gender in the industry. “Tech is very male dominated, which can be overwhelming for women considering careers in the sector,” points out Crendal Kear, VP Sales Operations at Exabeam. “People want to work with others that relate to their experiences and the challenges that they face.”

“At a young age, girls need to see that there are more and more women with successful careers, who balance careers and families,” she continues. “As a society, we must encourage and empower girls to say yes to an opportunity and embrace it.”

Finally, Sophia Zheng, Product Manager at Bitglass shares her experience from school, and the fact that she believes the root of the gender gap in the technology industry to have stemmed from there. “I remember being chosen for a gifted and talented ‘Maths Enrichment’ class, and at one point, I was the only girl,” she says. “At ten years old, I didn’t want to be the only girl in the class and, because of that, I didn’t really want to be there at all. I wasn’t the only girl because the school was trying to push out girls, it was simply about how well you performed in maths class and on standardised testing, and I guess not a lot of girls qualified.”

“I think that if the class had been open to everyone who was interested it would have fostered more growth for a wider range of students,” Zheng concludes. “I think that having the option is better than not having one at all. It could have a long-term impact on seeing more girls interested in STEM subjects from a younger age.”

There’s certainly a long way to go until the gender equality in the STEM industry is balanced, but the awareness that International Women’s Day brings can go a long way towards tackling it. It’s important that businesses are aware of the diversity, and that they do all they can to ensure a balanced working environment.


Female Engineer

Beating the bias: unpacking the new female industrialists

female engineer in ship yard, engineering
Image provided by Shutterstock

To celebrate women in business, leading packaging supplier Rajapack have looked at gender diversity in the workplace.

Speaking to female industry experts from sectors that have been traditionally male-dominated, such as construction, manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, packaging and engineering, it’s clear that parity benefits everyone, on both an individual and corporate level.

Gender diverse companies perform 15 per cent better, so Rajapack looked at how female representation in traditionally male-dominated sectors is progressing.

Wanting to get first-hand insight into what it’s like to work in these fields, they spoke to a range of women who are leaders in their industry:


Construction & Manufacturing

Perhaps traditionally seen as the industries most unsuited to women, construction and manufacturing conjure up images of noisy building sites and factories, with lots of heavy lifting and heavy machinery. There are stories of the only women on a construction site being given a pink hard hat to wear. 51 per cent of women working in the construction industry said they were treated worse because of their gender. But the construction industry is changing for the better, according to the women who work in it.

Emma Porter – Head of Operations, Story Contracting

As Emma’s father owned his own building company, she was exposed to the industry from a young age. Despite this, and having worked in the industry for over ten years at the likes of Arup and Story, she reveals that she has had to prove her competency with every new team, stating that you will be talked over, patronised, and ignored sometimes: “I have felt like I’ve had to prove myself more and occasionally need to push a little harder to be heard”. However, she often brings a different perspective to the team, which is a huge advantage: “It’s easier to stand out if you’re different from the norm; clients, prospective employers and other stakeholders are likely to remember you.”


Packaging, Logistics & Supply chain

Packaging, Logistics and Supply Chain are all industries that have been traditionally male-dominated. However, there are female trailblazers. Rajapack, a French privately-owned company operating throughout Europe, was founded in 1954 by two women, Rachel Marcovici and Janine Rocher. Today, the company is run by Rachel’s daughter, Danièle. There is also Women in Packaging, a group dedicated to recognising and supporting female employees within the packaging industry.

Clair Ball – Head of Customer Services, Rajapack

With over a decade’s worth of experience in packaging, Clair believes that the sector has been a male dominated field due to the industrial nature of the business. However, since starting at Rajapack 14 years ago, she has seen more positions filled by women. “I have noticed a change in the industry towards being more customer focused, whilst also offering flexible hours and equal pay to benefit working parents”


Engineering

Engineering covers a vast spectrum of occupations, yet the amount of young women studying in this field has remained virtually unchanged since 2012. 25 years ago only about 20 per cent of A-level physics students were female, and this number has not changed today.

Helen Wollaston – CEO, WISE

WISE is a campaign aimed at getting more women into the science, technology, and engineering workforce in the UK. Providing expert advice, WISE advises educational institutions and employers on how they can attract, retain and improve opportunities for girls and women in these subjects and industries. “Engineering has a male image, more so in the UK than other parts of the world. It has become something of a vicious circle – girls don’t see any female role models working in these industries, so they assume it is not for them.” Helen believes that we must challenge out-dated perceptions about the industry and so called “women’s jobs” and “men’s jobs”.

To view what other women have to say in order to obtain a more equal professional sectors head here.


women-in-STEM-featured

STEM up - a case for encouraging women and girls to enter the tech industry

women in STEM
Image provided by Shutterstock

Anjali Arora, SVP and Chief Product Officer, Rocket Software

A recently resurfaced 1958 issue of an American magazine entitled 129 Ways To Get A Husband suggests searching the census reports for places with the most single men.

It’s 2019, and if you are in the market for a husband, you stand a good chance of finding him in a tech company. A Statista chart based on various tech companies’ diversity reports shows that women only make up 19 per cent of tech employees at Microsoft, and 20 per cent at Google, just to name two of the large industry players. With men currently holding 76 per cent of technical jobs, a lack of diversity is harming the tech industry in more ways than one.

Employing more women in tech is not just a question of ethics but, simply, a question of money. According to a study conducted by The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) gender-balanced companies have a higher productivity rate and perform better financially, particularly when women occupy a significant proportion of top management positions. Furthermore, companies with women on their executive boards outperformed companies with all-male executive boards. The evidence is there as has been for some time – we need more women in the tech industry.

What’s the problem?

So, what’s holding women back? Firstly, there are simply not enough girls entering the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Secondly, those who do are not progressing as much as their male colleagues. Female software developers in the 35+ age group are 3.5 times more likely to be in a junior position than their male counterparts.

We’re STILL not doing enough

Despite the fact that girls are outperforming boys in maths and science at GCSE, a recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that girls are deterred from taking these subject at a higher level due to a lack of confidence in their own ability compared to their male counterparts. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy – if girls hear it long enough, this gender-restrictive way of thinking might just become their reality. It’s an attitude that continues into the adult world; many of us might still remember THAT internal memo, where James Damore, now ex-employee at Google, made the assertion that women’s biology is to blame for their lack of tech abilities.

The reality is, of course, different. According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), boys and girls performed similarly in the OECD science test, but more boys consider a STEM career than girls. And a report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution measured men's and women's digital scores and found that women had stronger skills than men do.

Yet schools and the industry itself are still not doing enough. The results of a PWC study suggest that most girls don’t even consider tech as a career. There is a lack of information about what jobs in the sector involve, and few are putting tech subjects forward as an option. When choosing A-level courses, a lack of confidence is a major issue preventing girls from taking Physics. A study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies revealed that over half of girls were worrying about difficult classes or poor grades, despite being predicted 7-9 (A or A*) at GCSE level. The same study showed that two-thirds of high-achieving girls believe STEM jobs are male-dominated – another factor that may be putting people off these subjects. By the time they reach university, just 30 per cent of female students are studying STEM subjects compared with 52 per cent of males.

If you can see it, you can be it

If the image of both STEM subjects and the careers they can lead to is addressed at an early stage in girls’ education, a real impact can be made to bridge the gender gap. The Campaign for Science and Engineering has published a new policy review on improving diversity and inclusion in STEM, with key recommendations for government to improve career guidance and a strategy to increase female take-up of STEM. Ideally, schools need programmes designed specifically to generate and maintain girls’ interest in these subjects if they are to make a real difference.

One way to increase the number of girls wanting a career in tech is to change the image of the industry by shining the spotlight on strong female role models. The PWC study reveals almost 80 per cent of students can’t name a famous female working in technology, while over two thirds can name a famous man. Women who achieve success in the tech sector can share their experiences by teaching a STEM or tech class in school, or by participating in careers events and providing a living demonstration of how rewarding the profession can be.

The Brogrammer culture

The second challenge is getting women into the right jobs and moving up the ladder when they get there. We aren’t going to have role models for young girls until enough people are getting their foot in the door of tech companies, and even this is no mean feat, according to a study by the American Sociology Review. The study revealed that hiring managers have a tendency to employ staff that are culturally similar to themselves, a trend known as “in-group favouritism” which is holding female applicants back and adding to the well-publicised “brogrammer” culture.

This culture persists once a woman does embark on a career in tech. The NCWIT research indicates women in the 25-34 age group are dissatisfied with IT career prospects due to unsupportive working environments and the necessity to make excessive sacrifices in their personal lives. With many women leaving the sector before they make it to the top it’s little wonder there are so few role models to inspire the next generation.

Closing the gap

The gender disparity in STEM is a reality and completely closing the gender gap will continue to be a tall order. But by addressing the image of STEM subjects and tech careers at an early stage in education, by encouraging strong role models to illustrate what a career in tech might look like, and by promoting open and supportive working environments, we might just start to bridge the gap and prove that we have left the mindset of the 50s well and truly behind.


Women in STEM

How can we encourage more young women into STEM?

women in STEM
Image provided by Shutterstock

By Matabe Eyong, Research Chemist, BP

A science career was not always on the cards for me.

I grew up in Cameroon, where it was a common belief that women are less likely to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (“STEM”). So how did I end up as a research chemist at one of the world’s largest energy companies?

It all comes down to my surroundings. I grew up with five brothers; three of them went into science and engineering roles, so I knew what was out there. I was aware of the opportunities STEM could bring and wanted to bridge the gender gap within my family and my surroundings. This deep-rooted aspiration motivated me to do two bachelor degrees in chemistry and biological science, and to do a masters in physical chemistry. To this day, my cultural background and love of science are what gets me out of bed in the morning. Based on my experience, having worked in the oil and gas industry for more than a decade, there are two things which I believe are essential in order to encourage more females into STEM roles:

Demystify STEM

We need to be better at explaining what we do, and highlighting the myriad of opportunities within STEM. We need to highlight that STEM goes beyond someone fixing our washing machines. STEM careers are about creative problem-solving for real world problems. At BP, I design and build small pilot plants, design experiments, develop analytical methods and ensure that all chemicals used on our vessels and valves have been tested and are safe. I believe that it is important to go into schools and talk to both a male and female audience at a young age – the earlier the better. BP’s Schools Link programme in the UK, which is an employee volunteering programme, is a good example of this, inspiring young people in STEM and business subjects through face-to-face engagement with BP employees.

However, it’s also crucial to communicate the benefits of STEM to key influencer groups, namely parents. If a parent is not on-board or has a limited understanding of STEM roles, how can they be inspiring and supportive if a child expresses interest in the field?

Be a role model

Building on the first point, I believe there is a need for women in STEM to be more vocal about our careers and what it’s like working in this area. This should happen not only during key dates in the calendar, such as International Women in Engineering Day, but year-round. Whether it’s speaking to interns who complete a summer placement with our companies and offering advice, or talking more about STEM in our personal lives, we need to more actively communicate the benefits of a STEM career. When I go to dinner parties and am asked to introduce myself, I always mention that I’m research chemist. It’s just who I am. It has proven to be a great conversation opener, as people are genuinely interested in what I do.

I also think that businesses should make a bigger effort to provide role models for our future workforce. In cooperation with Microsoft, BP developed the online platform, Modern Muse, which allows girls from the age of eight to follow and connect with registered ‘muses’ (role models). This allows girls to connect with successful women in STEM roles to talk about their careers. This aims to provide girls with additional information about the STEM career patch, inspire them from a young age and hopefully help them make a more informed decision about their future careers.

Looking back, I’m glad I had my brothers who showed me what types of science and engineering careers were out there, but I know that not everyone has that exposure. So, I always make a conscious effort to talk to young women about what a career in STEM is really like. If we all make an effort, and are open when someone approaches us, we can show a new generation of young women that there are endless possibilities for a rewarding career in STEM.

About the author

Matabe has an impressive academic career – she holds three university degrees, including a Bachelor of Science in Physics, a double major in Chemistry and Biological Science, and a Master’s degree in Physical Chemistry.

Matabe gained experience in various different industries – she worked for cosmetics, food and beverage  and oil and gas companies. Following the birth of her son, she decided to go into research and joined BP.

The main reason for her to pursue a career in science was triggered by the surroundings of her childhood. Growing up in Africa, where science was perceived as a man’s role, and being the only girl of a family with five brothers, she always tried to bridge the gender gap within her family and her surroundings.


flexible-working-working-from-home-featured

Harness the agile workspace and empower your users

 

flexible working, working from home

Flexible working isn’t just about being available for doctors’ appointments and Amazon deliveries.

Utilise the agile workspace to drive your users’ creativity, productivity and collaboration, and help them achieve a better work-life balance.

The complex challenges that face modern businesses are changing the ways in which we communicate and collaborate. The recent National Work Life Week highlighted how lines continue to blur between work and home life, and provided the opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on well-being both at work and at home.

How can your business deliver a meaningful work-life balance that fosters creativity and innovation, increases productivity, and gives your users an opportunity to recharge away from the daily bombardment of emails, meetings and conference calls?

Moving On From Flexible Working

Part of the solution to achieving a good work-life balance lies in flexible, efficient working enabled by an agile workspace. But enabling an agile workspace means more than just giving users laptops and sending them off into the world. As a business owner, it’s important to think about what a truly agile workspace can mean to your business, your users, and your clients.

Many businesses seek to provide flexible working for their users. Flexible working is a trend that’s been around for some time now; hot-desking and being able to work anytime, anywhere is highly desirable for employees, and employers who want to retain and recruit the very best skills where competition is fierce invariably seek to adopt this agile working style.

However, we believe that the core principle of flexible working – delivering users the same experience, wherever they are – needs to be revisited if businesses really want to tackle today’s complex challenges head on.

Introducing the Agile Workspace

At Six Degrees, we believe that the agile workspace represents the future of work. Delivering users the same experience wherever they are is great, but it fails to address a key aspect of our working lives today: that we have different working needs at different times.

Say you’re a Project Manager, and you’ve been tasked with presenting a complex project plan to your company’s Board of Directors. In order to prepare, you’ll need to engage with a number of stakeholders who will be actively involved in the project execution. But then you’ll need time to go away and really focus on creating a concise, compelling presentation that provides a comprehensive overview of the project execution plan, its risks and its benefits. And finally you’ll want to deliver an excellent presentation to the Board, some of whom may be in different offices or even continents.

Each of the three discrete phases of this project will require its own unique working structure in order to achieve the best results. Simply grabbing a laptop and smartphone and ‘getting on with it’ is not enough: to deliver effectively, it’s essential to equip yourself with tools that empower you to work efficiently and appropriately, anywhere.

Harnessing Technology to Inspire Humans

The latest communication and collaboration technology empowers users to work in a manner that’s most appropriate to their immediate requirements. It empowers users by recognising that they need time to communicate and collaborate, but they also need time to concentrate and contemplate.

So how can this technology help you deliver your presentation to the Board? Let’s look at each of the three phases one at a time.

When you’re working with other stakeholders to create the project execution plan, you’ll need to work collaboratively, making dynamic changes as the parameters of the project are fleshed out. Agile workspace technology facilitates collaboration across multiple channels, allowing you to introduce video calls to instant messaging chats, embed ‘click to call links’ in documents, and use all available collaboration methods in a straightforward, intuitive way.

Once you’re ready to create the presentation, you may want to get away from the office to work from a space that suits your personality, drives your creativity, and gives you time to focus. The agile workspace allows you to achieve the same ubiquitous experience in all locations and across all device types. So whether you’re at home, in a shared working space, or at your favourite local coffee shop, you have access to the required tools in a consistent manner.

And when you’re presenting to the board, agile workspace technology delivers conferencing facilities through a single platform that provides a seamless experience no matter where you are, or where your audience is located.

Each of these three phases have their own unique requirements that need to be addressed. However, an agile workspace solution should also be seamless and continual. Simplicity is key – users should be able to access the tools they need, when they need them without unnecessary complexity, and with a consistent user experience throughout.

Empower Your Users and Drive Innovation

The agile workspace will help your business get the best out of your users no matter what their location, function, age or experience. It will help them work better collaboratively, whilst giving them the time they need to focus away from the office.

And it goes beyond basic flexible working to help your business deliver a meaningful work-life balance that improves employee wellbeing, which is so important in today’s fast-paced working environment. In 2016-17 12.5 million working days were lost in the UK due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. This serves to highlight the importance of initiatives such as National Work Life Week, putting in stark relief the need for all businesses to take tangible steps towards improving work-life balance for their employees.

The way we work is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Adopting an agile workspace will help you improve employee wellbeing whilst meeting today’s complex business challenges head on, driving competitive advantages and empowering you to achieve your business’ strategic goals.

About the Author

Matthew Brouker is Group Product Director at Six Degrees, a leading cloud-led managed service provider that works as a collaborative technology partner to businesses making a digital transition.

Six Degrees works collaboratively and builds long-term partnerships through exceptional services that match its clients’ needs. It continually innovates the right solutions to enable clients’ brilliance.

For more information, visit www.6dg.co.uk


Diversity

To be it, you must see it | Why diversity is key to improving life changing technology

Could Disruption be the long awaited catalyst for Diversity? (F)
Diversity - Via Shutterstock

In an increasingly complex world, we need everyone – women and men, a variety of people from different backgrounds and cultures – to solve the hard problems we face and make the world a better place.

We live in a time dominated by technology and algorithms, it’s simply unavoidable. While machines are beginning to ‘think’ for themselves, they are coded by humans, and their interfaces and decision-making reflect the conscious and unconscious biases of their authors. Despite the best intentions of these coders, it is virtually impossible to make technology work for everyone if the engineers who create it are from a social monoculture. Sadly, women are still largely underrepresented in many STEM professions and in STEM fields at many universities. Awareness of this issue has risen in recent years, and we are making progress. But given the increasingly immersive nature of technology, it is absolutely vital that women play an equal role in building our future world.

Awareness days, such as Ada Lovelace Day, have helped to raise the issue. Ada Lovelace is known as the world’s first computer programmer. Her work with Charles Babbage to create the Analytics Engine, an early predecessor of the modern computer, was followed by the publication of the first, most elaborate and complete programme sketched out by a programmer. It was not until the software boom of the mid-90s that demand for coders skyrocketed. It continues to grow to this day, driven by advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and the Internet of Things. Ada Lovelace was a pioneer but to encourage more women into STEM professions, we need modern-day role models. To be it, women need to see it.

Changing the world

PwC recently looked at the role of women in tech in the UK. In STEM fields, women accounted for only 15 per cent of employees. More distressingly, there are few signs that this number will rise without extra action, as only 15.8 per cent of undergraduates in STEM fields are women. It is well documented that girls outperform boys in STEM subjects at GCSE but lack the confidence to pursue these studies further.

A study by Microsoft found that 72 per cent of girls polled said it was important for them to have jobs that directly helped the world, but only 37 per cent thought of STEM careers as being creative or making the world better. That’s a key misconception that needs addressing because in today’s world STEM subjects, specifically coding and designing products for the masses, has a major impact on making the world a better place. There’s nothing inherently male about technology; it’s a tool to solve problems. With software and devices becoming more dominant in our daily lives, it’s important that women have an equal voice and opportunity in shaping the effects that these technologies have on day-to-day life.

Support from parents and teachers and evidence that pursuing STEM subjects can make a real impact on society boosts young women’s participation. Microsoft’s research found that girls are more than two times more likely to say they’ll study Computer Science in high school and three times as likely to study Computer Science through to tertiary education when both a teacher and parent support them. We need to show young women that they can do it, and what impact that they can have on the 7.5 billion people who could end up benefiting from their work.

Seeing is believing

Ada Lovelace, a pioneer in her time and an inspiration to many inventions that followed, is one of few role models for women in technology; how many women CEOs can you name? Gender balance in leadership has benefits beyond inspiring girls to pursue a career in tech; it can help attract top talent and increase innovation via a broader range of perspectives. Companies that don’t mobilize to increase women in senior management will be left behind. From sponsorship to family-friendly policies, there are proven methods to attract, retain, and advance women.

Businesses also need to play their part to target encourage people still in education to consider a STEM career. Work experience placements and internships are a fantastic way of showcasing the numerous opportunities that a career in STEM offers and will help to change any misconceptions that young women may have about the industry.

We have entered an age where machines are increasingly capable of thinking for themselves, learning from past data to make judgements. Research has found, for example, that AI programmes have picked up on human language biases on gender and race. With diversity in the spotlight and technologies being built today that will shape the future of humanity, identifying and unlocking these biases is very important. We need more diversity in the tech industry, and we must do more to help women see the value that they can add.

About the author

Therese Stowell is Director of Product Management at Pivotal.

After graduating with honours in Computer Science from Brown University, Therese joined Microsoft, working in the operating systems division as a programmer. During that time, Therese worked as part of the first Windows NT team, writing the command line environment singlehandedly. She also worked as a UX designer and Programme Manager as well as founding Hoppers, the women’s group at Microsoft, in 1990.

After being headhunted, Therese ran a software team at Sony Research Labs. Following this role, she later spent time at Hitachi.

Following the birth of her son, Therese combined her long-held programming and design skills by retraining in web development and running her own consultancy for nine years. Being deeply concerned about the environment, she became involved in a number of local food initiatives - creating a weekly vegetable delivery social enterprise which used a network of farms to supply Londoners with fresh, locally sourced produce.

Therese then moved back into tech, taking product management roles at two startups: one of which, FoodTrade, won the £40K Nesta ODI Food Challenge.

Therese joined Pivotal Labs in March 2016, having been attracted by the culture, the product, and the engineering rigour.


Girl Power

Girl power in the digital age

rosie the rivetter, girl power

By Rachel Mepham, Head of Digital at Digital Clarity

I am not a feminist.

I am an average female who works hard, worries about what I look like, what to wear, what I say and how I come across. I also happen to be Head of Digital at boutique agency, Digital Clarity. That isn’t an easy role and with the title comes pressures to sell, manage, coordinate and communicate at a high level.

Over 15 years I have seen the shift in digital marketing, especially search marketing. Going from an IT and technical strategy to a combination of tech, creativity, content, strategy, maths and algorithms, reporting and communication. Digital Clarity was one of the first agencies to translate the tech talk and complex algorithms of search into marketing talk.

One of the biggest shifts within this space has been male vs female roles within the industry.

Marketing and sales were originally dominated by men. Digital marketing brought changes with women leaders at the top, Kate Burns the first MD of Google UK, Christine Walker heading up Walker Media...etc... but 90 per cent of the stakeholders I was pitching were men.

When I started in this business, I am not ashamed to say, I hated sales. I was an account manager. What I didn't realise at the time, was I actually hated my view of what a sales person was: male with slicked back hair, shiny shoes and a tight-fitting suit. I certainly wasn't that, but I was meeting clients and media owners every week and selling the service, the value we were adding, the new opportunities and most importantly - selling me. I was actually quite good as a 'non-sales person' doing the sell.

However, there were and still are times where the row of men opposite you who you are pitching, are already decided that the male pitch before you (even with a much more basic pitch), was better, why? Because it was a guy.

I have sat in meetings and pitches holding all the cards. I had the knowledge, the answers, the solutions, yet the male colleague next to me was getting all the eye contact, all the questions directed their way and to be frank, I have been made to feel I should not be in the meeting at all.

So, ladies, how can we manage these kinds of situations and put some girl power back in our bloodstream!

  1. Clear your head. You are in that pitch or meeting for a reason. You have been requested to pitch or put forward to pitch or earned the pitch yourself. So have confidence in yourself.
  2. Realise that not all men are prejudiced. Think about it, on a day to day basis, how many men do you come across who are against women vs how many female bitches have you come across in your life. I am pretty sure I have been backstabbed by a woman more times than a man has discriminated against me.
  3. Things are changing. Although my point above says not all men are nobs, some definitely are. Some men are simply unable to accept female leadership and they comply to their stereotype. I have on many occasions been made to feel inadequate or inferior due to the behaviour of male company owners, MD's and CEO’s etc... but I strongly feel things are changing. The enterprise and corporate businesses are having to look for diversity, and the SMB's are having to hire the best person for the job in order to be successful. I am totally against giving people jobs just to tick a race, gender or age box, but I do think everyone should be allowed a crack at the whip. The interview process should be a level playing field for all, then the best go through, no matter who they are and the same goes for pitches. May the best person win.
  4. Be the best. It's a much more even playing field than a 100m sprint. Men should be no better at selling than women. In fact, there is research to say that in more consultative sales women have the upper hand as it comes down to listening and engaging in conversation rather than pushy sales techniques. Have confidence and bring your A game to that pitch, don’t lose it because you didn’t do the hard work.
  5. If you are unlucky enough to have a male chauvinist in the stakeholder line up then sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If appropriate call him out in front of the others, even if you don't win the pitch you will leave being memorable and may change a mindset or two.
  6. Be YOUR best. We can't all win at everything, we can't be the best at everything and we certainly can't do it all the time. So rather than comparing yourself to others constantly, compare yourself to who you were yesterday! (Borrowed from Jordan Peterson's 12 rules of life) See the progress you have made as an individual, the challenges you have overcome, the things you have achieved and put into perspective who you are compared to YOU.

If only I did this more often, the pitches and talks and presentations I have done would be delivered without constant self-doubt and questioning whether I was good enough. I am. You are. We just need a little more belief and we can nail it!

About the author

With over 15 years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Rachel heads up the team at Digital Clarity.
With a history in Paid Search (PPC) since before Google AdWords existed, Rachel is regarded by both clients and peers as one of the most experienced women in the digital space in the UK. Her approach and application to digital strategy planning has been used by some of the biggest brands as well the leading advertising and marketing agencies.

young-girl-working-on-a-computer-STEM-featured

Girl power: why digital literacy should be on your radar

 

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In an increasingly technology-driven world, it is essential that business owners understand exactly how to harness digital marketing to achieve their full potential.

But the rules are plentiful and the lines blurred, with no straightforward set of guidelines to follow. Each sector, campaign and target audience require a different approach. For many women venturing into the world of freelancing or self-employment for the first time, there is a distinct realisation that they lack the digital skills and knowhow needed to fast-track their road to entrepreneurial success. These women need to boost their Digital Literacy.

What is Digital Literacy?

“Digital Literacy” is a popular buzzword that can mean different things to different people. For Women On The Web, this phrase is in reference to how much understanding an individual or businesses possesses of the digital world and how it can benefit them. For many, this can be an intimidating phrase as the digital world is constantly developing.

Digital Literacy, to break it into two sections, can be viewed as two sets of skills; technological and digital. Again, there is not one set definition for these two categories however this is my interpretation:

Technology skills: Technological skills involve equipment. This is knowledge of computers, installing software, programming and network skills (WiFi, LAN etc).

Digital skills: Digital skills centre around the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct or organise business online, whether this be for marketing (social media, email etc) or organising (CRM systems, Quickbooks, etc.) your business. These are indispensable when using smartphones and other devices.

Why is raising digital literacy important?

At a basic level, raising digital literacy in women has been recognised as important and an area that many feel they need more training in. In a Women on the Web survey, over 90% of 100 surveyed business women agree that knowledge of technology and digital systems is required to generate success, but only 11% of respondents said they had a ‘high’ level of digital literacy, with 31 per cent of respondents believing they had little or no understanding of digital at all. With women making up almost 50 per cent of the workforce, it is clear that more needs to be done to equip them with the digital skills they need to succeed whether in the corporate world or that of self employment.

Whilst there will always be a requirement for the use of more traditional marketing techniques, it is now becoming an essential requirement that this forms part of a wider campaign that includes digital elements. Here are a few ways to become more digitally minded.

  1. Keep it simple - with so much advice out there, it can be hard to decipher which parts to take notice of and which to ignore. The best route is to keep it simple and focused. Take one profile at a time and make sure you really understand it and are working it well before moving on to the next. It’s far better to be managing one profile effectively than several profiles badly!
  2. Drill down the data - the Internet is your oyster when it comes to finding out about your customers! From who they are, where they browse online, their location and their interests, whatever you want to find out about them, there are statistics, figures and insights available to help.
  3. Staying up to date - the digital-world is fast paced and nothing stays the same for long. That’s why it is essential to keep an eye on the latest developments, tools and techniques that could aid your strategy. Simple ideas such as setting up Google Alerts for digital marketing news could help you stay ahead of the curve.

It’s clear that Digital Literacy is an area that many could benefit from developing, but luckily, there are a great many resources online to help you do just that. All you need to do is invest the time and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards.

About the Author

Carol Mann is a digital literacy expert with 25+ years experience in sales and marketing. Her organisation Women on the Web (WOW) is dedicated to equipping women with the necessary digital tools for a successful business. More information can be found on Women on the Web.


Nintendo 1980s Tech

Too few women in tech? Blame 1980s marketing!

 

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Women are rightfully reclaiming their role in the technology sector

Often, the technology industry is held up as one of the very worst for gender diversity, yet it has not always been as male dominated as it is today – in fact, from the 1940s, women led major developments in programming and software development. In 1984, 37% of computer-science majors were women; at the time coding was a considered a rote skill – like typing – and considered more suited to women.

Today, technology is ubiquitous – at home or at the office – often based on consumers pushing for it. Gaming is arguably the main driver fulfilling Bill Gate’s vision for a computer in every home and it is largely, but not deliberately, responsible for the gender skew we see in tech more broadly.

Tech started out gender neutral

In the late 70s and early 80s, as home gaming hit the market, games were gender neutral. Figuring out noughts and crosses or the digitisation of Pong drove the industry – not shoot ‘em ups. In fact, one of the biggest selling personal games ever, in its day, was developed and co-written by a remarkable woman, Lori Cole for Sierra – the Quest for Glory series. So, what went wrong? In a nutshell; marketing happened.

In the early days of consoles and hand-helds (think Asteroid, Avalon, Tetris) the industry almost drowned in low quality, disappointing games but people still wanted to be a part of it. At its peak, the revenues for video games in the US sat at USD 3.2 billion in 1983. By 1985, revenues fell a whopping 97% to approximately USD 100 million. Nintendo stepped in and saved the industry with a quality guarantee, but suddenly marketing appeared in an industry that didn’t know who was buying and playing its games. It hadn’t really been terribly important until then.

Game Boys, not Game Kids

Marketing is about identifying and understanding a target market and, in those days, for reasons not entirely clear, consoles became boy toys and gaming – along with everything else computer software related – evolved with that in mind. Nintendo’s industry saving solution was called a Game Boy. The industry’s male focus for marketing became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Today, only one in four computing jobs is held by a woman. Programming isn't a male or female skill and remembering this is essential to address the tech industry’s widening skills gap. It’s possible that the advent of the smartphone and the plethora of non-gendered games will help attract women back into the industry they helped build. It has exploded – the ability for everyone to have a powerful computer in their pocket, or purse, means technology is everywhere and we want it to work for women. So they should most definitely be in the business, whether its hardware, software or some other aspect.

What companies can do

Of course, these days the tech world is not just about coding: while females need to be encouraged to study more technology-based subjects, there are many things companies can do to attract and retain women. Jobsite was part of a large study last year to explore how we can close the skills gap in the UK, and encouraging women is one key option. It brings other benefits too, including much sought-after diversity of opinion and thought. After all, women are around half of the population, so products, services and solutions need to be designed to include them as well.

More women are entering the tech world and, whilst it may be slower than ideal, there is a definite increase. Just over 30 per cent of female respondents in a Computer Weekly survey last year had been in a tech job for less than five years, compared to 19 per cent of men. In the more experienced part of the IT workforce, 70 per cent of men have been in tech for 10 years or more, compared with just 45 per cent of women. If women can be retained in the sector, this is a positive rebalancing.

Hard & soft skills

Sometimes firms focus too much on technical skills when hiring staff, without considering what other skills are needed for tech roles. Often, as the tech industry has grown, people who could be trained to fill a role are overlooked in favour of the few people who have the specific skills needed to walk straight in, which has led not only to a gender gap, but also a skill one.

Not only are employers often failing to consider soft skills, but many also still suffer from an unconscious bias, making them more likely to hire people who are like them, leaving out the diverse applicants, be it women, older candidates or other less-represented groups.

Retaining women

Once women have joined, it is not enough for companies to sit back and think they have achieved diversity. This is not the full picture and without changes, women will leave the sector.

Women in technology tend to leave the field within ten years and this is often because they feel unsupported to make other life decisions, like having children. If companies have a clearly articulated retraining policy for women in highly technical roles, like coding, they are more likely to return to work after a break to have children. We found that women valued remote working (76 per cent) and career progression opportunities (72 per cent) as key workplace benefits, for example.

Remote working goes a long way to putting an end to the “Dilbert Era” perception of the IT workplace and an increasing number of entrepreneurial tech companies are making the field more attractive to a broader range of people.

The workplace has changed, but there is a clear historical precedent for women doing exceptionally well in technology and bringing them back into the fold solves many challenges for UK businesses. Tech firms that act upon the growing skills shortage by hiring from a more diverse pool of candidates will likely reap the many rewards, leaving those that don’t paying over the odds for the remaining ‘traditional’ applicants left in contention.

Nick GoldAbout the author

Nick Gold is CEO of Jobsite.

Nick joined Jobsite in December 2014 as Chief Executive Officer.

Since 2016 Nick is COO for StepStone UK with overall responsibility for the sales and customer service organisation in the UK market.

Before joining the StepStone Group, Nick held management roles at Sage and Lexis Nexis. He was a member of the management team at Emailvision (now SmartFocus) as the company grew to become one of the world’s largest Email Service Providers in a very competitive market.

Nick holds an undergraduate degree in Management from Liverpool and an MSc in International Business from UMIST.


Diversity

Why is IT still struggling with gender diversity?

Could Disruption be the long awaited catalyst for Diversity? (F)
Diversity - Via Shutterstock

Encouraging women to pursue careers in the traditionally male-dominated technology industry isn’t just about creating more job opportunities for women; gender diversity in the workplace can also boost a company’s success.

According to a report by Catalyst, businesses with the most females had, on average, 42 per cent greater return on sales, 53 per cent better return on equity and 66 per cent greater return on invested capital. Workforce diversity also leads to teams that are more creative, innovative and capable of responding to changing market needs.

However, despite women’s influence in the sector, gender diversity is a persistent issue within the technology industry. In such a vast and growing area, women still take up a very limited amount of IT positions. Research by PwC found that only 15 per cent of people working in STEM roles in the UK are women - this is a miniscule figure and does not reflect well on the industry as a whole.

In order to ensure women are encouraged to pursue careers in IT, there are a number of things that the industry should be doing, starting at education and reflected at a corporate level.

It Starts at School

PwC revealed that just 16 per cent of girls have had a career in IT actually suggested to them and so only 64 per cent actually study a STEM subject at school. These results highlight that right from the beginning, young girls are being pigeonholed and not given the access to experience technology like their male counterparts. This means young women rarely see the great opportunities that are in the industry for them. Education institutions and industry need to work together to ensure the opportunities within IT are communicated to both boys and girls and the right information about how to pursue a career – and the different ways of getting there – is circulated.

A Room of Their Own 

Being inspired to pursue a career can be as simple as seeing someone who looks like you succeeding professionally, but many women do not feel there is this opportunity for role models within the IT industry. Cristina Greysman, Chair of CompTIA’s Advancing Women in Technology (AWIT) Community, knows what it feels like to navigate industries where she is the woman, she comments: “I have been in the tech industry for over 15 years and most often was the only woman in the room. I felt like I’d been representing my gender my entire career.”

It’s important to understand that ultimately, the goal should be to make the industry more inclusive to all people, to ensure that both women and men have the chance to succeed and have people above them to be inspired by.

The Next Step in Education

In recent years, organisations and Government have dedicated resources and funding to non-university education programmes that introduce women to STEM fields and helping professional women navigate careers in the tech industry. The latest of which is CompTIA’s six-month re-training programme, Cyber Ready. The programme has been created to provide an alternative way for women to get into the cyber security profession and the flipped-classroom approach combines classroom and online teaching methods to help candidates, such as new mother, who may have other commitment and time limitations.

Expansion of the technological developments across all sectors means there are potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs to be filled in the next few years and the industry desperately need girls and women to be inspired and take some of these roles.

Zeshan SattarAbout the author

Zeshan Sattar is CompTIA's Certification Evangelist. He is a fanatical learner with a passion for ensuring IT Certifications are the cornerstone of all learning and development programmes. With a background in Digital and IT Apprenticeship programmes, Zeshan has worked at the forefront of programme design, curriculum development and technical training.