diverse business meeting

Why we need more Black female leaders in the tech industry

diverse business meeting

Diversifying the tech industry can sometimes feel like a game of snake; it’s slow, clunky, and you often run into obstacles. But change is required – for both the benefit of the industry and for society as a whole.

Research reported in IT PRO found that just 1 in every 6 IT professionals are female. This figure is even lower for Black women, who are significantly underrepresented in the tech and IT industry, with recent research by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and Coding Black Females finding that Black women make up only 0.7% of IT professionals in the UK - despite being 1.8% of the workforce.

Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive, recently told the BBC that there was no good reason for the lack of women in tech and that the industry needs more diverse voices around the decision-making table. Why, then, are we still finding ourselves lacking diverse representation at the top tier?

Having Black female leaders to look up to as role models and inspire the next generation would, in my view, make a drastic difference to the industry’s culture and encourage more Black talent to join the tech world. There’s the saying that ‘you have to see it to be it’, and Black women can often find themselves in the minority at work with little to no representation in senior positions. This matters for a variety of reasons. It could create a sense that the employee in the earliest stages of their career doesn’t belong in the industry, or that their progression will be limited. It can also reaffirm a sense of imposter syndrome, which is shown to hit Black women hardest as highlighted in this BBC article.

Representation matters. A PwC report found that 78% of students surveyed couldn’t name a famous woman working in tech. For young people considering which career path to take, having role models in the industry could be the difference between pursuing a line of study and avoiding it.

Speaking to someone who has progressed within your chosen industry – especially if you share similar backgrounds - is hugely beneficial. Likewise, being mentored by someone senior who understands your life experiences and can provide guidance at the start of their career journey encourages young talent to aim high, knowing that their career goals are achievable. Sponsorship is also hugely beneficial for Black women, as it ensures they are being championed in conversations around career progression and development opportunities with decision-makers in the workplace.

More Black female leaders are also needed for the benefit of the technology itself. Gender bias is already a problem in the design of a variety of products, as evidenced by this other BBC article, and continuing to lack diverse voices could create a greater divide between different stakeholder groups and miss an opportunity to provide for those, regardless of ethnicity, who may  really benefit from technology’s progress.

There is no doubt that inclusivity improves innovation – and the more diverse the industry is, the more creative it becomes. Without diversity in our organisations, we risk falling into patterns of group-think. Whereas, teams who have a range of backgrounds have greater awareness of different cultural nuances which will shape their behaviours and actions. Having more diversity within the industry ensures that different opinions and life experiences are being reflected and represented in the products, instead of them being a homogenous replication of one lived experience.

Technology has become a major part of our lives, but it needs a range of voices and experiences to build something for the benefit of us all. If we do not see more progress towards diverse and inclusive organisations, the industry will be unable to serve those who it is meant to and that is ALL of humanity without exception.

About the author

Yetunde HofmannYetunde Hofmann is a board level executive leadership coach and mentor, global change, inclusion and diversity adviser, author of Beyond Engagement and founder of SOLARIS – a pioneering new leadership development programme for Black women. Find out more at http://www.solarisleadership.com/


Digital Leaders Week featured

London, Cardiff, Edinburgh & Belfast join forces to launch National Digital Week

Digital Leaders Week

This morning, London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast joined forces to launch the fifth National Digital Week.

The four Digital Ministers for each of the UK Parliaments joined forces to explain the importance of digital transformation in each of their countries and the opportunities it offers to level up public services and business opportunities.

The week, which covers the whole of the UK, is online, making all its content accessible to the whole UK, particularly relevant during a week where the government advice is to remain at home to avoid planned railways chaos.

This is the UK’s biggest gathering of people focused on four key questions driven by digital transformation. However most importantly it is the only Digital or Tech Week in the UK that is truly nationwide. Over 30,000 free sessions have been booked so far by leaders in business, government and charities in the week ahead from across the whole UK.

Speaking about how the UK outside of London has embraced Digital, Robin Knowles, Digital Leaders Founder said, “Last Week saw the focus of the digital community in the UK on London.”

“There is no doubt about London’s importance as a global tech powerhouse, but this National Digital Week shows that digital is now no longer a London led initiative.”

“Every corner of the UK is now leading locally on delivering transformation of businesses and public services.”

“No one is asking London to show the rest of the UK the way anymore.”

“The level of expertise, knowledge and networks outside of the capital means the opportunities for digital growth, skills and participation are being realised nationally and as we say at Digital Leaders the UK is about being #notjustLondon”


Women in tech gather for empowering One Tech World 2022 conference

One Tech World aims to highlight the challenges facing women in tech by fostering a community to transcend the hurdles.

As women continue to advance and excel in their tech careers, experts have urged the industry to be each other’s partners and allies.

The empowering one-day virtual event, One Tech World, offers the opportunity to learn about innovative technologies and professional development, whether you already have a strong network of female colleagues in your field or want to extend your network.

On 01 April, a community of women in technology gathered to hear inspiring messages from industry leaders, allies and advocates.

For the second year, the conference was delivered as part of a global virtual learning experience via a state-of-the-art conferencing platform.

Theresa Palmer

Theresa Palmer, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, said creating a diverse workforce is not something that occurs overnight.

“It takes a constellation of activity, over a continuous period of time, to really turn good intentions into tangible change.”

In her opening keynote address, Palmer said, it’s time to stop talking about change and make it happen: “We need some serious barrier-busting! For me, this means no longer talking about gender equity and encouraging anything because it’s the ‘right thing to do’. You’re darn right, it’s the right thing to do! So we, as organisations, need to get to work! If we need open and clear paths for women, what are we doing? If we need to retain women, what are we doing? If we need more women in senior roles, what are we doing?

“At BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, we do this by setting clear objectives and monitoring and reporting on gender across our organisation. We look for the leaky valve and we work to plug it. With tangible actions and measurements to understand if we’re getting it right,” she added.

She noted that a lot of work has already been done in recruitment: “Keep it up,” she said. However, she shared her concerns about learning and development. “Businesses should be identifying where their leak is and working two grade levels below it to close it,” Palmer added.

She advised: “To really drive gender diversity in organisations, we need to move on from gender equity being the right thing to do and we need to find the right thing to do. And then we need to do it.

“Act early. Intervene with genuine, worthwhile development programs. Set targets for your businesses, to drive diversity into your leadership development programs.”

Ensure our leaders are held accountable in their objectives and reviews for delivering diverse and cultural value to our businesses.”

Since the start of its annual conference in 2015, WeAreTechWomen has welcomed over 5,000 people through its doors. The One Tech World conference seeks to demonstrate how the tech world works and to introduce attendees to the cutting-edge technology that is now impacting industries around the world.

The purpose of the event is to provide opportunities for women in technology, at all levels, to adapt their skill sets and expand their networks. During the live conference, attendees of One Tech World 2022 had access to all keynotes, panels and content, as well as the chance to revisit all sessions for 30 days afterward.

This year, the event covered over 160 topics, including technology trends, artificial intelligence, the future of drones, FinTech, HealthTech, ageism and more.

Below are just a few of the standout topics that featured this year

Ortis Deley speaking at the One Tech World conference
What can we expect from technology in the future?

Ortis Deley, the host of The Gadget Show, gave One Tech World attendees a whistle-stop tour of the future of technology.

Up and coming technologies mentioned included virtual reality, wearables, innovations in cameras to improve diagnoses through accessing healthcare data, 3D printing in healthcare, altruistic tech and energy storing materials to slow climate change, and the impact that fusion plasma will have on society.

Dealey said: “No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but a lot of the innovations that we take for granted today will form the foundation of some future tech.”

“I say ‘some’ because some of the techs that we use will quite possibly grow out of what we’re able to do with what we have at our disposal, at that time. For example, very few people saw the inception and rise of companies like Uber, because we didn’t have the infrastructure for 4G mobile telecommunication.”

Paving the way to net-zero

The term “net-zero” is a popular topic of discussion currently and refers to a situation in which greenhouse gas emissions are matched by their removal from the atmosphere.

According to international scientific consensus, global net human-caused carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must be reduced by approximately 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, with net-zero emissions expected around 2050.

Jennifer Tsim, Partner at Oliver Wyman, and part of its Global Financial Services and Climate and Sustainability team, used her One Tech World session to give an overview of the topic with advice on what needs to be done.

“Achieving net-zero will ultimately require action from every company and every sector and a real shift in the entire global economy,” she said. “Net-zero requires an entire eco-system shift to a greener economy, and we’ll all be impacted.”

Tsim noted that governments, companies and individuals “all have a role to play if we are to be a success on this road to net-zero”. She invited attendees to think about their own roles, skillsets, companies and contacts and asked: “How will you think about contributing to net-zero in your work and in your decisions going forward?”

Jennifer Tsim
Dr Kathryn O'Donnell
Can Space Tech save the planet?

Dr Kathryn O’Donnell, COO, In-Space Missions Ltd, at BAE Systems, delved into the topic of space technology and whether it can help the planet with climate change and sustainability, defence and law enforcement, and space services.

“Can space tech save the planet? I’m going to say no. Not on its own,” she said. “It can give us the tools or data we need to save ourselves, though, and I think that’s what we need to consider. Hugely useful, but we need to act with it.”

O’Donnell informed attendees about the range of careers within the space sector and how those wanting to make a difference could find the answer in a space tech role.

“The space industry has a huge amount to do to help us save our planet,” she noted.

“There are lots of jobs and lots of really interesting careers in space industries, so for those of you attending One Tech World today who are interested, dust off that CV and have a look at how you can help the space industry save the planet.”

What is neurodiversity?

Jacqui Wallis, CEO of Genius Within CIC, discussed the topic of neurodiversity at work and dealing with cognitive overload with a DevOps engineer from Dropbox.

Jennifer Opal, DevOps engineer at Dropbox, was diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD in 2018 and shared her experience with One Tech World attendees.

“I realised that when I was reading text, it was making me feel overwhelmed….and I’d never felt that before. I could see that I was avoiding reading in every way that I could.”

Wallis and Opal agreed that being a neurodivergent individual has several benefits. Opal said: “What I find so incredible about being neurodivergent is that we are looking at things from a whole different angle.”

“We’re able to connect the dots so well, see a pattern and share that…it helps in every industry, whether its tech or outside of it. You’re able to give an idea that can help and contribute to projects that can provide great impact to the team and great impact to the company.”

However, Opal added: “I have to work in an environment that’s healthy and inclusive and practices it. It’s not just about talking about it. The action has to be there.”

She closed by encouraging all neurodivergent minds to be themselves: “It’s okay to be who you are. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed of being who you are. And be sure that, wherever you are in terms of your career, don’t ever look at being neurodivergent as a deficit. And if anyone makes you feel that being neurodivergent is a deficit, always remind yourself that you’re not the problem.”

“You were born the way that you are. Your brain is beautiful and amazing and creative and talented just the way it is. If someone else has an issue with that, it’s them.”

One Tech World Featured Images (2)
Menopause in the workplace

Kat Holmes, Founder of MenopauseX, discussed the topic of menopause in the workplace with a panel of experts working in the field. MenopauseX was created to bring together leaders in data, tech and menopause care.

Amy Lindsay, Chief Data Officer for a UK construction company, is currently leading one of the sub-teams on the MenopauseX initiative. She explained that MenopauseX is seeking to plug the gap from a data and insights perspective to make a material difference to the well-being of women in the workplace.

Gaele Lalahy, Chief Operating Officer for the menopause app Balance, said we need more data on menopause to prove that there is a problem that needs addressing: “We need data to convince people. There’s a huge taboo around menopause and I think until you come with really hardcore data on what is happening – or more importantly, what is not happening – and the impact it has on the workplace, on women’s lives, and on society, it’s difficult for people to listen.”

“We know that 25% of women suffer serious symptoms from menopause, but 77% don’t realise it’s from menopause. 79% of those women visit a GP and 7% have to attend more than 10 appointments to get better assistance, and some 24% who are receiving treatment have to wait more than five years,” Lalahy explained.

“So you can imagine all those hurdles, all the unnecessary suffering just within that bit of data that I mentioned….already people can start to listen and say ‘Huh. I didn’t realise that was happening. So, what are the solutions? What can we do?’”

Lucy Chatwin, Director of the Newson Health Menopause Society, highlighted that the pandemic has created greater flexibility in working: “If you’re experiencing symptoms that aren’t very helpful, having the flexibility to be at home is great.”

“However, one of the things that we want to do is make sure that with the more than 32 symptoms that you experience with peri-menopause or menopause, you’re still able to have a conversation with your line manager about what they mean for you and what those daily adjustments need to look like. Because they will be different for all individuals.”

Attendees of One Tech World 2022 also had the opportunity to share selfies in the photo booth and interact with other participants, partners and speakers in the networking lounge, chat rooms and at a virtual pre-event networking meet.

Did you miss our conference on 01 April? You can now buy a digital pass which will enable you to watch all 160 sessions over a 30-day period!


diversity and inclusion, National Inclusion Week, inspirational profiles

Looking back at 2021: Our top Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews

diversity and inclusion, National Inclusion Week, inspirational profiles

In the final installments of looking back at 2021, we delve into our favourite and fascinating Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews of the year.

Our Inspirational Women series of interviews aims to highlight amazing women across the globe, showcase their achievements and raise their profiles. Over the years, we have interviewed so many amazing women such as Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more.

Our HeForShe interviews celebrate men who promote and support women in the workplace, whether it is through campaigning, mentoring or giving opportunities to women.

Dame Kate Bingham DBE | Former Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force

Dame Kate Bingham DBE is the former chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.

In her role as chair of the task force, she helped steer the procurement of vaccines and the strategy for their deployment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was recently awarded a Damehood in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for her services to to the procurement, manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

Read Kate's interview

Nathalie Marchino | Former Olympic Rugby Player & Head of Partnerships, Figma

Nathalie Marchino has represented the Colombian women’s rugby team at Rio 2016, the US in the 2010 and 2014 15s world cup and in the 2013 7s World Cup, where they earned a Bronze medal.

She also worked her way up in the tech sector with the likes of Google, Twitter and LinkedIn, before progressing to the role of Head of Partnerships at Figma – the web-based design platform behind Uber, Deliveroo and Spotify.

Now based in London, Nathalie is a huge advocate for helping athletes enter the workforce, helping women reach the top of their game both professionally and in sport, and for helping minority groups have their voices heard.

Read Nathalie's interview

Russ Shaw CBE | Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates

Russ Shaw CBE is the founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates.

He originally founded Tech London Advocates in 2013 to ensure an independent voice of the technology community was heard, but with a focus on the private sector. Since then he has been championing London as a global tech hub and campaigning to address some of the biggest challenges facing tech companies in the UK. Global Tech Advocates, founded in 2015, is now present in 17 hubs around the globe, with over 12,000 members. In 2019 Russ launched the inaugural GTA Festival, taking place in China and bringing the international network together for the first time. Russ was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2021 for services to technology and to business in London. He is a founding partner of London Tech Week, a London Tech Ambassador for the Mayor of London and Advisory Board member for Founders4Schools and the Government’s Digital Skills Partnership. In 2019, Russ was recognised as a ‘Tech Titan’ in the Evening Standard’s Progress 1000 list of London’s most influential people.

Read Russ' interview

Rayna Stamboliyska | VP Governance and Public Affairs, YesWeHack

Rayna Stamboliyska is the VP Governance and Public Affairs at YesWeHack, a global bug bounty and coordinated disclosure leader.

She focuses on EU cyber diplomacy and resilience including issues related to cybersecurity, strategic autonomy and data protection. Rayna also manages the EU-funded SPARTA research and innovation project, which is a pilot for the EU Cyber Competences Network. An award-winning author for her most recent book “La face cachée d’Internet” (“The dark side of the Internet”, Larousse 2017), Rayna is also an IoT hacker and a staunch proponent of open source, data and science. Prior to joining YesWeHack, Rayna has served in various Directorship and security-related foreign policy positions: she has consulted for international organisations, private companies, governments and non-profits, interfacing with public sector actors and guiding them through innovative policy-making processes. Energetic and passionate, Rayna has grown to become a recognised information security speaker committed to educating those outside of the industry on security threats and best practices. She writes up the cybersecurity expert column “50 shades of Internet” at ZDNet.fr and tweets under @MaliciaRogue.

Read Rayna's interview

Anat Deracine | Author & Technologist

Anat Deracine (her pen name) is the author of the novel Driving by Starlight (Macmillan, 2018), about a girl growing up in Saudi Arabia, and many short stories, including The Divine Comedy of the Tech Sisterhood about inequalities in the tech industry. Outside of writing she is a senior figure in the tech industry.

Born in India, and raised in Saudi Arabia, Anat is fascinated by cultural narratives around equality and the portrayal of women. Her parents allowed Anat to dress as a boy so that she could do sports and take part in other activities that girls were not permitted to.

She has two degrees which she studied concurrently – one in philosophy and one in computer science. This dual talent for creativity and technology has continued through her life: Anat joined one of Silicon Valley’s major tech companies after university and worked her way into a senior role. As such, she is active in driving diversity in the tech sector – both for those who work in it, and for the masses who use it. It is for this reason she chooses to write under a pen name.

Read Anat's interview

Yewande Akinola MBE | Chartered Engineer, Innovator & Speaker

Yewande is a chartered engineer, innovator and speaker. Her engineering experience includes the design and construction, innovation and manufacture of buildings and systems in the built environment.

She has worked on projects in the UK, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia and has been named the UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year by the Institution of Engineering & Technology. She has also been awarded the Exceptional Achiever Award from the Association for BAME Engineers and the Association of Consultancy and Engineering, U.K. (ACE). She is a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster. She is passionate about STEM communication and has presented Engineering programmes for Television. In the 2020 New Year Honours list, Yewande was awarded an MBE for services to engineering innovation and diversity in STEM.

She has recently been appointed the UK’s Innovation agency (Innovate UK) Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure.

Read Yewande's interview

Sophia Matveeva | Founder, Tech For Non-Techies

Sophia Matveeva is the founder of Tech For Non-Techies, a learning community and media company. Sophia has contributed to the Financial Times, The Guardian and Forbes on entrepreneurship and technology, and hosts the top rated Tech for Non-Techies podcast.

She has also guest lectured at Chicago Booth and London Business School, and led the Blackstone x Techstars accelerator at the University of Texas at El Paso.

As a non-technical founder, she has co-created apps and algorithms that have been used by thousands, won App of the Day by Mashable, and were featured by Inc, the BBC and more.

Sophia loves helping entrepreneurs and has advised Chicago Booth’s New Venture Challenge and Microsoft x London College of Fashion incubator.

She holds an MBA from Chicago Booth, and a BSc (Hons) in Politics from Bristol. She speaks English, Russian and French.

Read Sophia's interview

Usha Raghavachari | Lab Director, D-Ford London, Ford Motor Company

Usha Raghavachari is Lab Director for D-Ford, the Global Innovation ‘start-up lab’ focused on developing human centred design inside Ford Motor Company. Usha has responsibility for Labs based in London (UK), Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Melbourne (Australia).

Previously, based in China, Usha led the Marketing and Product strategy for Ford APAC’s Battery Electric Vehicle portfolio for three years. Prior to that she held the role of Marketing Communications Director for Ford of Europe with responsibility for the Consumer Communications, Social Media, Events and Experiential, Media and Analytic teams.

Usha joined Ford Motor Company on the Marketing graduate programme and progressed her career with an impressive range of Marketing, Strategy, Product Launch and Communications roles in Europe and Dearborn, Michigan.

In her current D-Ford role, Usha is passionate about developing deep human insights to drive the creative process. She loves solving problems and creating new possibilities (new products, services, experiences and new ventures) that delight Ford customers and transform the future of Ford.

Read Usha's interview

Mary Kaye Fraser | Head of Studio, Clipwire Games

Mary Kaye Fraser is the Head of Studio at Clipwire Games and 20 + year games industry veteran. MK started off in games as a game designer, having designed the touch controls for Tetris on mobile.

From there, MK went on to produce many games for some fairly large IPs. Now as Head of studio at Clipwire, MK oversees the company’s  strategic growth including production processes, product design, hiring and team structure, training and mentoring as well as business development. Her biggest joy at Clipwire is seeing the team thrive and grow; they are doing some incredible things together. In the last 18 months, the team has taken Bingo Story, which was Clipwire’s flagship title, and built it into one of the top grossing social casino games on mobile. As a result, App Annie named Clipwire as the #2 Top Publisher Headquartered in Canada.

Read MK's interview

Felicia Williams | Director of Design & Research for Emerging Businesses, Twitter

Felicia recently joined Twitter as Director of Design & Research for Emerging Businesses, as well as the regional Design & Research leader for the UK.

The team and leadership at Twitter are incredible, smart and passionate about how they can grow their platform, and bring even better services and experiences to users. Her remit is to develop and scale products for small businesses and individuals looking to start their business.

Felicia is part of This is Engineering Day, a day created by the Royal Academy of Engineering to celebrate the world-shaping engineering that exists all around us but often go unnoticed, as well as the engineers who make this possible. As part of This is Engineering Day, the Royal Academy of Engineering has announced plans to create a new virtual museum named The Museum of Engineering Innovation, which can be accessed through QR Codes dotted around the country as well as by visiting Google Arts and Culture.

Read Felicia's interview

Flavilla Fongang | Founder, 3 Colours Rule & TLA Black Women In Tech

Flavilla Fongang is a serial entrepreneur, author and the founder of 3 Colours Rule, an award-winning branding and neuromarketing agency.

Computer Weekly named her among the top 5 most influential women in tech in the UK. Through her agency, she has helped her clients scale their brand nationally and internationally. She was awarded the “She’s Mercedes” businesswoman award by Mercedes Benz. Flavilla Fongang is a respected brand strategist with neuromarketing expertise and the creator of the D.A.C. system and The “Beyond marketing” strategy. Flavilla is the brand advisor for the BBC and provides regularly actionable brand strategy advice on live radio and TV. She is also the founder of Tech London Advocates for Black Women in Tech.  She hosts Tech Brains Talk podcast providing insights and advice to tech entrepreneurs and companies. She is also the author of “99 strategies to get customers”.

She has been a keynote speaker for the most prestigious international events, such as AdWeek, HubSpot, DMWF, MozCon, AdWorld, Upgrade100, CTA, MarTech and many more.

Read Flavilla's interview

Managing Director & Head of Tech for Global Investment & Corporate Banking, J.P. Morgan

A 22 year veteran of JPMorgan, Dan has worked in a number of roles across the Corporate & Investment Bank, bridging Operations, Strategic Projects, Business Management and, since 2010, Technology.

Dan leads technology for JPMorgan Global Investment Banking & Corporate Banking including our Digital Investment Banking strategy and core M&A, Capital Markets and Wholesale Payments Sales businesses.

In addition, Dan is broadly focused on the EMEA innovation agenda and connectivity with FinTech in the region. He spends time with clients sharing JPMorgan’s insights and activities across the fast-changing tech landscape. Dan is a passionate champion of diversity and philanthropy, bringing innovation to both areas at JPMorgan.

Dan’s most recent prior role was the EMEA lead for the Global Technology Strategy, Innovations & Partnerships team focused on developing IT strategy, innovation and emerging technology relationships aligned to the Corporate & Investment Bank and CRM strategy firmwide.

Read Dan's interview

Women in tech: There's still time to tell us about your career & the challenges you face!

Calling all women in tech – there’s still time to tell us about your career and the challenges you face!

WeAreTechWomen have partnered with leading research firm, Ipsos MORI & Tech Talent Charter to conduct a survey to discover the barriers faced by women working in technology.

You have until 10 September 2021 to get your responses in and help us to understand how you feel as a woman in tech and the challenges you face around career progression.

A summary of the survey results will be published alongside a set of recommendations to organisations to help them to understand these challenges and to think about how they can put in to place initiatives to support the career progression of their female technologists.

The survey responses are anonymous and your data will not be shared publicly.


In Partnership With

Ipsos MORI & Tech Talent Charter partner logo
TechWomen100 2021 logo


Nominations are now open

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way. Nominations are now open until 10 September 2021.


Engineering students

What does the perfect engineering graduate look like?

Engineering students

Article provided by Sarah Acton, a metalworking fluids sales engineer, who writes for Akramatic Engineering

For some time now, there has been a bit of a disconnect between how universities and engineering companies — and even the world at large — view the ideal engineering graduate.

According to a survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, nearly 3 out of 4 businesses are worried about the practical, work-related skills of graduated students — and if they are able enough to enter into the work. The concern here being, that engineering graduates have plenty of academic knowledge, but in a way that doesn’t really translate well outside of educational institutions.

For engineers, this is yet another concern to be added to the pile. There is already a massive recruitment shortage in engineering. The last thing the sector needs is a skills shortage in the few who do apply.

Inexperienced graduates and the productivity gap

It is not uncommon to hear about industry professionals struggling with graduates who appear to lack the skills. I personally know an acquaintance who worked in the motorsport industry, developing engines for racing cars. His stories often involved new recruits fresh from university, who didn’t have a clue about many practical methods and protocols.

This meant that it took a while to gradually introduce students to the process, meaning up to six months of productivity was stalled by the inexperience.

If there is just one industry where you can’t fake it until you make it, it’s engineering. After all the well-put-together presentations, and all the talk of theory and analysis, inevitably an engineer will actually have to sit down and make something, using practical skills that work.

Another manifestation of this “fake it” attitude resides in graduates who think degrees from prestigious universities will automatically give them a head up when it comes to seeking employment. It won’t. And as we have been seeing, some of the top-university students are losing out to job applicants from less attractive (on paper) universities because of a lack of practical experience.

Practicality and ‘side projects’

But even if a university course itself is mostly theoretical, there’s still lots to do voluntarily within the university to strengthen a CV application.

One such thing is the Formula Student competition. It challenges students to build racing cars, and to them race them all over the world. And despite a perception that such voluntary acts are ‘side projects’ most employers will see them as integral parts to learning and development.

For example with Formula Student, what the job applicant can essentially say is that they have worked within a team of 40 or more students, with a modest project budget (or perhaps £100,000), to build an incredibly complicated, functioning vehicle.

Practical experience has been linked with better overall academic performances and, with all that learning and achievement to talk about, it’s hardly surprising that students with side projects also perform much better in interviews.

In short, the perfect engineering graduate isn’t necessarily prestigious university alumni. In fact, if anything, the opposite is true. Practical experience is king, above all, background or education.

Minorities in engineering 

What then, can we say for minorities in engineering? Both BME and women are underrepresented (with women being ‘severely’ underrepresented according to Engineering UK’s State of the Nation report). If there’s anything we can do culturally to boost their numbers — which is important given the recruitment shortfalls we are currently facing — it’s that we make sure engineering is open to everyone.

To do this we don’t even have to make changes that are terribly ambitious. We only have to speak to minorities about possibilities in the world of engineering. From personal experience, I’ve spoken to many women — engineers and non-engineers — who’ve said that engineering was never advertised to them as a possible career growing up. Engineering needs to be advertised as suitable and welcoming no matter what you look like.

It’s also true that underrepresented groups are having success in building networks to help open up the field. Networking is a great place for women and BME candidates to build up contacts, find out about opportunities, and to reframe the sector.

To summarise 

In short: the perfect engineer is one who has good practical skills. It does not matter if you attend the most expensive, most privileged, or a lesser known education centre.

In terms of physicality, how the perfect engineer “looks” shouldn’t matter. But unfortunately, it almost certainly still does in some job roles, and parts of the industry. But that is starting to change. With more inclusive outreach campaigns to younger women in education, more visible representation in the sector, and with networking for underrepresented minorities, hopefully the only thing future engineers will have to worry about is their practical experience.

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

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

Success in STEM and overcoming hurdles – from one woman to another

Article provided by Amy Nelson, Chair of the TCG PC Client Work Group

It is no great secret that women are disproportionately underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, under one third of the world’s researchers are female, and even women that do work in STEM careers are published less frequently and receive less pay than their male counterparts.

But it is vital that we have women working in these fields. The United Nations recognise that science and gender equality are of the utmost importance for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, yet girls are continuously excluded from participating. What’s more, a study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that companies that make an effort to diversify their management teams see more innovative products and services, and higher revenue as a result.

The large number of males in STEM careers is something I have witnessed first-hand throughout my career in cybersecurity. This being said, my experiences at Dell and Trusted Computing Group (TCG) have revealed that women are consistently breaking barriers in the technology industry, and gaining well-deserved recognition for doing so! But obviously, there are still hurdles for us to overcome.

The importance of diversity in cybersecurity

 If the last year has shown us anything, it is the importance of the internet for staying connected and allowing us to function through the strangest of times. However, the more we rely on technology, the greater the threat is for interference and attacks, and the more devastating their potential. That is why the importance of cybersecurity is more prevalent than ever, and why diversity lead innovation is vital to the industry right now.

With over 25 years of experience in the field, I have come to understand the layout of the technology landscape well. After undertaking a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University, I landed a job as a Component Engineer at Dell, where I have worked my way up through the company ever since. I am also the inventor or co-inventor of eight patents. I represent Dell within TCG, where I hold several positions including Chair of the TCG’s Technical Committee, and participate in a number of work groups, driving forward cybersecurity within the PC industry.

Alongside my technical contributions across the cybersecurity landscape, I am passionate about promoting technical careers as viable paths for young women. Alongside mentoring women in STEM programmes and technical roles within Dell, I have participated in Dell recruiting events at the Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference, making invaluable connections with the next generation of empowering females in our industry.

How I overcame the hurdles

One of the first questions I was asked by a new mentee related to the corporate culture - what the environment is like, whether people are collaborative or confrontational, whether there will be diversity of opinions? In short, the corporate culture is a difficult place to navigate as a woman.

Women who end up in engineering are talented and can do the work, but sometimes the biggest hurdle is how they progress and influence their career while remaining true to their core personality. There is a certain set of behaviours that are encouraged that women don't typically find a natural fit for, which means we have to work a little harder to earn our space in an arena dominated by men.

I had to find the space to be heard using my soft skills as well as technical knowledge to find that space. In a corporate environment, attributes like creative thinking, resolving conflicts and communication are fundamental, and arguably equal in importance to your specialised skills. Advancement gets progressively more difficult as candidates for promotion are identified by the outcome of self-promotion and open conversations about career goals. In my personal experience and from insights gained from mentoring other women seeking to advance, women engineers have the skills, experience and talent needed but feel uncomfortable with self-promotion and career advancement networking.

TCG provided me with an avenue to learn and develop. To be successful in TCG requires communication skills, being able to verbalize an idea succinctly and coherently is important. I have found other useful skills to be negotiation, networking skills and being able to advocate and sell your proposals. It offered me the ability to observe various communication styles, assess what was effective and what was not, and the opportunity to develop leadership skills by volunteering to co-chair work groups or edit specifications.  Participating in a standards organization has served me well in my career because this type of participation is prized by managers when looking at candidates for advancement.

My advice for women in STEM

 Some of my biggest struggles and experiences have helped me mentor and support other

women in STEM careers. Figuring it out as I went along has allowed me to recognise specific pieces of advice that I can give to young women starting out in this tough industry.

My main piece of advice would be to rely on those women around you; it is important to support each other and find allies when we’re the minority gender in the field. Seek out diverse mentors; there is a lot to learn from others’ experiences, struggles and victories, whether they’re similar or starkly different from your own.

Be confident in your career aspirations, and don’t be afraid to vocalise these. Talking to others about where you hope to be, and what you hope to achieve will open doors for you, as they will make you aware of opportunities to get there and achieve those goals. After all, those in STEM careers are working towards new ways to innovate and advance, every day.

Focus on the skills that each job will offer you to advance in your career. Don’t just consider whether you will like the position but view it in terms of where it will take you. The perfect position doesn’t exist, but each job will provide you with a specific skill set that will aid you in advancing your career.

Lastly, make yourself known to management and others in the organisation. Of course face-to-face meetings have proved difficult over the course of the last year, and while technology has offered us so much, connecting in person will always remain unparalleled. Help quieter voices be heard and get things on the table in a way that people are comfortable with, rather than allowing dominating voices to flood discussions. That’s how diversity, not just in terms of gender, race and age, but in terms of opinions, will lead to meaningful advances and innovation.

Amy NelsonAbout the author

Over the last 25 years, Amy Nelson has built up an extensive repertoire within the IT and cybersecurity space. She represents Dell within the Trusted Computing Group, where Amy holds several positions, including chair of the PC Client Work Group and TCG’s Technical Committee. Alongside her technical experience and contributions, Amy is keen to promote technology as a career for women and has served as a mentor to young women in STEM.

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

She Talks Tech podcast on 'Start-Ups, Scale-Ups' with Sherry Coutu CBE

Listen to our latest She Talks Tech podcast on 'Start-Ups, Scale-Ups - A Macro View' with Sherry Coutu CBE

She Talks Tech podcast on 'Start-Ups, Scale-Ups' with Sherry Coutu CBE

Today we hear from from Sherry Coutu CBE. 

She is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor who serves on the boards of companies, charities and universities.

Sherry will be discussing why start-ups are less important than scale ups in terms of economic growth and how to turn your start-up into a scale up- gracefully.

If you want to find out more about Sherry– you can connect with her on LinkedIn or on Twitter.


‘She Talks Tech’ brings you stories, lessons and tips from some of the most inspirational women (and men!) in tech.

From robotics and drones, to fintech, neurodiversity and coronavirus apps; these incredible speakers are opening up to give us the latest information on tech in 2020.

Vanessa Valleley OBE, founder of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen brings you this latest resource to help you rise to the top of the tech industry. Women in tech make up just 17 per cent of the industry in the UK and we want to inspire that to change.

WeAreTechWomen are delighted to bring this very inspiring first series to wherever you normally listen to podcasts – and the first three episodes are now live!

So subscribe, rate the podcast and give it a 5-star review – and keep listening every Wednesday morning for a new episode of ‘She Talks Tech’.

Produced by Pineapple Audio Production.

Digilearning GirlRise mentoring programme

Help a young person by becoming a mentor with Digilearning's GirlRise

Digilearning GirlRise mentoring programme

Can you commit 1 hour to a young person to change their lives?

The Digilearning Foundation needs mentors for young people aged 16-24 from marginalised and underrepresented groups from all over the world.

Digilearning mentors will help and guide mentees through the course and support them if or when they begin looking for work. Mentors will ideally support them for the first few months in their new roles of if they are setting up their businesses.

Why get involved?

We all have a superpower and we want our young people to understand theirs, Digilearning's programmes do just that. The journey begins in helping our youth to believe in themselves and providing them with relevant career insight and skills over 12 weeks as well as matching them with a mentor for 6 months.

Head Of BBC Diversity, author and TV Presenter June Sarpong OBE; Business Entrepreneur and Author Shaa Wasmund MBE; BBC TV Presenter Brenda Emmanus OBE; Founder of MOBO Awards Kanya King CBE and many others are volunteering their time and expertise to support the campaign.

About Digilearning

For underserved and marginalised groups in particular, technology can be a great equalizer. Digital can help bridge the economic divide, diversify and connect people and communities to greater opportunities. At Digilearning, they want to do just that! They have reached thousands of young people with digital skills in the UK and Commonwealth.


Have a question? Email [email protected]

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

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Happy Holidays from all of us at WeAreTechWomen

happy holidays, WATC (1)

2020 is nearly over and here at WeAreTechWomen, we would like to wish you a fabulous festive season.

Like most, we have had to adapt and innovate this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This meant pivoting everything we do, including hosting our events, awards and conferences in a new virtual world. As much as this was a steep learning curve, there was an upside. Going virtual presented the opportunity for us to widen our reach to women all over the world.

While 2020 was not quite the year we imagined, we were determined not to let this be a lost year for women and their career progression. In March, just as the first lockdown began, we launched our WeAreVirtual webinar series to keep you all engaged and motivated during such challenging times. Over the course of the last six months, we have delivered 80 WeAreVirtual webinars as part of the series. All of these sessions are available for you to listen to on playback, see link here. We would not have been able to provide this fantastic resource if it wasn’t for the generosity of so many incredible speakers. A huge thank you to all of them for giving their time and experience to help others. Due to the success of the campaign, we are proud to announce that we will be continuing the series in 2021, see here for some of January topics and dates.

During June, we delivered our first virtual conference for WeAreTechWomen, which attracted over 1200 global attendees! Look out for our 2021 conference in November, it will be bigger than ever! In July we hosted our Rising Stars awards evening virtually, you can watch that video here and see all of our incredible winners here. WeAreTechWomen also launched their She Talks Tech podcast - bringing you stories, lessons and tips from some of the most inspirational women (and men!) in tech. To date we have released 20 episodes - tune in and listen from wherever you source your podcasts.

In November, we were also proud to announce this year’s TechWomen100 award winners and celebrate their achievements at yet another incredible virtual award's ceremony. You can see our fantastic winners here and watch our award's ceremony via Facebook here.

You can view all of our 2020 achievements in the below infographic:

WeAreTheCity & WeAreTechWomen - Looking back at 2020

We wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of the above without an army of supporters, we feel incredibly blessed.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported our work this year. Thank you to our clients, sponsors, speakers, writers, judges, partners, champions, advocates and above all, YOU, our fantastic community of incredible women.  We wouldn’t be here without you.

We look forward to supporting you and your progression in 2021.

Be safe and well and enjoy the break ahead.

The WeAreTechWomen Team

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