100 Moments that Rocked Computer Science’

Join Professor Sue Black OBE, President Obama’s tech tsar, Alan Turing’s nephew & a search engine pioneer in a new podcast series

100 Moments That Rocked Computer Science podcast

Join Professor Sue Black OBE, President Obama’s tech tsar, Alan Turing’s nephew & a search engine pioneer in a new podcast series from Durham University.

The series, ‘100 Moments that Rocked Computer Science’, examines some of the most important advances and developments that have shaped the world we live in.

Professors Sue Black OBE and Gordon Love, from Durham University’s Department of Computer Science, are joined by a host of special guests as they discuss everything from the birth of the internet search engine to the very first computer programme and the dawn of the information age.

Experts from the technology sector provide their views and expertise including Stemettes creator Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE sharing her passion for inclusivity in tech, mathematician, teacher and broadcaster Bobby Seagull, internet search engine pioneer Alan Emtage – and his battle with Netscape, and Professor Dame Wendy Hall, one of the world’s leading computer scientists – talking about her work with Tim Berners-Lee and the development of the world wide web.

Megan Smith, former Head of Google X and Chief Technology Officer to President Obama, and Sir Dermot Turing, nephew of Alan Turing - part of the British team that broke the Enigma code during the Second World War make up this incredible guest list for the first six part series.

LISTEN HERE


“Computer science is such an exciting field and one that affects everything around us today."

Professor Sue Black featueredSpeaking about the podcast, Professor Sue Black OBE said, “At Durham University we have innovated and adapted in so many ways to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our students, from virtual sessions with leading technology figures such as Dr Neil Hunt, former Chief Product Officer of Netflix and Durham graduate, to this new podcast series."

“Computer science is such an exciting field and one that affects everything around us today."

"We are delighted to share our knowledge and enthusiasm, and that of our prominent expert guests widely, and get all of our listeners celebrating the wonderful events and advances in computing that have helped transform our world today.”

The 100 Moments that Rocked Computer Science podcasts, featuring the voice of TV’s Ortis Deeley, will be released weekly and will be available through all major streaming services from 9 June. You can follow the podcast on Twitter (@100momentsCS) or by the hashtag #100moments.


Watch Professor Sue Black OBE in action at our 2019 WeAreTechWomen conference.

Our Hall of Fame Q&A panel was hosted by Ortis Deley, Host and Presenter of The Gadget Show and also features Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Founder, Stemettes; Dorothee Schobert-Sargent, Managing Director, Credit Suisse and Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President, techUK.


The business of diversity: Building a better tech industry

Article by Maya Gershon, Chief Revenue Officer at Vade Secure

DiversityDiversity is a word you hear a lot in the tech business - but you don’t see enough of it.

I’ve spent my entire career striving to be the very best I can be, working hard and climbing the ladder whilst holding down a very demanding second full-time job: motherhood. I’m a huge believer in the positive power of diversity and unlocking the talents of people from every gender, ethnicity and background. But the IT industry needs to do better. How are we going to get to where we need to be?

As an engineer, business school MBA, researcher, developer, sales leader and public speaker, I want my story to inspire others to try. When advising others, it’s a good idea to set a good example. How can we lecture other industries about efficiency when we squander so much of our talent pool? We need to be more diverse and inclusive if we are to show others how to make the most of themselves. As an  example, in sales presentations, I have always found that stories create a much better impact than statistics. So here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Military discipline

After university, my career started at Unit 8200, a top-secret cyber intelligence unit of the Israeli Army. Obviously, I can’t tell you exactly what I did during my time in the Army, but I can say this: it was more egalitarian than the IT industry. I was one of thousands of people who took an entry exam to get into this elite unit. I wasn’t chosen because I was a woman - I was selected on aptitude alone. The Israeli Army is very practical and makes the fullest use of its resources. Under those circumstances, it selects the best person for the job. The general in charge said we were doing a job that was given to adults in equivalent agencies in the rest of the world. There was gender parity because it was vital to get the best possible outcome from the human resources we had.

This points to an important truth. You don’t achieve diversity by fixing the game. You build it by opening up the playing field so anyone can compete. Women don’t need help to get to the top. They just need an opportunity to succeed. Closed doors and sealed networks are no longer acceptable in business. Neither are they likely to be profitable. Open up and you will soar. Close down and you will sink.

Early years

I believe the problems with diversity start early, particularly when it comes to encouraging women to take a job in the tech world. It’s a problem of education and expectation. I was lucky because I grew up with an older sister and two older brothers I was close to. That meant I could be who I wanted. I played with boys’ toys, learned about electronics and I liked building things. My parents encouraged me to develop my interests and I was not restricted to dolls and dressing in pink.

However, when I went to college, I was one of only five women among 250 men. Things have changed a little and Israel is more progressive than a lot of the world but the change is still painfully slow. I was shocked when I went to give a lecture at my son’s school. My talk, which was designed to inspire entrepreneurs, was entirely attended by boys. Meanwhile, the girls were all packed off to dancing class. That lack of expectation is the essence of the problem with our industry. If you can see it, you can be it. Girls should be given role models from the get-go, showing them why tech is a great industry for young women to join.

Education is a priority and it takes a generation to achieve change. To that end I am passionate about encouraging more young women to have the confidence to study technology. We need to instil that self-belief. Meanwhile, there is a more short-term fix. I would train more women to work in the IT industry, even if they have no technical foundations. There are many positions they could make their own in sales and pre-sales. If you take people that are smart and have an aptitude for learning they can thrive. Women can be very ambitious and effective without the ‘right’ background. They can build a bridgehead.

Supporting working mothers

It’s not easy to juggle children with a full-time career. At one stage in my career, I was working by day, studying for my MBA at night, reading to my children at bedtime and then attempting to stay awake while answering my customer’s queries. Meanwhile, my husband had been called up by the army to serve his country and there was footage of the war being beamed onto our televisions. I was so exhausted that one day, when my son fell over and started crying, I joined in. I phoned my sister and she gave me some stern but great advice: be strong and get help. That is the advice I would give to all working mothers. Don’t be afraid to pay for help or even use anything the state can offer you. It’s not easy to get to the top, so make sure you’re using every resource at your disposal. We can build a better tech industry - but we need to work together.

About the author

Maya Gershon featuredMaya Gershon is the CRO at Vade Secure, where she is taking the lead in efforts to grow the company's footprint in the U.S., UK and Japan. Maya has 25 years of experience in the technology sector, including time with Unit 8200 where she trained with the Israeli defence team and progressed to Staff Sergeant. Over the years, Maya has held a variety of engineering, sales and marketing roles at industry-leading organizations such as WeWork, Intel, Cisco, Amdocs, Keysight Technologies and more. Maya is a computer and electrical engineer with a strong technical background in R&D and product strategy and a Kellogg Business School graduate.


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

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


Khaleelah Jones

TechWomen100: What happened next for Khaleelah Jones

Khaleelah JonesIn this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a TechWomen100 Award.

Now in their fifth year, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in tech – the emerging tech talent and role models for the future.

We spoke with Khaleelah Jones, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2020.

Khaleelah Jones is the owner and founder of Careful Feet Digital Agency, the digital marketing agency that created Dime Digital, a SaaS tool that automates social media posting and brand creation for small businesses and solopreneurs.

The winner of the 2018 Next Women Pitch Competition, Khaleelah has a PhD in emerging media, an MBA and has worked in the marketing industry for over a decade. Before starting CFD and building Dime, she was the head of marketing at WellTok Inc, a social health management tech startup, where she was part of a team that doubled the user base in six months and closed $18m in Series B funding. Prior to that, she held senior marketing roles at tech startups including Living Social and Nimble Commerce. She now lives in London with her husband and loves yoga, reading and Russian history.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen100 award?

Really honored to be listed amongst such amazing tech innovators and very proud of myself!

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen100 award?

I spoke at EU Parliament in December and was appointed co-CEO of Ada's List, Europe's largest community for women in tech.

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

Put yourself out there!

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers?

Throw everything to the wall to see what sticks.


The 2021 TechWomen100 Awards will open for nominations on 02 August 2021. Our awards focus solely on women working in tech below director level. We hope that by highlighting the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, we can help to create a new generation of female role models for the industry, and a pipeline of future leaders.

Discover what happened next for some of our other TechWomen100 winners:

Tina Valand"TechWomen 100 award was life changing. It wasn’t just about the recognition, it opened doors, created meaningful friendships, networks and opportunities to attend great events including the virtual We Are The City conference and gave me a platform and confidence to be brave and take risks. One of the first things was the opportunity to speak at schools inspiring children to study STEM subjects, sharing my journey and path to the accolade. I am very passionate about the importance of supporting the next generation of talent."

Tina Valand, TechWomen100 Winner 2019

Isabel Chapman"I was delighted and quite surprised to have been announced in the TechWomen100 award, to be honest. It was a huge accolade and a real sign of encouragement that I might not have had a conventional path into it, but that I do in fact work in Tech. The TechWomen100 Awards evening was one of the most amazing evenings, especially considering the next few months have been followed by the lockdown."

Isabel Chapman, TechWomen100 Winner 2019


Embracing inclusive leadership - three key principles

Article by Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President, Skillsoft

DiversityWith diverse companies more likely to win top talent, improve customer orientation and employee satisfaction, the benefits of building inclusive workplaces are endless.

But how do leaders embed inclusivity into their thinking and behaviour, and by extension, the thoughts, words and deeds of their organisation as a whole?

The challenges are significant, but leaders can set out their approach to embracing inclusive leadership by adopting three important principles: 1) leveraging power and privilege to enable inclusion, 2) becoming a thoughtful and effective ally for underrepresented groups and 3) embedding inclusive behaviours as a way of doing everyday business.

  • Understanding power and privilege is crucial to enabling inclusion

Put simply, power and privilege are the rights, benefits, and advantages exclusively granted to particular people. They manifest themselves in every workplace, and in a wider sense, are part of a much larger system that exists to protect the majority systems and power across society.

The challenge leaders often face in relation to power and privilege is that they are unaware of the role it plays in their thinking, behaviour and in the management processes they establish - both formally and in ‘unwritten ground rules’. Equally important can be the negative reaction of those with power and privilege to the personal impact of change, even in the pursuit of equality. It’s an issue perhaps best summed up by the widely used phrase: “when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”.

But acknowledging power and privilege are vital points on the journey to inclusive leadership, and getting there is about self-awareness, growth, and empowerment. It’s only when leaders recognise its existence and impact — in the many ways it manifests itself — can they leverage it to truly empower others who are underrepresented, and deconstruct embedded and divisive norms.

  • Allyship means taking positive action for underrepresented groups

Allyship is the practice of promoting social justice, inclusion, and human rights by members of an ‘ingroup’, to advance the interests of an oppressed or marginalised ‘outgroup’. Everyone has the ability to be an ally, as privilege is intersectional. For example, white women can be allies to people of colour, men can be allies to women, and cis people can be allies to members of the LGBTQI+ community.

Becoming an ally requires active, consistent, and determined commitment to a process of unlearning and reevaluating, during which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalised group. In practice, allyship requires those with power and privilege to engage at the systemic level to redefine policy. They must speak up about issues of inequality even when they feel uncomfortable, and then use their privilege to benefit underrepresented groups. And leaders should acknowledge that even though they might find change uncomfortable, the discussion is not about them - it’s about the holistic development that is part and parcel of building workplace equality and inclusion.

  • Enabling everyday inclusion is a permanent commitment

As we have seen, mindset and attitude play a central role in the emergence of inclusive leadership. Inclusion should not be addressed as a special interest or a side project - it needs to be embedded into every phase of the employee lifecycle: from recruitment to retirement, including training, rewards, and recognition. Only then can it become a ‘given’ - an automatic and natural part of working culture and interpersonal behaviour.

Those in leadership roles must set the tone for building an enduring and respected inclusive culture, and must drive the conversation. They can enable meaningful, everyday change by allocating adequate budget, personnel, and resources to increase inclusion and belonging across the organisation. Sponsoring an employee resource group (ERG) or Inclusion Council to proactively assess systemic policies and practices are proven ways to support the wider process.

Inclusive leadership requires genuine commitment and an open-minded approach that welcomes change. Lacklustre attempts face the very real risk of being judged as virtue signalling, and could justifiably be called out as such from people within the organisation or beyond. Instead, leaders must always have their eyes on the benefits, because building an open, honest and fair organisational culture where opportunity and reward don’t discriminate isn’t just good for every stakeholder, it’s also good for business.

About the author

Agata Nowakowska, SkillsoftAgata Nowakowska is Area Vice President at Skillsoft, where she leads a team of field based, enterprise-sales Regional Vice Presidents for UK, Benelux and DACH regions.  Before embarking on her 17 year career at Skillsoft, Nowakowska held leadership roles at SmartForce and Tulip Computers.


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.  

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

Developing a career as a woman in the tech industry

Katharina Kröger, Marketing Manager at SEH Technology

woman coding on laptop, Code First GirlsTechnology is such a huge part of our world now, and many companies are becoming increasingly centred around it.

As a result, there are huge opportunities to join the thriving sector and become a part of the talent underpinning the rapid digital growth. Breaking into the tech industry is always possible if you have a strong drive and understanding towards the importance of technology in this day and age. There are a huge number of apprenticeships available with technology businesses of all sizes, that will provide you with transferable skills that can be used in the tech industry, and other business sectors.

Developing in-demand skills

The variety of skills and abilities that you can develop in the tech industry are much vaster than most of us would initially believe. It can provide an interface for agriculture, manufacturing, food, and also public services, whilst presenting you with an incredible sense of creation and growth. The technology industry is all about innovation and staying on top of trends; it’s not only about having ideas, but making them work as well. It is a fast moving field with incredible potential, which can be indicated by the exponential growth of technology as a whole over the last century. There are always new challenges to meet, and great strength in understanding how to adapt to existing knowledge and build on what is known to create “bigger and greater” projects.

Working in a marketing department for a technology company, such as SEH Technology, allows you to work both productively and creatively, applying technological knowledge alongside marketing skills. As technology professionals, we are embedded into a culture of movement, and have to understand that no one day is the same, due to how fast technology can change. Being flexible and obtaining a quick understanding of various complex issues is vital for success in the tech industry, backed up by the ability to communicate those issues as if they are second nature. A job in the tech field allows you to have an impact and leave a mark on the way people go about their daily lives, which is the best thing about it.

Women in Tech

Throughout history, a woman working in the technology industry was relatively unheard of, particularly for hands on, practical tech positions. The slight prejudice towards women in the workplace can be backdated to the 1970s, when companies realised the valuation of computing and chose to phase women out of the industry, believing that they weren’t capable of developing their skills at the rate that the computing industry was taking off. If women had continued to be a major force in computing, the way the tech industry looks today would be very different. Still, it’s safe to say that although there are still some levels of inequality in this area, it has become far more normalised to see a woman working with technology, and even in high graded positions.

Over the last decade, it has been fantastic to see women take centre stage in technology success, across both large corporations and femtech startups. These role models carve the way and show future generations that it’s possible to be ambitious in the technology space. Looking ahead, it would be great to see these gender stereotypes overturned within businesses and the industry as a whole. Not only will this improve experiences for future women in the tech sector, but it also encourages others to consider a STEM role and fill the demand for talent.


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


encouraging girls in to tech, STEM featured

Inspiring women for a career in engineering

encouraging girls in to tech, STEMAs a female engineer, I am part of a minority group.

A miniscule five per cent of practicing engineers in the UK are women, and only 22 per cent of 16-18-year-old girls say they would consider a career in engineering. In the UK we also have the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, while Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead with nearly 30 per cent each1.

Why is this the case? My theory is by the time a child turns four, it has already been instilled in them which jobs are for men and which are for women, and society inadvertently reinforces these socially constructed identities due to its own lack of understanding and preconceptions.

But when did Britain decide that women should not aspire to be engineers and help to change the world? And worse still, who thought up the ludicrous notion that women would not make good engineers?

The women of Great Britain have already proven that they can be outstanding engineers and run this country single handedly. Just 70 years ago, when the men left to fight in the Second World War, women went into factories and did the work of talented engineers more than competently.

Sadly, at the end of the war when the men returned, everyone went back to their so called “traditional roles”.

The field of engineering loses so many talented women to so-called “caring professions” because they want “to make a difference,” but making a difference is actually the bread and butter of engineering, and in today’s world is vitally important for the future.

The Engineering UK 2019 report reveals that while girls are underrepresented in STEM subjects at both GCSE and A‘Level, they tend to outperform boys in examinations at both levels of study.

This shows women should be engineers!

As we continue to live through difficult financial times, there are many other pressing problems that threaten our quality of life, such as global warming, the depletion of natural resources and challenges to health - to mention just a few. Engineers and scientists are the only people who can halt the destruction of our planet, so what better way to show you care and make a difference than to become an engineer

In 2017, the annual shortfall of the right engineering skills in the UK was between 25,500 (level 3) and up to 60,000 (over level 4 skills). The reality is that we need to at least double the number of UK based university engineering students for the UK to remain a power hub.

In my current role as President and Chief Executive of the New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMITE), we are committed to making engineering more accessible for everyone and are aiming for gender balance in our student body.

We will also be making entry more accessible with students only needing to demonstrate competence of Maths and Physics at GCSE and not A ‘Level.

We want students who want to be creative, to design, work as a team and be part of an exciting future. By working on ‘real-life’ engineering challenges rather than sitting in lectures, our future students will be providing real solutions for our partner companies including Heineken and Avara Foods.

I hope I, as a Professor of Engineering, will inspire a future generation of Amy Johnsons and Caroline Hasletts to help make a difference and change our world.

Elena Rodriguez-FalconAbout the author

Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon FIET, PFHEA, FCMI

Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon is President and Chief Executive at the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering. Before that Elena was Professor of Engineering at Sheffield University whilst leading various strategic priorities. Elena has received numerous awards for her work on education and diversity and is Principal Fellow at the HEA and Fellow of the IET and CMI.

 


Gaming, Games industry featured

Level Up – How gaming can elevate your career in IT

Article by Chrystal Taylor, Head Geek, SolarWinds

With every aspect of our lives disrupted, the lines between work and home have become increasingly blurred and our social lives are essentially placed on hold indefinitely, the value of escapism has never been more pronounced.

As a result, video games are having a moment.

Amidst the tumult of the past 12 months, video games have provided a vital lifeline for many people, delivering tangible mental health benefits at a time when they need them most. And if that’s not impressive enough, many of the skills learned in gaming can also empower people to excel in careers in IT.

Whether you’re managing your island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, diving into RPG classics like Final Fantasy VII (or its awesome new reboot), or collecting stars as an Italian plumber, the vast number of different video games means players are becoming equipped with an increasingly broad set of skills they may not otherwise have developed.

Here, we talk about how gaming can help both the current, and next generation of IT professionals develop skills that can carry over into their everyday roles and take their careers to the next level.

Transferrable skills

The number of skills that can be carried over from gaming to IT is surprisingly high—surprising because many of them are called into action inherently, often without the player even realizing.

Take Final Fantasy VII, for example. You’re preparing your party for one of the many final boss battles. There’s no turning back, and you must select three characters out of a possible six (or even more), each with different strengths and weaknesses. Not only that, but you must reattribute resources from the left behind characters and arm the ones you’re using with the equipment, abilities, and items needed to beat the dastardly Sephiroth, making tough decisions as to what and who should be left behind.

This single example demonstrates the need for players to understand and exhibit skills such as task management, organization, resource and skill optimization, and more. Countless other examples, from numerous other games, may require the player to use team leadership, problem solving, hand-eye coordination, perseverance, or teamwork to overcome a challenge.

And look, we’re aware not all games are the same. Lopping the head off a demonic hellbeast in Devil May Cry may not arm you with the skills required to manage the move to hybrid IT. So, are there specific genres and titles more effective in developing these transferrable skills to IT professionals?

Really, it depends on the skill. Horror and/or survival games inherently teach resource optimization, problem solving, and perseverance through the nature of the game. Strategy games, meanwhile, will help with strategic planning and thinking a few steps ahead whereas games involving multiple parties help develop management skills—all key aspects of a successful career as an IT professional.

There are so many different types of games, you're almost always likely to subconsciously learn something while you play. If you apply the same thought process you use in game to tasks and issues at work, you can “game-ify” your job. This perspective will help you translate those soft skills from your gaming into useful skills for your career.

Competitive edge

For many players, video games are a means of satisfying competitive impulses. The popularity of competitive games is reflected in the boom in esports—an arena that feels pretty far away from the world of IT professionals—and the surge in battle royale games. That’s not to say, however, that competitive gaming, whether FIFA, Rocket League, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, or Counter Strike, doesn’t also have much to offer IT professionals looking to hone their craft.

Competition drives a person to constantly get better at their task or role. Translating that to the workforce is tricky because you want to make sure it’s healthy competition—you don’t want to drive a wedge between team members or create conflict. A healthy drive towards constant improvement, though, is welcome in any workplace. In IT specifically, it may help drive better performance in the day-to-day tasks or even invite new and innovative ideas for improvement.

Speaking of competition, we won’t get into the console-or-PC debate (both are great), but there’s one minor difference as to the type of skills that can be developed depending on how you play games. PC gamers typically build and upgrade their PC which gives them some insight into hardware. Not everyone has worked in desktop support, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have some idea if they built and maintain a PC at home.

Out with the old?

Much like IT, which has seen burgeoning technology trends like IoT and hybrid cloud deployments fundamentally transform the landscape, gaming has grown increasingly, often mind-blowingly sophisticated.

Open world games, for example, have been around in some form for at least a couple of decades, but the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 (when running properly, anyway) and Red Dead Redemption 2 demonstrate the technological leaps made in the industry.

But do the games stretching the possibilities of available technology have more to teach IT professionals than a 2D side-scrolling platformer? Personally, I don’t believe so.

There’s as much to learn in old-school games as newer games, and different skills can be developed from each. Not many new games make you do inventory management, for instance, but it’s a skill you can take away—helping to build organization and even optimization.

It’s also important to note, people learn and absorb things differently, so someone may pick up on those skills more easily in an older game as it may be less complicated or less involved with other mechanics of the game. Some IT professionals could learn just as much from completing a level in Sonic the Hedgehog, for example, as others do from building worlds in the latest Civilization.

Gaming may be having a moment right now, but the benefits it poses are plentiful and long lasting. Whether it’s encouraging a curiosity in new technology or helping to build a talent for creative problem solving, a passion for video games can help IT professionals level up their careers. After all, that’s how I got started: with a passion for video games and a curiosity for learning technology.

Chrystal TaylorAbout the author

Chrystal Taylor is a dedicated technologist with nearly a decade of experience. Taylor is a SolarWinds deployment veteran who’s built a successful IT career by translating client needs into optimised and performant systems.

 


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How to Get Into the Gaming Industry

It’s long been perceived by many that it’s tough to get a job in the games industry. We even found in a new study that video games rank in the top 10 of what are seen as being the most difficult industries to get a role in, with over a third (36%) of the general working population classing the games industry as ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to break in to. As a woman looking into what has historically been a male dominated world, this barrier to entry can seem even higher.

 

teenager on a computer, gaming, cyber securityGame On: Why we need to mentor female talent in gaming

If it hadn’t been for the support of my mentors, I wouldn’t be working in the gaming industry today. Back in 2010, I attended an open day at Norwich University of the Arts. By pure chance I sat in on a seminar by Marie-Claire Isaaman, who talked about her course in Games Art and Design. She described games as being not only entertainment products but an opportunity to open people’s minds, a vehicle for education, mindfulness and vast worlds for storytelling. Up until that point I had never seriously considered games as a serious career option, but from that moment onwards,I was hooked and decided to apply.


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


Woman learning to code featured

Entering the tech industry as a woman: 5 pieces of advice

Jutta Horstmann, Chief Operating Officer at eyeo

woman learning to codeIt's no secret we still have a long way to go before we can truly say we live in a gender equal society.

Whether it is the gender pay-gap or a lack of women in leadership positions, there are still so many areas where women experience setbacks in their career or in daily life based on gender.

The technology industry is a clear example of where women are still the minority. In fact, a recent report revealed only 27% of female students say they would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of males, and only 3% say it is their first choice.

I first noticed the huge gender divide in the tech sector when I started working as a system administrator and database developer back in the 90’s and got involved in the open source community. For me, it goes without saying more needs to be done to get women interested in tech, but probably now, in a global pandemic, more than ever. In light of this, I want to share 5 pieces of advice for women looking to start a career in tech.

Own the room

Don’t let anybody tell you that tech isn’t for you. It is one of the most creative and innovative spaces to work in - and very well paid I have to add. How could this not be your cup of tea?

There will be lots of voices telling you otherwise: Family, teachers, and even the way you find women depicted in the media. But this is just not the truth.

I graduated in Computer Sciences and I went through a dozen different roles in tech. Believe me: It is fun, and you can totally do it.

Network

So now you feel confident - great! But I know that there will be times when being a minority by gender in your area of work will be exhausting. This is when you will need a network of other females in tech. Use it to exchange knowledge in your field, and to share experiences. Don’t fear that this will be a group of gruntled moaners. Your network will support you by sharing success stories, best practices, and learnings from failure. For any tech area, there are related groups of interest for females in that field. Google is your friend.

Additionally, I highly recommend attending conferences and local meetups. And as I am sure you will have something interesting to share from your experiences, make sure to also speak at them!

Be patient

To be clear: When I advise to be patient, I definitely do not advise to tolerate either misogyny or sexism. You might face both. But often they come from a lack of education and understanding of male privileges and are easily reversed as soon as you explain to the person how their action affects you.

Patience and always assuming best intentions first before proven otherwise will help you to pick your battles, and not wear out.

Be yourself

As a minority by gender, it might seem useful to adapt to your male peers' behaviour and preferences. You expect to blend in, and to find more acceptance.

First, this rarely works out. Second, it hurts you if you try to be somebody you are not.

But most important, it is proven that diversity in a team leads to best results.

So being your best self-will highly benefit the product or service you are building.

If the environment you are working in is not yet as up-to-date to appreciate this - change the environment! If this means to speak up at your current place or to change your employer - be ensured that the industry is looking for tech talent and you will easily find one that wants exactly your true self (hint: we are hiring as well!).

Enjoy the ride!

I cannot stress enough how happy I am about having chosen a career in tech.

I was and still am able to have an impact on one of the most important aspects of everybody's everyday life.

In any of the tech areas I have worked in throughout my career, I found my work to be highly satisfying, and have also found my work environment and colleagues inspiring and kind.

Being a minority in any area always comes with some difficulties. But rest assured that the benefits always outweigh the negatives.


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female data scientist, woman leading team

Why tech companies must strive for more women in senior roles

Article by Alison Tierney, GVP, EMEA, Snowflake

female data scientist, woman leading teamTech companies have long enjoyed the reputation of being at the forefront of innovation, both in driving adoption of the latest technologies, and disrupting the way we work and live.

The tech industry has facilitated the modernisation and growth of many organisations.  In the past year alone it has helped the businesses adjust to a global pandemic by enabling employees to work remotely to keep organisations ticking and employees safe. For all the good that the tech industry has done and continues to do externally, there is one inward looking issue which the tech industry’s innovative spirit has fully yet to solve – diversity in senior roles.

Overcoming industry roadblocks

According to a recent research report from PwC, only 5% of senior leadership roles within the technology industry are held by women. The wider figures for the industry aren’t much better, with women comprising just 17% of the UK’s tech workers, a figure that has remained relatively stagnant for almost a decade. This being despite a concerted push from both private businesses and government organisations to introduce more women into the technology industry.

These measures have seen modest increases in the number of women entering the technology industry at a junior level. However, as my colleague Denise Persson, CMO, Snowflake said recently, “women in tech need to serve as role models for other women.” Role models need to be reflective of who you are and where you want to be in order to empower you to realise that ambition. The under-representation of women in senior tech roles hinders these ambitions and pushes young female talent away from tech. This is also reflected in the PwC research where only 22% of respondents were able to name a famous woman working in tech, while 66% were able to name a famous man.

There are also other roadblocks women face when entering the technology industry. A major issue facing the sector is the reputation that it is ‘always on’, requiring 24/7 work, which has traditionally been seen as incompatible for those who want to start a family, or have other personal commitments. This is not to paint every woman as aspiring for motherhood; the reality is that that decision is an incredibly personal one and every woman is different. There are however many who do, and the decision to work in technology should not be at odds with those that want to raise a family or have other priorities outside of their employment.

Making work more flexible would actually have knock-on benefits for the rest of the workforce with family commitments too. According to recent research from Working Families, 68% of companies polled have reported male parents and carers had shown more interest in flexible working since the pandemic hit.

Developing a supportive corporate culture

The circumstances of the past year have proven the viability of remote work. While forced into this working environment, employers have found that their people are perfectly capable of performing their duties without being based full-time in the office. When we’re able to safely return to the office, one way for tech companies to combat their ‘always on’ reputation is to continue to offer and advocate flexible working arrangements.

Advancements in cloud technology have played a key role in facilitating this transition, allowing disparate workforces remote access to key information securely and in a way which abides by data governance requirements. These new working arrangements have made it so that no matter their personal circumstances, women are able to perform to the best of their capabilities whether or not they are present in the office or working remotely.

Tech companies also need to address the issue of representation in senior leadership positions. As we’ve seen, role models play a key part in attracting talent to an industry. This concept of modelling progressive behaviour extends beyond just putting women in positions of authority. Simply hiring a woman into a senior leadership position will not fix this issue. That behaviour is ineffective at best and tokenism at worst. Instead, what is needed is active participation from diverse voices in the conversations that shape corporate culture.

While businesses have an important role to play in creating a more equal workplace, they shouldn’t feel that they have to do it alone. There are plenty of outstanding charitable foundations and independent organisations that businesses can partner with to increase the support network for women in tech and provide them with mentorship and training opportunities. One such organisation that we work with in EMEA is Women In Data. Specialising in fields relating to data science, they do truly pioneering work to promote greater representation of women in data professions and we are incredibly proud to be advocates for the work they do.

Diversity, equity and inclusivity (DE&I) programmes should not be seen as a progressive measure, they should be an absolute necessity in all organisations. By shaping corporate culture around principles of diversity, businesses can create an environment where they build and shape role models for young women. This point is again backed by research, as a recent “Women in Work” report found that 83% of British millennial women stated that they actively seek out employers with a strong record on diversity, equity and inclusion.

A final point here is the importance of unconscious bias training. With the rise of AI in tech we’ve all seen horror stories of what biases can do to an otherwise well-designed system. The concern around how bias affects programmes and systems needs to be reflected by the tech industry in how we combat our own biases. There needs to be multiple voices in the hiring process that not only challenge potential biases from individuals, but also structural biases that may be present throughout the process. Training on this subject is an absolute necessity for everyone in an organisation who could be involved in the hiring process from the CEO right through to managers. It’s unfeasible to expect organisations to support diversity when there are structural roadblocks built into how an organisation brings people in.

The future for women in tech

Technology companies do great things to better the everyday lives of people: from revolutionising the ways we work, to the ways we relax, through to how we connect and communicate with one another. However,  this same drive and innovative spirit that has facilitated these accomplishments must be harnessed to meet the challenge of gender diversity within the tech industry. DE&I programmes, unconscious bias training and flexible working are just three of the most impactive actions that tech companies can take right now to make a difference; and progress is indeed being made. True progress, however, will not happen overnight. Only through a concerted effort across the entire technology industry, with greater time, resources and care, will we see these challenges tackled.


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group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

The importance of gender diversity in STEM

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Article by Jane Craven, Sales Director for UK and Ireland at EPOS

Efforts in the UK to increase the number of women entering a career in STEM have by and large been successful – notably, the UK beat its 2020 target to reach 1 million women working in core STEM roles, highlighted in WISE’s 2019-2020 report.

While this is great news and a milestone of significance it still only represents a step in the right direction. There is still work that needs to be done to address gender disparity across much of the UK tech sector. For instance, women only make up 12% and 16% of engineering and IT professionals, respectively.

A lack of diversity limits the talent pool a business can draw from and prevents diverse, unique, and innovative voices from being heard – diversity in STEM acts as a catalyst for technological advancement – but only when stimulated. If these technologies are to truly benefit us all, then those developing them must represent a diverse cross-section of society.

Additionally, diversity benefits businesses, firms in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile.

Businesses across the sector, including EPOS, are on a collective journey to create an industry that is diverse as the world we see around us. Diversity can no longer be a box ticking exercise, not only is there a business case for it but also a moral impetus– as an industry we must recognise that there is always room for improvement and do our utmost to achieve it.


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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