Making, not breaking, the new girl code: Young women get the job done with inventive mobile applications

Bita Milanian, Senior Vice President Marketing Communications at GENBAND, shares why she is in support of non-profit DIY Girls, which encourages young girls to code.

Who says girls can't code? I say, let's lose the saying "throw like a girl" and replace it with "code like a girl."

One of the coolest, technology-focused non-profits I've come across recently is the DIY "Do-It-Yourself” Girls. This organisation's mission is to "increase girls’ interest and success in technology, engineering and making through innovative educational experiences and mentor relationships."DIY girls 1

This is a really great initiative. Women in technology are still outnumbered by men, even though we have so many amazing women driving software, mobile, and computing companies. Additionally, salaries for women vs. men in the technology field continue to fall way behind as they do in many industries, however one holds out hope that in the most modern fields there would be more natural equality.

Not only do the girls and young women in the DIY Girls world work on coding and software, they also work in the areas of hardware and emerging fields of 3D printing and interactive textiles using conductive ink technologies.

Since starting up in 2012 in Los Angeles, DIY Girls has:

  • Served nearly 400 girls through programs and workshops
  • Taken 103 5th grade girls through afterschool programs
  • Welcomed over 1,000 women to its Meetup group
  • Won Startup Weekend Edu in LA

Their "Fifth Grade" program was sponsored this year by the California Endowment with a special project asking the girls to design and build interactive games and exhibits that address community health issues. If you want to be truly inspired today, check out their blog on the results.DIY girls 2

My personal favorite from the many creative ideas the girls came up with is "Wheelchair 2.0." Wheelchair 2.0 gives people who can't walk a comfortable, fun and fashionable way to get around. This wheelchair features massage capabilities, a fan and storage. It is fashionable and even lights up when you are traveling at night, and above all makes you feel special, which is important for a person who has lost their ability to walk.

You can support DIYGirls through donations, volunteering, and programs and, for the grown up girls among us, you can join their MeetUp group if you happen to be in the LA area.

I look forward to personally meeting and mentoring DIYGirls and have signed up to spend three hours volunteering at a workshop since I'm an LA resident, and am looking forward to learning at least as much as I can teach - these girls sound amazing!

Socitm launch academy for women leaders in a digital world

The Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) has launched a leadership academy to support aspiring female leaders in technology.

The academy called Empowering Women in a Digital World is aimed at women in the tech sector who are looking for personal growth opportunities.  Socitm academy laucnh pic

This programme is made up of a series of three one-day workshops, coaching, mentoring and group project work over three months. The course is facilitated by expert leadership coaches and trainers. Each participant will be assigned both a personal leadership coach and an experienced female mentor for the duration of the programme.

The academy is part of Socitm’s gender equality strategy and ties into the launch of its new women in IT network last month at an event sponsored by Canon in London. The launch event was held to discuss experiences and ideas on how to advance the prospects of women in IT and digital.

The association of IT and digital professionals working for local public services launched the network to give more visibility to women working in technology.

The network is the brainchild of the public sector body’s president Nadira Hussain, who also acts as customer services transformation manager at London Borough Tower Hamlets. She set up the network to continue the research and discussion around the benefits of employing a diverse workforce.

On the launch of the academy Nadira Hussain, Socitm President for 2015-16, said: “I am delighted to announce this new leadership development programme, specifically aimed at women who work in a digital environment.

“This initiative, from the Socitm Leadership Academy, aims to create role models of empowered, self-aware women, who inspire others, lead and collaborate with confidence and challenge the status quo.”

Three key topics covered at the leadership academy will be Authentic Leader – a one day workshop and personal coaching session on how to build confidence in your unique leadership style; Navigating the Landscape – a one day workshop and personal coaching session on utilising resources available to you and collaborating effectively; Optimising Impact – A one day workshop and coaching session on how to become influential and optimise your impact through confidence, courage and clarity.

Speaking at the launch of the women’s network last month was Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Digital Industries, who recently became the Shadow Minister for Digital Industries under Jeremy Corbyn’s new leadership. At the launch she said: “I’m glad that Socitm are doing this and celebrating women in IT, which is something I have always been passionate about.”

She added: “Diversity is not a nice to have, diversity has benefits, and without women in IT we will never know the kind of tech we could really have.”

Places are limited to 20 participants, and will be on first-come, first served basis. The course is aimed primarily at public sector, however Socitm will be considering a limited number of private sector participants. Course materials, refreshments and lunch are included.

Registrations for the course opened 12th October 2015 and will close on 30th November 2015, when payment will be due.

There is a minimum of 12 participants required to run this course, and a maximum of 25.

Academy Prices

Public Sector Corporate members - £1515.00

Public Sector One or more members - £1595.00

Public Sector others - £1750.00

Private Sector Corporate members - £1662.50

Private Sector One or more members - £1750.00

Private Sector others - £1895.00


TechFuture Women’s Network launched to find female mentor and role models in IT

Charity Apps for Good, employer organisation the Tech Partnership, and the consultancy and service provider Capgemini have joined forces to launch the TechFuture Women’s Network.

Tech Partnership is a network of employers that aims to create the skills needed to grow the global digital economy. Founding members include Cisco, BT, Capgemini, Tata Consultancy Services, Telefonica/O2, Accenture, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM and National Grid.

The TechFuture Women’s Network aims to address the gender imbalance within the technology sector, through a network of role models and mentors.

lcr3cr / Pixabay

Women of all levels, working within digital and technology, are being encouraged to sign up for the network to join a community of individuals who are promoting technology in schools. The community aims to change the way young people learn about technology and to highlight the range of careers on offer to them.

As part of the TechFuture Women’s Network members will be encouraged to join the Apps for Good Expert Community, which shares its skills and knowledge with enthusiastic student teams as they develop ideas for apps for the annual Apps for Good Awards.

Members will also have the opportunity to mentor young women as part of TechFuture Girls clubs, which run after school and at lunchtime for girls aged 10-14.

TechFuture Girls clubs offers activities, games and projects designed to build on girls’ skills and confidence in technology. Mentors are invited to visit the clubs, to support the girls with new perspectives on leaning.

Michelle Perkins, Director, Schools Outreach Programme at Capgemini, said: “If we’re to attract talented young people into tech careers, we need to start early, so working with school age children is vital.

“We know that nothing is more powerful for young people than seeing real-life success – people who are clearly having enjoyable and worthwhile careers – so we hope that female tech specialists will jump at the chance to act as role models. Both boys and girls need to hear and be influenced by women already working in the industry.”

Debbie Forster, co-CEO of Apps for Good, said: “School students really value their interaction with business people, and the positive modelling they provide adds an extra dimension to the Apps for Good programme. We’re delighted to be working with Capgemini, and the other employers of the Tech Partnership, to encourage mentors to join us in schools.”

“Incredibly important” girls choose career in tech says movie maker ToonSpaghetti creator

It is “incredibly important” to encourage girls into careers in tech, according to Berlin based heavy metal guitarist and primary school teacher Leah Hinton who co-founded education app firm TechSpaghetti.

This month the company launched movie maker platform ToonSpaghetti with the aim of helping children develop their creative thinking skills and to support teachers in teaching the IT curriculum.Toonspaghetti 1

Designed for ages 5+ the app uses the “Spaghetti Sense” method of teaching, designed by Hinton, to create stories, add music and special effects with the help of Ugo the Alien. The children are then taught to share their finished movies online via social media. Hinton’s method is designed to prepare children for the challenges of the 21st century, by teaching them the important of creative thinking.

Originally from New Zealand Hinton now lives and teaches in Berlin. Speaking to WeAreTheCity Hinton said: “Lots of schools are struggling to meet the digital needs of the IT curriculum. There is not only a lack of women working within technology, but also teaching technology.

“It is incredibly important to get more girls into tech. 80% of household spending is done by women, so we need more women designing the products that will appeal more to them.”Toonspaghetti 2

She said the app has been designed to appeal to both girls and boys to ensure girls remain as interested and engaged in learning about technology: “Even watching the way girls and boys play with the app. The girls want to create stories, whereas the boys want to just get more points to get to higher levels. It’s designed for both genders for that reason.”

The ToonSpaghetti app was developed and tested with the help of an advisory board made up of seven children, who were selected from 200 students.

TechSpaghetti was founded in 2014 by Hinton and her business partner Elliot Tabachnik.

Hinton explained: “I was teaching film at the time, as part of a Digital Arts curriculum I had designed, and we ran a red carpet screening of the movies and soundtracks made by the children. It was there that I met Elliot.Toonspaghetti 3

“We starting talking about how important creative thinking is for children growing up in such a fast paced world and so we decided to come up with a way of sharing our method of learning with other children around the world. Technology is not just a tech subject, it is life. The world is now a global village that has decided to communicate digitally.”

Hinton said TechSpaghetti will be expanding in the near future but that the company is struggling to find the necessary talent: “We are looking for an iOS developer ourselves and we’re struggling to find talent, particularly female candidates.”

ToonSpaghetti Movie Maker for Kids: Music Play is now available for free in the Apple App Store.

Science Museum opens new exhibition to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day

The Ada Lovelace exhibition opens today at the Science Museum in London to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day and the bicentenary of her birth.Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was a Victorian pioneer of the computing age and has seen been recognised for being the first programmer. She is celebrated for having discovered the potential in symbols rather than just numbers and foreshadowing modern technology almost a century in advance. She was the daughter of the infamous poet Lord Bryon and intellect Annabella Milbanke.

Ada Lovelace is celebrated for having studied maths and science at a time when women rarely did and for collaborating with Charles Babbage on calculating machines.

The free exhibition includes Lovelace’s portraits, letters and notes, alongside the calculating machines she worked on.

Curator of the new exhibition is Dr Tilly Blyth who told the Guardian in a recent article that she hopes the exhibition will breathe life back into her story in the year of her 200th birthday.

Blyth said she wants the exhibition to encourage visitors to appreciate Lovelace’s true legacy, which was something more profound than her instructions for Babbage’s unfinished machine.

“I would say what is really more significant is that intellectual leap that she made for considering what the analytical engine could do,” she said speaking to the Guardian.

“[Babbage] was thinking about the different simultaneous equations that the engine could calculate but what she saw is [that] this isn’t just about number; it’s about symbol and therefore music and possibly letters – and [the machine] could calculate a whole range of different things.”

UK to “go back in time” if women absent from internet and tech industry says Martha Lane Fox

If women are absent from the UK internet and tech industry “we will go back in time” Baroness Martha Lane Fox said at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.Martha Lane

She made her comments whilst at the festival outlining her plans for Dot Everyone project. In April she used her Dimbleby Lecture to reveal national institution idea to make Britain “the most digital nation on the planet”, and urged the nation to sign an online petition demanding that the next prime minister gets started on building the institution.

The Telegraph reported Lane Fox as saying that the growth of the internet is the ''industrial revolution of our time'' and she hoped that the internet would level the playing for diversity.

''All that's happened is that one bunch of very rich white men have transferred their money to another bunch of very rich white men and, worse than that, they are in a very small concentrated area of the world, in Silicon Valley,'' she said.

During her Dimbleby lecture Lane Fox said Dot Everyone aims to educate on how the internet works, but it also plans to put women at the forefront of the movement, because she is concerned none of the big internet businesses relied on by the public were founded or are run by a woman.

Lane Fox added: ''I still find that really baffling. The absence of women from the teams that are making the internet, the product designers, the coders, the engineers, the absence of women in the venture capital community. 'I think it is really profoundly important because this is where the industrial revolution of our time is. If women are absent from it I think we will go back in time.

''I am perplexed by this as I genuinely thought the internet would be an empowering tool for women.”

According to Lane Fox “unconscious biasness” within the venture capital community is holding women back: ''There is a cycle of behaviour in the venture capital community which I don't think is overt sexism, I think there is some, but I don't think it is the only reason but there is a lot of unconscious bias.

''If you are a venture capitalist and you are looking at risk you are less likely to invest in someone that is not like you.”

EDF criticised for "sexist" #PrettyCurious campaign to encourage girls into Stem careers

EDF’s attempt to join the drive in encouraging more girls into science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers has been criticised for being sexist.

The #PrettyCurious campaign encourages girls of ages 11-16 to consider careers in the traditionally male-dominated fields of Stem, however the online campaign has raised eyebrows for its stereotypical view of female scientists.

In a statement issued by EDF on its website the energy giant said: “It’s not about being ‘pretty’; it’s about being ‘pretty curious’. Using 'pretty' is a play on words. We are using the word in the sense of 'pretty unexpected', 'pretty determined', 'pretty inventive', 'pretty focused' and 'pretty curious'.

“It's been chosen purposefully to challenge the stereotypes around personal appearance that are often applied to girls. We knew the name would attract attention and chose it in order to raise awareness of the campaign, which aims to address the significant under-representation of women in Stem.”

EDF have been criticised for not supporting an existing campaign instead, to which it responded by mentioning that it has partnered with The Times Cheltenham Science Festival for over 10 years and are the founding sponsors of the POWERful Women initiative.

In its statement EDF added: “We also work with over 19,500 schools in the UK (over 60% of UK schools) who are signed up to The Pod, EDF Energy’s award winning educational programme – and in Somerset, our Inspire Programme has connected with over 70,000 school children in 171 local schools to help students understand the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We feel this is a critical issue – and one where we have a right to get involved given the importance of it for our business and for the UK as a whole. But we will also continue to work collaboratively with other groups to address it.”


Mortimer Spinks Technology Industry Survey 2016 launches

The Mortimer Spinks Technology Industry Survey 2016 is now open. The survey reveals how people who work in the technology industry think and feel about a whole host of issues.woman with laptop and coffee in hand

Every year recruitment consultant Mortimer Spinks runs a technology industry survey to find out insights in to businesses technology strategies. The survey results are offered to individuals as a career guide and to businesses to support their technology choices and technology talent management.

Mortimer Spinks conducts the annual survey in partnership with Computer Weekly.

Last year the survey saw over 3,000 share their views on topics such as how cautious they are with their personal data to how they feel about their current employer and what really keeps them happy at work.

For 2015 key themes included online privacy, start-up culture, technology dependence, e-mail addiction, crypto currencies, women in technology and innovation. You can read the results from last year’s survey here to gain insights into industry analysis and the tech trends of right now.

You can take the 2016 survey here.

HeForShe campaign #GetFree University Bus tour continues this week

United Nations has taken the HeForShe campaign on tour via the #GetFree University Tour, which will visit universities across the UK and France.

The HeForShe campaign was launched last year by UN Women to engage men and boys as agents of change for gender equality and women’s rights.HeForShe banner

The tour aims to meet with students, participate in panels, and bring in guest speakers from the corporate and celebrity world.

In addition the UN team plus student volunteers will be handing out leaflets to students, engaging them informally on the issue of gender equality and signing them to the HeForShe movement with IPads at

The HeForShe #GetFree University Tour will be visiting the following institutions:

  • University of Leicester, 29 September, 13:00 – 14:30
  • University of Nottingham, 30 September, 14:30-16:00
  • Instit d’et Institut d'études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), 1 October, 14:45-16:45
  • University of Cambridge, 6 October, 13:30-15:00
  • London School of Economics (LSE), 7 October, 15:30-16:30
  • Imperial College London, 8 October, 14:00-15:30

Yesterday President Marie Louise Coleiro launched the UN's HeForShe campaign in Valletta, Malta. The President was chosen by the UN Women to be one of ten Heads of State from around the world to promote the campaign.

At the launch she was reported as saying: "I will do my utmost so that together - men, women, boys and girls and every member of society - will be equal".

Of note, UN Women supporters Douglas Booth and Gugu Mbatha-Raq will be giving presentations.

There will also be participation from the heads of each university and speakers from corporate champions including McKinsey and Company and Barclays.

Businesses 100 years from gender equality at C-suite level says Sheryl Sandberg

US businesses are more than 100 years away from gender equality in C-suite roles, Sheryl Sandberg the chief operating officer of Facebook Inc. and the founder of LeanIn.Org wrote in a recent article for the Wall Street Journal.

Senior executive roles are referred to as C-suite roles because they typically begin with the letter C.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal she said: “At the current pace of progress, we are more than 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite. If NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar past Mars, travel all the way to Pluto and return to Earth 10 times before women occupy half of C-suite offices. Yes, we’re that far away.”

Her comments came after LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. release the results of the Women in the Workplace 2015 study which surveyed 30,000 employees across America. According to Sandberg the study found that women are still underrepresented at every corporate level.

Sandberg said that women see “a workplace tilted against them” and are “twice as likely to believe their gender will make it harder to advance.”

She added: “The unfortunate reality is that women at every stage in their careers are less interested than men in becoming a top executive. Contrary to popular belief, this is not solely rooted in family concerns.”

The research found that even women without children cited stress and pressure as their main issue with advancing to an executive role.

She advised companies to track their "progress on diversity—measuring their pipelines in all functions and at all levels, as well as compiling cultural and attitudinal data.”

Sandberg concluded: “Change is never easy. But we can achieve great gains faster than anyone believes. We reached the moon in eight years of concerted effort—not 80. Let’s bring that same urgency to this mission. We will achieve not just a stronger and more successful workplace, but also increased economic growth and benefits for all our workers and families.”