Driving the Digital Innovation Agenda from FinTech and Beyond' with Mariquit Corcoran, Barclays - She Talks Tech Podcast

Listen to our latest She Talks Tech podcast on 'Driving the Digital Innovation Agenda from FinTech and Beyond' with Mariquit Corcoran, Barclays

Driving the Digital Innovation Agenda from FinTech and Beyond' with Mariquit Corcoran, Barclays - She Talks Tech Podcast

Today we hear from Mariquit Corcoran. Mariquit is the head of Barclays Ventures US and The Global Rise FinTech Platform.

Since joining Barclays, Mariquit has been involved in supporting start-ups from around the world and running world-class programs targeting technological sectors. Mariquit will discuss the latest industry trends alongside investor and market insights and share’s the work that Barclays Ventures is doing to drive innovation growth from health tech, to female founders and so much more.

You can find out more about and connect with Mariquit on LinkedIn.

LISTEN HERE


‘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’.

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Bela Stepanova

Inspirational Woman: Bela Stepanova | VP of Product, Iterable

Bela Stepanova

Bela Stepanova is VP of Product at Iterable, a leading cross-channel marketing platform, where she’s been able to nurture her passion for building enterprise products with design and data science at the forefront. 

Bela has spent the last 14 years building products, used by millions of people across the globe. Prior to joining Iterable, she worked as a Sr. Director of Product at Box, where she led the Web product teams and founded Box’s Growth team. As a product leader, her biggest passion is people—from bringing a user-first mindset to B2B products, to building diverse teams and investing in the next generation of leaders.

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

I’ve spent the last 14 years building products, used by millions of people across the globe. As a product leader, my biggest passion is people—from bringing a user-first mindset to B2B products, to building diverse teams and investing in the next generation of leaders.

Prior to joining Iterable, I worked as a Sr. Director of Product at Box, where I led the Web product teams and founded Box’s Growth team. Before that, I ran product and engineering teams building large-scale financial platforms for Accenture clients. I also spent a few years helping global non-profits create and execute their CRM & e-commerce technology strategies.

I’ve been VP of Product at Iterable for 11 months now, where I’ve been able to nurture my passion for building enterprise products with design and data science at the forefront. This has been an incredible year of innovation for us. Our most recent product launch, Brand AffinityTM, is the first-ever intelligent personalisation solution to help marketers better measure customer sentiment.

Using AI technology, Brand Affinity is designed for marketers to transform customer communications based on their interests and engagement levels. The platform provides understanding  of customer sentiment at scale, helping marketers create effective messaging strategies. This was an exciting technology challenge to work on. And I’m incredibly proud of our team’s accomplishments and our impact. One particular example is near to my heart—by leveraging Brand Affinity in their customer journeys, dgtl fundraising doubled conversion of engaged prospects into regular donors for Alzheimer's research.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not in a traditional sense. To me, there are three major ingredients to a great career: trajectory of learning, opportunity to make an impact and most importantly the group of humans to share the journey with. I find that if you are able to bring those three aspects together, everything else follows.

When it comes to intellectual fulfillment, I continuously ask myself: do I have a big challenge to tackle and do I have an opportunity to have a meaningful impact? I love building our product at Iterable. From a reach point of view, we operate at one of the largest scales any software product can—collectively our customers interact with billions of people around the world. This kind of challenge keeps me excited to wake up every day—from the technology side to the product design possibilities. I get to work with our team to bring the latest and greatest of AI and data science to life, make our customers' lives easier via design decisions and re-imagine the ways technology can unlock human creativity.

And most importantly, it is all about people. At Iterable, I found a group of people who believe in each other, what we are trying to accomplish, and live every day with shared values of humility, balance, trust and growth mindset. The connections we make every day can define the rest of our careers and how we come together colors every single experience as we learn and grow together.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

No journey is without obstacles. I’m sure everyone at some point of their career experiences working with someone who has a style they are not used to, having to negotiate their salary after finding out they are underpaid, or being on either side of a potentially tough situation like an organization restructure. A lot of times there are no perfect solutions, but looking back across many challenges, few lessons are constant: be human first, know your data, act timely and be transparent.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I started coding when I was 12, and I love everything about building products and the positive impact that technology can have on our lives. But investing in people is by far my proudest achievement—giving opportunities to people from different backgrounds to break into tech careers, coaching women how to advance past what sometimes could feel like a neverending mid-level of career, finding the superpowers in people and ways to make those shine by pairing them with the right opportunities.

So much in a career can rest in having the right exposure—someone to open just one extra door for you, to push you out of your comfort zone, to help you lean into your talents and believe in yourself. I learn a tremendous amount from people I mentor and my teams. It is the most fulfilling experience to see them shine. There is only so much one can achieve on their own but if we invest in each other, the impact is exponentially higher.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Curiosity. Early on in my career I have worked in a number of different industries. I also learned about the different aspects of building products by taking on a variety of roles from software engineering to technical operations and product management. All the zig-zags in my path helped me find my passions, and also taught me what I’m not best at. And as a result, I always look at building teams like a puzzle—complementary strengths of team members being individual puzzle pieces. Diversity of thought, passion, experiences, and backgrounds is key to building the best products.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

A career path is never as straightforward as resumes might lead one to believe.  Be true to what career ingredients matter the most to you and pursue that, without letting social pressure push you in a different direction. Whilst compensation and titles definitely have merit, don’t forget about culture, learning opportunities and the ability to make an impact. And as LinkedIn might have proved to us, we are all only a few connections apart—invest in your relationships with people along the way.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

When I first started programming, my mom introduced me to the only software engineer she knew for inspiration. This was in a small town in Russia in the ‘90s, so he might have been the only one. When she left the room, he told me I shouldn’t study computer science because I am a girl. The first career counselor in the academic setting I’ve ever met, also told me as much. Perhaps this doesn’t happen as often now, but succeeding in an environment where you are a minority can be hard. The best thing that ever worked for me is creating my own “board of directors.” Everyone needs a group of people who pull you up, believe in you, challenge you, and remind you of your passions and strengths to help you succeed.  This group doesn’t have to include only women, or even only people in tech, as long as they are in your corner and support you every step of the way.

What do you think companies can do to support the progression of women working in technology?

Improving the representation of women in tech should be a key priority for 2021. As we strive to see more women at the top, diversity and inclusion must be at the core of every business. There are a  number of things that companies can do to support women to progress, such as offering flexible work schedules, having great paid maternity leave programs, offering ongoing personal development training and having an executive team that’s intentional and assertive about increasing female leadership. It is also important to create accountability around equal pay and advancement opportunities  for women and overall equality in the workplace.

At Iterable, diversity and inclusion is integral to our ethos, and I’m proud to share that we have just been ranked no.6 in Girls Club’s Top 25 Companies Where Women Want to Work.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Create inclusive environments that support and inspire women and people from all backgrounds. A few examples come to mind: Women are more likely to be successful in environments that are collaborative, to speak up if there are other women in the room, to apply to jobs that don’t use biased language in job descriptions, and to get promoted in a culture that values not only outcomes but also how people worked with others to get there. Creating an inclusive workplace is not a one-time campaign or initiative; it is a fundamental value that requires intentionality and accountability all across the organization.

There are currently only 17 per cnet of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

In my first job out of college, I was the only woman engineer in the company. And since then, there were times where I was the only woman executive in the room. And I found that so many women who were trying to get into Product roles at the time were holding back from asking for help until there was a woman in a leadership position. It is just as important for companies to look at the percentage of historically underrepresented groups in the leadership positions as overall. When there is diversity at the leadership level, magic can happen.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

There are many wonderful women in tech groups that specialize in specific roles within tech. But it doesn’t have to be only women’s groups. I’d recommend combining that with events that focus on particular aspects of tech—many companies host events and webinars that deep dive into topics like building for scale, conducting user research, learning API best practices, designing AI products, using data science to make product decisions—practically anything you might want to learn. Those are usually free and can be found via services like Meetup or Eventbrite, or by subscribing to newsletters from tech companies in the field of interest. Many VC firms also publish insightful podcasts where experts share their experiences and market developments. Last but not least, if you have an opportunity, invest in workshops and programs taught by practitioners. For example, I’m a Reforge alumni and found it to be a career accelerator at a time when I took on a new professional challenge. I absolutely love being a part of their workshops now as a guest speaker.


WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.


Glassdoor Best Places to Work 2021

Salesforce, Google, Apple & Microsoft among the best places to work in 2021

Glassdoor Best Places to Work 2021

Salesforce, Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are among the best places to work, according to Glassdoor.

Glassdoor, the worldwide leader on insights about jobs and companies, has announced the winners of its 13th annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honouring the Best Places to Work in 2021 across the UK and four other countries. Unlike other workplace awards, the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards are based on the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback by completing a company review about their job, work environment and employer over the past year.

The Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards highlight Best Places to Work across the UK, France, Germany the U.S. and Canada. Winners are ranked based on their overall rating achieved during the past year.

The top ten Best Places to Work in 2021 for the UK are:

  1. Salesforce (4.5 rating)
  2. Microsoft (4.4 rating)
  3. Abcam (4.4 rating)
  4. Google (4.4 rating)
  5. Softcat (4.4 rating)
  6. GTB (4.4 rating)
  7. Apple (4.3 rating)
  8. Bella Italia (4.3 rating)
  9. SAP (4.3 rating)
  10. Facebook (4.3 rating)

Speaking about the awards, Christian Sutherland-Wong, Glassdoor chief executive officer, said, "COVID-19 is in the driver’s seat and every employer has been impacted. This year’s winning employers have proven, according to employees, that even during extraordinary times, they’ll rise to the challenge to support their people.”

“A mission-driven culture, transparent leadership and career opportunities are always hallmarks of Best Places to Work winners."

"This year, we also see exceptional employers who have prioritised the health, safety and well-being of their employees."

"My congratulations go to all of this year’s outstanding Employees’ Choice Award winners.”

Glassdoor’s 50 Best Places to Work (UK) in 2021 list features winning employers across a range of industries, including technology, finance, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, insurance, food and more. Notably, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there are four restaurant employers on this year’s list, with three of those also appearing on last year’s list, including Bella Italia, Nando’s and wagamama. Google is one of only two employers to make the UK list every year since launch, the other being J.P. Morgan.

Nineteen employers are newcomers to the UK large list in 2021, including Sage, Majestic Wine, Just  Eat and The Body Shop. Seven employers are rejoining the list in 2021, including Sky Betting & Gaming, Arm and Waitrose & Partners.

Salesforce is the only employer to appear on all five lists - US, Canada, UK, France, Germany).

When employees submit reviews about their employer on Glassdoor, they are asked to share their opinions on some of the best reasons to work for their employer (pros), any downsides (cons) and are encouraged to provide advice to management. In addition, employees are asked to rate how satisfied they are with their employer overall, rate their CEO as well as rate key workplace attributes like career opportunities, compensation and benefits, work-life balance, senior management and culture and values. Employees are also asked whether they would recommend their employer to a friend and whether they believe their employer’s six-month business outlook is positive, negative or if they have no opinion.


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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assorted numbers on a board, women in data

Working with numbers | Women in Data

assorted numbers on a board, women in data

When Lyndsey Swann needed a career reboot, she studied for an HND in computing at night school and this led to her first role in data. Lyndsey now heads up ‘customer excellence’ for Gazprom Energy - a role all about maximising and monetising data and insight across the organisation. Lyndsey tells us why she thinks women are underrepresented in the data sector and what can be done about it.

The percentage of roles linked to data science being taken by women has dropped from 41 per cent in 2005, to 34 per cent in 2009, and to 27 per cent in 2019.

Despite millions of pounds being spent to encourage greater diversity in STEM careers, worryingly, jobs involving data are neither attracting, nor being secured by, female candidates.

I love working with data because it enables better business decisions. It often takes the emotion or guesswork out of decision making and will ultimately improve an organisation’s performance by enhancing service to the customer and increasing revenue to the business. It’s fantastic to create a compelling story through data that makes people think differently and introduces them to new ideas. Data can surprise, prove wrong or validate original thought – you never know what you are going to find.

The unconscious message

But clearly data isn’t the career choice for many women. I think this is due to the choices young girls make at school, as well as the unconscious messages they are given. For a large part, data analytics and data science doesn’t inspire young girls. While many enjoy maths and sciences at primary school, interest wanes when they move into senior school and become teenagers - where many conform with ‘the norm’.

The way data science is ‘sold’ in many schools is also partly to blame. Even today people assume that girls’ minds are less technical and not as logical. Although this is unconscious in many cases, it puts girls off studying these subjects due to the fear of failure. This perpetuates the vicious cycle of lacking female role models that could then inspire the female data scientists of the future.

So how can we improve the situation? Firstly, we must engage young girls when they are in high school and making those crucial GCSE choices. It needs to be made clear that a career in data is a rewarding, achievable and sustainable career choice. Bringing women in data into high schools to inspire others would help.

Secondly, a clearer career roadmap would be useful. Data science is not the only role available to those who are inspired by analytics. There are also areas like customer insight, or research and marketing roles that all utilise data and would benefit hugely from greater diversity.

Broadening the spectrum

This diversity would bring tangible benefits and improvements to industry; for example, a broader spectrum of views and different approaches to solving business problems. Women tend to excel in problem solving, agility of thought, and communications – all crucial attributes in my line of work.

I also think women are generally strong at logical decision making, are highly action-orientated and active listeners. These are essential attributes in data analytics & data science, especially when it comes to asking the right questions of the data and insight to monetise the outcomes as constantly demanded in business today.

However, we should be aiming for a place where gender is irrelevant and the most talented people should grow and thrive equally in the data sector, regardless of this. As in many areas, this requires substantial effort to remove unconscious bias.

Making a difference

Another way the sector can nurture more talent, including women, is by demonstrating the connected worlds that data science is part of. My career transcends two very different but connected worlds – deep data insights and customer experience. Connections like these are important because they highlight the wider impact that working with data has. It’s not just about being into numbers. It’s what you learn from them and how you can make a difference.

These ‘data connections’ should encourage more people who are data literate but also enjoy creative thinking and problem solving, to look further at data analytics & data science as a rewarding career path. The industry needs the right combination of technical data science and programming skills but also the ability to utilise that insight for commercial gain.

Now that so many customer interactions are digital, there are new opportunities for younger candidates to shine earlier. They can quickly dominate the field in new data areas such as web analytics, social media listening, sentiment analysis, and AI.

My own journey

I’m both proud and lucky to work for a business today that takes diversity seriously. It’s this attitude and the people within Gazprom Energy that sets it apart from other B2B utilities suppliers. Within the UK we have a balanced senior team in terms of outlook, gender, and specialism, which makes for fair leadership and a strong foundation for the business.

The skillset I need in my customer excellence team is widespread, from research professionals and process specialists, to customer insight analysts and CRM experts. This should ensure diversity. First and foremost, I want to recruit people that are passionate about creating best in class customer experience using data, insight, research, and technology, so we are continually able to grow and innovate.

Gender will not be the primary factor in choice of recruits; however, I strongly hope that I can build a diverse team that benefits from great female candidates in the mix.

Lyndsey SwannAbout the author

Lyndsey Swann is Head of Customer Excellence at Gazprom Energy.

With over 15 years’ experience in in customer insight and analytics, research, strategy development, segmentation, customer experience, CRM and customer services, Swann works to put the customer at the heart of decision making whether that be B2C or B2B.


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.


How AI is changing businesses for good

artificial intelligence

Regardless of how we feel about Artificial Intelligence (AI), it’s already an established part of many businesses, and is growing rapidly.

Like many technologies, AI is not inherently “good” or “bad”; its effects reflect the intentions and actions of people who create and use it.

Here are three reasons to be optimistic about its future, along with why each should be tempered with caution.

AI Means More Emphasis on Data in Decision-making

AI works by examining large quantities of data, and applying mathematical and statistical rules to make decisions - like approving a loan - or evaluate the likelihood of certain events - like a customer enjoying a movie. The use of AI encourages objectivity in how those decisions and evaluations are made.

For example, HR responsibilities such as recruitment and promotions generally require some subjectivity. Getting decisions right can be hard, and tougher still if there are perceptions of unfairness against individuals or groups.

Using AI here incorporates data from across (and possibly outside) an organisation to add objectivity to such decisions. AI can also demonstrate that decisions are blind to race and gender data. Such decisions will always involve human judgement and subjectivity; AI can increase the role of objective data, and ensure human influence remains transparent.

BUT . . . 

AI uses data, but people decide what that data should be and how it’s used. AI can’t by itself stop people using inappropriate data, or using relevant data inappropriately. That may be deliberate or, (hopefully) more likely, through human error.

For example, when creating an AI recruitment system for a company with a predominantly male workforce, some AI techniques will automatically reflect this skew. This will result in a recruitment system biased towards male applicants, unless the data is treated with techniques that remove this.

So, AI’s reliance on data can enable great steps forward in accuracy and fairness of business decisions, but can also achieve the opposite if not used with care, skill and good intentions.

AI Forces Rules to Be Established Up-front

A common word in AI conversations is “algorithm”, a set of maths, logic and statistics calculations that process data in an AI system to achieve a complicated result that previously only humans could manage. This is the AI designer’s interpretation of what a business wants the AI system to achieve.

However, AI doesn’t decide how a given business problem is solved - that’s the responsibility of AI designers and business people. The business decides what needs to be achieved, and describes how a human would do that in the form of business rules, usually complex and sometimes subjective. Introducing AI forces clarity on how choices and assessment are made to achieve a result.

The skill of the AI designer is choosing and configuring appropriate algorithms, selecting the data to use, and specifying how to use it. This can include powerful techniques to deal with subjectivity and ambiguity.

For example, HR will tell the AI designer how they evaluate interviews and decide whether to hire, reject or further assess them. The AI designer creates an algorithm that makes the same decision using data about this and past candidates. This is tested and adjusted until it works at least as well as humans alone.

AI provides consistency in how complex processes and evaluations are performed. This can lead to better results and the ability to understand clearly how decisions were made. We expect this from regular business systems, but AI extends this to activities previously only done by people.

BUT . . .

The main problem is of course when business rules are inappropriately translated into algorithms, generally through human error in business knowledge or AI design.

Another challenge is that algorithms can be too complex to check decisions retrospectively. “Transparent AI” is an AI design approach that ensures it’s always possible to understand individual AI decisions.

AI Shines a Light on Ethics, Fairness and Accountability

The third reason to be optimistic about AI in business is the flip side of the biggest concerns about it: ethics, fairness and accountability. In a world of #BLM, fake news and data privacy issues, many concerns about AI are symptoms of wider problems facing many businesses.

But if a business wants to reap the rewards of AI, it needs to be ready to answer questions about ethics, fairness and accountability sooner rather than later.

To introduce successful AI that grows revenues and reduces costs, a business will need to address issues around bias in its data, fairness in its business rules and other such considerations.

The other issue AI raises is governance - who in an organisation is responsible for problems around ethics and fairness that may be uncovered, and how do they get addressed. As this is to do with technology and data, they may initially be problems for IT departments and CIOs.

But AI is likely to ask questions of businesses that go further.

BUT . . .

Businesses - especially big, successful ones - have thrived and survived since commerce first appeared without necessarily treating ethics and fairness as importantly as profit and growth.

Many do, and there have been many examples over the years of business practices that used to be acceptable no longer being tolerated.

AI, and the way it uses data, is a catalyst for discussion of some big issues around fairness in business. But whether the discussions lead to change is down to factors way beyond a piece of technology.

Was RahmanAbout the author

Was Rahman is an expert in the ethics of artificial intelligence, the CEO of AI Prescience and the author of AI and Machine Learning. See more at www.wasrahman.com


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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Team working by group video call share ideas, global teamsTeam working by group video call share ideas, global teams

Recognising unconscious bias in the virtual workplace

Team working by group video call share ideas, global teams, virtual workplace

By Charlotte Berg, CEO at Compodium

2020 will be a memorable year – one that caused many people a lot of hardship, but one that also ushered in a new era of digital, workplace and social transformation.

One of the central threads to this is video communication – now widely used in almost all environments. Whether it’s meetings between employees, talking to your doctor or staying in touch with family members, video became the go-to tool in a year where face-to-face communication was severely restricted.

One of the first places to see this change was television news interviews.  Where previously guests would have patiently waited behind the scenes, ready to join the presenters in the studio for a short face-to-face conversation, suddenly these interviews began taking place over a video conferencing link.  This was an immediate solution, but an effective alternative for providing an expert opinion on a news story.  It was an approach that almost every industry would soon replicate.

The power of a bookcase

What became clear very quickly in the move to home-based interviewees on the news was how effective a subtle piece of background self-promotion could be on a video call.  With most of the screen taken up with the call participant, there isn’t a great deal of room for much else.  However, a well-placed book, award or piece of art in the background of the call – for example, on a bookshelf – can be an extremely effective promotional tool for the interviewee.  A shameful plug or brilliant marketing?  That’s a question open to debate.  But the innate power of imagery in this context is clear – which is why marketing agencies can charge significant sums for delivering this type of branding for businesses.

As Newton’s third law states: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  In this situation, a well-placed prop in a video call background can encourage a viewer to make assumptions about intelligence or accomplishment, or perhaps be more likely to take a particular action (“buy my book!”).  The opposite is also true; an ill-thought-out object in the background has a subtle power to convey a negative message, encourage harmful assumptions or, at its worst, damage the relationship between participants.

This notion is called unconscious bias.  It’s one of the many ‘tools’ the human brain relies on to speed up decision making – along with confirmation bias, availability bias and hindsight bias to name just a few – and is present in all of us.  Everyone has unconscious biases and – as the name suggests – for the most part, people are unaware they impact their decision making and assumptions.

Recognising bias in new ways

The question of bias is at its heart a complex and difficult one.  Regardless of how open-minded we try to be, having bias is part of what makes us human.  But combined with societal, cultural and historical stereotypes and prejudices, unconscious bias can heavily influence how we behave towards, or think about, other people.

Recognising, understanding and overcoming this bias plays a huge role in the workplace.

Many organisations are aware of the issues surrounding unconscious bias in the workplace and there are a range of advisory services, such as Acas, offering independent help and advice – online tests that help individuals become more aware of their own biases.  The impact of unconscious bias in the workplace can determine how people make choices, from the way they allocate tasks to how they manage challenging situations and conflict between colleagues.  It can emerge in even the most inclusive of teams, particularly during challenging and stressful times, or periods of uncertainty.

And this is where we need to be mindful in the new era of video collaboration.  In the past, efforts to address unconscious bias has focused on first impressions, handshakes, eye contact, and clothing choices.  With much of this now off the table, organisations must ensure the same level of focus is given to video communications – providing limited body language but other considerations such as background and décor.  It’s entirely likely that video conferencing has actually opened up new avenues for unconscious bias, with everyone from employees to doctors now showcasing more aspects of their personal lives and living spaces.

Whether it’s seeing where someone lives, meeting their pets, hearing their children, or noticing a well-stocked garden - these things can contribute to the subconscious thoughts, feelings, assumptions and decisions someone makes on a video call.

Seeing bias for what it is

Amy Bonomi, a social science researcher from Michigan State University, and Nelia Viveiros from University of Colorado, have recently explained how unconscious bias works in practice during video conversations.  The researchers concluded that video calls have the potential to uncover unconscious bias related to gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.  Even something as straightforward to a conversation icebreaker can unintentionally reinforce dominant social norms and identities.

In the new era of video collaboration, it’s crucial that organisations recognise the potential for bias to occur in this way and put in place processes and tools to help employees identify and overcome this when it happens.  Amy Bonomi and Nelia Viveiros offer a number of areas organisations can focus on the support inclusivity, including:

  • Using inclusive language
  • Approaching conversations with sensitivity
  • Remaining conscious of symbolism in the ‘virtual environment’ and how participants may want to express themselves
  • Challenging microaggressions when they occur and any negative effects they may have had on participants
  • Respecting participants’ time by including frequent breaks in long calls

Unconscious bias is not unique to the post-pandemic era we now find ourselves in, but organisations need to be even more mindful of its impact now virtual collaboration is firmly established in the workplace.  Working virtually offers enormous benefits to society.  But as with any widespread social shift, it’s crucial we ensure inclusivity is at its heart.


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woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in tech

Encouraging diversity in development

man and woman discussing tech, women in tech, computers, code, development

There was a time when the thought of a developer conjured up images of a dark room full of graduates in hoodies. Times have changed, but the perception lingers. As too does the presumption that it’s a male dominated industry.  

Mobile app developer for 6B, Daniel Edwards challenges this attitude, explaining that the sector is now full of possibility for those serious about a career in the sector, irrelevant of gender.

Daniel comments: “I remember it well. The suggestion that developers were geeks, usually men and spent much of the time in a dark room wearing headphones unable to communicate confidently off screen.

“Like any industry, we attracted this reputation and it stuck, but things have moved on massively since then.

“Coding has become an accepted term, and although often referred to in its most basic form, there is a greater understanding of what can be achieved when you work with a professional developer. There has also been a lot of work done with STEM subjects at schools and colleges. Particularly opening up the dialogue to young women to showcase the appeal of a job in tech.”

Providing insight into the complex skills that a developer needs and the technical knowledge, Daniel explains why this should encourage rather than deter anyone who wants a career in the industry.

He comments: “The reality is that you need to be a multilinguist. That is, you have to be able to write code in different technical languages and speak to customers too. This isn’t a skillset that is driven by gender, it is about commitment, attitude and willingness to learn.

“When I went to University, you would learn a bit of everything and then decide what you wanted to specialise in. Anything else, you learnt on the job. With access to the Libraries and Frameworks that we have now, such as React Native, a junior developer could come in and work on a wide range of projects, from mobile applications to websites and web-apps.

“This makes them a more versatile member of the team, while also giving each candidate the opportunity to work across a variety of projects on multiple platforms. Never has there been a better time to grasp at the chance to work in an industry that literally never stops evolving.”

Daniel explains how opening up the talent pool and providing opportunity for a generation of developers can also benefit business.

 He comments: “Having so many developers that can work across several projects at once impacts positively on outputs. Knowing that we can have a truly diverse mix of personalities, with different thoughts and experiences, makes our job all the more exciting.

“You don’t want to work with a team of clones that will churn out the same old stuff. We want innovative ideas that are influenced by the people working on that project. Male or female shouldn’t come into it. Everyone has the opportunity to contribute and to make a difference.”

Daniel explains that although these changes are positive, they don’t make development any the less complicated. As you still need specialist knowledge and technical skills when you work on larger scale projects, he explains why this should encourage future talent, male and female, to want a career as a developer.

He comments: “While it sounds like we have taken several languages and created just one simple dialogue between all platforms that isn’t the case. Access to frameworks certainly gives developers greater scope and opportunity to work across a range of projects, but when it comes to larger scale briefs, the need to be a specialist remains.

“As the purpose of coding has become better understood, with websites having greater functionality and businesses using apps to create value and to support customer experience, client expectations have also followed suit.

“It’s no longer about putting five pages together with a gallery and a video. Organisations now recognise that their website reflects their brand. There is a direct correlation between the perception a shopper will give from an online experience as from a face-to-face interaction. If the functionality isn’t there or the navigation is poor, then it will leave a bad impression.

“For me, the significance of what a developer can create is now better appreciated than ever before. Seeing more female developers coming into the business just enhances that further. I would expect this to encourage the next generation of talent to consider a career in tech.

“I can think of nothing better than working in a job that pushes boundaries and challenges my capabilities to become the best that I can be in a truly diverse team of people, all with something different to bring to the table.”

6B is a development agency working across a range of private and public sector accounts. The company is a 30-strong team of digital specialists. For more information about the agency and its work, please visit: https://6bdigital.com/


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.


New-Year-2021

Evaluating 2020 and looking forward to 2021

New-Year-2021

Article provided by Sarah Earl, Product Director at RingGo

2020 was a year that no one could have predicted.

There is no denying that the pandemic has changed the way the world works, and the payments and technology industry is no exception.

In 2021 I expect to see increased demand for speed with access and payment. This means that businesses will have to embrace digital solutions, namely apps, to allow for consumers to pay for services in the swiftest and most efficient ways possible.

Next year will also see the enforcement of PSD2 – prompting significant change in the payments industry. It is a regulation that will cause friction for users, thus providing payments and technology providers with an opportunity to create solutions that are both compliant and friction free.

There is no denying that data has been a hot topic for many years now, but 2021 is not the year that the upward trend is set to change. During the coming months of economic unrest, businesses who capitalise on their data to improve their services and make life easier for customers will see probable growth, and those behind the curve will be at risk of sinking.

Finally, this year I hope to see more women in C-level positions within the tech and payments industry, and it is a trend that needs to continue for years to come.

Payments

Next year will see the need for speed with access and payment – this is where I believe we will notice large-scale adoption of app clips and app widgets. These features take away the need to download another app, instead allowing the consumer to take a picture of a sign, access the app clip and pay directly with Apple Pay. This process takes seconds, fulfilling the growing consumer need for speed, instead of tedious minutes signing into an app or having to enter lots of personal details.

From a parking perspective, it is going to be important for us to embrace guests using the app. Consumers are no longer willing to enter all of their details into multiple apps for services. By using app clips, we can allow guest users to pay for parking without the perceived pain point of logging in. Also, embracing the capabilities of Apple Pay and Google Pay are vital components of any e-commerce app. This is how people want to manage their transactions, and we need to work alongside that.

Open banking will also start to have more of an impact on app-based payments. It will bring organisations together for the betterment of the user by sharing innovative ideas through open APIs and also drive competition to meet constantly evolving consumer needs.

PSD2

Regulations and compliance have always felt like a corporate chore. They force us into creating features or solving problems that were never on the roadmap. However, as more and more regulations are likely to hit the payments industry, I challenge us to think of how we can use regulations as an opportunity.

In 2021, PSD2 will finally be enforced, and while this has been pushed back to September, I think it will be part of a year of change in the payments industry. As we try to work around a system that introduces friction for users, it is our opportunity to innovatively create solutions that are compliant and friction free.

The need for a smooth payment process will drive consumers towards SCA compliant payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay in 2021. If your app or website does not feature these payment methods, customers are likely to disengage due to the authentication step up.

2021 is the year to get ahead of the regulation curve by listening to customers and driving innovation through the payments process.

Data

If you aren’t already using data to drive your decisions, then you are likely to be behind the curve. However, 2021 will start to separate those who are really optimising their data from those who are just scratching the surface.

In the same breath, we shouldn’t simply be keeping the data we collect for ourselves; we should be using it to make our customers lives easier.  In the app world, we should be tracking trends of how people use the app, where they drop off and what experience they have to drive our products forward. But we can also use the data we collect to make the process smoother.

When it comes to parking, we have lots of audiences that need the data we collect to make the whole ecosystem work better. From the app developers who provide the right tools, to the local authorities and parking operators that need to understand traffic flow and user needs, through to the motorists who benefit from predictive analytics that make repeat sessions easier. We have been talking about data being the new oil for years now, 2021 is the time to put our money where our data is and use it to its full potential.

Women in tech

Women have definitely started to rise up in the ranks within technology organisations, there is no doubt about that. When I have openings on my product team, I see as many capable female candidates as I do male and I am currently working with some very smart, driven women.

That being said, there still seems to be some limits to what type of work women are embracing in tech and how high they rise. They are few and far between at the C-level, and this is something I would like to see change in the coming years. It will only become more feasible as we pull along the ambitious women coming behind us and raise our voice collectively.

Unfortunately, there is still a disparity between female representation in product organisations versus engineering organisations, and a big part of this is to do with education. A focus in engineering still begins early and forces you down, what feels like, a very rigid path. Product organisations, on the other hand, bring together people from lots of different backgrounds, are more inclusive and collaborative, and cater to people who might not have necessarily started in tech when they were teenagers.

I do see this trend changing as the way we educate children changes. Today they are exposed to coding, and technology in general, at such a young age, it will become a more natural fit for many to pursue in education and as a career. The little girls of today, will become the tech leaders of tomorrow.

Embracing digital 

2020 forced everyone to focus, and as traditional business models were threatened by lockdown regulations, tech flourished. Companies have had to reinforce their core strategies, put research into new and emerging markets or products on hold, cut costs and re-evaluate what their customers really need.

To do this, everyone went digital. From small village stores, fish and chip vans to baby groups. If you haven’t embraced digital to give customers an online offering during lockdown, then you are most likely going to struggle to survive. Parking was no different.

Nobody wanted to touch street furniture when we emerged from months of lockdown, they no longer wanted to stand in queues with other people or carry coins. This meant that parking apps were a lifeline for people wanting to venture out, but also be cautious of a new range of threats from the virus.

2021 will continue – if not quicken – this trend of embracing digital solutions, and apps will be at the centre of it. Organisations need to focus on accessibility and the usability of apps, while considering a more security conscious consumer base.

Sarah EarlAbout the author

Sarah Earl is Product Director at RingGo, the UK’s leading cashless parking provider. Since joining the company straight after completing her Business IT degree in 2006, Sarah began her career as a member of the IT helpdesk, then diverted away from sales into account management.

When RingGo won the Westminster parking account, it provided her with the perfect opportunity to return to her tech roots. She was brought in as product manager, which required her to manage the testing and design process of the bespoke solution for the city. She has since worked her way up to Product Director and has led the charge on releasing a host of industry firsts to market over the last 10 years, including in car payments, space availability tracking and Emissions Based Parking. Her growth and expertise have made her an instrumental force in making RingGo the UK’s leading cashless parking provider.


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.


Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

From all at WeAreTechWomen, we would like to wish all of our clients, sponsors, speakers, judges, partners, champions, advocates and above all, our community, a very happy New Year and a great 2021!

While 2020 was not quite the year we imagined, we adapted and innovated and earlier this week, we looked back at our top moments, as well as the top news stories, and inspirational profiles of 2020.

You can view these articles below:

Looking back at 2020: Our top tech news stories of the year

In the first in our series of looking back at the past year, we delve into some of our favourite and most important tech news stories of 2020.

While this year has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has still seen Sheridan Ash, June Angelides & Carrie Anne Philbin recognised on Queen's Birthday Honours List; the loss of Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician and inspiration for the Hollywood film, Hidden Figures; a celebration of a million women in STEM; and some great initiatives to help women in tech.

Looking back at 2020: A WeAreTechWomen round-up

2020 is nearly over and to celebrate the year gone by, WeAreTechWomen is taking a look back at our top moments.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this year we had to adapt and innovate to host some of events, conferences and awards virtually. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without our supporters. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has supported us this year. A huge thank you to our clients, sponsors, speakers, judges, partners, champions, advocates and above all, our community. We look forward to supporting you and your progression in 2021.

Discover what happened in our 2020 here.

Looking back at 2020: Our top Inspirational Women & HeForShe interviews

In the fourth and final installments of looking back at 2020, 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.


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.


2021, career advice, New Year

Give people what they need to perform at their best in 2021

2021, career advice, New Year

December is usually the time of year when HR departments across the country send the annual ‘employee satisfaction survey’. And, while this attempt to establish staff’s likes and dislikes from the past 12 months is bound to uncover much more than usual this time around – it always leaves business owners with something to think about.

But for Lorna Stellakis, managing director of managed IT support firm, Q2Q, she regularly asks her clients and their colleagues: “Does your company give you the tools and technologies you need to do your job well? Because try as you might, without those, performance will only ever be lacklustre.”

Although business owners might be fearful of the barrage – or complete lack of – feedback when employees are asked to evaluate the suitability of their tech stack, the question is so much more pertinent as we head into a new year – and one where many workspaces morph from a traditional office environment to either a home set-up, or a combination of the two.

As the owner of a technical business, I would use HR departments, company owners, and technical leads to expand that question even further to ask: “Does your team have the necessary equipment and environment that are conducive to providing both a suitable workspace and the tools they need, in order to work smarter and at maximum efficiency?”

From my experience, it can often be a culmination of lots of little things that cause the most frustrations – ultimately leading to disengagement and low morale.

Once such example would be access to the relevant IT systems. It shouldn’t seem like too much to ask, but from a technical perspective, something as simple as having an old laptop that is a little slow to load files and webpages can have a massive impact on productivity.

Team members who begin each day with the frustration of having to wait for a slow machine to fire up – pressing the ‘power’ button and having enough time to make tea and toast – can be compounded by missing deadlines because they didn’t plan the extra ‘loading’ time, or the added stress that a slow machine brings, when being pressed for information quickly.

Meanwhile, from a working environment perspective, consideration should extend far beyond whether a chair, monitor and desk are at optimal working height – but also consider other contributing factors such as space, light, noise, and temperature.

As a business leader, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your team and ask whether they’re likely to feel motivated if they are constantly frustrated with their equipment and/or environment?

Like many of our peers, a shift to hybrid working has meant we needed to conduct a complete inventory of all the technical infrastructure we have available in the office to establish a hot desking set-up. While this concept is nothing new, for our techies – who have a lot of hardware – they have previously kept all their work-related collateral in one place. So, lugging it between home and HQ was not an option.

But, by investing in additional items, such as desk phones and monitors, staff can ‘borrow’ whatever they need when working from the office, and leave it behind for their colleagues, the following day.

This small investment means that the team’s day to day isn’t littered with distractions from not being able to function as seamlessly as they would normally. And the return on investment when it comes to our staff satisfaction levels makes it totally worth the cost – I am sure this will pay dividends in the long-run.

While returning to a shared space following eight months of relative isolation can be unnerving, removing the disruption of not having the right kit can make a significant difference. Colleagues feel valued, listened to, and cared for, and this pays back in droves in terms of their dedication and work ethic, and of course, efficiency.

As we all transition to whatever the new version of the working day looks like, a new year is the ideal time to identify where there are any gaps, ask – and answer – the question: “is there something missing that you can easily resolve and would it make a major change to team morale?”

About the author

Lorna Stellakis, MD of Q2Q ITMy role is to provide the overall direction and “eye on the compass” as to where we, as a team are heading, setting the overall business strategy and financial budgeting. Whilst always having been involved with systems implementation throughout my career, I have an operational background and no specific IT experience. However, if anything, I believe this makes me more qualified to ensure the team deliver great service, drawing from my operations experience, and having been on the wrong side of poor IT support in the past. I can relate to how crippling this can be to a business, making it paramount that we ensure that IT issues are as invisible as possible, leaving the customers to get on with running their businesses smoothly.


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