In the second installment of our series of looking back at the past year, we delve into some of our favourite and most important tech news stories of 2021.

While this year’s main focus was once again the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 has still seen Wally Funk make history and become the oldest person in space; Dame Stephanie Shirley and Ray Ozzie receiving a distinguished fellowship from the Chartered Institue for IT; as well as many diversity and gender initiatives launched to help women into tech and STEM.

We look forward to bringing you all the latest news, debates and thought-provoking articles in 2022!


Glassdoor Best Places to Work 2021January

In January, it was announced that Salesforce, Google Apple and Microsoft were among the best places to work.

Glassdoor, the worldwide leader on insights about jobs and companies, 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.

BT & Code First Girls partnershipFebruary

In February, BT launched a partnership with Code First Girls to help close the UK gender skills gap in tech.

The partnership, which included funding from BT, helps enable Code First Girls, to provide £10,000 worth of free education to every woman undertaking a course with them and to upskill upwards of 900 women. Participating women will also benefit from the expertise of BT’s world class technologists who have helped to shape the Code First Girls courses, ensuring the next generation of women in technology are equipped with the skills they need to succeed.

We also reported that Dragon’s Den star, Piers Linney had joined a campaign to help increase diversity in tech roles.

Former Dragon’s Den star, tech entrepreneur and diversity champion, Piers Linney, called for more to be done to raise awareness of tech careers after new research has revealed that a lack of awareness is preventing young people from entering the technology industry.

Promisingly, the research, conducted by global emerging talent and reskill training provider, mthree, found that despite rising levels of youth unemployment, 78% of Financial services, insurance, pharmaceuticals and life sciences businesses continued hiring for entry level and graduate tech roles throughout the pandemic in 2020, while 92% are planning to do so in 2021.

March

March saw us celebrating International Women’s Day – with a number of tech companies launching initiative to support women in tech.

Entain, the leading global sports betting and gaming entertainment operator, were one such company, launching a series of international initiatives to support girls and young women interested in building careers in technology.

Entain partnered with Girls Who Code, an international non-profit organisation working to close the gender gap in technology; and The Tech Girls Movement in Australia.

School of Code also launched a new part-time bootcamp to help transform lives and diversify tech during the COVID-19 pandemic.

School of Code is on a mission to get more and different types of people into Tech. They are closing the digital skills gap by turning diverse cohorts of people into work-ready full stack developers suited to remote, Agile teams. The bonus: It’s free to attend. Funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority, corporate sponsors, and employer partners levels the playing field and eliminates barriers to entry.

April

In April, we celebrated International Girls in ICT Day!

Girls in ICT Days aims to encourage and empower girls and young women to consider studies and car​eers in the growing field of ICTs,​ enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector.

International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of April.

woman wearing a white lab coat working on an engineering project, International Women in Engineering DayJune

June marked International Women in Engineering Day – with it being reported that female engineers are more likely to be victims of recruitment bias.

Women trying to return to the engineering industry after a career break are more likely to experience recruitment bias than men, according to a survey by STEM Returners.

The survey, published on International Women in Engineering Day, showed 27% of women feel they have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to their gender, compared to 8% of men. Furthermore, 30% of women said they feel they have personally experienced bias in recruitment processes due to childcare responsibilities compared to 6% of men.

Blue Origin First Human Flight Wally FunkJuly

In July, Wally Funk became the oldest person to go into space!

Wally Funk made history by becoming the oldest person to go into space, and finally realised her dream of being an astronaut.

Thanks to Jeff Bezos, Funk was finally able to go into space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard first crewed flight to space. The journey was New Shepard’s 16th flight to space.

Wally is an American aviator, commercial astronaut, and Goodwill Ambassador.

She was the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, the first female civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the first female Federal Aviation Agency inspector.

Wally is also one of the Mercury 13. The Mercury 13 Women in Space Program was a privately-funded program to see how women would cope with space training.

The women were put through the same rigorous physical and mental testing as male astronauts. Wally passed her tests and was qualified to go into space. Her score was the third best in the Mercury 13 program.

However, despite completing their training, the program was cancelled, and none of the thirteen flew.

Wally never gave up her dream of going into space and  when NASA finally began accepting women in the late 1970s, Funk applied three times. Despite her impressive credentials, she was turned down for not having an engineering degree or a background as a test pilot.

September

In September, it was reported that women and BAME indivduals are disproportionally affected by cybercrime.

The ‘Demographics of Cybercrime’ report, conducted by Malwarebytes, a global leader in real-time cyberprotection, and US-based non-profit partners, Digitunity and Cybercrime Support Network, found that uncovered that certain demographic groups are disproportionally impacted by cybercrime.

The report, which polled more than 5,000 people across the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, details how consumers experience cybercrime worldwide, demonstrating cybercrime does not impact everyone equally. In fact, the report illustrates that demographics impact how often individuals are targeted, as well as their emotional response to becoming a victim.

Overall analysis of data suggests disadvantaged groups facing barriers in society feel less safe about their online experiences, are more likely to fall victim to an attack, and at times report experiencing a heavier emotional burden when responding to cyberattacks.

On a more positive note, Tech She Can became a charity – inspiring more young girls and women into technology careers.

As a charity, Tech She Can, working together with its board of Trustees and member organisations will be able to extend its reach and impact.

Tech She Can was created in 2018 with 18 founding organisations following a research initiative into why girls and young women are less likely to study technology-based subjects, and pursue tech careers

October

October saw Supermums launch a new campaign to help mothers bounce back from the pandemic.

The campaign will help to shine a light on the career opportunities that exist for women (and beyond) that can give them flexible, well paid, resilient careers and financial independence. They will also be sharing positive new stories and sharing educational stories and information to help mums bounce back.

Supermums was founded on a mission to help mums secure a flexible well paid resilient career. The idea originated from our founder Heather Black when she personally experienced the trauma of losing a business and career when new economic and political changes were imposed beyond her control in 2011 which proved to be a turning point in her life. She had to find a way to bounce back and to launch a new career path.

Dame Stephanie Shirley & Ray OzzieNovember

In November, Dame Stephanie Shirley and Ray Ozzie received a distinguished fellowship from the Chartered Institue for IT.

Global IT entrepreneur and workplace revolutionary turned ardent philanthropist, Dame Stephanie Shirley CH, and software industry pioneer Ray Ozzie were awarded Distinguished Fellowships from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

The awards are given to individuals whose contribution to computing is seen in terms of major importance to the overall development of computing, with substantial personal recognition through peer review over a substantial and sustained career.

Dame Stephanie arrived in Britain as an unaccompanied child refugee in 1939. In 1962, she founded an all-woman software company that pioneered remote working, upending the expectations of the time. It was ultimately valued at almost $3 billion and made 70 of her staff millionaires. Since ‘retiring’, her focus has been on philanthropy, and she has given away almost £70m to fund strategic projects in autism and IT. She joined the BCS as a student member on its foundation in 1957 and was its first woman President in 1989-90.

Ray Ozzie was formerly best known for his role in creating Lotus Notes. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1979 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked on the PLATO system. He began his career at Data General Corporation where he worked for Jonathan Sachs. Ozzie then worked at Software Arts and was later recruited by Sachs and Mitch Kapor to work for Lotus Development to develop what became Lotus Symphony.