International Day of Women and Girls in Science, African female scientist in protective glasses looking and testing tube chemical in laboratory, development for the future.

The importance of International Day of Women and Girls in Science

International Day of Women and Girls in Science, African female scientist in protective glasses looking and testing tube chemical in laboratory, development for the future.

Businesses have faced a seismic change in the way they work in the past year.

So it’s perhaps unsurprising that momentum and interest to accelerate gender parity in STEM has taken a backseat. According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s report, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs, with women making up 39 per cent of global employment but also accounting for 54 per cent of overall job losses. This needs to change.

On the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s rewrite the narrative. Celebrating women in STEM who are leading innovation and a call for actions to remove all barriers that hold them back.

Here we speak to a range of inspiring women from industries such as biotech, the future of work and more, on the significance of this day with tips on how to tackle the gender divide in STEM.

Emma Davies, Principal Scientist at Healx:

Gender inequality in STEM won’t be resolved by celebrating one day a year. But on ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’ I want to take the opportunity to challenge gender preconceptions and recognise why women should and can choose a career in science.

It’s important to find what you love. For me, I was always interested in nature and the natural world. Luckily my school saw that interest and supported me in nourishing it. I looked at the scientific greats and didn’t see that they were predominantly male – I just saw them as scientists and I felt I could strive for that if I wanted it.

I love the challenges that being a scientist brings. Each new discovery opens up a new question, and the knowledge that the work we are doing at Healx will have a positive impact on patients and families in the future is pretty rewarding too.

Being a scientist is essentially being a problem solver. Teams are better at solving problems if they have a diverse set of life experiences. STEM offers a huge range of opportunities, so look beyond the curriculum and seek what interests you and pursue an education and career in that field.

Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls:

In 2021, the gender gap remains a global phenomenon—especially in science and technology-related fields. On ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’, I want to raise this issue and explore one way that individuals and organisations can enact change and challenge these gender preconceptions on a daily basis.

To achieve gender parity in tech, organisations must create an open and inclusive culture that encourages conversations between women. This can’t be a top-down approach but something the whole team believes in, cultivating a work environment where women are empowered to share and learn from their combined experiences.

Whether you’ve been working in a tech-based career for a long period of time or looking to transition into this sector, the guidance and support a mentor can provide is invaluable. Female mentorship can help you with technical guidance, expanding your network of personal and professional contacts, and acclimatising to a new company culture – especially, if it’s a male-dominated one. At Code First Girls, we have built a community of over 20,000 women who actively help each other to break into and excel in the tech industry – take the plunge, find your group and finally, return the favour.

Kate Reading, Platform Area Engineering Lead at Asana:

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Resolving gender inequality in STEM isn’t an issue that can be resolved overnight. Instead, on ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’, we must use this day to mark a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

The past year of remote work has fuelled feelings of self-doubt and affected our ability to speak up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, confidence is an issue with 69 per cent of UK workers having experienced imposter syndrome last year and 25 per cent of women acknowledging that they chose not to study STEM subjects, because they didn’t think they could cope with them. As a first step to tackling this, we must cultivate an inclusive work environment where everyone feels empowered to raise issues, and seek support and mentorship.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the transition to remote work, we have an opportunity to reflect upon what worked well and what didn’t for women in STEM. Over the past year, we’ve learned that connecting with people is hard, especially when you’re remote, one of the only women on your team, and surrounded by distractions at home. That’s why we’ve set up a six-month, virtual mentorship pairing program for gender minorities in technical roles at Asana, matching mentors with mentees based on their goals and interests. Establishing a sense of belonging while increasing representation across the organisation, empowers everyone to do their best work and thrive, no matter where they’re located.

June Ko, General Counsel at CircleCI:

To become a successful female leader in tech (or any industry, for that matter), build strong relationships and especially a strong support network. While day to day, it is sometimes all too easy to solely focus on the work itself (especially when you have an incredibly busy job!), it is equally important to invest in people, to show your human side and build trust. Your support squad, which can come in various forms and sometimes from unlikely places — such as a colleague, a partner, a friend, or someone you meet at a conference — will be invaluable as you build your career in tech. Having a community, and especially someone to talk to who’s living a similar experience, provides a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and feel supported, while also supporting others. These relationships will infuse your career with greater meaning, because connecting with, inspiring and helping others — especially other women in tech! — is extremely gratifying. They will also sustain you through the inevitable ups and downs you will encounter. When you show up for others, they will show up for you, too. And one day, when you’re least expecting it, you may gain access to an incredible opportunity because someone brings up your name and promotes you, when you are not even in the room.

Michele Romanow, Co-founder and President at Clearbanc:

2020 was brutal for everyone, but it’s never been a better time to be a woman in STEM. Entrepreneurship is never easy, and there will always be setbacks. Thanks to moments like the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, this is the strongest spotlight we’ve ever had on the issues women face in tech and entrepreneurship. It’s easier to start a company than ever before with the rise of technology. I couldn’t have the career I have now if I started out 20 years ago.

But it’s still really hard to build a successful business. The majority of VC funding today goes to men in major cities like London, while women and minorities across the rest of the UK never get a chance. Our mission at Clearbanc has always been to create opportunities for all founders, no matter who they know or where they went to school. And it’s working — Clearbanc’s data-driven tech has invested in 8x more women than traditional VC. We want to fund the next generation of great entrepreneurs.

 


Anna Brailsford featured

Inspirational Woman: Anna Brailsford | CEO, Code First: Girls

Anna Brailsford

Anna is the CEO of Code First: Girls and a Board Member for the Institute of Coding.

Before joining CF:G Anna was the CEO and co-founder of Founders Factory incubated EdTech startup Frisbee. Prior to that, Anna was the Commercial Director of Lynda.com and LinkedIn. When LinkedIn acquired Lynda for $1.5 Billion in April 2015, she became part of the fourth-largest acquisition in social media history and subsequently contributed to the creation of LinkedIn Learning.

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

I’m CEO of Code First: Girls. We have educated and built one of the largest communities of female tech talent in the UK. My current focus is connecting women to economic opportunity and jobs in the tech industry. Over the years I have co-founded my own EdTech startup and was the Commercial Director of Lynda.com, which was bought by LinkedIn for $1.5bn. I started off in family-run businesses and have always gravitated towards entrepreneurial roles.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really. On reflection, the only thing I have ever really planned is my education. I think success is often what happens when you are making other plans. I find being overly prescriptive can often curtail opportunity. The best decisions I have made about my career aren’t necessarily safe or predictable.

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

I’ve faced countless challenges. I find the fear of personal and professional failure can often hold people back. It’s taken me some time to accept that you can’t always get it right and that sometimes the difference between success and failure is being in the right place at the right time.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

On paper, it would probably be contributing to the fourth-largest acquisition in social media history. However, on a personal level, it is definitely the extent to which I have benefited from hyper-growth environments. It leads to a different type of mindset. I think career achievements are simply labels, but mindset will shape you.

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

People. If you have the right people around you and the requisite talent, you can achieve almost anything. The biggest thing I look for in a hire is intellect, creativity, and the potential for mutual growth. Ironically, that is exactly what a previous mentor said about hiring me. Success is not isolated to a certain point in your life or one person, it is an ongoing process and recognition that the best people will challenge you to see the world differently.

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

One of the greatest experiences you can get is in a startup environment, it teaches you about the different layers of a technology business. Many corporations are actively looking for some startup experience and it is often perceived very positively for both business and technical roles.

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

Yes, that is a well-established fact. The ‘why’ is actually very complex and is subject to countless studies. In my opinion, we need to reframe the debate. It’s not enough to get more women into tech; we should focus on developing future female leaders across the sector. Leadership helps set the tone and in my opinion barriers are often a product of culture.

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

Stop talking and start acting. There have been some phenomenal moves forward recently with some well-known brands pledging a 50:50 workforce in coming years. The challenge for many of these companies will be retaining women so they can start to influence the leadership pipeline. Some clear wins include mentorship programmes, flexible family working, equal paternity leave, career mobility and focusing on authentic leadership.

There is currently only 17 per cent 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?

I would make future technologies, entrepreneurship and business a considerable part of the national curriculum, with a particular focus on strong female role models from within the industry. Young women are statistically outperforming men when it comes to many academic subjects, however we are not equipping them with the support, confidence and environment to perceive themselves as future leaders in a male-dominated space.

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

I really believe in networks. Being in the tech industry can be lonely; it pays off to know that others may be experiencing similar emotions and insecurities. I’d recommend being at events where you can share without fear of judgement; there are many fantastic women out there who are willing to listen. I’ve also recently started listening to the Guilty Feminist - it combines two of my favourite things, comedy and some kick-ass women.


BT & Code First Girls partnership

BT launches partnership with Code First Girls to close the UK gender skills gap in tech

BT & Code First Girls partnership

BT has announced a new strategic partnership with Code First Girls, to work to close the gender skills gap in the UK technology sector.

The partnership, which includes 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.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic risks having regressive consequences on gender equality due to the economic impact on employment and retention. To tackle this, and to boost the representation of women in technology roles, BT is committing to provide the tools, support and skills women need to excel in the fields of technology and IT. Within BT, TechWomen, an award-winning 12-month development programme, encourages and equips more women to move into senior technology jobs across the business. Meanwhile, BT’s new strategic partnership with Code First Girls will address the need for an increased pipeline of female talent with the technical skills required for tech-focused roles.

BT’s new strategic partnership includes financial support for Code First Girls to provide their services for free, along with offering support for the design and delivery of Code First Girls courses, which are available free to women in full-time education and recent graduates. These courses include nanodegrees, classes and open online courses in a range of skills from Python and SQL coding to website development.

Code First Girls’ nanodegree offering was influenced by their furtHER programme, a 4-month intensive full-time coding course for women, designed and delivered with the help of BT technologists. The aim of these courses is to boost recruitment of women from non-STEM backgrounds into technology jobs and to equip participants with the technical skills they need to begin an entry-level or graduate technology role.

Speaking about the partnership, Cathryn Ross, Group Regulatory Affairs Director at BT Group, and sponsor of BT’s TechWomen programme, said, “It is critically important that our tech sector reflects the diversity of the society it serves."

"At BT, as a leading UK technology company, we are playing our part to help close the gender skills gap in tech."

"Our TechWomen programme helps pave the way for women in technology to progress into senior roles at BT, but our work can’t stop there; we must support the next generation of women outside our organisation and before they enter the workforce too."

"We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Code First Girls and our new partnership signifies an important milestone in our shared ambition to support and encourage women into technology roles.”

Anna Brailsford, CEO at Code First Girls, added, “At a time when women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, our priority is to help women achieve fair employment in the tech industry."

"We have seen a vast increase in interest for our courses, since the first lockdown, with over 800 percent growth in registrations for classes."

"Through our new partnership with BT and expanded corporate partnerships, we’re able to provide more women than ever with the opportunities to learn coding, build confidence through mentorship and gain access to a wide range of careers in technology.”


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.


Code First Girls launches Code Fest 2020

Code First Girls Code Fest 2020

Code First Girls has announced the launch of their new digital skills and talent event, Code Fest 2020.

Taking place during the month of September, Code Fest 2020 is launching in time for freshers weeks and the graduate hiring season with an array of events, panels, skill sessions and keynote speeches covering topics from diversity and inclusion, to the future of technology.

With over 17,000 community coding members and 58 nationalities represented, companies will have the opportunity to showcase their commitment to diversity and inclusion by building direct relationships with potential future employees and providing a digital learning and skills experience to attract tech talent.

On the flip side, the diverse group of talented women will be able to connect and network with 50+ speakers and businesses in the tech space, from high-growth startups to enterprise-level companies. With 48 per cent of Code First Girls' community citing “job uncertainty” as being their biggest fear for their career in our recent survey, they have included a week dedicated to coaching groups of high-potential women (who have completed a Code First Girls course) to build their skills across job searching, applying, and interviewing, linking them directly to hiring businesses.

Speaking about the event, Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls said, “It is a critical time for companies to deliver on their promises of diversity and inclusion, and Code Fest 2020 allows businesses of all sizes to get involved and connect with a diverse group of talented women and build the momentum with their hiring pipelines or company initiatives."

"Equally, our community is constantly telling us that they want to be involved with companies who are committed to improving diversity and having a positive social impact”.

Code Fest Girls 2020 will run from 1st September until 24th September. There are a limited number of slots available for companies who are interested in participating, and registration for attendees will open in August.

For more information or schedule of events visit https://codefirstgirls.org.uk/code-fest-girls-2020


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.