Female Entrepreneur in meeting

Young people still see IT sector as industry for men


The IT sector is still very much seen as an industry better suited for men according to new research from O2 revealing the attitudes among young people. Female Entrepreneur in meeting - IT sector

A study of 2,000 young people aged four to 18, by the communications provider, revealed that industry stereotypes are still very much alive.

47% of respondents aged between 11 and 18 said the tech sector is more suited for men. Only 4% thought that women were better suited to tech jobs. Half of children aged four to 10 believe men are better suited to engineer roles.

Just under as third of those surveyed said men make better scientists. 10% said women were better suited than men for the role of scientist. In addition more than a quarter of said the role of UK prime minister was better taken by a man.

The research found that parents plays a significant role in how children perceive careers, with 84% admitting to asking their parents for career advice. 73% of those surveyed said they would like to hear from businesses about jobs in local industry sector. More than half said they have not heard from local businesses in the past year.

“It is worrying to see just how deeply ingrained gender stereotypes still are, with many young people still impacted by the archaic ideals that may have held back their parents or grandparents from rewarding roles.”

Ann Pickering, O2’s HR director and a female board member of the company, said: “It is worrying to see just how deeply ingrained gender stereotypes still are, with many young people still impacted by the archaic ideals that may have held back their parents or grandparents from rewarding roles.”

Pickering drew attention to the fact that more than half of the four to 10 year old boys surveyed thought girls were more suited to jobs such as hairdressing, nursing and being a nanny.

O2 recently partnered with charity Speakers for Schools, which works to give UK children access to talks given by industry leaders. Robert Peston, founder of Speakers for Schools, said: “These are shocking findings. It is vital that gender should have no bearing on what our young people choose to do in life.”


Cat O'Brien

Women in tech: Work pressures, working flexibly and awareness of social media


Cat O’Brien, Editorial & Social Media Manager at TickX shares her experiences of working in the tech sector.

I guess I’ve always been pretty tech savvy, even as a kid I was into gadgets. I think most millennials are into learning about new technology. From the days where Tamigotchis and Nintendos were the games of choice and Nokia the phones, technology has been laced in our blood since birth. There’s always something newer, faster, smarter. Now kids are playing with Apple technology and the Internet and it’s simply too big and prevalent in society to try and hide it. Kids are too smart.

Cat O'BrianTechnology and social media, like most things, can be used for good and bad. Being totally saturated by the media on our personal devices means we become addicted to finding out new things. The start-up I work for now is very fast-paced which mirrors the culture of today’s hi-tech environment. Because we’re small, we have to learn things quickly and really work around the clock to get results. I think if I was working for a different type of start-up I might resent this, but because we’re all passionate about the app and enjoy the work we do, it doesn’t feel too tasking. You pick stuff up or you let people down and that is an incentive to stay on your toes and continuously learn. You’re speaking with different people everyday, senior management in the entertainment industry, partners, students, press, tech guys, sales guys – it’s a constant flow of information. In this immersive environment it is difficult to pass judgement on people, treat people unequally and create stigmas. Everyone is constantly busy and focused, you don’t have time for inequality: you just have to get stuff done.

At university I studied English with Creative Writing and throughout my course constantly worried about what career I might pursue. I wanted to incorporate the two things I love: writing and art. I had to tailor these skills towards technology and business. I guess you could say that is one benefit of doing a course that is not too specified – it’s easier to apply it. My course at university was predominantly female, as most arts courses are. Similarly, in the world of tech the female to male ratio is very unbalanced. This does cause a stir in offices and for young women who are unaware of the issue of glass ceilings when joining a big corporation it can inhibit innovation and openness. It’s a myth in many people’s eyes, but in certain establishments it is very current. This is where the unfortunately negative association with the word ‘feminist’ comes into play. It means nothing more than the pursuit of equality in all walks of life for women and men. However, if a woman speaks of these things online or in the office it’s often thwarted as feminine propaganda and is not taken seriously.

There are more and more companies signing up for schemes and corporate memberships to tackle this, because their culture does not know how too. Women on Boards was used at my last company, with the aim to put a spotlight on women to join exec or non-exec boards, thus increasing their employability and leadership skills. Their sessions were really thought provoking and encouraging, but one thing that wasn’t encouraging was the lack of men in attendance. What was even less encouraging was the lack of women. Its title being selectively for women had put off their key audience, who saw it as negatively, feminist and elitist.

The nature of the company I work for now is collaborative, trusting and open. We help each other and ask for feedback when possible. In a way, we mentor one another, without patronising our fields of interest or expertise. We are all ready to try new things and work together to find a solution. We are based all over the UK but stay in contact over email, Facebook, Whatsapp, calls and text.

I think there are some really important things to understand when pursuing a career in technology. The standout for me is social media. If you harness it correctly, you can really boost your online profile and help potential employers find you for the perfect role. You have to have a good LinkedIn profile, updated picture and engaging summary about yourself. Get the app on your phone too. So you can reply instantly to messages. And if you’re looking to become a thought leader in your career, creating conversations is key to showcasing your knowledge. For our social strategy we use three main platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For a start-up with a good community and network of followers, knowing these platforms and understanding each individually well is essential. It’s the same for self-promotion. Even if you’re not looking to move on to a new role, having a good ‘online persona’ will work wonders with your employer and potential future recruiters.

“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.