Tech role models featured

The importance of (realistic) role models for women in tech

tech role models

Role models can be a vital influence on anyone’s career, providing guidance, support, advice, and much more. This is especially true for women in technology, where it can be hard to establish yourself.

It’s no secret that there aren’t as many women in tech as there are men and that good female role models can be thin on the ground.

In my career, I’ve found that for the most part, female leaders are happy to share their experiences and help shape the future careers of others. The problem has been that when it comes to working mothers in technology, women often fall into one of two camps. They are either female leaders, who are high achievers and continuing to climb the career ladder successfully, with the balance tipped more towards work than family life. Or they are those that are happy to take a step back in their careers whilst focussing on family.

Either camp is great if that works for you, but for me, I felt stuck in the middle – I wanted to continue to progress whilst also being there to pick the children up from childcare and tuck them into bed.

Day-to-day life as a working woman in tech

Whatever the age of the kids, whatever your current role or level, balancing the demands of work with your children’s needs is a constant challenge for most parents. Even with a supportive partner, much of the childcare still falls to women.  

2021 research revealed that even though almost two-thirds of Britons believe that childcare should be equally shared when there are two working parents, 71% of women felt they had assumed most of the responsibility for childcare or homeschooling during the lockdowns.

With many parents now hybrid working and spending at least some of their working week at home, I imagine that situation remains the same. If there are childcare challenges, then it invariably falls to women to step in. This can mean that day-to-day life for a working mother can involve conference calls with a baby glued to you, interruptions, your attention being directed elsewhere, and having to work late in the day to catch up on what you missed.

Sometimes, even doing any work at all can feel impossible. For example, if a child is sick, then the priority will always be caring for them. This reality is what is lacking in many role models for women.

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Corporate role models

I started my career working for a large global tech consultancy. It had a great focus on women in technology and was good at highlighting how working mothers could ‘have it all’. Whilst the company was well-intentioned, the reality was that the working mothers in senior positions I knew, worked full time, with lots of travel, and had nannies for support.

Even before I had children, this felt like the only option for how to parent if I wanted to continue on the career ladder. While it works well for many women, it wasn’t the balance I wanted. Now that I am a mother of two, I want to demonstrate positively that you can progress in your career, whilst still being present with your children – but in reality, you’re not going to perfectly balance both roles every day.

In my own role, there are days when I feel on top of it and that I’m doing a great job, but there are other days when I feel like I’m barely managing.

Corporate, high-achieving role models can be damaging to women in tech. They create an expectation that everyone should be similarly high achieving, and when you inevitably do not, you feel like a failure as an employee and parent. It’s hard enough to juggle careers and motherhood without this false expectation of perfection.

Role models must be realistic and pragmatic

I now work at a start-up, and I am also a mother. This means that my working environment is much less rigid than at a large corporation and that I am becoming a role model myself, having been promoted to the Leadership Team. I am lucky to be in a team that understands my situation and trusts me to deliver, and also that I was given a say in how I can make both roles work. There may be some days when I am less productive, but my boss knows I will make up for that on other days.

That’s the message I am trying to convey to younger women in my organisation and the tech industry as a whole. Don’t feel like you must succeed at everything all the time. It’s ok sometimes to feel like you are less effective, at work or as a mum. Bosses and employers must demonstrate trust in order to empower and enable women in tech to thrive.

This trust, understanding and empathy are all crucial to positive role models for women in tech. They must be realistic and pragmatic, or they can have the opposite of their intended effect.

Corporates and start-ups can learn from each other, but in terms of providing good role models for women in tech, I have found start-ups to be better. No one can possibly hope to smash it at work every day while juggling the demands of parenthood. Addressing and acknowledging that fact makes for a far more effective role model – inspirational in a realistic way and something that working mothers can identify with, not be intimidated by.

Alana PearsonAbout the author

Alana Pearson is Delivery Partner Director at developer marketplace platform Deazy. She has worked in technology for most of her career at large corporates, agencies and start-ups, such as Deazy. She has two children – one in school and one in nursery – balancing swimming lessons and gymnastics classes with a four-day working week.


Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.

Why counter-stereotypical female role models are so important

Business Woman in tech. Stronger together, Happy women or girls standing together , girls, power, strong, strength, feminism Feminine, woman empowerment, vector illustration.Article by Alexandra Niessen-Ruenzi, Professor of Finance and Corporate Governance at the University of Mannheim, Business School

Over the last three decades, the lessening gap between the numbers of men and women in higher education and full-time employment has been its own kind of “grand convergence”.

Nevertheless, for now, gender pay parity remains a thing of the future, in part because women are still underrepresented in lucrative professions such as STEM, business, and finance.

Perhaps one reason for this has to do with women’s personal preferences. However, research on this topic has also suggested it could be caused by biases against women and a lack of female role models in these industries whose presence would encourage women to strive for positions in male-dominated industries.

It is noteworthy that the gender pay gap is significantly lower in US states where counter-stereotypical female role models are more popular. This suggests that women who achieve success in occupations that are traditionally perceived as the territory of men inspire other women to do likewise, which mitigates the effects of stereotypes arising from gender norms on women’s career choices.

Admiration for counter-stereotypical female role models is associated with women making decisions that improve their earning potential. For instance, entering high-earning occupations such as STEM, taking on senior-ranked positions, seeking higher education qualifications, and waiting until later in life to start having children.

To define a counter-stereotypical female role model, I, alongside fellow researchers Mengqiao Du from Mannheim Business School and Vidhi Chhaochharia from the University of Miami, analysed qualitative information from 46 cross-sectional Gallup surveys conducted from 1951-2014.

Respondents to these surveys identified a total of 247 famous women whom they said they admired. We sorted these role models into 14 categories depending on their primary occupation.

We compared these career categories to labour market information taken from the Current Population Survey and responses to questions about gender differences in the General Social Survey recorded over a period of around 50 years. This enabled us to get a clear understanding of gender norms at the state level, and helped us sort the 14 categories into stereotypical or counter-stereotypical career paths for a woman.

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We classify counter-stereotypical female role models as women who are deemed admirable for their work as politicians, writers or journalists, businesswomen, astronauts, scientists, athletes, or activists. In contrast, stereotypical female role models are looked up to as famous wives, mothers, daughters, friends or other family members, nurses, religious persons, or entertainment figures.

The number of respondents who identified counter-stereotypical famous women as admirable has changed strongly over time. From 1950-2014, the percentage of people who look up to stereotypical female role models dropped from 80 percent to around 30 percent; meanwhile, the percentage of people who admired counter-stereotypical female role models rose from below 20 percent to 50 percent.

The real turning point seems to have been in the 1980s, as this was when counter-stereotypical women started to become more popular as role models than women who held more conventional positions.

Naturally, both gender norms and counter-stereotypical female role models play a part in women’s choices, but are such role models more likely to stem from states that already have relatively liberal gender norms? This does not appear to be the case, as we find that 46.5 percent of the counter-stereotypical female role models we identified from the Gallup surveys come from states with liberal gender norms, whereas 53.5 percent originate from states with overall more conservative views.

This suggests that counter-stereotypical role models are not just reflections of a state that is already far more liberally-minded. Furthermore, over time, observing women in atypical professions and positions alters people’s perceptions about which roles in society are supposed to be filled by a particular gender.

For this reason, counter-stereotypical female role models are a sort of square one for changing gender norms at the state level. If admiration for them increases significantly, the associated effects should propel women’s earnings closer to gender parity with men. This means that at some point, female role models that were once counter-stereotypical will cease to be so. They will instead reflect the new normal.

About the author

Alexandra Niessen-RuenziProf. Dr. Alexandra Niessen-Ruenzi holds the Chair of Corporate Governance at the University of Mannheim, Business School. Her research interests lie in the field of empirical financial market research with a special focus on gender differences in capital markets. Alexandra Niessen-Ruenzi’s research results have been published in top international journals and have been awarded several prizes such as the Rothschild Cesarea IDC Award and the SABE Award from the New York Stock Exchange. Her publications have also been well received by the media and have been discussed in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others. She is a sought-after speaker on gender topics and regularly presents her research findings at both academic conferences as well as in industry companies and associations.


Tech role models featured

Why championing 'everyday' role models will help boost female STEM uptake

tech role models

A key part of my role at STEM Ambassadors is to champion the diversity of our everyday role models.

These are normal people, living a normal life doing a STEM job. If we want to ensure we boost the take up of STEM roles among girls we need make sure they see these jobs as achievable. We certainly need to move the narrative on from saying there aren’t any or enough girls doing STEM roles. In highlighting the problem - we can inadvertently have the opposite effect by making them think they need to be exceptional and discourage them from pursuing this path.

One of the beauties of STEM is that there isn’t one way to get there. STEM offers university routes, apprenticeship routes, on the job routes and these routes are open to people of all ages, at any time in their life. But it is a lot to get your head round. I’ve had nine jobs since leaving university, none of which I knew existed when I was at university, let alone when I was in school. So how can we expect a teacher who hasn’t worked or even applied for jobs in STEM to be able to fully convey to young people all the opportunities that STEM affords?

The great thing about highlighting everyday role models is that they show young people the realities of working in STEM. This includes the different pathways they can take and that just because you study physics or computer science, it does not necessarily mean you will only work as a physicist or a computer scientist. Look at my career. I’m an engineering graduate who has worked in education since I graduated. I have not worked directly in engineering but I can say with absolute certainty that I have used an engineering way of thinking in every role I have ever held. It taught me more than just the subject, it taught me problem solving, enquiry and creativity.

Shifting the narrative

I finished my degree in 2000 and having been offered a project job at the university I was also offered the chance to complete a PhD (part-time). I wanted to do a PhD about female engineers because there weren’t as many females as males and I wanted to understand why. However, after three years doing the degree I was already frustrated by the narrative which, in simplest form, was that there were no women in engineering and that wasn’t true. We may not have been abundant in numbers but there was a good group of us. Thus I aimed my PhD at those women that do study engineering at university and what we can learn from them, rather than focusing, again, on why they don’t.

This viewpoint has fuelled my entire career. If I am working with young people or teachers on engineering or STEM activities I don’t discuss the gender issue unless they specifically ask. I, and it’s a personal choice, prefer not to do girls only events because I feel it says that girls need extra support, or girls can’t do STEM with boys around. Plus, I think boys need to know it’s normal for girls to do these subjects too.

Motivations of girls

I get asked a lot about what steps you can take to motivate girls to be more interested in STEM. What can we do to make it more interesting for them. My personal view is that the focus should be how can we showcase the phenomenal variety of STEM to appeal to all young people. Focusing on gender means that you’re likely to rely on stereotypes and generalisations, which is what we’re trying to avoid in doing these STEM engagements. All girls want to help people, all boys like fast cars, these are far too generalised statements and are often not true. Instead, we should show young people the many different job roles in STEM, the many different applications of their school learning and the many different people that do these jobs. This approach will mean there is much more chance of finding the right hook for every young person.

It’s also not about one interaction and the jobs done. It’s about repeated interactions throughout the duration of a young person’s school years from a range of people. Showing them again and again how STEM is used helps to strengthen the idea of the purpose of STEM and the opportunities within it. It may not be needed for those young people that already love STEM or have a clear idea of what they want to do for a job. Instead we should think about the huge middle ground of those that aren’t sure, haven’t grown up surrounded by STEM people and for whom it is more of an unknown and therefore a risk. Not to mention those that find these subjects more difficult and will have to really work hard to do well in the subjects at school. They need regular motivation and regular encouragement and that can come from frequent STEM engagements throughout their school years.

Practical and exciting opportunities in STEM

STEM fits in to so many jobs and so many industries it’s really hard for even someone like me, to be able to list everything you can do with STEM knowledge and skills. But I can say for sure that STEM’s main purpose is to help us. To help humans, and animals and the Earth, to live better lives, in many, many ways. What new opportunities will there be in twenty or even ten years’ time as more and more STEM advancements are made? I think these are the unifying messages we should bring to the table to boost interest in STEM. By not fixating on gender we are more likely to achieve the outcome we want. Namely increasing the numbers of all young people, including girls, in studying STEM and becoming the next everyday heroes.

Dr Kerry BakerAbout the author

Dr. Kerry Baker is a leading authority on science communication and getting more girls studying STEM. As the Strategic Initiatives Lead at STEM Learning Kerry Baker supports cohesive working, collaborations, new initiatives and dissemination of good practice and success stories. She is an engineer by education and completed a PhD on why women study engineering. Her focus has been STEM education, outreach and promotion.

She is a passionate supporter of promoting STEM knowledge and skills because knowledge, understanding and manipulation of these subjects and skills will empower the next generation of scientists and engineers to solve the big issues the world is currently facing.

You can follow Kerry on Linkedin @drkerrybaker


The Importance of Female Role Models in STEM

Sophie DenhamSophie Denham is a Senior Engineering Manager in Technical Project Management for Shark Robotics. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunities her career in Design has given her, enabling her to work at world-leading companies and study abroad.

She puts much of this down to the incredible female role models she has been lucky to have around her. Here she discusses her experiences and why she jumped at the chance to get involved in SharkNinja’s WeLead programme, an innovative global support network for women across the company, as well as education and entry avenues into STEM through joint ventures with universities and schools.

For most of my childhood, I had my heart set on joining the Police Force, but also knew I wanted to go to University first. During secondary school, I studied Product Design and was fortunate enough to have a truly inspiring Product Design teacher, who had built the department up using the very latest technologies in 3D printing and had worked in the industry for years before turning to teaching. This meant I was exposed to what Product Design was, both as an industry and what it could mean as a career, whereas in most other subjects, it was difficult for me to perceive how they would be used in real life. I loved the ability to combine maths, physics and creativity to produce products that people actually wanted and needed, so felt this was the perfect degree for me. I studied BSc in Product Design at Brunel University - it was rigorous and demanding and I could genuinely see myself pursuing a career in design if it weren’t for my dream of joining the Police. Yet upon graduation, I didn’t even look at Police recruitment. By the end of those four years, I realised how much I had loved my course and the real insights I had given me into the worlds of design, engineering and technology.

So, I began my career as a Design Engineer with Dyson and following that, moved to Auckland to work for a medical company Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. Here I specialised in consumer research and front- end design, taking a leading role in running global clinical trials on an innovative new technology to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Across these two roles I was involved in designing technology leading to three patents, which is a great achievement for any designer. I then joined SharkNinja when I returned to the UK, first as a Design Engineer before transitioning into Technical Project Management.

After over two years working in the Ninja category, I left the company to pursue another interest, joining a small startup in London that makes hardware and software to empower young people to learn to code in a creative environment. Here, I learned a vast amount about software development, becoming a qualified Scrum Master as well as taking a leading role in restructuring the manufacturing division of the company.

Earlier this year, I then rejoined SharkNinja to begin an exciting new challenge within the Robots division, combining my experiences in hardware and software as Senior Engineering Manager, Technical Project Management. In this role, I am responsible for ensuring the products within this Robots category are delivered to the requirements set by both the consumers and the business, by ensuring collaboration and cohesion across the different teams within the global Robots division.

I am truly thankful for the opportunities my career in Design has given me, enabling me to work at world-leading companies and study abroad. Much of this I put down to the incredible role models I was fortunate enough to have in school, university and workplaces. As a woman in STEM, it is especially important to have these role models, yet shockingly, only 22% of students are able to name a famous female working in technology. Having spent much of my career being the only female within an engineering team, I am so grateful to the incredible support network of female mentors and colleagues who have guided me along the way. With their support; whether that has been highlighting when I’ve done something really well, or given me a gentle (or not so gentle) nudge when I have made errors in work or judgement, I have grown from being a timid, quiet member of the team to someone who feels confident speaking out. Without these incredible female role models, I fear I would still be the quiet mouse of the team, afraid to speak out when I have ideas.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to get involved in SharkNinja’s WeLead programme. This is an amazing initiative which provides a global support network for women across the company, as well as education and entry avenues into STEM through joint ventures with universities and schools. Naturally, this is something I wanted to be a part of; to connect with the wealth of talented, strong women at SharkNinja, both to offer my support to others and to continue to support myself.

SharkNinja has such an array of female talent and having the chance to expose that talent to girls and women who may not have considered a career in STEM is also hugely important to me. Throughout my life I have been passionate about exposing more school aged children, particularly girls, to our industry, by tutoring STEM subjects through to A-level and speaking in schools about what real jobs look like within STEM. WeLead gives me an incredible platform to continue this at SharkNinja.

The importance of female role models in STEM is unparalleled and I am so happy to be working for a company which recognises and actively promotes this. The future is bright for women in tech.


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tech pioneers featured

Seeing is believing: Why it’s important to increase the visibility of female pioneers

tech pioneers, women in tech

Last Tuesday, Cori Gauff stunned Wimbledon in her debut match by beating the five-time tournament champion, Venus Williams.

It was an utterly gracious and measured performance on and off the court – if you didn’t see it, I urge you to watch the highlights - and in Gauff’s post-match interview, she humbly told us that she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Williams who she said was her inspiration.

There’s no denying, when you can see and relate to someone in a role, you find it easier to imagine yourself walking in those same shoes. Imagination is the starting point of a journey, it’s a magnet for making things happen and this story is the same no matter what the end-goal – Wimbledon Champion or otherwise.

And what, might you ask, does last week’s first-round tournament knock-out have to do with women in tech?

The world is going through a dramatic change with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and although female pioneers have - undoubtedly – played a critical role, it’s a demographic that is systematically underrepresented. So, what’s the impact of this lack of female visibility? It is not possible to imagine yourself walking in the same shoes as someone, if that someone does not exist and although equality strides are being made, the imbalance of the status quo is stifling the diversity in our pioneers of the future. And, if diversity does not exist amongst those who are building the new digital world, we will find ourselves with a world that does not resonate with the people living in it.

Launching a ship in new waters is an exciting endeavor but it requires someone to dare to be the first; challenging conventional ways and stepping outside of their comfort zone to create new opportunities for those around them. I’m VP of Worldwide Sales at Chargifi and pioneering is a major part of our culture - it’s a major building block of our brand and the foundation of our growth. We are always looking for kindred pioneering spirits and to help pave the way for others, no matter what their role in the organisation.

Six-years into the Chargifi journey, we are at an inflexion point in the wireless charging market and we’re at a time that requires us to be more creative and curious than we have ever been to ensure we are not just dipping our toe in this new territory, but that we are seizing the opportunity to lead the way. We are constantly inspired by our growing team, our partners, collaborators and those like-minded pioneers in the industry who are striving to create solutions that will drive our world forward.

Which is why it is hugely important for women and other historically underrepresented groups to be able to imagine themselves doing something, and for that to happen, we must collectively work to increase the visibility of these role models. It takes a much bigger leap of imagination for someone to believe they can achieve something if there is no precedent to follow.Williams’ inspirational story was one of the guiding lights for Gauff on her journey to Wimbledon. With a focused and purposeful effort from the tech industry, we can inspire and support female pioneers of the future, too.

Helen Attia, VP Worldwide Sales, ChargifiAbout the author

Helen Attia began working at Chargifi in 2015 and now runs their Worldwide Sales. Helen is responsible for business development, sales and all customer and channel relationships - proactively driving the business’ global presence and growth.

Throughout her career thus far, Helen has worked at technology firms big and small, including Oracle and Adobe, developing their European, Asia Pacfic and more recently US business. She has extensive experience in marketing too, both digital and traditional.

Chargifi builds foundational technology that transforms the way the world Mass-Deploys, Manages and Monetizes power. We deliver a market-leading cloud management platform that enables the smart mass deployment of wireless charging; our patented solution turns wireless power into a service, delivered by our expert partners, that adds real value to business. Open API’s and SDK allows integration into software and apps, allowing data to be blended for greater insights. This valued and connected service provides a unique touch point and value exchange opportunity that can impact engagement, satisfaction and overall customer experience, which in turn drives revenue.

Chargifi is deployed by over 90 organisations in 21 countries and is backed by leading technology investors including; Intel Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Techstars, Accelerated Digital Ventures, firstminute capital and R/GA Ventures.


Mentor

Positive female role-models in the data industry

Mentor

By Sarah Robertson, Experian

I remember as a child how much I enjoyed maths. 

I was lucky enough to go to a primary school that positively encouraged me to progress in a subject that has traditionally led to male-dominated job roles. That early support, along with strong female role models in my family, helped me grow in a subject I love and shaped my career in data.

However, many statistics are telling us that there are thousands of skilled, innovative and talented women out there who aren’t even considering a career in STEM, let alone data.  It’s clear to me that more support is needed to empower and encourage a new generation into the data science industry.  I’m a firm believer that we need to start working with girls at an early age to help breakdown the stereotypes and obsolete views that certain professions are gender-specific.

Take my son’s infant school, for example.  When he left in July, the school played a video showing what each child wanted to be when they were older.  Each answer lived up to a gender stereotype. It made me question how and why this happens, even in the most progressive households.  As a collective group, we need to broaden our children’s minds on the possible.  STEM careers of the future will only be more exciting, more varied, more significant to our digital, technological and data-driven society.

It is also important that we start encouraging girls to take risks, the same way we do with boys.  Girls should be brave, not perfect.  STEM subjects tend to have a right or wrong answer in early education, and if girls are not brave enough to be wrong, then they won’t challenge themselves with STEM subjects.  We must teach our daughters that it is OK to take risks.  It is OK to be wrong.  It is OK to learn something new.

Part of encouraging the next generation also means recognising and celebrating the achievements of the female role models working in data today.  Role models like Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who can inspire others and show them that a career in STEM is possible.  Having the chance to hear from these inspirational figures, what they love about their jobs, how they got there, and what they’ve overcome to achieve success is crucial.  Their stories can inspire the women of tomorrow to follow in their footsteps and to blaze their own trails.

However, we can’t rely solely on these well-known role models to single-handedly change an entire generation’s thinking.  We all have a responsibility to be role models in what we do.  More and more businesses are creating closer links with schools, colleges and universities giving the perfect opportunity to support younger people considering certain careers.  This is hugely important for girls wanting to get into STEM.

We’re in a stronger position than we’ve ever been before in the data industry, supported by some fantastic initiatives – like M&S, who recently announced their intention to turn more than 1000 of their staff into data scientists.  This is a huge step in the right direction, potentially opening doors for more women to find their passion in data science.

Despite still having a long way to go, we have made significant progress redressing gender imbalance in STEM, supported by a strong and passionate community.  I’m excited to continue doing my bit to encourage a new generation of girls to become part of the data revolution.

Sarah Robertson featuredAbout the author

In the early stages of Sarah’s career there was a clear lack of female role models working in the data industry, so she made it her mission to support the women that worked in her teams, as well as her peers and friends within the industry.

After Sarah graduated, she was unsure of what career to pursue but felt at the time IT was her preferred choice. This led to a temporary contract with IBM working in IT, but she quickly learnt that it wasn’t for her and started exploring jobs in statistics. She landed a role with a marketing agency in their analytics division and absolutely loved it! It was then that analysing data to understand consumer behaviour became a passion of hers. That was over 20 years ago and she’s never looked back.

Sarah is keen to address the imbalance of men and women across our industry, she is heavily involved in the event Women in Data UK and contributing to her current business on recruiting more females into data roles.


Where are the role models? Why more women in tech is essential to the younger generation

 

Tech event
There’s a multitude of valuable careers for women in technology. Unfortunately, not enough women are embarking on them yet.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills revealed that just 26 per cent of those working in the digital sector are women. And although there are government initiatives in the works to introduce greater gender diversity into tech roles, the industry must play a part for these initiatives to be a success.

In short, we need more female role models. And we need them now.

Here’s why. There’s currently a drive within schools to shake up the way children are taught about computing. The long-in-the-tooth ICT courses are being replaced by computer science GCSEs. This is great news, reflecting the changing way that we interact with computers, as well as the new skill sets needed to thrive in the digital economy. The only problem is that the uptake of the new qualification simply isn’t high enough.

As reported by the BBC in June, the British Computing Society revealed that the number studying for a computing qualification could halve by 2020. A major contributor to that decline is a lack of interest from girls. In fact, only 20 per cent of those who took the computer science exam last year were female. And that’s the battle we’re facing here. Girls don’t always see careers in technology as something suited to them. There is and will increasingly be such a huge reliance on tech across more sectors than ever seen before so we need to find a way to change that – and quickly.

As an industry, we want and need a talent pipeline filled with young women who are excited by the prospect of working with technology. To do this, we need to recognise and act upon the fact that there is something of an image problem we need to address. An important part of that is to move beyond the stereotypical image of the IT, engineering and technology worker being male. Another issue is to communicate the incredibly diverse range of roles which use technology.

Yes, there are female coders, and yes, we do want more, but just as important are the other jobs in technology and using technology that aren’t communicated or showcased as often; frequently because they are brand new roles.

Everything from marketing to consultancy and leadership to sales, from social innovation, to data science and creative roles, can all be found across the employment landscape.

Female voice

The onus is on businesses to create and highlight the female role models that will inspire the next generation of STEM workers. We need to increase the number of women in the industry but, at the same time, we also need to celebrate those who are already working in the sector. We must illustrate the variety of their roles and what their jobs actually entail, how they operate, and how tech roles have evolved across multiple sectors.

Businesses need to be doing more to find and showcase female spokespeople from within their companies. Crucially, it’s not just about broadcasting the views of women at the top (which we’re already so good at doing). These roles may not appeal or be realistic to every potential applicant.

We also need to start looking at how to showcase female spokespeople from every level within the business to demonstrate the wide variety of opportunities available in the industry.

Establishing female role models in this way will serve two purposes. Firstly, it will speak to those who already have the skills and are looking for opportunities. Sometimes, the issue can also be one of retention: ensuring that those with the talent come to our industry and stay there to develop themselves and their careers. When they see the possibilities of those who have already been successful within the industry, it could give them the extra motivation they need to seek wider, higher or different opportunities using their skills, knowledge and expertise – often across different vertical sectors.

Secondly, it will be helpful to those who are currently at school and considering what kind of career choices they could be making. Female role models, or females using STEM skills and showcasing how they could be applied in a variety of roles, help challenge the concepts of jobs for boys and jobs for girls, demonstrating how tech is a sector for all comers, with roles that are rewarding and attractive.

Diversity breeds success

Businesses that do this will help themselves both now and in the long term. There are many benefits to having a diverse workforce. Gender diversity guarantees a workforce with a varied skillset. It’s a workforce that is both productive and able to successfully engage with its diverse customer community. Statistics show that companies who encourage gender diversity within their management teams enjoy more than average growth and an increased return on equity.

Indeed, businesses should be at the heart of creating a more diverse technology sector. Not only does it help safeguard their individual companies for the future, it also helps nurture talent across the board. This means communicating with women who may want to join a fascinating industry. And who better to tell those stories than the women themselves?

About the author

This article was provided by Lynn Collier, COO UK&I, Hitachi Data Systems.


1,000 young women to be inspired by tech role models at WOW Talks//Women in Tech event

1,000 young women are set to be inspired by technology role models in an event organised by WOW Talks.

WOW Talks Logo - tech role modelsWith the support of Accenture and in partnership with Next Tech Girls the WOW Talks//Women in Tech will take place on 20 September at the Royal Geographical Society.

Women working within the tech sector will offer tips, advice and their own experiences of the industry, in addition to afternoon sessions tailored for secondary school students 14-16) and an evening event for university-aged students and young women already in the workforce (18-25).

Interactive workshops and the opportunity to demo new technologies will also be available.

Kim Arazi, CEO of WOW Talks, said: “We are excited to be hosting our very first Women in Tech event, which aims to change girls' perceptions about science and technology being a male-dominated field, and demonstrate how tech can be used as a game-changing tool across all industries.

“We want them to see that there is a place for all kinds of interests, talents and skills in the world of technology.”

“We specifically chose this topic for our first flagship event as we feel very strongly about closing the gender gap in tech and think that one of the most effective ways to do this is by having inspiring women (in tech) share their personal stories...their WHY. We are also delighted to have Accenture on board as a Gold Sponsor, showing their commitment to diversity and women in tech.”

Arabel Bailey, Managing Director for Accenture Digital in the UK & Ireland, said: “It’s critical that girls and young women are encouraged and inspired about the vast array of exciting opportunities available to them through a career in technology. By addressing the gender imbalance in the tech industry, we can help to ensure that the UK has the right skills in place to drive economic success.”

Steve Brown, Director of Empiric and Founder of Next Tech Girls, said: “1.46 million people are employed within the technology sector in the UK, but only 17% of them are women. If we, as a profession, are to tackle current and future skills gaps created by the meteoritic rise of automation and digital communications, it is crucial that organisations work together to tap into female talent pools before they are tainted by negative and narrow connotations surrounding what a career in technology looks like.”

“Whether a student’s passion is law, art or fashion, digital will be integral to a career in their chosen discipline. Next Tech Girls is incredibly proud to be lead partner on this ground-breaking event. I have no doubt that the 1,000 young women who will attend on the day will leave inspired by the stories of the incredible role models who will be joining us.”


Women 6.0 | Being Tech Role Models Event | In pictures

Women 6.0 - Tech Role ModelsAs an industry, IT is crying out for more “real life” female role models at all levels, so WeAreTheCity and Morgan Stanley partnered for a fourth consecutive year to hold an innovative event to show 150 women how to become one.

The technology industry is full of potential role models, yet many women believe they have to be a “super woman” to deserve the title of “role model”. In a speed networking style event format, not-for-profit organisations, who are supporting the growth of women entering the technology industry, shared what opportunities are available and how to get involved.

Not-for-profits included TeenTech, BCSWomen, CompTIA, Aimar, CodeClub, Code First Girls, FutureFirst, Socitm, Inspiring the Future and Your Future, Your Ambition, Color in Tech, #techmums, AppsForGood and Stemettes.+


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

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

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

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

lcr3cr / Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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