London Tech Week

"UK tech is booming" | Nadine Dorries MP celebrates the UK tech industry at the opening of London Tech Week

London Tech Week 2021 banner

Nadine Dorries MP, the newly-appointed Digital Secretary today celebrated the UK tech industry at the opening of London Tech Week.

London Tech Week is taking place all week until 24 September 2021. The week provides the tech eco-system with a platform to come together to drive change. This year, the agenda supports economic recovery in a sustainable, inclusive and resilient manner and addresses challenges, from bridging the digital divide to battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

London Tech Week’s mission is to build a better, more inclusive, digital world by gathering the world’s most inspirational founders, global leaders, senior investors and rising stars to collaborate and discuss the vital role of technology on society.

Nadine Dorries MPDorries was appointed Digital Secretary in Boris Johnson’s recent cabinet reshuffle. Speaking at the opening of London Tech Week, Dorries said, “It’s been a baptism of fire. I only took over the role of Digital Secretary on Wednesday – and I’m already here amongst you, three days later, kicking off the biggest tech event in Europe.”

“That’s just quite amazing.”

During her speech, she praised the UK tech sector, saying, “Year after year has seen record-breaking growth – and this morning, my department has just released new stats that show we’ve just smashed all previous records for unicorns – billion dollar tech companies – and for venture capital investment in 2021.”

“It took us 24 years to create our first 20 unicorns. We’ve already matched that in the first six months of this year.”

“We now have more than France and Germany combined.”

“And the UK tech industry has raised £13.5 billion in the first half of the year – almost three times what was invested in the same period last year.”

However, Dorries said more was to be done. She said, “I want all of those businesses to stay in the UK, to grow in the UK, and to become global brands, based right here in the UK.”

“We’ve cracked start-ups.”

“Now it’s time to go big, and to begin paving the way for a new generation of British tech titans.”

She also spoke about changing attitudes towards the tech industry. She said,”…I know that amongst tech entrepreneurs, the UK can still be seen as a bit “stuffy”.

“Some institutional investors continue to treat the tech industry with suspicion, or balk at the amount of change the industry is driving.”

“Well, that era is officially over.”

“To this government, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter where you came from. What matters is who you are. You are the entrepreneurs of today.”

“And we’re on your side, and we’re ready and waiting to celebrate your success with you.”


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

Upskilling communities to eliminate digital exclusion

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

Digital exclusion remains a growing issue all around the world and the pandemic has brought the problem into even sharper focus.

The past year has demonstrated how a lack of digital skills or connectivity can create an additional layer of social exclusion and exacerbate social and economic problems for communities.

Last month, local councils in the UK announced a collaboration to build a stronger data picture of digital exclusion in their areas, as part of the CCIN Policy Lab Understanding the Digital Divide project. But it’s not just the responsibility of the public sector to address the issue of digital exclusion.

Technology companies have a large role to play in helping to upskill communities and equip them with the ability to be successful in their digital lives. This will also be crucial for addressing the widening STEM skills gap, which is affecting society and industry more broadly. According to a new report from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, 93% of engineering firms do not have the right skills to meet 2050 climate targets.

Here, WeAreTechWomen speak to Sarah Atkinson, director, corporate social responsibility at global software company, Micro Focus, on the role of technology companies in helping to upskill communities and eliminate digital exclusion.

Can you provide us with a brief overview of your career and how you got into running CSR programmes?

I’m a former news journalist, with over 20 years of experience with organisations such as Cisco, BEA and most recently, ten years as Vice President, Communications & Social Responsibility at CA Technologies. Purpose has always been important to me and around 2008, I felt that I wanted to make more of a difference, not just in terms of the workplace but more broadly regarding inclusion at all levels.

I took on my first non-exec role at techUK (a member organisation representing the IT industry in government on topics ranging from economic policy to skills and diversity). Here, I worked closely with the government on various digital skills and I&D initiatives, such as Gender Pay Gap reporting, Returners Programs. I was a founding supporter of the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me Digital, which aims to influence 200,000 11-15-year-old girls to consider a career in STEM. I also had an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Girlguiding to help incorporate STEM subjects into their badges and attended Camp CEO as a role model for Girl Guides.

I joined Micro Focus in 2019 to establish and lead their CSR program globally. Today, I am also a board director at the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Chair of the Nominations & Governance Committee and a member of its Skills, Education & Employment Advisory Panel as well as the LEP’s I&D Champion. I am also a long-standing member of techUK’s Skills & Diversity Council and a trustee at Berkshire Youth, a social enterprise that works to support, empower and inspire young people.

Why is addressing the problem of digital exclusion so important?

Today every business is a digital business. As more and more services move online as digital transformation becomes more pervasive, it is important that nobody is left behind. Industry must continue to play a key role in helping to address this issue, as digital exclusion can also widen inequalities on many levels, including health, social and economic mobility. It spans all aspects of society – whether it’s a school child not being about to submit homework or take part in online lessons. Or those in the community not having the right skills to access important government services, or missing out on competitive energy tariffs. It can impact in many ways.

How has the last year exacerbated the issue of digital exclusion?

Overnight our lives went digital – schooling, socialising, shopping , staying in touch with each other and working from home (where possible) meant that those who did not have access whether broadband, devices or the skills were marginalised even further. We also changed our approach as we quickly transitioned from delivering in person workshops at schools to virtual workshops, where employees were able to connect with hundreds of students in the classroom virtually.

What is the role of technology companies in helping upskill communities and eliminating digital exclusion?

Tech firms can and do play a major role in helping, on many levels.  The Micro Focus INSPIRE program is focused on helping equip communities with the right skills to be successful in their digital lives.  Every employee has four days a year to volunteer and through a number of our non-profit/charity partnerships we have been able to help multiple communities around the world. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, volunteers in Bulgaria and Italy used their volunteering days to help upskills teachers to get online to deliver lessons.

What are the specific steps technology companies can take to address this issue?

Engaging your employees is a great first step. Tapping into the talent and passion you have in your organisation can provide you with an army of volunteers and role models – whatever the size of your business. Secondly, empowering and enable employees to take time in work hours to volunteer. And thirdly, supporting educational organisations/non-profits/charities who are working in this space.

What skills do we need to equip people with to help them be more successful in their digital futures? How does this relate to closing the widening STEM skills gap?

Today every job requires some level of digital skills. Therefore, it’s important to help young people understand that whatever career choices they make, digital skills will be required along the way. In terms of the skills gap, yes there remains a chronic STEM skills shortage in the UK. While improvements are being made, we still have a long way to go.  The issue must be addressed from the classroom to the boardroom – over coming stereotypes, biases and providing more role models as a starting point.  Engaging young people to study STEM subjects and pursue jobs in tech is important. However, we cannot rely solely on the next generation to solve the problem. Reskilling existing workforces for the jobs of tomorrow is critical, as many low-digitally-skilled workers will be impacted by automation and AI, leaving them without the right skills to be successful in the future.

Employers can play a key role in helping to keep their workforce up to date through investments in ongoing learning and development, amongst other things. Attracting a diverse pool of talent also remains an issue. Tech needs talent from all backgrounds. Research has shown time and time again, that to drive innovation we need diverse thinking, ideas and problem solving.  Let’s not forget it is also about equality and fairness. Not all talent gets the same opportunity so we need to help create opportunities for all but also then ensure we have inclusive environments where all talent can thrive.

Sarah AtkinsonAbout Sarah

An experienced leader and former news journalist, Sarah Atkinson has over 20 years of experience in multinational organizations including Cisco, 3Com and most recently spent ten years as Vice President, Communications & Social Responsibility, EMEA at CA Technologies. A member of the company’s leadership team, she also led Create Tomorrow, a program designed to inspire and excite young people, particularly girls, about careers in STEM, as well as the company’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy in EMEA.

From 2015 to 2018, she served on the main board of techUK, a non-profit representing the companies and technologies that are defining today, the world that we will live in tomorrow.

Today, she is the Vice Chair of the Diversity & Skills Council at techUK and is actively involved in several Diversity & Inclusion programs including Gender Pay Gap reporting, Returners Programs and is a founding supporter of the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me Digital which aims to influence 200,000 11-15-year-old girls in the UK to consider a career in STEM. In 2018, she also worked with Girlguiding to incorporate STEM into their badges and attended 2018 Camp CEO as a role model for Girl Guides.

She was listed in Cranfield University’s School of Management 100 Women to Watch report – a supplement to the Female FTSE Board Report 2018 and in the Computer Weekly 100 Most Influential Women in Technology in 2017 & 2018.

A regular commentator on STEM, equality and inclusion topics, she has appeared on BBC News, BBC World and in various publications.

woman with a megaphone shouting to get her voice heard, female leader

Getting your voice heard in the tech industry | Stories of women leaders

woman with a megaphone shouting to get her voice heard, female leader

Becoming a future female tech leader is something that more women and girls should consider as a serious career choice.

However, according to a recent survey by Kaspersky, 38 per cent of women working in the IT and tech sector were wary to enter the industry due to a lack of female representation, which is still very much prevalent in the present day.

The women in part two of this series discuss why they were compelled to join an industry, and discuss what future women of the tech industry can do to become a leader and be part of an ever evolving, and ever changing community.

Prutha ParikhPrutha Parikh, Sr. Manager, Security Research, SpiderLabs at Trustwave

“From personal experience, I had minimal resources at my disposal when I first got a job in cybersecurity 15 years back. The number and type of resources available to anyone wanting to get started in cybersecurity, women in particular, has evolved in recent years. A lot of organisations have started highlighting women achievers in order to motivate and inspire more girls. The number of opportunities for the women workforce in security has also recently grown. There are definitely more options today than there were, say ten years back, and there is more awareness to attract and build a more diverse workforce. In terms of where it is heading, I am hopeful that the industry strives to achieve gender parity not just for entry-level roles but also for executive and leadership positions.

My best advice I would give young women looking to enter cybersecurity is to have passion towards security, or willingness to explore security and technology. However, networking events have helped me quite a bit over the past few years. For the past six years, I have been attending Girl Geek X talks when time permits. Girl Geek X is mainly technology-oriented, but there are great talks from companies that focus on product security and application security. Once every few months, there will be a security-focused talk which I have personally found useful. Girl Geek X events are free to attend for everyone, at least during COVID times, and even before that, the cost was nominal.

Finding local networking chapters in your area like Girl Geek, that focus on helping women would be a good place to start. Women in Cybersecurity is another great resource, particularly for students and even for women looking to start or advance their careers in cybersecurity. And finally, I would recommend following influential women leaders on social media platforms to get insights, stories of struggles and advice that they have shared to get to where they are.”

Joani Green

Joani Green, Senior Incident Response Consultant, F-Secure

“I started my career out in Johannesburg in the travel & tourism industry but, after some introspection, I realised I needed to make a career change to a field that made me feel more alive. I applied to the vacant “operations administrator position” at an information security company, then known as MWR InfoSecurity (later acquired by F-Secure where I currently work).

In the interview I was honest that my long-term goal was to ‘do something technical’. I enrolled in a part time Bachelor of Science degree in Informatics. After two years, I had learnt a lot as part of my degree studies and had gained some great mentors who guided me along the way. I internally applied to the company’s Security Consultant internship while working in the operations role and in that placement, I worked very hard, spending every possible moment trying to figure things out, suffering from insane imposter syndrome and dizzying anxiety. But I pushed through and it paid off; after the internship they offered me a role as an associate consultant in the security consultancy. I’ve since worked my way into leading F-Secure’s UK Incident Response team in London where I specialise in corporate incident response and digital forensics.

I am very blessed in that I work for an organisation that has never made me feel any differently for being a woman. I’ve been given the same opportunities and I’ve been held to the same high standards, and I have always appreciated that. I do however, appreciate that this isn’t necessarily true across the broader industry and urge any women to remember that what is important, is your hunger for knowledge and your drive to succeed in figuring things out and solving new problems in novel ways. Don’t ever give in to the inner voices of doubt.”

Kay Baines Kay Baines, Operations Security Manager at A&O IT Group

“I have always been interested in technology and found Red Teams and Ethical Hacking to be interesting/challenging and very logical. It has always been an industry that I wanted to be a part of, but I was unaware that there are other roles apart from penetration testing and code development. As I had no qualifications in the field and didn’t know anyone, I thought that it was something I would never be involved in. I was previously working in a support role for the sales/commercial department when a position opened up and I was able to fully transition into Operations Support Manager. I was surprised by how easy the move was!

I know many women have faced prejudices throughout their career however I, very positively, cannot say that I have faced any. In fact, I’ve had quite the opposite experience as all the people I have worked with have gone out of their way to help me understand the industry, all of the terminologies etc., and have also given me advice on how I can better my career.

For women looking to start a career in tech or cyber, the best advice I can give is, be confident and don’t let the lack of women put you off.  It’s likely there are more women in Cyber Security than you might realise. And in terms of the industry in general, there are certainly more women coming into Cyber Security and they are being welcomed. It is still a male dominant industry but if you have the skills to succeed then now is the time to put those skills to the test.”

Celebrating future women leaders

Looking ahead, we can only hope that the tech industry continues to make great leaps in creating careers where people do not have to ‘prove’ themselves against stereotypes, and can succeed due to the value, experience and skills they bring to a company. With more tech organisations hiring women and championing female tech leaders, we should expect future female leadership stories to show how they felt compelled to join the industry because they felt like they could and should be there- and we should envisage future diversity reports to show more equal figures and, hopefully, a rise in female leadership roles.

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.

Why dyslexia shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving great things | Sheridan Ash

Sheridan Ash leads on technology and innovation, and women in technology, at PwC. She is also the founder of Tech She Can. 

It is hard to imagine a more unpromising start to a career in technology.

I left school aged 16 with no qualifications, as well as undiagnosed dyslexia. I was a single mother in my early 20s. Pulling together a few savings, and with the help of friends and family, I decided to invest in my education as I needed a long-term career that would provide security for me and my son. With a lot of hard work and the support of some amazing people, I began to acquire qualifications: ‘A’ levels, a degree and eventually an MBA at Imperial College Business School where I became interested in technology.

I have worked in a variety of roles, including in sales for a pharmaceutical firm, and as a technology management consultant for Accenture. At one time, I became an independent consultant working for a local authority in the North of England. I have a lot of experience of the challenges of using technology in the NHS and in pharma. Two things became increasingly clear to me. First, that technology was crucially important in shaping the modern world. Second, women and girls were severely underrepresented when it came to technology careers.

The absence of females in technology careers is more than just a case of bias, it is a critical issue for business and society. By involving women you not only get both the brainpower and insights of half the world’s population, but you also access their skills of creativity and collaboration which are essential in the world of today that is increasingly being shaped by technology.

When I joined PwC ten years ago, there were very few females in its technology workforce. But, over time, with lots of initiatives, and learning about what works and what doesn’t, we have doubled the percentage of women to over 30%

There is a fundamental issue around increasing this number though, for PwC and as well as other firms: the pipeline of girls and young women choosing technology subjects at school and university is persistently low. Research I commissioned found that only 27% of females would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males, and only 3% of the girls surveyed said technology would be their first career choice.

I established the TechSheCan Charter alongside some other passionate women from organisations such as RBS, Zoopla and Tesco, in 2018 to address these problems. There are now 150 organizations signed up to a Charter to further technology careers for women. And we have a female-friendly technology curriculum developed for school children being used in over 200 schools, and growing daily.

When I was younger I thought dyslexia was a barrier to working in technology, but what I’ve learnt is to utilise the things I’m good at to give me an advantage. I’m not an academic or a brilliant coder, but I’m innovative in how I look to solve problems, I have strong emotional intelligence, and favour collaborative ways of working. I’m also an immensely determined person, and its these skills and characteristics that have led to my success. When you are young you don't know what you don't know which is why it so important for me to make sure that girls and young women are educated and inspired whilst still at school about the possibilities of working in technology.

Not having a tech background, or even having a disability such as dyslexia, is not an obstacle to having a career in technology. What matters is being persistent in reaching the ambitions you have for yourself, and being passionate about developing your skills and using them to do good in the world.

About Sheridan

Sheridan’s career has taken anything but a conventional route, after leaving school at 16 with few qualifications, having undiagnosed dyslexia, she was spotted by an agent and entered the world of runway modelling. She completed her first degree in her 20s and has worked her way up ever since.

Sheridan commissioned PwC’s Women in Tech: Time to close the gender gap research which tells us that a lack of female role models in technology is a barrier to more females joining the sector, so Sheridan is personally playing her part in raising this issue, but also using her own experience to act as a role model by appearing in the media and at events to champion the benefits that an inclusive and diverse workforce can bring. This includes appearing on BBC News to discuss the importance of role models in technology.

Sheridan has more recently founded The Tech She Can Charter which is now backed by over 75 organisations.

Tech role models featured

Even tech ‘dummies’ have a place in tech

Abi Gill, Business Analyst with Everflow Tech

Tech role models featuredI don’t ‘do’ technology. Yes I can set up a computer, and I’m ok when it comes to getting a new phone.

But setting up my first Zoom meeting was fraught with anxiety and confusion (you’ll be pleased to hear, however, that it worked and we had a great quiz).

I’m not a fan of the word ‘dummy’ but in this instance, it’s quite apt. I’m not very techy at all. Yet, I work in tech. Not only that, but I’m great at my job.

After completing a chemistry degree, I joined Everflow Tech knowing it was a business specifically set up to provide technology solutions to the water industry. I knew this was out of my comfort zone and would be a challenge.

I’d always had an analytical mind, I loved maths, but never thought that un-technological little me would find myself supporting customers use of technology every, single, day. But here we are.

As it turns out, I’m quite a vital cog in a much bigger machine – as is every member of the team. I found my feet as a Customer Service and Account Manager, so every day I chatted to people, helping them understand what our technology does and how it aids their understanding of their water usage, bills and efficiency.

Granted, I didn’t develop the technology itself, I’m not a software engineer, but I worked with these people every day and see the amazing skills they bring that ultimately help our customers.

When I started within this job, our Head of Product told me that I’ll “be great at this job even without knowing the detail”. And why? Because our customers don’t know the detail either.

And he was totally right. I’m now working alongside our Product team as a business analyst, working on improving the software and planning for future development. Mainly, that involves gathering and refining user requirements to identify ways to improve the processes within the system, testing features, then analysing and reporting data.

My analytical mind, that is accustomed to understanding complex theories and solving problems, has come into its own to be a bridge between this amazing, ever-evolving technology and the customers who use – and need – it.

So, can you be in tech even if you are a tech ‘dummy’? Absolutely! Never let the word ‘tech’ put you off when looking at future careers or roles because there are so many skills needed within the industry.

As long as you have a passion for knowledge and the personal skills needed to thrive, you can learn to do anything!

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

Ganit Goldstein

Inspirational Woman: Ganit Goldstein | 3D Fashion Designer & Textiles Researcher

Ganit Goldstein

Ganit Goldstein is a London-based fashion and textile designer specializing in the development of 3D fashion and smart textiles.

Ganit’s primary interest is in the intersection between craft and technology, and her work focuses predominantly on pioneering the use of 3D printing fabrication, incorporating 3D scanning to produce 3D textiles. Her design work includes shoes, jewellery, and wearables garments inspired by her study of Japanese ikat weaving at Tokyo University of the Arts. Goldstein is studying for an MA at the Royal College of Art in London, having graduated with honours from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem.

Ganit’s practice exemplifies her interdisciplinary approach to design, in which she mixes traditional and innovative techniques to combine groundbreaking materials research with pioneering developments in novel textile production.

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

I am a 3D fashion designer and a textiles researcher exploring hybrid workflow between technology (3D printing & 3D scanning) and crafts (weaving, embroidery). These days I am studying for an MA at the Royal College of Arts in London, as part of the Soft System program, I am specializing in smart textile developments. For my BA, I graduate from the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Design in Jerusalem and majored in the department of Fashion and Jewelry.

For all my projects, I’ve been always driven to collaborate, aiming for the result of the hybrid Art & Tech to find new possibilities within the study of 3D printing fashion. Over the last years, I was lucky to participate in international exhibitions during Milan Design Week, New York Textile Month, Ars Electronica festival in Linz, Hong Kong Fashion Week, and more. In the following year, I got the horizon 2020 Re-FREAM grant, to work together with scientists and technology companies on developing new production methods and re-think how we can produce new fashion designs. As part of the grant, I launched my latest collection called ‘WeAreAble’, presenting the unique approach of using 3D body scan and 3D printing as a customized garment production using the transformation of body data to generate new textiles.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Never! Since finishing my BA, I have been always rolling between projects and exhibitions around the world which ultimately built my path in the Art & Tech worlds by achieving small steps that merged to my career as a 3D fashion designer. In many ways, I believe that in our times, there is a limited space to ‘plan’, but rather point the direction you want to see yourself in, and be open to challenges and opportunities that are not always in our mind from firstplace. I couldn’t imagine the pathway from the past few years, as it was a real dynamic route. I have been always driven to take risks and not stay in my comfort zone, and therefore, the opportunities merged through practice and collaborations along the time.

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

From a technical point of view, the big challenge is always in the way I approach to combine languages of science and art with people I worked in, either if it is engineer or scientists or a designer. The combination of working methods are the key for unique designs, But it brings a lot of challenges along the way, especially when it is involves a lot of times ‘hacking’ machines and manipulate working methods. Sometimes there are limits and boarders, but we always found solutions through constantly research of new possibilities.

I think that one of the best working approach is to take those limits and use them in a manner that the disadvantages are serving as advantages- for example, using the support material in 3D printing as part of the design structure.  The ability to combine different approach from different times are opening the freedom of breaking the boundaries, and I believe that this is the right place to be as a designer working in any field of Art and industry.

From a personal perspective, I think the biggest challenge as a designer when deadlines are in the front, to find a balance between personal daily life and work. It takes time and experience to know your boarders and I feel that it is a challenge that each person is figuring out through the time, it is a personal journey to know the strengths and weaknesses. It may take a month or a year to realize how the routine and schedule best for each personality.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

In the following year, I’ve been working closely with a group of scientists and engineers to rethink fashion production part of the Re-FREAM horizon 2020 grant. For developing the processes, I worked in the labs and factories of the tech partners both in Austria and Israel, but Covid-19 changed the way we could work together physically. Although it was a hard mission to change our pathway to only virtual meetings, we managed to complete the project in a good shape, where we also introduce a complete virtual Reality application that can present the outcomes when public exhibitions are closed due to social distancing rules. To achieve this complex project as we imagined it to be, we needed to overcome so many challenges that we didn’t expected to happen due to the limitations of Covid-19. This was a real achievement from our side, to remain positive and continue working although many changes happened in between.

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

I think that the ability to combine different approaches from both artistic and technical skills  using different perspectives is really what built me as a researcher. I think that part of a success is not to be afraid from failures, and to be determined to build your own language in the field you are working on.  During my third year of my BA, I took part in an exchange student program, my decision was to apply for the opposite direction of what I was used to with the technological developments I worked on. I found my way to the Craft department ’Textile Art’ program at Tokyo University of the Arts. It was a different path than what I worked on in the past few years, and was a ‘risky’ choice, but I learned so much from stepping out of my expertise field, and that what made a real impact on my path.

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

First of all, try to be an expert in what you do! I think that the drive to be as much professional in your field will extend the opportunities for a great career. In our times,  there are many opportunities to learn new techniques and skillsets through virtual studies, and to be independent on technical aspects is allowing to overcome the challenges and break the boundaries for future applications. Secondly, I am a great believer on ‘trial and error’ for problem-solving, not to be afraid to experiment and to make mistakes, it is sometimes what really drives great results. And my last advice is to follow your instincts, be patient and not too hard on yourself, Listen to yourself when it is not the right timing or the right path for your developments, you probably know from inside what really fit.

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

I think that in our current reality, there is still long way to go before women are no longer considered the minority in tech. It starts from the gap of un-even salary, in addition to fewer opportunities for promotions as a woman. I do believe that for each company the diversity of people from different backgrounds is extremely important, in both R&D and management. The variety of opinions will bring forwards to higher achievements for each company, no matter the field, versatile opinions always drives innovation and success.

There are 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 think that part of this low number is driven from education and confident for young generations of girls. So I would really focus on accelerating tech subjects for young woman, but in a unique manner that drives innovation and creativity, for example through CAD and experimenting with new materials. I would also encourage from young age to be part of fab-labs and experiments with the study of soft robotics through practice, and to offer new possibilities in ‘open studios’ to develop creative thinking. I believe that earning these skills from a young age will determine the change for woman in STEM and allow more confident to be involve in higher positions.

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

I would recommend the emerging ‘Re-FREAM’ blog which demonstrates Art & Tech collaboration workflow of one year research between designers and scientists ( The second suggestion I think that can be really useful to check is the ‘Soft Systems Research Group’ from RCA (

From book suggestions, if your field of research involves the study of new processes and new materials, I would recommend the book ‘Being material’ from MIT press which covers a lot of unique projects within the study of emerging technology (edited by Marie-Pier Boucher, Stefan Helmreich, Leila W. Kinney, Skylar Tibbits, Rebecca Uchill and Evan Ziporyn). The second suggestion will be the book ‘Why Materials Matter: Responsible Design for a Better World’ by Seetal Solanki that covering a many interesting projects in the field of sustainable and conscious design.

From virtual conferences recently, I would suggest to check the talk of Dezeen part of Dutch Design Week, with selected designers talking on the topic of relationship with products:

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.

workplace bullying

Tech sector needs to take problematic behaviour in the workplace more seriously

workplace bullying

One-quarter of the UK’s tech workforce have experienced unacceptable behaviour in the workplace, according to a new report.

The report from Culture Shift also found that 39 per cent feel anxious about seeing somebody they have a negative relationship with when they go back to the office.

The tech-for-good developer has released the insights in line with this year’s Anti-Bullying Week, which falls between the 16th-20th November, to encourage companies across the UK to take a preventative approach to tackling problematic behaviour in the workplace.

The same report also revealed that while 88 per cent of employees across the UK’s tech sector say knowing their employer takes bullying and harassment complaints seriously is an important factor to their overall happiness at work, 15 per cent have witnessed unacceptable behaviour in their workplace. Furthermore, 43 per cent feel more likely to experience something they would describe as bullying or harassment in the workplace, compared to 30 per cent who feel more likely to bear the brunt of such behaviour while working from home.

Speaking about the report, Gemma McCall, CEO, Culture Shift, said, "It’s clear that bullying and harassment is prevalent in many workplaces and employers need to do more to tackle the problem."

"Many employees are calling for their employers to put a platform in place in which individuals can provide anonymous feedback or report any instances of bullying and harassment, and this kind of insight must be acted on by employers if they want to attract and retain talent."

“If incidents of problematic behaviour are left unchecked in a workplace, it can lead to significant cultural issues that will get worse over time."

"It can lead to people feeling unhappy which in turn can create high rates of absence or presenteeism, low productivity and high turnover of staff.”

“By providing clear and safe reporting pathways, organisations can encourage a speak up culture."

"Employers should not only signpost to these platforms, but actively encourage employees to use them, with those that do speak out against bullying encouraged and supported for doing so, rather than perpetuating any stigma."

“Taking a proactive and preventative approach to tackling negative and harmful behaviours, will in turn help protect company culture and employee wellbeing.”

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.

General Assembly Online LearningGeneral Assembly Online Learning

Free workshops for our community courtesy of General Assembly

General Assembly Online Learning

We get it, 2020 has been the year you want to press the skip button on. Tech Education company General Assembly wants to give back to the global community and have some fun whilst doing it. 

Our community can collect £55 credit each in the month of November towards a short form workshop of their choice. Topics include Career Development, Digital Marketing and SEO, Social Media, User Experience Design and so much more!

Simply use the code: wearethecity on the checkout.

You can either get a 3 hour class for FREE or use the credit to put towards one of their one day or two day bootcamps. Yes please!

It’s people like you, people with hustle, wanting to find purpose, passion and make a positive impact for the future.

Check out the workshops here:

T&Cs apply

Code is valid until 1 December 2020, and is not applicable to GA's full-time, part-time, or online Circuit and On Demand courses. The maximum value of the discount is £55 per person.

Once the code is applied, workshop tickets are non-transferable (i.e. you will not be able to transfer your ticket to another date when the same workshop is running and you will not be able to transfer your credit toward a different workshop). Discount code can not be retroactively applied to workshop tickets already purchased, or used in conjunction with another discount code.

Full Terms of Service found at

stylish woman working from home, style tips, flexible working

51% of tech employees say working from home has improved their work-life balance

stylish woman working from home, style tips, flexible working

51 per cent of tech employees say working from home has improved their work-life balance, according to a new report from UK-based tech-for-good developer, Culture Shift.

The report found that the events of recent months have positively impacted the culture of Britain’s technology industry, with 39 per cent saying it has actively improved since they transitioned to working from home.

As half of the UK’s workforce transitioned to remote working earlier this year, organisations were thrust into the spotlight with many standing by to see if they were able to make the transition seamlessly without detrimental impact on their culture. The same report also uncovered that 34 per cent of employees in tech said working from home has had a positive effect on their mental health, while 30 per cent said sentiment towards their job has been positively impacted and 33 per cent confirmed their relationship with their boss/employer has improved since they started working from home.

However, while many have welcomed the remote setup, 50 per cent of employees in tech said they have been feeling isolated while working from home.

The report also found that Imposter syndrome and self-doubt are rife, with 26 per cent of employees in tech feeling these more so working from home than they did previously

Progression has been impacted for the worse, with 31 per cent of tech employees saying they’ve been negatively affected when it comes to promotion opportunities. 24 per cent of employees in tech also said working from home has negatively affected their training and development.

Gemma McCall, CEO and co-founder of Culture Shift, said, "With many organisations across the country now thinking about how they can bring employees back to the office safely, we wanted to hone in on the general consensus on remote working these past few months."

"While there have been some minor issues, it’s generally been quite successful."

“Remote working has positively impacted employees’ wellbeing and is something employers should absolutely be considering as they plan for the future – especially now the success of this approach has been clearly proven."

“While there are of course some key factors organisations need to work on, like continued commitment to training and development, as well as progression, employers should be ensuring they have systems and tools in place to empower their teams to remain productive, creative and supported, even while they’re working from home.”

Speaking about the report, Olive Strachan MBE, founder of Olive Strachan Resources Ltd, global business woman and diversity and inclusion specialist adds, “There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in challenging times for businesses."

"With many teams working remotely, organisations have had to improve their communication, keeping employees informed of developments, while demonstrating empathy, and providing coaching plus support for their mental health and general wellbeing.”

“The research found that most employees have credited their organisations with having a positive culture in the current climate, with many benefitting from improvements to their productivity, overall wellbeing, creativity, work-life balance and relationships with key stakeholders, such as their employer.”

To see more insights uncovered by the research or to download the full ‘Maintaining workplace culture in a rapidly changing environment’ report, visit

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.

social media, likes, neon sign, brand authenticity

Navigating brand authenticity through a time of turbulence

social media, likes, neon sign, brand authenticity

Article provided by Jamie Gilpin, CMO, Sprout Social

This year has brought on many challenges, one of them being that we saw a year’s worth of digital transformation in just a matter of weeks.

As businesses were forced to shut their doors across the globe, social media quickly became the sole connection point between many brands and their consumers, accelerating a change in dynamic that has been building over recent years.

We have relied on social media more than ever before to help us through a global pandemic, navigate deep cultural movements and stay connected to the world. And this increased reliance on social has reinforced that consumers are in the driver’s seat in navigating their relationships with brands.

Social gives us the ability to directly contact brands and publicly reject statements that do not feel genuine, which has driven brands to become less self-serving and look at how to drive real change. Our current conditions have also driven consumers to increasingly activate brands to take action and make a positive impact on the world around us.

Following in the footsteps of companies like Nike and Patagonia, the list of brands taking social and political stands has grown to span every industry. Not only are companies increasingly speaking out, but the tech sector’s focus on social good is rapidly growing. As of last year, the UK’s “Tech for social good” market is worth £2.3 billion, directly tackling challenges in healthcare, education, finance and sustainability.

Even if your core product isn’t directly addressing a socio-economic issue, recent Sprout Social research shows 70 per cent of consumers believe it’s important that brands take a stand on social and political issues. And when brands take a stand consumers align with, 36 per cent say they’ll purchase more from that company. This will only continue to grow in an environment where consumer trust is low and social causes are at the forefront of every conversation. But authenticity is equally important in this environment and without it, a brand’s social impact efforts can fall flat.

Focus on impact

Beyond the transactional relationship, brands who take a stand are able to shape larger conversations beyond their own businesses. Now more than ever, brands are placed in the spotlight to highlight important issues and even educate their audiences on how they themselves can be part of driving change. In fact, of the consumers who want brands to take a stand, 66 per cent say they believe brands can create real change when they voice their beliefs, while 62 per cent believe brands are successfully educating consumers on important topics. This is especially relevant given the rise of social activism and the role it’s playing in changing the course of history across the globe.

Part of building an authentic stance is recognising that you don’t have to weigh in on every public issue, just the ones that matter most to your company, your employees and the people you serve. Our research found that 29 per cent of people say a stand is believable when brands focus on issues that directly affect their employees. However, the stakes have changed when it comes to major social issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement or the rise in racial injustice, and not responding at all could be a big indicator of who you are as a company and what your values are.

Commit to core values

Indeed, there’s a time and place for everything. Asked when it is appropriate for brands to take a stand on social media, 43 per cent of people say brands should speak out when an issue directly impacts their business. On the other hand, 23 per cent of consumers say it’s never appropriate for brands to take a stand on social media. So, how should brands be responding to issues their audience cares about?

When weighing in on an issue, your response should be clear and direct, and should include specific commitments and contributions your company will be making. Be sure to share why taking a stand is important to you and outline how you will be supporting the cause.

Prioritise transparency

Brands who take a stand must remember the role transparency plays in building authentic connections with their audiences. Being transparent not only leads to increased trust and loyalty, but also empathy in return from consumers. When brands have a history of being transparent, 85 per cent of consumers are more likely to stick by them during a brand crisis. But in order to meet increasingly demanding consumer expectations, brands must first put in the investment to understand what transparency means to their audiences to ensure their response is relevant and genuine.

This new dynamic is certainly putting pressure on brands. Not long ago, companies could focus solely on the advantages of their product to build consumer following. But as purpose becomes a differentiating factor that directly impacts consumer loyalty, tech companies must look beyond their products and examine what their brand impact is in order to truly build authentic connections and help consumers navigate this uncertain world.

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.