It's crucial we inspire women to consider a career in the industry

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This is a guest blog by Katrina Roberts, Vice President - Global Network and International Consumer Technologies Europe, American Express, from Brighton, winner of 'Leader of the Year in a corporate organisation category - sponsored by BP.

The FDM everywoman in Technology Awards are a celebration of the contribution that women make to technology and more broadly the role they play in business.Katrina Roberts.jpg 


Recently I was honoured to have been selected as 'Leader of the Year in a Corporate Organisation' for my role at American Express.  It truly was a career highlight and one of my proudest moments.


I hope that by sharing my short story I might in some part inspire other women who may currently think IT is not for them to realise what a great career choice it can be and what a valuable contribution they can make.

 

I wouldn't necessarily say that a career in IT has always been on my radar.  My Dad still reminds me of the (now infamous) time he offered to buy me a computer in my first year at university and I refused saying, "A typewriter is perfectly adequate, why on earth would I need a computer?"   This is a statement that still haunts me.... 

 

At school I was always pretty good at Science and Maths but I was much more interested in History and English.  I honestly didn't consider a career in IT until later.   When I look back now I think that was partly because I didn't know anyone who worked in the industry, male or female, and therefore had no role models to inspire me.  What I did know, however, was that I was ambitious which is how I ended up on the American Express graduate scheme.  My logic being it was a big company with lots of opportunities.

 

By chance one of my first assignments on the scheme was in a part of the business where I got to do both data analysis and programming which, surprisingly, I loved.  I also got to work with the IT department and realised that the best bits of my role - being creative, solving problems and working with lots of people - were the core of what IT was all about.  So I applied for a job in American Express's IT department and I have never looked back.  As I look around me at other women - whether working in IT or other areas - I see many of the character traits and skills that would make so many women successful in IT.  

 

One thing that has definitely changed since I started my career is the number of opportunities in the industry and the impact of IT on our day to day lives.   It's predicted that in the next five years IT will be in the top five areas of job growth across Europe.  The EU Commission's own figures suggested that there will be 900,000 vacancies for IT-related roles by 2015 and that jobs based around IT are growing by about 100,000 every year, yet the number of skilled IT graduates is failing to keep pace.

 

When I think about how IT impacts our daily lives - whether it's through use of social media, dependency on mobile phones/tablets or our ability to access huge amounts of information pretty much instantly - it's crucial we do as much as possible to inspire women to consider a career in the industry.  If not a huge number of talented individuals with the necessary skill set to have a very successful career in IT risk missing out on the fantastic opportunities it presents. 

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Male or female we're all here to get the job done

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This is a guest blog by Sheree Atcheson founder of Women Who Code UK (Belfast and London).

Many of you will know me as Sheree Atcheson, a 23 year old software engineer who works at Kainos, or as Sheree Atcheson who founded Women Who Code UK (or more likely, Sheree Atcheson, who posts too many photos of her dog). Sherees dog.png

As someone who is an advocate for people in tech, I wanted to share my experiences thus far. I never fully realised the gender bias in IT until I made a notable effort to see it. It's always been that way - in my Computing A Level class, on the forums I posted on in my teenage years, in my CS university class (where out of 100 men, we only had 10 women) and then in work. It's only when I properly sat down and thought about the huge effect this has on the tech industry, that I realised I needed to do something about it. We cannot innovate with only half the population.

As a software engineer, I write code. I find/create bugs. I do a lot of the same work that I imagine a lot of you do too. As well as that, I'm working everyday to eradicate the gender bias that is so glaringly apparent in our industry. If I look around my office, there are only 5 other ladies. There are 15 men. This is a common head count across the majority of the offices here. Look around your office? What is your split? I have no issue with the large number of men in here. What I do have an issue with is the small number of women.

If I were to ask any of the women in here do they have a problem with the number of men in here, I could guarantee that they'd say no. We're all here to get a job done, and help each other along the way. I have asked almost everyone in this room for help at least once (their gender isn't important to me. Their knowledge on my problem is). And every single person has been helpful - both male and female. We are all just people in tech.

I'm writing this post because I've seen some very unsettling opinions from women in tech and they have deeply annoyed/upset me. I founded WWC UK because I want there to be an equal representation of both genders in this industry. I want women to know that the current people in tech want them here and that more than that, they need them here. I have actively sourced several male speakers for my events, (and we've even had our first male attendee).

 My view is that regardless of what gender you are, if you can bring something interesting and insightful to my attendees, then I want you there. If a woman is a specialist in a field, then I want her to share her knowledge. If it is a man, then likewise. However, I've seen quite a lot of negative portrayal of all "men in tech" from certain women. And this angers me.  Let me share some examples with you.

I attended SXSW this year. I attended several Women In Tech sessions. One session I attended was "Getting non-tech women into tech".  At this session, a lot of women were sharing their "IT Horror Stories". I appreciate this. I understand some people have had negative experiences in tech at the hand of their peers. However, this quickly turned into a "sexism against men" session. One lady stated that she was accused of "selling her body for marketing space" by her (male) boss and because of that she would "never (which was strongly emphasised) work for another man again".

Another lady stated that her boss constantly told her she was inadequate and she stated that she "didn't know what to do because it's just a standard male insecurity that I have to put up with". These replies were responded with cheering, clapping and "holla"s. Obviously these bosses are hugely unprofessional and in the wrong, but it is wholly unfair to tarnish all men with that same brush. The issue here isn't the person being male, but rather that they're unethical and unprofessional.

I can sympathise with any woman (or man) who has been put in an inappropriate situation like this, however if we veer so closely (and cross that line) to sexism, then how are we any better than the people we have an issue with? These negative traits aren't attached to one gender - all people can be ruthless, and branding all of the opposite gender because of a bad experience means you are part of the problem.

Furthermore, a lot of you may be aware of the recent Valleywag Gawker article, in which users of a dating app are likened to the Comfort Women of WW2. Obviously, this is grossly inappropriate and offending. People all over the world having complained about it. I noticed however, one lady took her views a step (in my opinion) too far and stated that "Men in tech don't support women in tech. They assault, rape, harass, stalk us, make jokes about it, stay silent about what happens to us". Isn't this sexism? Isn't this tarring all men with the same opinionated brush?

Sure, her views might be in the minority, but they're still noticed (which could be seen by the retweets and favourites on said tweet). And just like all of the negative views of the different men in tech we have seen, such as Pax Dickinson, they still make an impact.

I replied back to her and stated that she must mean some men in tech, because saying all makes her just as bad as those men she is referencing. Unfortunately, she swiftly told me to "f--k off", proceeded to continuously post sexist tweets and that was that.

This issue has arisen several times now, and it saddens me each time it does. Because it undoes a lot of good work so many men and women are doing to try and create equality in this industry. Increasing the number of women in tech is something that the entire IT industry has to be focused on - men and women alike. There is no "them and us".  I have been helped by so many people in this industry. And I thank each and every one of you for all of your support in Women Who Code UK. Without the help I've received from people like Tom GrayMatt JohnstonEmma LeahyBasil McCreaEmma Mulqueeny, Mairtin O'Muilleour , Mary McKenna so many more, WWC UK wouldn't be where it is today.

At the end of the day, there is one business that we are all passionate about and we best work together to make this sector flourish.

Thanks for reading,

Sheree

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GoDaddy teams up with Anita Borg Institute

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Small business service provider GoDaddy has teamed up with the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) to expand the awareness of women's contribution to the tech sector and to encourage more participation in the industry.  

ABI is a nonprofit organisation founded by Anita Borg, a computer-scientist who pushed for women to break the "silicon ceiling."

One-third of GoDaddy's top leadership is female including board member Betsy Rafael, chief technology officer Elissa Murphy, chief marketing officer Barb Rechterman, chief communications officer Karen Tillman and general counsel Nima Kelly.

Elissa Murphy, chief technology officer at GoDaddy, said: "There are young girls out there right now, who remind me of myself growing up, girls who are captivated by technology and how it can be so absolutely transformative."

"These young women are the technologists of tomorrow, and they benefit from the nurturing and networking the Anita Borg Institute provides."

GoDaddy chief executive Blake Irving started the GoDaddy women in technology network. Irving is also involved with the Society of Women Engineers and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

ABI president Telle Whitney said: "We're impressed with GoDaddy's commitment to transformation and women in technology. There is a wealth of research demonstrating that more diversity and greater representation of women in the workforce improves business performance and innovation.

"GoDaddy is clearly invested in diversity and driving opportunities for women in technology."
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Learning not to play down your own abilities: My experience of a female coding club

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This week I attended Women Who Code's first London meet up which was organised for females wanting to learn web development (Ruby, HTML and CSS).

I get to do a little coding on Computer Weekly, however already working within a Content Management System (CMS) means I'm limited to how much I can really learn about web development, so I thought the meet up would be a good way to expand my coding knowledge - during the session I built the website pictured : )

Thumbnail image for Holly for blog.jpgHaving previously spoken to Sheree Atcheson, founder of Women Who Code London and Belfast, I felt the meet up sounded like a perfect opportunity to develop my coding skills and meet other ladies in the same basic coding boat as me....so I emailed her asking if I could come along.

Before I arrived at the session I was thinking of possible news angles and questions to ask some of the ladies about why they chose to attend the meet up and what they hoped to get out of it. My first thought was "fear factor."

I was wondering if the ladies were attending beginners web development for females because of a fear of attending male dominated sessions, in case they were branded "the dumb female" if it didn't appear clear to them at first.

However, when I started to talk to the ladies they didn't mention fear. They simply attended because they felt web development is a great skill to have under your belt.

But what I did notice was the lack of self-belief in the room and this is something that comes up in women in technology discussions frequently. The ladies I spoke to immediately said: "I currently only know the basics though" or "I don't know much on coding so I'm here to learn a little more" just like myself - basic - and this is what the session described itself as.

Ladies - You are not basic level coders - I'M A BASIC LEVEL CODER. I couldn't believe that these ladies where underselling themselves as only having "basic" knowledge when the questions in the room seemed to me to be well beyond basic.

I hear this time and time again that females do not realise just how good they are and I experienced this first hand this week, hearing these bright young ladies play down their own coding abilities.  

The first Women Who Code meet up was hosted at FDM Group's offices near London Bridge. If you haven't heard of FDM before, they're very supportive of women in technology and its work workforce is currently 25% female.

At the meet up FDM Group's chief operating officer, Sheila Flavell said the majority of the company's management team are female "not because they're women, but because they're bloody good at what they do."

If you're interested in attending a Woman Who Code meet up you can find more details here. I will be attending more of them for sure, as it got me over my fear of Ruby on Rails - and after a few more sessions I will no longer consider myself "basic" either.
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Mind the gender gap: Why being a woman in IT motivates me to be successful

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This is a guest blog from Olivia Rose Graham, software engineer at Next Jump.

 

One of the main reasons that I got into computer science is influence from my father - he has previously been a programmer and inspired me to take up the subject at college and then at University.

oliviagraham.png 

Unfortunately whilst I was at school, there was only the option to study ICT - a dull mix of 'learning' to use programs from the Microsoft Office suite. I started to notice a lack of other girls during my A-levels, being the only girl in my computing class and one of few in maths and physics.

 

The gender gap at degree level is pretty big; in the UK in 2011-2012 there were 3500 female computer science undergraduate degrees obtained (17.45%), and 16560 male computer science undergrads obtained (82.55%). I could usually count the number of girls in a lecture on one hand (out of 150 students). I was very aware of the gender gap but I was never particularly bothered; I never felt at a disadvantage or discriminated against.

 

I would say that I almost felt that I had an advantage - people would often point out the gender gap and the positives of being in the minority. I believe it made me push myself harder - I was more motivated to be successful and in a way prove that I could be as good as or better than my male counterparts.

 

Despite feeling this advantage in standing out and having been successful in my degree, I still suffer from a lack of confidence. This under-confidence was never so prominent at school; I was able to give presentations and speak publicly without much thought. It mainly affects me in areas around my subject (and intelligence) and it does not generally extend in the same way to my social life.

 

This under-confidence I recognise in myself is reflected in a large majority of women (rarely men) I have come across - friends, family, classmates and colleagues; It can be as subtle as the language you use. I was told off by a family friend recently when talking about a project I had been working on - I mentioned that I was "really lucky that the results were so good".  The problem with this kind of language is that I'm instantly dismissing all the hard work and time I spent on that project when I should be proud!

 

I am now working as a software engineer and I am pleased to say I have never felt any kind of discrimination thus far in my career (all 9 months of it!). Additionally, I no longer suffer quite the same low confidence now; I still battle with it but I can stand up in front of an audience and say the things I want to say, and I rarely have issues with being too scared to ask the 'wrong' questions in meetings or speak my mind.

 

This is down to deliberate practice that has been supported by the company I work for - we focus heavily on growth (a privilege not everyone has straight out of education). We need to change the way things are for young girls (and boys too!), starting with schools & the national curriculum. No more Microsoft Office!

 

Despite the ubiquity of computing nowadays, young girls are not inspired to take up programming. It boggles my mind that it wasn't an option for me at school, but hopefully that's changing - we need talented computer scientists from both genders.

 

Sources:

·         http://www.theguardian.com/education/datablog/2013/jan/29/how-many-men-and-women-are-studying-at-my-university


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Why Dame Wendy Hall won the FDM 2014 everywoman lifetime achievement award

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If you haven't already seen, Dame Wendy Hall won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 FDM everywoman awards this week.

Dame Wendy Hall is a professor of computer science at the University of Southampton and a founder of the Web Science Research Initiative.Dame wendy hall for witsend.jpg

This is the third year I have attended the awards and it was a nice surprise to see Wendy presented with the first award of the day.

I met Wendy when she spoke at Computer Weekly's women in IT event last year. In addition to taking part in our speakers' panel she made it on to our Top 25 Most Influential Women in IT list for the second year running.

The Top 25 is made up of ladies who the judges feel are role models that will be important to the future diversity and success of the tech community.

So what has Wendy done to make her so influential? She started out by studying undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in mathematics at the University of Southampton. She returned to the university in 1984 to join a newly created computer science group. There her team invented the Microcosm hypermedia system.

In 1994 she was appointed as the University's first female professor of engineering. She then served as head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science from 2002-2007.

Along with Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Professor Nigel Shadbolt, and Daniel J. Weitzner, she founded the Web Science Research Initiative, which was launched in 2006.

In 2000 she was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, in addition to becoming a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng).

To quote Wikipedia who feature Wendy's long list of achievements: "She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.

She is a Fellow of the British Computer Society (FBCS) (also serving as President) and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET).

In 2002, she was appointed a Fellow of the City and Guilds (FCGI).

On 15 May 2009, Wendy Hall was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). In 2010 she was named a Fellow of the ACM "for contributions to the semantic web and web science and for service to ACM and the international computing community."

She is a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering."

Wendy also holds honorary degrees from Oxford Brookes University, Glamorgan University, Cardiff University, the University of Pretoria and Loughborough University.

And  if you're somehow not yet convinced why she's so deserving of the 2014 FDM everywoman award she also tutored Computer Weekly's editor in chief Bryan Glick at University!  

Congratulations Wendy, from Computer Weekly and WITsend on your Lifetime Achievement Award.

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It all starts in Primary School

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This is a guest blog from Diana Kennedy, head of strategy and architecture, enterprise systems, BP.

Diana is a finalist in the 2014 FDM everywoman in Technology awards in the Team Leader of the Year (leading a team of up to 100 employees) category, supported by Vodafone.

 

Diana Kennedy.jpgI attended my eight year-old daughter's parents evening last week at her local co-ed primary - always an interesting experience. This time the school was piloting a new cloud-based booking system.

 

Good to see schools making use of new technology in this way, although the resulting military precision required for meticulously timed five minute appointments felt more like speed dating meets education!

 

From Year 3 the children are set into four ability groups in maths. I had noticed there was a disproportionate number of boys in the top set than girls - three girls and 13 boys. This seemed to me a trend that I should challenge and investigate. It cannot be the case that at the age of eight (or ever actually!) boys can be that much better than boys at maths!

 

So I plucked up the courage to challenge the Head of Maths, on this fact. He was quite surprised at the challenge. His first response was, 'I teach who I'm given!'. He then went on to say how much more competitive the boys were than the girls. He thought the girls were just not as interested in the subject. So I suggested to him that this might just be the way that maths was being taught in primary schools i.e. made much more interesting for boys, with endless tests, examples on topics based around boys interests. I told him that I thought it was much more about the teaching of the subject at primary than certainly it was about ability.

 

My daughter already thinks she is 'rubbish at maths' even though she is lucky enough to be one of the three girls in the top set. Silence from the Head of Maths!

 

I studied for a Mechanical Engineering degree, and was one of only two women on the course. I discover to my sadness that the statistics on that same course are not much improved today. 9% of women study for science and engineering subjects in the UK compared with closer to 20% in China. Does it all start at Primary school?

 

I have recently been recruiting IT solution architects. It is extremely challenging to find female IT technical architects and when I do, they are not UK citizens, which if course is not a problem, but an observation worth making. I wonder if it is the experience of primary school maths that is putting our girls off technical careers so early in their lives. The impact on this to the productivity of the UK is immense. We are all in a global war for talent.

 

The wonderful work of everywoman, FDM and other organisations in promoting technical careers for women is amazing, and I see real progress in the opportunities and career options for women. We need more women in the pipeline though!

 

So I've taken it as my personal mission to improve the quality of maths teaching for girls in primary schools. I'd love to hear from anyone with their own experiences and ideas.
 

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Not enough women in tech?? Try angel investing

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This is a guest blog from Zoe Cunningham, managing director of Softwire, technology expert and founder of Tech Talkfest.

Like everyone in tech - I have a fascination with startups. In 2012 I started Tech Talkfest to run tech startup events (you can read about our Women in Tech event here. I found that many of my attendees hadn't started one yet - they worked in tech, had a great idea and were looking for some support to help them to start it.

Zoe cunningham 2.jpgI'm interested in startups from both sides - as an entrepreneur and as an investor. Yet if it's difficult to take the plunge as an entrepreneur, having to give up the security of your job and the luxury of having enough to eat, it's even more challenging to decide to invest large amounts of money into someone else's business, where you have very little control.

So my dream of becoming the next Deborah Meaden remained just that - a dream - until a chance meeting with Sarah Turner. Sarah set up Angel Academe in 2012 to be an angel investing group, with a difference. It's not easy to tie down the statistics on angel investing as a lot of it happens informally but the best statistics that we have (from the UK Business Angels Association) show that just 5% of angel investors are female.

Sarah was determined to redress this shocking statistic. "What's clear to me is that there's opportunity and demand: both for an angel group focussed on tech but designed to appeal to women (women control nearly 50% of the net wealth in this country!), and from founders (both men and women) who would like to pitch to us."

As a novice investor, I am really honoured to be part of this group, which includes women from very senior roles including operational, marketing, tech and corporate finance roles as well as successful entrepreneurs - who better to trust with your money? It was also reassuring to see that my instincts on what was a good deal or not matched the rest of the group. Six months on, I have just signed my first deal to invest in social music platform Buddy Bounce.

Set up by female entrepreneurs Emma Obanye and Giulia Piu, responsible for tech and product respectively, Buddy Bounce is a platform for 16-24 year olds to earn points by sharing information about and digital assets from their favourite artist. For example I might get recognised for following One Direction on twitter, and gain even more points if I tweet their new video. This pool of dedicated fans provides an easily monetisable service to record label and artists. As we start to tire of being advertised to, this kind of marketing is almost priceless.

And perhaps there are more far reaching benefits to supporting women founders. Sarah says "If you want to look at the bigger picture, I also think entrepreneurship is the best opportunity we have for advancing women - the number of women at the top of large corporations has remained the same for many years. Far better to support new businesses who can create their own culture."


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Could soap and water attract more women to the IT sector?

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This is a guest blog from Elizabeth Clark, CEO of Dreamagility.com, and a finalist in the FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards (Startup Category) 2014.

 

As an FDM Women in Technology Finalist in the Startup Category  and with over 15 years, on and off, in technology, I'm acutely aware that I have a moral obligation to encourage more women into the sector. My 17 year old daughter is a daily reminder of this.  Could toothpaste and a bar of soap hold the key to attracting more women?

Elizabeth M  Clark  .jpg 

It suddenly dawned on me whilst chatting to one of the lovely crew organizing Mortimer Spinks' women leaders in technology roundtable, that just about every woman she had mentioned had complained about their teams. Given a choice of working with Analysts or Developers, I'll take the Analysts every time. Walking into a room full of Developers is an assault on your olfactory senses. They (speaking generally) have an aversion to washing, teeth brushing and hair cutting - the latter I can live with but the first two I find unbearable, but am conditioned to putting up with it.  And here's where the differences between in the sexes kicks in.

 

People with the best sense of smell are young women of menstruating age. Your sense of smell declines with age and the people with the worst sense of smell are older males and smokers.  I once had to arbitrate on a bullying case by some women of a man they claimed smelled. The challenge here was the age and sex of the Director dealing with it - he was a more mature male, who smoked,  and refuted that the guy smelled at all. The 'bullied' guy smelled so bad he could stop a donkey at 50 paces. It was the young women's issues that were not being taken seriously.

 

My daughter has met the worst of my Developers, she doesn't even want to eat with them as some of their table manners leave a lot to be desired.  That said she's in her first year of her A-level Computer Science. Far from being able to breed my way out of the skills shortage, her teacher  (who is also long haired,  etc.) seems to be hell bent on making the experience as un-inspired as possible. There are only 2 girls, they sit together, most of the boys have already done computer science GCSE, so the teacher rushed through great chunks of the stuff and she's struggled to keep up. 

 

The teacher is using an ancient version of Visual Basic which isn't compatible with Windows 8 and he's refusing to update his course. They don't work in projects so she doesn't know the other boys, the boys are reluctant to mix with the girls, etc. It's ever decreasing circles...  My son is in his first year of a Computer Science Degree, there is only one girl on his course and nobody has anything to do with her, which as a mother and a woman, I find heart breaking for the poor girl.  However if she sticks it out at least she'll be in great demand!

 

It doesn't matter how much we encourage girls to join the sector, if the conditions - which as veterans we have come to accept - are unpalatable, they will quickly leave.  My youngest is only 14 months old, I'd like to see a big change in the numbers of women in the sector by the time he reaches industry.


In conclusion,  if we cleaned up the teachers' acts and included personal hygiene as a key personal development area at uni AND in the workplace, it could be one small step for Developers, but could enable a giant leap for women kind!

 

About

Elizabeth Clark is the CEO of Dreamagility.com, and finalist in the FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards (Startup Category)  2014. She is also a mother of three, international speaker and best-selling author.


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Diverse skills are a must if your team is to succeed

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This is a guest blog by Jane Stockdill-Mander, WebSphere portfolio product manager, at IBM UK LTD. Jane is a finalist in the 2014 FDM everywoman in Technology awards in the 'Innovator of the Year' category, sponsored by Ocado

Throughout my 15 year career in technology I've always been in the minority as a female but have never felt different and certainly not disadvantaged.  I was one of two girls out of seventeen students sponsored by IBM to study computer science and after graduating I worked in teams where sometimes I was the only female.  Friends outside the technology sector would always ask whether this bothered me but I really never noticed. I've always worked with great people and that's what matters to me.  Perhaps I have just been very fortunate to work for a company, IBM, which takes diversity seriously.

Jane Stockdill-Mander.jpgOn several occasions I have ran workshops to promote technology to school-girls and have always seen as much interest from them as the boys when we run mixed events. So what is discouraging females from entering the IT industry?  

Just last week I saw an advert for a start-up software development company, the marketing blurb all made it sound very fresh and exciting until I read that the fridge was always stocked with beer and Friday afternoons were for playing FIFA followed by pizza.  For me that advertisement was deliberately targeting men in their twenties and  in doing this, companies are excluding themselves from a wealth of talent by encouraging a more diverse set of applicants.

Working as a team leader for several years and now as a manager I have found the best teams to work in are those that bring together unique individuals that each have something different to offer whether that be men, women, experienced hires, graduate students, those with an IT background or those from seemingly unrelated disciplines.  As a young girl I was always interested in logic puzzles which my sister used to joke was akin to doing maths homework on holiday or I'd be in my room playing with LEGO.

I was also very interested in art and design (even though I dropped out of art class because I just wasn't as good as the ideas in my head) so as I was choosing my degree, software engineering really appealed because I would get to combine problem solving with creativity.  The good news, however is that even students that don't study an IT related degree can still make excellent software engineers.  

Yes, other students may have a head start on programming skills but that for me was such a minor part of software development. Having the ability to listen to and understand customer requirements, translating those into useable product features, being able to design a useable front end, thinking outside the box to design tests for ways in which we never envisaged customers using the software or the ability to write easily understood product documentation are just a few of the roles all requiring different skills and are shared across many industries. 

I have personally seen students with degrees in History, Languages and Politics all succeed and bring with them a different perspective to software engineering.  So I applaud events such as those run by everywoman and FDM which encourage women to speak out about their experiences in the hope that we can spread the word that companies need a diverse set of skills in order to be innovative and successful.

Twitter @janesm19
Linkedin
uk.linkedin.com/pub/jane-stockdill-mander/16/793/909/

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Infographic: Why women don't make less than men

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I just received this infographic from TopManagmentDegrees.com that I thought the WITsend community might find interesting.

The research is US based, but it has some brilliant stats on both men and women in business.

Women Don't Make Less
Source: TopManagementDegrees.com

 

Investing in today to change tomorrow: International's Women Day

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This is a guest blog by Bernadette Andrietti, vice president, sales and marketing group, director, Europe, Middle East and Africa marketing at Intel.

International's Women Day on 8 March is a day of inspiration, celebration of success and progression and focus on the future. Many things have been achieved in recent decades, but there are still many issues to tackle. One of the biggest tasks is to ensure that everyone in the world - regardless of gender, race or age - has free access to education as it serves as a catalyst for change which provides the foundation for a successful future, breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

It is a travesty that in today's world, millions of girls and women have little or no access to education. Technology is the enabler for connecting humans with information and with each other. By enabling access to education, technology is strengthening the ability of girls and women to become powerful catalysts for change. This will improve not only their own lives, but also those in their families and communities.

The Intel Learn Program which was launched in 2004 provides them with key skills in technology literacy, problem-solving and collaboration. In the last ten years, the initiative has reached 900,000 girls and young women in 18 countries around the world.

This is a great success, but there is much more to do: About two-thirds of illiterate adults in the world are women. We're working with many partners to achieve equal access to information technology, enabling women to increase their productivity and economic opportunities. This is why Intel launched 'Intel She Will Connect', a programme that commits to connect women in developing countries to the Internet.

The initiative begun in Africa, where the gender gap is the greatest; on average, across the developing world nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.  As a result, this initiative aims to connect five million women to the Internet and reduce the gender gap.

The impact of this gap is global, and has a huge socio-economic impact on girls and women. In developed markets, the ability to connect with other women is enabling them to network, share ideas and start businesses. Here, connecting technology ultimately helps to make economic equality a reality.

 

The best ideas come from a range of minds, and many amazing ideas from young female inventors and scientists have been showcased at Intel ISEF. Supporting this female entrepreneurialism is key to prosperity and a successful global economy and for EMEA specifically, we have a really strong focus across on developing more women leaders as diversity is critical for us and for the business.

 

Intel is rooted in Science, technology and engineering, it is close to our heart to inspire better learning for young people planning a career in science, technology, engineering and maths. Across Europe it is estimated that women make up just 30% of STEM related careers. It is shocking that women consume most of technologies at home and more and more in workplace, yet this technological savviness is not reflected in the number of women in STEM careers.

As a company that relies on innovation, Intel needs highly skilled and qualified women and men to continue to develop life-changing products and solutions. Intel Teach is our global program, helping teachers to integrate technology in learning for 21st century education preparing the next generation. So far, we have trained more than 5 million women teachers globally.

For Intel, every day is International Women's Day. Intel and the Intel Foundation invest more than $100 million every year in corporate contributions around the world, which includes education efforts focused on girls and women. We can build this world together, by further exploring technology and finding ways which will improve our lives. Creating an open environment is our contribution to attracting girls to science and technology.

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Enterprising Women unveils new West London businesswomen club

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Enterprising Women has launched a monthly club for businesswomen in Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster.

 

The community for female entrepreneurs reaches 45,000 businesswomen across the UK, providing a range of start-up and growth support to women from all sectors and backgrounds.

 

The first club will take place Tuesday 25 March at County House, 46 New Broad Street, London, EC2M 1JH.

 

The meeting will be hosted by Diane Shawe, chief executive officer of the Academy of Vocational and Professional Training.

 

Shawe said: "We are living in exciting times with lots of changes and opportunity. Applying crucial relationship building tactics and maintaining those relations is a skill.  

 

"This group will be more than support and entertainment; I will strive to make sure that our club is effective, constructive and dynamic."

 

Prospective members can attend two events before deciding whether or not to join.

 

You can find out more information here and how to book a place: http://www.enterprising-women.org/kwc-business-club-launch.

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International Women's Day: Five inspiring quotes to achieve career success

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Ahead of International Women's Day (Saturday 8 March) this is a guest blog by Molly Smith, marketing and recruitment assistant at FDM Group.

International Women's day is on Saturday 8 March, a universal event to celebrate women's achievements in social, political and economic advancements whilst also encouraging individuals to advocate gender equality to inspire positive change throughout the world.

Molly FDM new.jpgEach year the celebrations revolve around a specific theme, this year is on 'Inspiring Change'. With this theme in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to collate some of my favourite quotes from influential women in technology to inspire all the ladies out there into making the change and chasing after your career dreams!

"A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things."

Grace Hopper, a Developer and a US Navy Rear Admiral was one of the most influential women in the history of Computer Science. She became a pioneer in the field of programming, through her years of dedication to developing programming languages which are still in use today. Even in these modern times Hopper is still an inspirational role model to both men and women who have an interest in technology.

 

This thought-provoking quote sums up Hopper's drive to succeed completely; she made computers accessible to everyone through programming them into plain English much to the disbelief of her fellow team members. So, take note from her ladies, and be inspired to take on new opportunities no matter how many times you are told it is not feasible: you can achieve anything that you set out to do!

 

"Women shouldn't be afraid to put themselves forward"

Sarah Wood, COO, is a Co-founder of UK video technology company, Unruly Media, which began in 2006 as a small technology solutions company to provide brands with the support to make their video content become an online viral sensation. Since 2006, Unruly Media has rapidly expanded with offices in Europe and the US, including New York, San Francisco and Chicago.

 

Sarah advises women to put themselves forward and not to be afraid of opportunities that face them. She is a prime example of a woman who put herself forward and succeeded in an area where she had no previous experience whilst also going into business in a market completely new to her whilst partnering up with two male friends. Follow Sarah's advice and don't be afraid of putting yourself forward for the opportunities in your life, you never know where it may lead you.

 

"I think it's very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men."

Karen Spärck Jones, Professor of Computers and Information at Cambridge Computer Laboratory was a British Computer Scientist who profoundly campaigned to encourage more women to take an interest in Computing. Gaining many honours over her time for her work, her most poignant contribution to technology was her work on the concept of inverse document frequency (IDF), which is still used in most search engines today, as part of the TF-IDF weighting scheme.

 

Spärck understood that Computing requires the skills that women can bring to the sector as well as our male counterparts. Women are able to succeed in this exciting industry and can add a different perspective to the world of technology. With it being said in the news that women are the main users in consuming technology products, it makes sense for females to get involved in Computing in order to combine the skills of both genders and promote gender equality in the sector. So ladies, follow Spärck's advice and realise Computing needs you!

 

"Find something you're passionate about and just love. Passion is really gender-neutralizing."

Marrisa Meyer, CEO at Yahoo is listed as one of the world's 100 most powerful women in Forbes Magazine. Meyer started out as the first female engineer at Google before going on to work on a vast amount of roles before becoming Vice President of Local, Maps and Location Services. Now appointed as the President and CEO of Yahoo, Marrisa has worked on a major overhaul of the sites photo sharing service, Flickr, whilst also working on gaining a string of major acquisitions such as online platforms Tumblr and Summly. 

 

Meyer advises people to go out and find something that they are passionate about and find a career they love, it is clear that Meyer has found a career in an industry that she has true passion for. Since studying Computer Science at school through to building a highly successful career in the area, she is a strong advocate for following your passion in your career. Follow Meyer's advice and go after a career that really inspires you; there is no need to be working in a job you show no interest in when you can make a success out of something you truly believe in. This piece of advice is for everyone, not just the ladies!

 

"Networking is absolutely key to creating a supportive network within any industry."

Sheila Flavell, COO and Co-founder of FDM Group, an international IT services provider is a hugely successful business woman within the industry. Since joining FDM, Sheila has been fundamental to the success and expansion of the organisation's global footprint whilst being responsible for overseeing Operations, Recruitment, Marketing, Human Resources and the FDM Academy globally. Flavell has also spent the last three years spearheading the organisation's 'Women in IT' campaign, an initiative which is committed to encouraging and supporting women to enter the IT industry.

 

Flavell truly believes that networking is vital in any industry in order to create a supportive network. It is essential in building and developing relationships that will enable you to access new opportunities, to provide or receive advice from others and also to help raise your profile within the workplace. Follow this piece of advice and start networking within the industry you are in, you will soon start to see the benefits that it can bring.

 

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Mortimer Spinks launches Women in Technology iPad app

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Recruitment expert Mortimer Spinks has launched a Women in Technology app for the iPad, based on the results of the joint Mortimer Spinks and Computer Weekly Women in Technology 2013 Survey.

When released the research revealed some interesting insights into both men and women working in the IT industry, one of them being how women lack self-belief compared to men in the sector.  

Mortimer Spinks women in tech app for WITsend blog.jpgAccording to the results of the survey, which quizzed 199 females and 313 males across the UK, both men and women are happy within their tech careers however women don't realise just how good they are.  

Issues were also raised over image problems within the IT industry, and how three-quarters of women said technology careers are less attractive to potential female recruits because of concerns about the 'macho' nature of technology team. Women also raised concerns over being the only female in a male dominated department.

Despite this nine of ten females in the tech sector would happily recommend technology as a career choice to another female.

You can download the Women in Technology Survey app from iTunes here. The app requires iOS 6.0 or later and is compatible with iPad.


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Everywoman leadership academy: Early bird discount

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Due to an event clash I can't make the everywoman leadership academy, near Southbank, this year but I'm sure the Computer Weekly representative attending in my place will find it just as useful as I have in the past. Thumbnail image for Everywoman-Technology-Conf-0124.jpg

The academies focus on personal development and how to take control of your own career and make things happen. Each academy has an inspiring line up of speakers, trainers and motivational coaches.

But outside of the agenda I always find myself talking to someone interesting, with a great story on how they ended up in tech and their journey so far.

The academy takes place at IBM's building near Southbank on 21 May 9am-4pm. There is an early bird discount if you register before 4 April. As I said unfortunately I can't make it - but if you are going to Briforum London I will see you there instead!

Places for the academy are booking up fast, so if you would like to attend you can register here.

Find out what happened at last year's everywoman academy at IBM.

 

What women (should) want - A career in IT

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This is a guest blog by Claire Vyvyan, executive director and general manager, large institutions, at Dell UK. Claire is a finalist in the 2014 FDM everywoman in Technology awards in the 'Inspiration of the Year' category, sponsored by VMware.

 

Claire Vvyan everywoman finalist.JPGMy technology career has allowed me to travel to many interesting places, but the best part about my job today is that I actually get to help save lives and impact the world around us with the help of the Dell team.

 

Dell's work with IT solutions to hospitals, in driving medical research, in catching bad guys with our Digital Forensics solutions, in protecting citizens, Government and companies from threats in cyber space....all make my role endlessly rewarding, with every day bringing new challenges and opportunities to make a difference.

 

However, as a woman working in the tech industry for many years, it's been hard not to notice that it isn't exactly a true reflection of the diverse world we live in.

 

That's why it's crucial that women, parents, teachers and the broader tech industry (both male and female!) are encouraging girls to consider careers in technology in whatever way we can.

 

With a huge range of diverse roles, it's an extremely exciting industry to be a part of, yet only 17% of women work in technology. This is an astonishing figure given IT's ever growing presence in everyday lives - who doesn't have a mobile or tablet packed with apps to help them save time or be entertained?  And with the majority of IT purchasing decisions in the household being led by women, I truly believe that by having more women involved, Dell can create technology that will only better serve the world in the future.

 

We need to give girls a launch pad to realise their capabilities.  My father did that for me by encouraging me (or forcing as I saw it back then!) to read maths at University and while I didn't know it then, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It opened the doors to technology for me, as it was largely maths driven in those days, and when I learned to code on IBM punch cards I was hooked!  

 

Having been given the taste, I have been fortunate to work at some of the largest technology companies in the world, including Microsoft, Compaq and now Dell. You never know where the technology industry is going to take you next; innovation is happening at a rapid pace and there's no reason why young girls can't become the next Mark Zuckerberg.

 

I'd recommend Dell to any woman in the IT industry.  It is a fantastic place to work and it continues to find new ways to support its team members, be it through flexible working hours to provide more time for families or development plans for leadership roles. I'm one of three female General Managers running Dell in the UK and I'm responsible for an approximately 4000+ strong workforce - which is not that common in large IT companies such as ours.

 

I was lucky that I found a route into technology at an early age, but it's not necessarily an area that girls consider because of the stereotypes associated with it. It's important that as an industry, we start talking to young girls about their future early on and actively showing them the benefits of working in IT and other STEM areas. This will help them see the opportunities they have to make a real impact on the world through technology before they start making decisions about A-Levels, university and ultimately their careers.

 


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CareerPlayer and industry big guns launch women in tech campaign with documentary

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Online careers hub CareerPlayer along with Bloomberg, American Express, PwC, and Microsoft have partnered to launch a women in technology campaign.

The campaign has launched with a film drawing attention to the opportunities available to women when they join the tech sector.

The film is targeted at female undergraduates and includes several females in tech at different stages in their careers.

Women in tech video blog for witsend.jpgRob Wescott, managing director of CareerPlayer said: "The firms featured in the latest CareerPlayer documentary, Women in Technology, are committed to addressing this disparity and this video will help build on their existing initiatives to achieve greater gender diversity."

The video includes Katrina Roberts, head of european technologies at American Express, Bloomberg developer Lilit Darbinyan and Henrietta Forsyth a technology consultant at PwC.

Forsyth said: "At the end of the day it's really important to understand what our clients want and if that means developing a product or a service offering that is aligned to the interest of both men and women then it's really important to have both men and women on the team in the development phases."

"I think the skills that women are able to bring to the technology role are the same ones that men can. Having said that I think women are able to bring a very fresh perspective to a role that is traditionally more dominated by men."

The documentary also sheds light on where women can find support networks, training opportunities and information on flexible working arrangements.

You can view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zr0RAi6hZM

 

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Birkbeck Uni take part in €3m research project to boost status of women in scientific and tech sectors

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Staff at Birkbeck, University of London, are taking part in a €3,284,000 European project to raise the status of women in scientific and technical organisations, with a focus on encouraging more women during the early stages of their scientific careers.

 

The European wide TRIGGER project includes institutions in Italy, France, Spain and the Czech Republic.

 

Birkbeck have received a Transforming Institutions by Gendering contents and Gaining Equality in Research (TRIGGER) grant of €400,000.

 

The European Union's Seventh Framework Programme funds €2,179,000 of the project, the Italian government €700,000 and rest comes from other partners involved.

 

During the four year research project Birkbeck will take nine actions, some of which include:

 

  • Systematic observation of potentially discriminating formal/informal behaviours and recommendations for action
  • Promoting the inclusion of women scientists in external collaborative arrangements
  • Developing a permanent mentoring programme and handbook of best practice
  • Mainstream teaching module on gender for PhD courses
  • Creation of structural opportunities for the commercialisation of women's work in research and innovation

 

The TRIGGER project, at Birkbeck, is managed by a board of 14 staff, including academics and employees from the School of Science, School of BEI and Human Resources, a research assistant and PhD student.

 

Helen Lawton Smith, professor of entrepreneurship in Birkbeck's Department of Management, said: "Women remain underrepresented in scientific and technological fields. It is important to take action to address this inequality.

 

"As well as supporting women's careers, this project will study the impact of our actions. It will also be fascinating to compare our experiences with institutions elsewhere in Europe."
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Vodafone Foundation to host Connected Women Summit

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The Vodafone Foundation will be holding a Connected Women Summit in London on 3 March 2014.

The summit aims to examine the impact of mobile technology on the lives of women. The event will focus on women globally, ahead of International Women's Day on 8 March.

The outcome of the event will be research published on the economic impact of extending women's access to mobile, with particular focus on women in the developing world. The day also aims to demonstrate how mobile technologies can transform women's health and education, in addition to announcing a new global female literacy and education partnership.

 During the evening an event will be hosted by Vodafone group chief executive Vittorio Colao and Vodafone chief executive for Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific Serpil Timuray. 

Guest speakers will include Malala Yousafzai, ambassador for girls' education worldwide through the Malala Fund, Kathy Calvin, president and chief executive officer of the United Nations Foundation and Justine Greening, international development secretary in the UK.

Colao said: "Mobile changes women's lives forever. Mobile technologies can help women build businesses, lift families out of poverty, conquer illiteracy, enhance maternal and childhood health and reduce the blight of domestic violence."

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