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Makers calls for ‘change in narrative’ around women in tech

As it opens nominations for its second annual Women in Software Powerlist, software bootcamp Makers calls for a “change in narrative” around women in tech

The Women in Software Powerlist has been launched for a second year by software bootcamp Makers Academy.

Alongside the Women in Software list, the bootcamp also launched a Changemakers list to highlight the people making a positive change to diversity and inclusion in the UK’s tech sector.

In partnership with Level 39 and Google for Startups UK, this year’s lists are designed not only to shine a light on some of the women with coding and software skills in the tech sector, but also to bring about a “change in narrative” surrounding the lack of women in tech.

Alex Bailey, head of marketing at Makers, explained: “We know that when talking about diversity in tech, it really doesn’t end with gender. We want to do a lot better. We know there’s a lot more work to do. But by changing the narrative around gender, we can begin to change other aspects of diversity as well.”

Many blame a lack of female role models for the low number of girls who choose to go into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers, and young women have said they want more encouragement from role models already in the tech industry.

While lists such as Women in Software aim to create more visible and accessible role models, many have recently claimed there is also a need for inclusion in the tech sector if any real change is going to stick.  

For this year’s Women in Software list, 30 women will be represented from the UK’s tech sector who are involved in the software industry using the following judging criteria:

  1. Growth – in learning and leadership.
  2. Influence – in the community and among peers.
  3. Innovation – contributing to interesting projects at work or independently.

The Changemakers list will focus on UK teams which have led or launched an initiative aimed at making the tech sector more inclusive for women at any point since January 2017, and will be judged through the following criteria:

  1. Action – have things changed as a result of this initiative?
  2. Influence – has this initiative been successful in raising the profile of women in software?
  3. Innovation – is this initiative unique in inspiring future change?

When talking about this year’s theme of “changing the narrative” surrounding the lack of women in tech, Amy Woolf, director of The Woolf Partnership, reminded the audience at the Makers’ Powerlist launch event that Winston Churchill was able to shift the UK’s morale during the Second World War using the phrase “keep calm and carry on”.

While she admitted the lack of diversity in the tech sector is not quite as dire a situation as a world war, she pointed out people’s attitude in a terrible situation can be made better if the narrative around the situation is approached in a different way.

“Women are victims of negative narrative. [If] we speak our minds we are ‘bossy’. [If] we don’t say enough, we’re ‘too shy’. [If] we keep quiet, we’ve got no confidence. We voice our concerns and we’re ‘argumentative’,” she said.

“These strange twists of actions go so deep into every aspect of our lives. Casual sexism is absolutely not OK. I want to take back the dialogue. I want to change the narrative. So the way we speak about men and women are equal, and I think that’s the key to changing things.”

Nominations for both lists are open until 6 March. This year’s Woman in Software of the Year winner will receive a cash prize sponsored by The Woolf Partnership.

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