Taking place on the 8th March every year, International Women’s Day first started as a Socialist political event. The focus of the celebration has now shifted to range from a day of appreciation and love to a commemoration of women’s achievements across a whole range of sectors including technology and politics.
Tech City News has spoken to women working in the UK’s tech scene to get their take on what is needed to encourage more females to actively engage with tech.
Amy Zima, product manager at Twitter UK
Zima said: “As an industry we’ve identified issues in the education and hiring pipeline: girls and women have historically been discouraged from studying the STEM subjects, a situation which, thanks to efforts of many non-profits and government initiatives, is improving.”
She went on to say that the tech space presents so many different roles and opportunities – there really is something for everyone.
“Whatever you’re interested in, there is a tech-related role for you. What matters is that you’re interested. Learn as much as you can – take an online course or join a meet up. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do. Be curious and make your own path,” she said.
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Sophie Guibaud, VP of European Expansion at Fidor Bank
Guibaud touched upon the topic of diversity, noting that it was key to spur growth across the tech sector. Like Zima, she agreed that although quotas are showing the willingness of governments to address the gender gap issue, we are yet to see results.
“I personally think that a better way of addressing the issue is through education in the workplace, no matter whether employees are entry level or more senior,” she added.
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When asked about the tech-related achievement she was most proud of, Guibaud said: “It has to be launching Fidor Bank in the UK in less than six months … Another achievement I’m very proud of is having one of the companies I have mentored from scratch win the Virgin Startup Challenge and securing a global distribution deal in the US. It’s so rewarding to see others grow and succeed.”
Finally, Guibaud called out for more women to join the tech scene. “There are lots of amazing ladies working in the tech sector in London but we need more … we need to fight cliches to encourage more women to apply to technology roles,” she concluded.
Karoline Klever, programming consultant at Epinova AS
Klever, who returned to work after maternity leave more qualified than when she left to have her baby, also spoke out in celebration of the day.
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“There’s a lot of expectation on women, especially in male dominated industries like technology. We’re expected to go above and beyond to prove we’re as good as our male counterparts. We’re certainly moving towards a state of diversity, but there will always be one thing settings us apart: motherhood,” she told Tech City News.
Having used learning platform Pluralsight after having her baby boy, Klever was able to keep up with the pace of the industry during the early months of motherhood.
“The true impact was apparent when I returned to work; I was able to sit down and carry on like I had never been away. After just six months back in the office, I was promoted to technical supervisor for our e-commerce team,” she explained.
Dr Julie Wall, senior lecturer at University of East London
Dr Wall is a senior lecturer at the School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering at the University of East London. She said: “From my experience, any woman who has wanted a career in technology and has actively pursued this has managed to succeed. However, I do recognise that there is a relative lack of women embarking on a career in tech. My feeling on this is that this is due to a perceived lack of ordinary female roles for you women to identify with.”
“If technology interests you then you should absolutely pursue it. Whether you are male or female does not matter at all. A Computer Science degree, such as that offered by UEL, gives you the means to be part of a fast evolving industry with a hugely diverse range of career opportunities,” she added.
Vanessa Butz, MD of Interchange
Butz agreed with some of her contemporaries in that the lack of women in tech is still a problem but, thankfully, a diminishing one.
“In terms of my tech related achievements I have two that I’m proud of, at University, I programmed a moon landing on Matlab and in my first startup role, I built an algorithm that analysed virality across social platforms,” she said.
To other women out there contemplating a tech-related career, Butz urges them to follow their dreams and not to be disheartened if things don’t turn out the way they envisioned them in the beginning.
“Just keep your focus and you will be successful. The only people that fail are the ones that stop trying,” she concluded.
Georgia Hanias, head of global communications at Innovate Finance
“There are not enough women entering STEM careers and for those that do enter them there’s not enough support to nurture and retain the talent that we need to accelerate the pace of technological innovation,” said Hanias.
To mark International Women’s Day, Innovate Finance has published a list of the 21 female founders and CEOs that are part of its membership association.
It is also hosting a Women in FinTech event this evening at the offices of law firm Hogan Lovells to celebrate the rise of FinTech and the role of women in the development of modern banking.
In addition to this, Innovate Finance has published its Vision for UK FinTech 2020, which outlines its recommendations to attract more women to FinTech. These include establishing greater support and mentoring, implementing after-school programmes, enforcing STEM learning through the UK, setting flexible working hours for businesses, investing in women and praising diversity in the workplace with government, media and the FinTech sector.
Happy International Women’s Day from all of us at Tech City News! Please feel free to share your views on diversity in tech in the comments section below.