”You won’t know if you don’t try. I’d rather live knowing I tried and failed than never having tried.” – An Interview with Theodora Costley-White
Happy New year everyone. Firstly thank you for all the support with Women Rock throughout 2021, we really enjoyed interviewing some great folk across the industry and also running the Little Girl is Me campaign and also What Rocked You feature.
This year we will continue to promote ED&I across the industry, sharing stories, career highs, and lows and also speaking with companies about what they are doing to attract, retain and promote diverse talent within their teams. If we work together we can really make a change.
I am buzzing to kick start 2022 with the awesome Theodora Costley-White We talked about her successful career and her current role as Technical Director at Edit. Her journey and advice as a working mum, being a black woman in technology, her new group – The Women in Tech Coterie and how girls just wanna have fun!
Have a read, it’s great, and remember ‘you won’t know if you don’t try’
Hey Theodora, thank you so much for taking part in Women Rock and sharing your story and journey in the hope it provides inspiration for other folks in the tech industry.
YOU HAVE TOLD US THAT FOR MOST OF YOUR CAREER YOU HAVE BEEN THE ONLY FEMALE IN YOUR TEAM OR EVEN COMPANY. HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOU? HAS IT MADE YOU STRONGER AND MORE DETERMINED TO CHANGE THE INDUSTRY?
In most part it has made me stronger but has been wearing. It has meant I have had to be extremely comfortable in my opinions, my voice, my perspective, and being alone when doing so because you will stand out. It has also made me say enough is enough, there is no excuses for why women are so underrepresented in Tech, we can change this…. We must.
YOU ARE SUCH AN INSPIRATION FOR ALL WOMEN IN TECH, IN LEADERSHIP BUT ALSO FOR BLACK WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY. IN YOUR OPINION HOW CAN COMPANIES ENCOURAGE BETTER DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ACROSS THEIR BUSINESSES?
I don’t know about being an inspiration, but I do hope to change the situation however I can. For starters employers need to stop assuming that there isn’t a diverse talent pool out there simply because their adverts are not attracting the talent, there is.
Their recruitment campaigns need to be more targeted and intentional. Women after all go through more changes in their careers than men do, and so there are many considerations to be made when trying to attract women into Tech.
I FIND THAT THERE ARE SO MANY WOMEN WHO FEEL AS THOUGH THEY MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN THEIR ROLE AS A MOTHER OR THEIR TECH CAREER – WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS? YOU HAVE A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AS WELL AS BEING A MUM, I’D LOVE TO HEAR MORE ON WHAT ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE A BUSY WORKING MUM?
My personal experience of being a mother in the Tech industry is that because it’s an evolutionary industry. There is the perception that women who take time away from the job will fall behind in capabilities and this is simply untrue, we have so many mediums for continued development nowadays. It’s like saying you will forget how to read if you stop reading. What is true is that technologies evolve, but so do the women during that phase, becoming a mother does not stagnate your intellectual development, I would argue it enhances it. You learn so many skills that go on to serve you well in the workplace, and in leadership particularly.
Parenting does not come with a manual; it takes emotional intelligence, agility, adaptability, compromise, time management, and resilience to parent and the same characteristics needed in the workplace. It has been proven that we hire better when we seek transferable skills and attitudes, and not just capabilities.
The best workers are those who can understand our clients’ problems and then apply the tech to solve it. That skill comes from life experience and the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another. I have a friend who has returned to working as a Software Developer focusing on Accessibility for a FTSE 100 after nearly 10 years of staying home to raise her children, and she is doing great!
My one advice to working mums is to make special time to invest in yourself, professionally and personally because you are still YOU, the individual before you are an employee, mum, wife, sister, etc.
I AM SO EXCITED TO BE SUPPORTING YOU ON YOUR NEW PROJECT ‘WOMEN IN TECH COTERIE’ I THINK MORE THAN EVER WE NEED A NEW WOMEN IN TECH GROUP IN BRISTOL. CAN YOU TELL US ALL ABOUT IT AND THE PLANS?
We plan to have fun in-person and virtual networking events – Black Tie events, Meetups and Socials. Also we will be running technology capability training sessions, offering coaching, mentoring and peer pairing work. It will also include blogs and thought leader speaker events as well as awards ceremonies recognising up and coming talent. We are especially excited to be working with the next generation of women in Tech – Schools and Universities, to help young women along with their career progression into Tech and increase diversity for the future.
WE SHARE THE SAME PASSION FOR ENCOURAGING THE NEXT GENERATION AND SUPPORTING THEM INTO THE TECH WORLD. IF YOU HAD 60 SECONDS TO ADVISE ALL YOUNG WOMEN ACROSS THE GLOBE TO FOLLOW A CAREER IN TECHNOLOGY – WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
Don’t knock it before you have tried it – Technology as an industry is very broad and its more interesting and diverse than you realise. It’s not just about IT Helpdesks though they are the lifeline of every company, there is so much more than what is portrayed in the media. Speak to people in the industry, do some work experience you will be amazed at the wide range of fun job types available. Yes, I said fun jobs!
IF YOU WE’RE A SONG, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU BE?
You’re going to find this one funny, when I was a kid, I was a huge fan of ‘Girls just want to have fun by Cyndi Lauper and still am, it’s on my ‘Get up and go’ playlist. I made my mum make me a poker dot tutu just like in her video and I would roller-skate on my driveway draped in plastic bead necklace, singing the song at the top of my lungs. It just made me feel fearless like I could be anything I wanted to be, and I’d have fun doing it!
You won’t know if you don’t try. I’d rather live knowing I tried and failed than never having tried, wondering for the rest of my life.
Thank you so much Theodora! Keep rocking #womenrock
An interview by Alicia Teagle.
A voice for diversity in Tech & Engineering <3