WOMEN ROCK

WOMEN ROCK.

Thanks for being here and welcome to Women Rock – a voice for diversity in tech! Here you will find some of the most inspirational stories about ED&I in the tech industry. Women Rock was created by SR2 co-founder and all-round positive vibe advocate Alicia and exists to help transform the industry and create a positive movement!

“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right” – An Interview with Avye Couloute
WOMEN ROCK2020-10-28

“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right” – An Interview with Avye Couloute

Every interview we do for Women Rock literally blows us away, there are so many amazing stories of career and life journeys for underrepresented folk in the industry included. This one has my whole heart! If you do anything today please read this and share it with friends, colleagues and your business. I’m not going to tell you that there are a lack of women in STEM, we all know this already and whilst it is improving we HAVE to think about the next generation if we are going to improve this and get close to closing the gap.I wish I met Avya when I was 13 years old but now I’m 30 and feel privileged to have her on Women Rock. Ayve is the Founder of Girls into Coding, with her mum Helene. She is on a mission to get more girls involved in Tech. She believes that it is important for girls and women to see and be aware of ordinary girls and women doing cool things in the STEM world. Her mission is to create stimulation opportunities and events to engage girls to consider further STEM activities, studies and careers. After repeatedly observing that the majority of attendees at her workshops were boys, she was determined to encourage more girls to give STEM a go. So, she decided to set up a series of events targeting girls and that’s where Girls into Coding came from. These events are offered to girls aged 10-14 to explore coding, physical computing and robotics. With her mum Helene who has just been selected for the Lloyds Banking Group and Bank Of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Trade Up Programme in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, and jointly funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. they reach out to other female role models in STEM careers, inviting them to give lightening talks at their events.This is the future. This is what the industry needs and Avye you are AMAZING, keep doing what you are doing. We are really looking forward to supporting throughout 2021!So without further ado, please welcome Avye ❤I AM SURE MANY FOLK LOOK UP TO YOU AS INSPIRATION FOR THE FUTURE OF STEM. WHERE HAS YOUR PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY & MAKING COME FROM?I went to a coding club when I was 7 and at the club, we learnt basic languages such as Scratch. From there, I started attending CoderDojo workshops where I got introduced to the Microbit and electronic components that could be controlled with it. I felt that they were more hands-on and exciting. After attending quite a few CoderDojo workshops, I gradually started to run them alongside someone else and after a while was able to run them on my own.I really enjoy making robots; it’s much more fun to visually see something physical rather than just focusing on the screen. It doesn’t always have to be robots; there are endless projects that involve programmable components. It’s just more fun for me and more hands-on.I also like physical computing because you get to handle different components and use them to bring projects to life.I’ve always loved making stuff; it gives me a chance to be creative and resourceful. The things that I make and projects that I have worked on have given me opportunities to experiment, invent, discover, share, network, collaborate, challenge myself and grow.I’M ALSO SURE YOU GET ASKED THIS A LOT, BUT I MUST ASK, WHY DO YOU THINK SO FEW GIRLS FOLLOW A TECHNOLOGY AS A SUBJECT AND THEREFORE CAREER?Between the age of 5 and 6, many boys and girls have an equal interest in technology.By the age of nine, a significant gap starts to emerge and girls’ interest in STEM in general seems to drop. Girls can sometimes start developing a negative perception of STEM. While this continues, women remain underrepresented in the tech industry. I think the biggest challenge or barrier is linked to the saying, ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’ and the perception of tech being a ‘boy thing’. If you don’t get to see someone who looks like you enjoying it, central to it, comfortable with it, successful within it, then it’s probably going to be difficult to see a version of yourself further upstream in the tech world.The media needs to help by showing girls who are doing cool things in STEM. Girls need to see other girls & young women just like them – who are doing cool stuff in tech. You cannot be what you cannot see!I’M REALLY EXCITED TO FOLLOW GIRLS INTO CODING, COULD YOU PLEASE SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN UP TO?I’ve been collaborating with Arm and with the other GenArm2z Ambassadors on an app linked to tech for good and sustainability …..it’s been a great learning opportunity for me – being involved with app design for the first time and I got the chance to take on the responsibility of creating the User Interface.I’ve also been developing a robotics Kit that I am hoping will go to market at the end of this year or early 2021. I also made an adaptation of the kit which I was able to send out to the participants at my Virtual Girls Into coding event and together we built and coded the robots on Zoom… so we still had that hands-on element. It worked out really well so I’ll be sending the kits out to another group of girls soon.I delivered 3 coding and robotics workshops at my virtual Girls Into Coding events, and I am preparing for the next one.I contributed to the 2020 CMC (Children’s Media Conference) provided insight as a Change Maker, which was included in the CMC Changemakers video.AT PRESENT AROUND 16% OF WORKERS IN THE UK TECH SECTOR ARE FEMALE. DO YOU THINK THERE IS A HOPE TO INCREASE THIS THROUGH THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALES COMING INTO THE INDUSTRY AND WHAT DO YOU THINK SCHOOLS, BUSINESSES & COMMUNITIES CAN DO TO PROMOTE GIRLS INTO STEM SUBJECTS?I think some improvements have been made and there are several female role models who advocate for girls & women in STEM – I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of them and to be inspired by their journey.However, girls and women are still under-represented in STEM . It’s still a male-dominated area and we must all strive to change this. It is important that we work together to create an environment where women and girls feel equally valued and have a sense of belonging in the world of STEMBusinesses and communities can support organisations that are working to create opportunities for girls to engage with STEM based activities. They can highlight the involvement and achievements of females already established in the tech world.There should be more workshops and events that highlight the range of tech jobs out there to encourage girls to consider careers in technology and to show that technology can be fun.Schools should work on correcting the negative perceptions that girls develop at a young age. This could lead them to embrace math and science when they reach high school, rather than avoid the subjectsThey should encourage Participation in Tech Programs, competitions – In-school and out-of-school.WE HAVEN’T HEARD OF GENARM2Z PROGRAMME WOULD YOU MIND TELLING US A BIT ABOUT IT?The GenArm2Z programme is a programme created by Arm.The GenArm2Z ambassadors talk to tech leaders about how technology is being used and how it can be built for the future and we also collaborate on projects. The latest one, PlantPal, was revealed at the ArmDev Summit. PlantPa is a gardening app with integrated HardWare, designed to drive efficient growing and help rethink the use of urban spaces.DO YOU HAVE ANY BOOK, BLOGS OR PODCASTS TO RECOMMEND?Book: His Dark MaterialsPodcast: We can change the World Podcast on BBC soundsBlogs: Girls Into Coding blog , Stemettes blogWHO WOULD BE YOUR 3 PEOPLE AT A DINNER PARTY?My mum and my two grandmothersIS THERE ANYTHING REALLY COOL YOU ARE WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?I am working on a project that involves AI and Machine learning, linked to one of the Sustainable Development Goals. (environment)WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE <3?You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right – Rosa ParksIF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN DONATION & SPONSORSHIP PLEASE SEE DETAILS BELOW:We are open to partnerships, individual donors. We need everyone’s support! You can either:Make a donation, http://bit.ly/3ldqVXUor Become a Corporate Sponsor. http://bit.ly/2EmwkeR to request a brochureSOCIAL LINKSYou can also Girls Into Coding on social media:Twitter: @girlsintocodingInstagram: @girls_into_codingFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/girlsintocodingLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/girls-into-coding/Website GIC: https://www.girlsintocoding.com/Website Avye: https://10tonolimit.com/Thank you so much Avye and Mum Helene for taking the time to speak to us. We’re looking forward to supporting next year, keep rocking! By Alicia Teagle A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“Don’t consider it, just go for it!” – An Interview With Carly Britton
WOMEN ROCK2020-10-01

“Don’t consider it, just go for it!” – An Interview With Carly Britton

Women in IT Awards Advocate of the Year 2020, TechWomen100 Awards 2019 Winner, Venus Awards 2019 Finalist – Inspirational Woman in STEMM – How about that for an intro …. 🙂Carly has worked in IT for 14 years and have spent the last 8 years specialising in video technology. She has worked with clients on a global scale, across a range of different industries to include: Broadcasters, Sports, Governments, Media & Entertainment, OTT Service Providers and Telecoms & Operators.A strong advocate for encouraging girls and women to consider careers in technology. An active STEM Ambassador and founder of #GIRLCODE – Free coding for girls aged 8-14 in Plymouth & Bath.I first connected with Carly after seeing a post on Ada’s list where she asked ”Each time I need a new employee I actively push the role out to as many of the female tech channels that I know of but have very little interest from women applicants. I run an all-male team that are in desperate need of women to shake the team up a bit and give some different perspective on things. One of my teams is a Network Operations Centre and the guys on my team seem to think that women are put off by working night shift lone working in the office.”I saw it and had to chat to her about this and well we have a lot in common and she is now one of my fav females in the industry. She is absolutely bossing it and just has great advice to share, here is here story it’s a banger!CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT IT IS THAT YOU DO AND WHAT A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU IS LIKE?There definitely isn’t a ‘typical’ day. Every day is completely different and I think that’s what makes my job so enjoyable. I am Head of Client Services at VUALTO and we build video streaming solutions for major broadcasters across the world. The Client Services function encompasses four technical teams and we look after everything post-delivery, which includes account management, quality assurance, technical support and monitoring.HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECHNOLOGY?I got the bug for tech when I was around 10 or 11. I absolutely loved Back to the Future 2 and dreamed that one day I would own a hoverboard – it’s still on my bucket list. In the early 90s my parents brought home our first computer, an Amstrad PC. It felt like it took a day to load a game and made a horrible screeching sound in the process, but I was absolutely hooked. My main passions early on were film and tech.As a teenager I presented my own show on hospital radio. I was heavily into theatre, music and production. Following this passion, I went on to Uni and studied Media Studies with Computing. I found the mix of broadcast and technology awesome.YOU HAVE A HUGE PASSION FOR THE NEXT GENERATION WHICH I LOVE AS A STEM AMBASSADOR BUT ALSO #GIRLCODE. COULD YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO FOR OUR NEXT GENERATION OF TECH GIRLS?One of my main frustrations in my career was the lack of women in the industry. I would talk to my female friends about my job and I would always receive the same response; ‘I don’t understand what you do, I am not technical’. The women I spoke to almost had this nervous intimidation type feeling at the thought of tech. Which I found crazy because I was so passionate about my career and technology really excited me. I felt like I was having this awesome career in an amazing industry and women were simply missing out.A few years ago, was probably my lightbulb moment where I thought right, I need to actively do something to change this. I got together with a few female colleagues and we starting to brainstorm how we could help close the gender gap in the technology space. We knew we needed to target girls early enough before they make their GCSE choices and sparking some sort of interest so that they consider a career in technology. That’s when #GIRLCODE was born.Having female role models is key to changing girls’ perceptions on the stereotypes so being a female talking about my career is as important as actually teaching them to code. I relocated to Bath last year and now run #GIRLCODE in both Plymouth and Bath.Obviously due to Covid I had to rethink how I could still teach coding. I had a bunch of micro:bits and I decided to pivot and create ‘Coding with Carly’ for both girls and boys. I hand delivered the micro:bits ahead of the sessions to the students and then taught the sessions remotely using Zoom. It has been a huge success, challenging, but amazing.WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE TECH INDUSTRY AND ESPECIALLY AS A LEADER?Opportunities that I can offer others.I say this because, when I was starting out, I was completely clueless on how to get my foot in the door and I didn’t know any women working in computing. I just didn’t know where to start. There has never been a better time for women to start a career in tech. Good companies want to be more diverse and inclusive and offer training programs and apprenticeships for women and returning mums. The female leaders that I work with or talk to want to share their knowledge and stories and help other women. I think working in tech is so much fun. Most women tend to have that passion and excitement that they want to share with others. That’s how I feel. I feel this career is so awesome, I need to let other women know that this is a really good career option. It is secure and flexible, especially if you have a good employer.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WOMAN CONSIDERING A CAREER IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?Don’t consider it, just go for it!There are so many jobs in the tech industry so you will surely find one that suits you. I think sometimes women can feel that a route such as becoming a coder is the obvious choice but working in tech is so much more than that. You don’t have to be a coder, but if you want to, then that’s amazing. Women make totally awesome coders! You can work in technical support, cyber security, marketing, social media, designing, sales, there’s just so many options. Find something that you are interested in and just go for it. Careers pivot with industry changes so you will never have to be stuck doing the same role and most companies will be happy with you changing routes if you are a good employee and want to try something different.YOU RUN AN ALL-MALE TEAM AND WE HAVE DISCUSSED THE FACT THAT AS A HIRING MANAGER YOU DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO ATTRACT A MORE DIVERSE POOL OF CANDIDATES. DO YOU THINK WOMEN ARE PUT OFF WORKING NIGHT SHIFTS OR ALONE IN THE OFFICE?I work in Bristol but my team are in Plymouth and I find it particularly hard in the Southwest to hire women. They just don’t apply. However, over the past year I have really started reviewing my job ads and my latest ad I had 4 female applicants. It’s still very low numbers but going from 0 female applicants this is an amazing achievement. I run a Network Operations Centre and the team work on shifts which run through nights, weekends and there is some lone working. When I was starting out on my career journey these hours would not have been desirable to me, but I would have done them to get my foot in the door with an organisation.DO YOU THINK COVID-19 WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON DIVERSITY HIRING? Yes, I do, I think as more companies choose remote, flexible working then this is a great opportunity for women to start their careers in tech.ANY ADVICE ON WHAT COMPANIES CAN DO TO ATTRACT A DIVERSE MIX OF PEOPLE TO APPLY FOR THEIR POSITIONS? This is a great question and there is so much that can be done to attract a diverse mix of people to apply for jobs within your organisation.Look at the pictures and language that you use on your website, jobs ads and social media. Would working for you be attractive to all candidates? If I am applying for a job at your organisation, I want to see diversity represented; different genders, race, sexualities, ages and disabilities. Avoid using masculine-oriented words like Ambitious, Dominant, Ninja and Rock Star. Check out my latest blog here which looks at language in job ads:https://www.digitelle.blog/post/20-words-that-are-putting-women-off-applying-for-your-job-vacancyNetwork at local tech meetups and offer career talks at the local Universities and colleges. Lots of women join Computer Science degrees and leave within the first year so retention is key. Ask your female colleagues to go in and talk about your organisation. It is so important to show female representation within tech. Offer work placements to women wanting to get into tech or currently doing technical training. Have your female employees talk at conferences and just be more visible in your community.OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS I HAVE READ SOME GREAT BOOKS, MICHELLE OBAMA – BECOMING AND ALSO WHY I’M NO LONGER TALKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE BY RENI EDDO-LODGE. ANY OTHER NEW BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS OR ONLINE READING YOU FEEL WOULD BE VALUABLE?I can never seem to make the time to read books. I am more of a podcast listener in the background whilst working.I love Michelle Obama and am currently listening to her podcast as a downtime fix as its more about relationships and life in general. https://open.spotify.com/show/71mvGXupfKcmO6jlmOJQTPI have also just started the brand-new podcast from We Are Tech Women called She Talks Tech and I am really enjoying that.https://open.spotify.com/show/5veYSK4sjpca8l4eN6qlOaBoth on Spotify.IF YOU COULD BUILD YOU DREAM SQUAD OF THREE. WHO WOULD BE IN IT AND WHY? This is a difficult question as this could change depending on what I was trying to achieve. Looking at my own career development I would choose the following three people.Sheryl Sandberg would be my dream mentor – obviously for any woman in tech she is a huge inspiration but I have heard that she is really down to earth and very passionate about encouraging women in tech. I would love to learn from her first hand about her rise to COO.My wife is my support – I literally would not be where I am today without her constant support and encouragement. She is also my proof reader as I am dyslexic and she is an English teacher, that comes in extremely handy.Will.i.am would be totally awesome to work with. He has so much energy and passion, he is a very inspiring person. He is a self-proclaimed geek and loves cutting edge tech so it would be amazing to work with him.WHAT IS NEXT FOR CARLY?I have just started my Master of Business Administration (Executive MBA) at UWE so that is going to keep me pretty busy for the next 3 years. I am looking forward to getting #GIRLCODE back as soon as we get back to a bit of normality. I am talking at a few conferences this year and also joining Plymouth Startup Weekend as a coach in November.FINALLY, WHAT IS ONE QUOTE YOU LIVE BY OR JUST ONE THAT YOU REALLY LIKE?“Take time to make time”. Find Carly at:www.digitelle.blogwww.twitter.com/digitelle_blogwww.instagram.com/digitelle.blogwww.linkedin.com/in/digitelle Thank you so much Carly, keep rocking!By Alicia Teagle A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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How to be a STEMinist
WOMEN ROCK2020-09-30

How to be a STEMinist

Alicia Teagle ? recently featured on Tiffany Dawson‘s ‘How to be a STEMinist’ podcast and it’s golden (we may be slightly biased)!Alicia ”It was really nice to not speak about myself and more so about the Tech Industry with Tiff. I’ll be honest when I first started my career in Tech Recruitment 7 years ago I was getting my head around how recruitment works, tech in general, I mean imagine C#, Java, Python. I literally didn’t have a clue what people we’re saying to me for weeks. Then I started speaking to people, and when I say people I mean men. I literally didn’t think Women did Tech as a career, for at least a month I didn’t speak to one female and as Tech was never something I really followed, I never saw any Women in the tech teams in my previous companies and I never was given the chance to learn it in School. I genuinely didn’t think it was a thing for women. Then, I spoke to a female developer and everything changed. I knew women we’re in the industry I just needed to find them. I am naturally drawn to Women more than men, I love the relationship you can build, the common interests, openness, honesty and support. Not to say you don’t get that from Men as I have amazing people who give me the same but with Women it’s just different, female empowerment is such an amazing thing and I love it!”In this podcast, Alicia and Tiff spoke about:✨ WHAT SPARKED ALICIA’S PASSION FOR WOMEN IN TECH⁠✨ HOW SHE FINDS FEMALE ROLE MODELS WHEN THERE ARE SO FEW IN HER INDUSTRY✨ WHY SHE STARTED THE WOMEN ROCK BLOG⁠✨ HOW TO IDENTIFY RECRUITERS AND COMPANIES THAT CARE ABOUT WOMEN⁠✨ THE BIGGEST MISTAKE SHE SEES FEMALE JOB APPLICANTS MAKE⁠✨ HOW TO FIND (OR CREATE!) YOUR TRIBE OF SUPPORTIVE WOMEN IN STEM⁠… PLUS SO MUCH MORE!⁠⁠SEARCH FOR EPISODE 16 OF HOW TO BE A STEMINIST ANYWHERE YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS ?https://www.tiffanydawson.co/podcastThanks for having me Tiff! Keep smashing it!A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“If you have a fixed idea of your plan, you might not see new opportunities open up.” – An interview with Jane Such
WOMEN ROCK2020-08-27

“If you have a fixed idea of your plan, you might not see new opportunities open up.” – An interview with Jane Such

Introducing you to Sophie Edensor’s Zoom Women Rock interview with Jane Such, a Client Principal at Agilesphere.NAMEJane SuchROLEClient PrincipalWHAT I DOI oversee the delivery contracts for the Ministry of Justice Crime programme, ensuring contractual outputs and targets are met while adding value and keeping the client and the associates happy. I also act as a bid manager for new sales opportunities. As and when opportunities arise I participate or lead on internal projects.MY BACKGROUNDI have worked in IT for over 35 years delivering projects and providing consultancy across a multitude of delivery roles and industries. Several of my roles have involved writing sales proposals and presentations. One of my favourite roles was leading the UK software testing function for a large international consultancy company.MANTRABalance is the key to everythingWHEN NOT WORKING I…I am watching dramas on TV, wild swimming, doing beginners yoga, walking or cycling.WHAT WOULD YOU NOT HAVE GUESSED ABOUT MEI am a fairly open book but you may not know that I used to be technical, I started my career as an Assembler programmer in the engineering team for a local electricity board. More recently I specialised in software testing, having had a couple of articles published in Test Magazine and an expert opinion quote in The Times.FUN FACTSI am learning to grow vegetables in my garden and I have made bread for the first time this year. My third attempt at a plain loaf was very edible and I am now moving on to sourdough. An interview by Sophie EdensorA voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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It’s about driving change and making a positive impact on our industry. From SR2 x
WOMEN ROCK2020-08-18

It’s about driving change and making a positive impact on our industry. From SR2 x

It’s about driving change and making a positive impact on our industry. From SR2 xOne of our fabulous Women Rock Ambassadors Char has taken it upon herself to work on the wider presence of Women Rock. We spoke to the whole SR2 team about what Women Rock meant to them.If you are after some positive motivation and all round lushness take a look at this and what Women Rock means to us <3  Keep Rocking, We love youBy Char Baker aka the Design Diva A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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”Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” – An Interview with Paul Forster
WOMEN ROCK2020-07-28

”Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” – An Interview with Paul Forster

I’ve been really looking forward to getting Paul onto Women Rock and super excited to collaborating with him throughout the rest of this year and beyond. We both share a HUGE passion for D&I and Paul is backing my mission to make Bristol the most diverse city in Tech in by the end of 2025!Paul thrives on helping people, community cohesion and facilitating joy. Currently working with SETsquared Bristol members to connect them with their programme and the wider business ecosystem and managing the SETsquared Bristol Back Her Business Pre-Incubation Programme. Also equality, diversity and inclusion advocate. Here is his interview – it’s a banger!HEY PAUL, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY, FIRSTLY CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHAT IT IS THAT YOU DO AND WHAT A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU IS LIKE?I’m Community Manager at SETsquared Bristol, Hottest Accelerator in Europe (The Europas 2020) and part of the Global #1 University Business Incubator (SETsquared Partnership, UBI Global). I review and track the progress of our 75+ members, build relationships and forge partnerships with local and national organisations, manage our internal projects and spearhead equality, diversity and inclusion in the incubator. I’m also Director For Books’ Sake, a not for profit that champions women and non-binary writers and performers, which includes publishing, writing retreats, workshops and our spoken word event “That’s What She* Said”, that takes place in London, Manchester and Bristol. A typical day is hard to assert as nothing seems “typical”. During lockdown my days have been structured around a quick morning call with the SETsquared team, then a meeting to track member progress, reviewing and updating workshop content with facilitators and then meeting with potential members to understand their business and products. In the early evening I’ll likely be corresponding with performance poets and curating the line up for For Books’ Sake’s 10th Birthday party on 21st August.AS SETSQUARED COMMUNITY MANAGER AND THE SPEARHEAD FOR THE DIVERSITY AGENDA. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF IMPLEMENTING D&I WITHIN SETSQUARED?That’s a good question, the most challenging part of any EDI work is patience. It’s not necessarily challenging to bring people round to understanding why more inclusive teams good business sense are, however it’s a continuous long term process and nothing happens overnight.DO YOU THINK COVID-19 WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION HIRING FOR TECH COMPANIES IN THE SOUTH WEST?I think the lockdown has had a negative impact in regards to diversity and inclusion worldwide, thinking simply about traditional caring responsibilities that are massively gendered, women are doing even more unpaid work than usual. This has a massive knock on effect in society and in turn on the tech ecosystem where women may be unable to move roles due to extra work (teaching, caring etc), not to mention the impact this has on women founders and their growth plans.CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT BACK HER BUSINESS?Back Her Business, a Natwest initiative, was originally conceived from the recommendations of the Alison Rose Review into female entrepreneurship and partnered with Crowdfunder to inject cash into idea stage women led businesses. SETsquared Bristol have been kindly funded by Natwest to run our Back Her Business pe incubation programme, which is helping 18 idea and early stage women led businesses commercialise their offerings. There are some really amazing entrepreneurs and super exciting products in the programme and we’ll be celebrating them all at the end of October at our end of programme demo day, where we plan to help them launch to the public. https://setsquared-bristol.co.uk/news/setsquared-bristol-run-a-panel-event-launching-back-her-business-programme/WHAT ARE SOME CREATIVE WAYS TO PROACTIVELY SOURCE PEOPLE FROM UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS?I’m not sure you need to get creative to do source people from underrepresented groups, you need to get uncomfortable and challenge your pre-conceptions and those of others. Most importantly you need to find ways to access people from different backgrounds and gain the trust of gatekeepers to those communities and networks. In short, by walking the walk, not talking the talk.I FEEL THAT WE ARE GREAT AT SPEAKING ABOUT D&I BUT WE ARE LACKING ACTUAL CHANGE! WHAT CAN WE DO TO TAKE ACTION WHEN IT COMES TO D&I?Ha! This follows on well from my previous answer very well. Further to that answer, I’d suggest asking people from underrepresented backgrounds questions around change, as it has to be a collaboration, and actively listening to their concerns and suggestions. Then, you have crowd sourced data that can inform the design of any initiatives or policies around the people you are trying to attract or help.THIS IS A GREAT QUESTION I READ THE OTHER DAY SO KEEN TO HEAR PEOPLES VIEW. HOW DO YOU COUNTERACT COMMENTS FROM LEADERSHIP SUCH AS ‘’WE JUST HIRE OR PROMOTE THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB, REGARDLESS OR RACE OR GENDER’’?I’m no recruiter, but I’d suggest carefully looking at their hiring practises and critically assessing whether the currently used processes are actually fit for purpose in actually attracting the best person for the job. E.g. sending your job ads to different networks, anonymising application data and insisting on a diverse interview panel.BOOKS, I LOVE A GOOD BOOK AND MID-WAY THROUGH ‘WHY I’M NO LONGER SPEAKING TO WHITE PEOPLE ABOUT RACE’ – RENI LODGE AND JUST ABOUT TO START ‘WOMEN DON’T OWE YOU PRETTY’ FLORENCE GIVEN. I’M SURE YOU HAVE SOME GREAT RECOMMENDATIONS, COULD YOU GIVE US A FEW?I really enjoyed “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race”, it’s important as British people to understand our colonial heritage and it sometimes feels hard to connect to the American centric conversation. Eddo-Lodge’s book puts a magnifying glass up to racism in Britain and it’s so powerful and illuminating. “The Good Immigrant” edited by Bristol native, Nikesh Shukla, complies personal essays from British writers from non-white backgrounds and is breath-taking in its ability to give you so many well explained lived experiences of racism and xenophobia in the UK.IF YOU COULD BUILD YOU DREAM SQUAD OF THREE. WHO WOULD BE IN IT AND WHY?It’d have to be my For Books Sake family. My Co-Director, Jane Claire Bradley and Bridget Hart, our Bristol Events Coordinator are two of the most amazing, kind and fierce people I’ve ever met and the fact that I get to work with them enriches my life immeasurably.WHAT IS NEXT FOR PAUL?I’m on leave next week and have a mini festival planned in my best friend’s back garden in my hometown, we have programmes, tickets, wristbands and a map and I can’t wait. Especially as her garden has a hot tub, bar and fire pit. Seriously though, SETsquared Bristol are relaunching our Breakthrough Bursary for the second year running, which offers Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic tech founders a 75% reduced rate of membership in order to access our world class business support programme. Anyone interested in chatting it please reach out to me. Plus For Books’ Sake are having our 10th birthday party on 21st August – check out our amazing raffle prizes!FINALLY, WHAT IS ONE QUOTE YOU LIVE BY OR JUST THAT ONE YOU REALLY LIKE?Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Thank you sharing this with us Paul, enjoy your week off, see you soonThanks for reading, keep positive, keep doing you and dream big! xAn interview by Alicia TeagleA voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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How do we stop going backwards? by Tiffany Dawson and Alicia Teagle.
WOMEN ROCK2020-06-09

How do we stop going backwards? by Tiffany Dawson and Alicia Teagle.

HOW DO WE STOP GOING BACKWARDS WHEN IT COMES TO D&I?As a co-founder of a recruitment company, a tech recruiter, and Founder of Women Rock – a women in tech initiative I feel I am right in the thick of things when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Prior to Covid-19 and the lockdown I saw and could feel the positive movements we we’re making as an industry when it came to D&I and I know I am speaking for a lot of people who agree, that it would be sad to see everyone’s hard work be forgotten and we have the need to start again.We recently read an article which hit home https://www.forbes.com/sites/grantfreeland/2020/05/26/as-if-we-didnt-know-covid-19-reconfirms-that-women-make-great-leaders/#59338dde5302Grant Freeland of Forbes said:HIS BIGGEST FEAR, HE SAID, IS THAT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION WILL “TAKE A STEP BACKWARDS” DURING THE CURRENT CRISIS. THAT’S WHAT’S HAPPENED IN THE PAST. DURING THE 2008 FINANCIAL CRISIS, FOR EXAMPLE, THE NUMBER OF “WOMEN AND PEOPLE OF COLOR” IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS “DECREASED SIGNIFICANTLY” FOR TWO TO THREE YEARS, BEFORE SLOWLY REBOUNDING. “IT’S TAKEN UNTIL 2020 TO GET US BACK TO 2008 LEVELS.”LET’S NOT LET THAT HAPPEN!Both Tiff and myself along with a load others share a huge passion when it comes to D&I and we wanted to share our thoughts and knowledge on how we stop going backwards.These thoughts come from our own views which we have seen and heard over the past few months and our promise is, we will keep shouting about this and continue to work on promoting underrepresented folk.Businesses are finding it tough right now. This pandemic has brought about financial uncertainty for businesses and the staff who work within them. Individual team members are facing life challenges that are affecting productivity and team morale and if it wasn’t difficult enough before the virus hit, organisations must still attract top talent in order to survive.Believe it or not, the most effective way to solve all of these problems is by working on gender equality. Contrary to popular belief, gender equality is not just a nice-to-have. It makes business sense to improve gender diversity amidst these hardships.Over the past 3 – 4 years companies have realised their diversity and inclusion problems and have explored opportunities where they have created positions to tackle such issues. Companies like Monzo hired Sheere Atcheson as their Head of Diversity and Inclusion, which we know had a huge positive impact on the business and the wider issues around D&I as a speaker and Forbes Contributor. Her role along with many others I have seen head up Diversity and Inclusion have either been made redundant or put at risk due to Covid. Whilst I know a load of companies don’t have the privilege of having such people or roles available, the companies that do are usually bigger organisations which hire in the hundreds, and usually hundreds of white middle class males – I’m not saying anything bad about you by the way you are great but surely someone needs to continue to push D&I. So we need to make D&I everyone’s business and not let this fall through the gaps or take a back seat due to the pandemic!Culture:The tech workforce has adapted quickly due to Covid19 and I know that within the tech industry a lot are fortunate due to the nature of the work that we can work from home, which is brilliant but has this had an impact on company culture?If people feel – whether virtually or physically – that they belong to the organisation, then they will feel more connected. It is absolutely crucial to properly up-skill our leaders in virtual leadership, and work to create a cohesive, resilient and empathetic culture.”Now everyone is working from home you might think this is great for women, but it has challenged relationships because we’re part of a system that has prioritised breadwinners over care-givers. During the lockdown period, many women have been forced to give up their own working space to a partner who earns more or have taken on the lion’s share of home schooling and childcare – none of which helps their own career prospects.AdviceIf you know anyone who is living alone, whether they are an employee, family member or a friend, then try to ensure you regularly check-in with them. This can help to recognise noticeable changes to behaviour or mood and identify unmet support needs.Even if staff have been furloughed or are working from home, maintain regular one-to-one communication, explicitly ask what they need and agree how best to support them both now, and when returning to the workplace.Establish the preferred method of communication with a trusted person, some people might prefer video or telephone calls, whereas others may find it easier to communicate via email or text.Listen when people communicate their own boundaries and try not to overload them.Going back to the ‘new normal’I’m worried that allowing workers back before schools/nurseries open could lead to two-tier workplaces where more men have been able to return than women. Big decisions/networking then happens among the guys in the office. And WFHers come to be seen as “less dedicated”.Career changers and Junior Developers – This is from my own views that I have seen over the past few months that most Jobs being discussed and currently advertised are for ‘experienced’ candidates. What about the Juniors not just females but all, our next generation of tech professionals? They don’t have the option to apply or interview for jobs right now as many don’t feel comfortable that they will be able to start their first role in the industry remotely. Think, how can you support the next generation of brilliant minds if you cannot support, trust and mentor them remotely. I’ll add to this in another post next week.And then career changers. This time at home has given people both more spare time and got a lot thinking about their current career and if it is for them. I am personally helping a fab lady who is switching careers and wants to become a Python Developer. She has recently been accepted to Uni to complete her Msc in CS in September and between now and then is keen to get up to speed and learn as much Python as poss. Ok so she isn’t ready to jump into a tech job right now, but how about the ones that are, they are more than likely going to fall into the grad/junior category. Will they be given an opportunity to land their first tech job whilst we are remote on-boarding and working. It’s a big thing to think about how you can make sure you are opening up these opportunities. It’s going to take time and therefore money from your business to support and mentor someone who isn’t as experienced. Please think about how you, and your business can do this.On another note, if you are a career changer or someone just super interested in tech. I run Bristol Codebar which is definitely worth a look.Our goal is to enable underrepresented people to learn programming in a safe and collaborative environment and expand their career opportunities. To achieve this we run free regular workshops, regular one-off events and try to create opportunities for our students making technology and coding more accessible.They are a great place to get 1-2-1 support from dedicated tech professionals to help you on your tech journey and build your confidence.www.codebar.ioLast bit from me is for the people who don’t want to work full-time remotely. It’s great for most, yes but is it for everyone? In the past month alone I am working with female developers who are relocating out of London to Bristol who are looking for a new job. They want to make friends and socialises with the new people they are going to work with (when allowed of course!) They are avoiding companies who have switched to fully remote. Now I get as a co-founder of a business, and also a start-up that office costs are high and for most it makes sense to be fully remote as I agree it’s great but I personally wouldn’t take a job which is fully remote. Females are often more interested in working with people, face to face meetings, building relationships and friendships which cannot be done as well remotely. So companies who have turned into ‘remote first’ there may be an impact on the people who apply for your company/roles. Something to think about.?Next steps:Now is the best time to work on gender equality if your business:1.Is suffering financially. Gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to have financial returns above respective national industry medians.https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters2. Has low team morale and productivity. 80% of employees who are aware of the gender pay gap say it is an issue for them. 18% say it is enough of an issue that they would leave or consider leaving their organisation.3.Needs to attract better talent than your competitors to survive. 62% job seekers care about diversity and inclusion.Don’t make the mistake of putting your gender equality goals on the back burner during the pandemic. Use this knowledge to your advantage so your business can come out of this stronger than your competitors.If you want to take action towards creating a more gender diverse workplace but you’re not sure where to start, contact Tiffany for more information on tiffany@tiffanydawson.co or Alicia on Alicia.teagle@sr2rec.co.ukThanks for reading, keep positive xAn interview by Alicia Teagle and Tiffany Dawson A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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”There are 2 sides to every story” – An interview with Alison Wright.
WOMEN ROCK2020-04-07

”There are 2 sides to every story” – An interview with Alison Wright.

A couple of weeks ago now, back when popping out the office for a quick coffee was taken for granted, Natalie had the pleasure of meeting Alison Wright, BA Chapter Lead at Hargreaves Lansdown. It was by luck that Alison came to Bristol after failing to get the A Level results she needed… but since then she hasn’t looked back!. Now Alison is one of the select few members of the 30% Club and also a board member for Gender Diversity at Hargreaves Lansdown. In this enlightening interview, Alison shares her insights on what she has learnt from the 30% Club, how skills needed to ref a premier league football match can be applied to presenting in a boardroom (being a football fan too, Natalie found this particularly interesting and useful!). Alison also shared her thoughts on how we can get more girls into technology if we drop the stereotype attached and how to progress their careers by just being a little more confident in your own abilities. It was great meeting Alison and Natalie has learnt a lot from speaking to her, we hope that you reading this can also take something from it! ????YOU MENTIONED THAT WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER AT SCHOOL YOU WEREN’T ALLOWED TO DO CODING AS IT WASN’T CONSIDERED TO BE A SUBJECT FOR GIRLS. LUCKILY TIMES HAVE CHANGED BUT HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN ENCOURAGE MORE GIRLS INTO TECHNOLOGY?Firstly we need to remove the stereotype that tech is just coding in an isolated environment. Nowadays the skills needed in a typical tech environment includes designing screens, understanding human behaviours and managing cyber security to name a few. So the industry needs to appeal to a much broader group of society.Furthermore, it’s a great career path. I have been lucky enough to be a business analyst in a variety of industries, to travel around the world for projects and most importantly – I never stop learning.YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO GET PROMOTED TO HEAD OF BA CAME FROM SOMEONE SEEING POTENTIAL IN YOU AND PUSHING YOU TO DO THE ROLE, EVEN THOUGH YOU WEREN’T CONFIDENT IN YOUR OWN ABILITIES – WE HEAR THIS OFTEN FROM FEMALES, WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS AND WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST TO ANY FEMALE THINKING ABOUT PUTTING THEIR CASE FORWARD?Unfortunately job applications still demand candidates to brag about their skills and experience and many people, but particularly women, find this difficult to do. In my case, self-confidence is something I struggle with so putting myself into a competitive process where I need to flaunt my experience is tough. I’ve learnt to overcome some of my confidence issues, but will always be grateful for people who have championed me in the past.YOU’RE ON THE BOARD FOR GENDER DIVERSITY AT HL, WHAT THINGS ARE YOU DOING TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN MORE FEMALES?Our key focus at the moment is ensuring our internal talent is supported in progressing their careers. As I said above, I know how difficult I used to find growing my own career and I don’t want others to hold themselves back as I did.  We are running a number of initiatives such as talks by inspiring people, celebrating Internatioal Women’s and Men’s Day as well as continuing to push bigger issues such as the gender pay gap.  Our next steps are also looking at equipping younger colleagues with skills such as CV writing and interview skills so that our best talent isn’t overlooked for the wrong reasons.YOU’VE ALSO BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE INCLUDED IN THE 30% CLUB AT HARGREAVES LANSDOWN, WHICH AIMS TO GET 30% OF WOMEN AT BOARD LEVEL, CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THIS AND WHY YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE MORE WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS.I was so delighted to get this opportunity to be a part of the club and in turn receive mentoring from a senior leader in another organisation. Putting aside the hopefully obvious argument of equal opportunities for all, all the research shows that it’s an essential commercial outcome. It’s been shown that diverse teams make better decisions at least 15% of the time and gives organisations access to a wider pool of talent. For a company like Hargreaves Lansdown it also allows us to understand our client base better as women make up 51% of the population. I personally love having my thoughts and preconceptions challenged by others and have learnt so much from colleagues and friends from different backgrounds, experiences and ages.YOUR MENTOR FROM THE 30% CLUB IS MIKE RILEY, FORMER PREMIER LEAGUE REFEREE AND INTRODUCER OF VAR. WHAT ADVICE HAVE YOU TAKEN FROM THE FOOTBALL PITCH AND IMPLEMENTED INTO YOUR ROLE AS BA CHAPTER LEAD?I have learnt so much!  It is really surprising how much overlap there is between business analysis and football. I’m very glad that when I make a decision, I don’t have thousands of people in a crowd yelling at me or have my decision scrutinised by pundits.  There are lots of things I’ve taken away from our mentor conversations, but one of my favourite is the idea of playing a character role when in a situation that outside my comfort zone. We talked about how as a referee on the pitch, he treats the 90 minutes as performance and he takes on the persona needed to perform his role. This really worked for me to think about the different roles I play at work and I take on the right performance especially in scenarios that I find more challenging such as difficult conversations or large presentations.YOU ATTENDED A TALK RECENTLY WHICH LOOKED AT THE EFFECT OF THE MENOPAUSE ON FEMALE PERFORMANCE IN THE WORKPLACE AND HOW THERE IS A TREND OF FEMALES EXITING WORK BETWEEN 45 – 55 YEARS. WHAT WERE YOUR KEY TAKEAWAYS AND HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN SUPPORT WOMEN THROUGH THIS PERIOD?I saw a talk by Lauren Chirac from www.womenofacertainstage.co.uk and it was such as eye opener. I hadn’t appreciated all the symptoms experienced by menopausal women such as brain fog and a loss of confidence. But what really hit home was the stats around women leaving work feeling they cannot cope or experiencing a performance issue for the first time.  The menopause is still such a taboo subject and a few simple workplace adjustments alongside colleague education to normalise the conversation would really help. As one of the first generations of women working into our 60s it just feels wrong that incredible female talent could be leaving the workplace for what is a normal and temporary phase in our lives. YOU SEE NETWORKING AS HUGE A IMPORTANCE TO HELPING SUPPORT WOMEN IN TECH, WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST TO WOMEN TO HELP BUILD THEIR PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS?Building your networks is really important – I’ve previously secured contract roles via my network and used my network to share knowledge. When you meet new people, create a connection on tools such as LinkedIn and take time to think about how they might help you and how they will remember you. Networking isn’t just small talk whilst balancing a glass and canapé and trust me, we all struggle with such events – I always think that no one will be interested in talking to me and everyone else seems to be really confident but it’s not true. I also think that women have a particular issue in that we need to think about our personal safety and clearly do be careful about who you connect with and what information you reveal about yourself – trust your instincts here.IT WAS FATE THAT YOU ENDED UP IN BRISTOL, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES BRISTOL SO GREAT?I ended up in Bristol because I messed up my A levels and as a result, a lot of doors were closed to me so I ended up at UWE. And it’s the best thing that happened to me as I love Bristol.  I’ve heard Bristol be described as the Silicon Gorge due to its plethora of technology start-ups and therefore it is a great place to build a career. Outside of work, I love the outdoors and so Bristol’s proximity to the coast, countryside and National Parks gives me the perfect balance between city and escape opportunities.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?I’m not sure it’s a quote, but one of most important lessons I’ve learnt is that there are 2 sides to every story.Thank you so much Alison x#womenrockAn interview by Natalie Sidwick A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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”Work Hard, Have Fun” – An Interview with the Skinners
WOMEN ROCK2020-04-01

”Work Hard, Have Fun” – An Interview with the Skinners

This interview has been a long time coming and one which I am very proud to share, it’s truly warmed my heart and got me proper emosh because I know how amazing these ladies are and how hard they’ve worked to get where they are today.To give you an introduction to the Skinners, Sue, Evie and Nelly. I first met Sue and Nelly when they came along to Codebar as Students. They told me they we’re both interested in technology and travelled all the way from Stroud for the Bristol event. Nel told me her Sister (Evie) was already a developer and that had added to their passion.You’ll read below from Sue, Evie and Nelly’s mum that when she was growing up that tech didn’t really exist! She bought a computer when the girls were little and started teaching them using computer programmes such as Reader Rabbit, typing programmes, maths programmes and educational games. When the computer started to take off Sue studied for my ECDL at Stroud College and was keen that the girls also learnt tech. You can read more about that below.Evie is a self taught Developer and came into the industry through a bootcamp with Sparta Global, now working as a Full Stack Developer at River Agency and a fab Drummer – also a complete boss, a lady who I really respect and who inspires me daily!Nelly is going to be one to watch! Her answer to her favourite quote is everything ”I did ask my family what they thought ‘my quote’ was and they said something I often say is “I do what I want” haha, I guess what I mean when I say that is, if I want something I’ll go and get it and there’s no one stopping me!” She is currently working through a boot camp with our friends at Mayden Academy. She is still a student at Codebar and hopefully one day will be on the other side of the table as a coach like Evie <3 Sue xMUM, TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF? ????I am a qualified Occupational Therapist, I have been working in the NHS since 1979 taking 3 years out to train. I have worked in many different areas of health both physical and mental health and currently manage the Children’s Occupational Therapy Service and the Home Safety Service in Gloucestershire. I am a keen learner having interests in reading, mathematics, technology, diet and lifestyle, health and well-being, guitar and neurology.YOU HAVE YOUR OWN PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY IS THAT SOMETHING YOU HAVE ALWAYS HAD OR HAS IT BEEN SOMETHING THAT HAS COME FROM SEEING EVIE AND DANIELLA MOVE INTO THIS INDUSTRY?I haven’t always been interested in technology as when I was growing up in my world it didn’t exist! I bought a computer when the girls were little and started teaching them using computer programmes such as Reader Rabbit, typing programmes, maths programmes and educational games. When the computer started to take off I studied for my ECDL at Stroud College and was keen that the girls also learnt tech. Nel took it at GCSE and Evie did ECDL. I tried to steer them towards STEM in school. Having completed GCSE maths (and really enjoyed it) when Evie was struggling with maths in primary school realising that my messages to her that I was rubbish at maths may have been contributing to this. I am proud to say they are both fab at maths. When they were choosing A Levels I remember encouraging them both to go to the computer section but it was pretty uninspiring and the perception given a the time was that it seemed to be only for people who were a bit geeky!In Sept 2016 In National Coding Week I saw and completed a codex computer coding course. Intro to the world of coding. This Included some basic HTML and CSS and computing fundamentals. I was very proud of myself and sent my certificate to the girls. Both girls were unsure what to do in terms of a career both of the being skilled in languages (Nel (Daniella) has a university Cert in maths with the Open University, Evie studied Astronomy and was interested in a Robotics, both girls having sturdied with the OU whilst at school) and having an interest in maths/science. I often talked to them about careers in engineering and for Christmas 2017 I bought Evie a book called Get Coding which she devoured with gusto over Christmas and the New Year. This started Evies coding journey.WHAT DO YOU THINK SCHOOLS CAN DO TO ENCOURAGE THE NEXT GENERATION INTO TECHNOLOGY?I think they need to change the image of it show kids that all types of people work in this industry and that it is creative and fun. I used to tell the girls that maths was a language like other languages and fun and creative and make games out of using maths (I think this helped their transition from languages to coding)I studied teaching Maths with the OU and made fun games. I think school can do the same with tech, make it fun and show kids the exciting things you can do with it.WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT TECHNOLOGY?I love its creativity and variety. I think it’s exciting the possible things that it can do in different industries. However now I have, all be it a very small amount of knowledge In tech, I get frustrated that for example in health it is not used more to make services more efficient and effective.YOU MUST BE SUPER PROUD OF THEM BOTH. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PARENTS OF YOUNG WOMEN WHO WANT TO FOLLOW A CAREER IN TECH?I am so so proud of my super talented, super emotionally intelligent girls. I would tell parents to be careful of the messages you inadvertently give to your girls, tell them STEM is not just for boys and they can do anything. (When I was at school I wanted to study Physics but was told that I couldn’t as this was just for boys, the girls did Domestic Science which was cooking!, this affected my career choices). I would tell them tech is creative, fun and exciting and that girls in particular are needed in this industry because they have the skills and are often better at social communication so would make good team leaders and Scrum masters so they will excel.WHAT IS YOUR FAV QUOTE?When the girls were growing up when they went out the door we have always saidSteve (husband) “work hard”Sue (mum) “have fun”“It’s all good learning” probably my favourite closely followed by “Go,Live your Life” Borat Evie xHOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN YOUR CAREER AS A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER?I got started in my career by changing from a different career: I was originally training to be a French and Spanish teacher in Newcastle, but dropped out in 2018 after scraping miserably through my first teaching placement. Inspired partly by James Franco’s character in ‘Why Him’ and partly by my wonderful Mum, I used my time in unemployment to teach myself to code out of a book; then I progressed to doing an online course which led me to applying for junior roles across the country. My big opportunity came from a company called Sparta Global, who accepted me on their bootcamp course in London. I trained as a full stack Ruby on Rails developer and Ruby SDET (test automation engineer); and Sparta managed to get me an excellent job as a C# developer at a financial services company. They secured me this job a week before the end of my course, and I was due to start the following Monday; at that time Sparta did not have a C# training programme, so for that last week I had to just pivot from Ruby and teach myself! That first job was a great springboard for me to get into the world of .Net.WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?Summoning up the nerve to leave teaching and make the jump into the unknown was very hard. At the time, I was in a very bad way even after I dropped out. My various negative experiences during the teacher training with occupational stress, workplace bullying and generally fighting to stay healthy knocked my confidence a lot. Overall, the relief of knowing I never had to do that again was very healing! You know you’re in the wrong job if you’re having to compromise on sleep, food and exercise for work.WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST SUCCESS?Going from never having written a line of code in my life to getting my first software engineering job in six months ????YOU HAVE JUST SECURED A NEW ROLE AT RIVER – CONGRATULATIONS. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU ARE HOPING TO BRING TO THE TEAM?Thanks so much! I feel so lucky to have my job at River. I want to bring dynamism, imagination and warmth to my team. I want to start a meditation club there and also find a way to get us involved in the Tech Talent Charter! What’s more, before my arrival there were only two women software engineers at River: I think the business are pleased to see a bit more variation in the team, as different perspectives can only strengthen us.WE LOVE THAT YOU COME AND SUPPORT AND COACH AT CODEBAR, WOULD IT BE SOMETHING YOU RECOMMEND?Aww I love it too! Yes I wholeheartedly recommend Codebar to anyone who is either learning to code or keen to get experience sharing their knowledge: they are truly doing some great work all over the world. The first time I attended, I was a bootcamp student struggling with JavaScript; now thanks to their help, I’m a coach myself, and I’ve made a lot of meaningful connections with fascinating people in our industry. If you’re an engineer and you’ve always wanted to coach but feel hesitant, then I’d say just jump in! The atmosphere is so laid back and no-one expects you to know everything. I’ve coached on several occasions where the student wants to learn something that’s not my strong suit, and we’ve ended up learning it together!YOU ARE A BIG INSPIRATION TO ME. I LOVE HOW POSITIVE YOU ARE AND HOW MUCH ENERGY YOU BRING TO EVERYTHING THE TIMES WE’VE BEEN TOGETHER. SO YOU ARE ONE OF MY TECH ROLE MODELS. WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS?My heart is bursting with joy reading this babe <3 That’s crazy because you are actually a big inspiration to me! It sounds cheesy, but honestly my philosophy is that I know I’m going to die one day so I am compelled to make the most of my short time here by helping others and enjoying life. We can’t possibly be positive a hundred percent of the time, but when we are we have to ride that wave to the best of our abilities! My main role models are not actually technology people: as a drummer, I’ve always looked up to Travis Barker from Blink 182, for several reasons. His work ethic is second to none; he has worked hard to cultivate versatility as his main skill; and he is someone who is open minded enough to collaborate with people in all kinds of musical genres, which has made him one of the most well-connected people in the industry. He’s also seen a lot of negativity in his life and has managed to bounce back stronger from those experiences.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?Before I go on stage with my band or have a job interview, I always sing ‘The Boss’ by James Brown in my head. My fave quote is the chorus: “I paid the cost to be the boss”. We all know James Brown was no angel, but in my view what he’s saying in that song is “I am a legend because of my experiences, not despite them.”, which I think is a good motto to live by. Own it!D & E: I’M SURE YOU’LL BOTH AGREE WITH ME WHEN I SAY I WISH I HAD MORE EXPOSURE TO TECHNOLOGY WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL. WHAT DO YOU THINK SCHOOLS CAN DO TO ENCOURAGE MORE YOUNG WOMEN TO FOLLOW TECHNOLOGY AS A FUTURE CAREER?I think society can do more to make girls and non-binary people think “Oh yeah, I can give that a go”. Nell and I were lucky to have a mother who taught us things like “This is how you give a firm handshake, don’t let anyone mess you about” or “Have you thought about learning this cool thing?”. I think other parents of girls out there should be doing that too. As far as schools go, it’s difficult for them to identify the root cause of the problem when, for example, many girls show enthusiasm for computer science in Year 7, but drop out at the end of Year 8. My friend Jeni Thakrar runs an initiative called Inspiring Girls Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, which facilitates days for women in male-dominated industries to give talks to schoolgirls to inspire them to consider careers in those industries. Some people forget that a teacher is not there to parent your child: that’s your job. I think we need to work together, not just pile more pressure on teachers! Nelly xWHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY COME FROM?It started as an interest that has grown the more I have learnt! At school I always had a keen interest in STEM subjects as well as a love for language. I took Maths Sciences and Spanish at A level and this interest in many subject areas caused me somewhat of a dilemma when it came to choosing a career path. I deliberated between chemical engineering, to Spanish, to Mathematics, and ended up choosing to study Speech and Language Sciences as it offered me the ability to study both language and science. Software engineering/programming/coding weren’t career options that were apparent when I was at school, I didn’t even know it existed at that time and there certainly weren’t any coding courses available at school. My tech journey started when my sister told me about a company called Code Fist Girls who were offering free courses. I attended a course in Bristol in February 2019 which consisted of weekly evening classes: I absolutely loved it! I don’t know what I was expecting from the course but it surprised me how creative and fun coding is! After this I carried on teaching myself at home in the evenings and weekends using online resources. At the time I was working as a clinician (Speech and Language Therapist) in the NHS and my new found technical knowledge inspired me in many ways with possibilities for technology a) to support those with speech, language and communication needs and b) to improve the efficiency of our healthcare system in general. These are both goals I intend to achieve in the future. So I thought why not let’s make this as a career!YOU ARE CURRENTLY COMPLETING THE MAYDEN ACADEMY BOOTCAMP, WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START A CAREER IN TECH?First of all I would absolutely recommend a coding bootcamp in general, especially if you’re the sort of person who learns better with structure, routine and surrounded by other people (there’s only so much I can learn in one go alone in my bedroom!) And secondly I would recommend Mayden Academy in particular (I know I’m biased) but the content is up to date, relevant, and stimulating; the structure of the course is excellent with theory and projects spaced out evenly so you have opportunities to put in practise what you learnt during theory week; and the atmosphere at the Academy is second to none, everyone is so relaxed, friendly and supportive and we have such a laugh which makes learning so much fun. I am just over halfway through the course but I don’t want it to end!ANY WEBSITES OR BOOKS YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO HELP OTHERS ON THEIR TECH JOURNEY?Yes, I’ve used mainly online resources but there are probably loads of great books too! Some of the ones I’ve found most helpful are courses on Udemy, W3schools, Codecademy, Sololearn and the Codebar resources. There are also lots of free tutorials on youtube, if you search what you need help with, there is usually someone who’s recorded a tutorial on it.YOU ARE A STUDENT AT CODEBAR, IS IT SOMETHING YOU’D RECOMMEND TO OTHERS AND HOW HAS IT HELPED YOU?I would definitely recommend it! It’s helped me learn new technical skills and also it has been so great to make new friends and connections with others who love tech. I have had a lot of interesting discussions at Codebar with students and coaches about why they love coding, and what sorts of opportunities are out there. There is a great sense of community and everyone supports each other. Going to Codebar has definitely contributed towards having the confidence to go for this career change! (And the free food is a bonus!!)WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?Getting through the course and graduating in one piece! After completing my studies I will be applying for jobs and thinking about where I will move next! In the near future I am also hoping to find a mentor to support me on my journey into my first junior software engineering role.YOU ARE DEFINITELY GOING TO BE ONE TO WATCH DANIELLA AND I FEEL PROUD TO HAVE WATCHED YOU FROM YOUR FIRST CODEBAR WORKSHOP WITH YOUR MUM TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW AND I’M EXCITED TO SEE WHAT YOU MOVE ON TO. SO LIKE EVIE YOU ARE ALSO AN INSPIRATION AND A ROLE MODEL. WHO IS YOURS?Thanks Alicia! I also very much admire your business savvy and what you have achieved and that is inspirational to me too! I honestly would say my role model is my mum. I am constantly inspired by her positive, learning mindset and I know it sounds cheesy but she makes me feel like anything is possible if you work hard enough for it and want it badly enough. Also she is such a fun-loving spirit and is so open minded, and she’s always open to new experiences (whatever ventures I drag her along to!) I think she has instilled into both my sister and I a thirst for learning.WHAT’S YOUR FAV QUOTE?It’s so hard to choose a favourite as there are so many quotes I love! But I would say its “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.”- Marcus Aurelius. Because I think that perception and your attitude towards things that happen to you plays a massive part in happiness and adopting a positive mindset makes life so much fuller.  I did ask my family what they thought ‘my quote’ was and they said something I often say is “I do what I want” haha, I guess what I mean when I say that is, if I want something I’ll go and get it and there’s no one stopping me!D & E: I’M SURE YOU’LL BOTH AGREE WITH ME WHEN I SAY I WISH I HAD MORE EXPOSURE TO TECHNOLOGY WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL. WHAT DO YOU THINK SCHOOLS CAN DO TO ENCOURAGE MORE YOUNG WOMEN TO FOLLOW TECHNOLOGY AS A FUTURE CAREER?I also wish I had more exposure to tech and the opportunities that existed. I think schools should show women how creative this career is and that they need all sorts of individuals in this growing industry. Unfortunately there is a stereotype that exists about people who study computer science (often the geeky guy who is a bit socially awkward, loves video gaming etc.) and that if you’re not like this you won’t be suited to this career or good at it, I am also guilty of thinking this myself at one point. We need to show people this is simply not the case! Schools should organise more opportunities for young women to find out about coding e.g. external speakers, taster sessions, Q&A sessions run by women who are currently working in the industry.You 3 are why I started Women Rock and are true role models for the tech industry! Keep doing you and I’ll support you everyday. Also owe you a chippy dinner!An interview by Alicia Teagle A voice for diversity in tech <3I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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