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!

Carly in Tech
WOMEN ROCK2019-11-07

Carly in Tech

You may have read Carly’s story on here earlier in the year and we had to get her on here again as she has an update. After knowing Carly for a little while, we are so happy and excited that she is changing direction and has been given the opportunity to develop her technical skills a bit more by attending a 12 week intensive technical academy through her employer – the brilliant Nationwide Building Society, a company where every single person supports and encourages diversity in every sense of the word.Carly is keen to share her journey, in an honest, open and non-corporate-y way, with the aim of showing people what these things are really like, and hopefully encourage people to consider starting/moving to a career in tech.From Carly:I genuinely care about getting people from different backgrounds into tech, and understand that it can sometimes appear a closed off, intimidating and often confusing community. I want to try and remove a layer or two (or more!) of the mystery, and show how interesting, challenging, (and fun!) tech can be. Be the change you want to see and all that…I work for Nationwide Building Society in the UK (we’re like a bank but better)*. And like most financial institutions, we’re having to totally re-evaluate the technology we’re using, to make sure it’s fit for the future. And establish new ways of working, to help us keep up with the pace of change. One of the things Nationwide has done as part of this process is create a 12 week intensive technical academy, in partnership with the training provider QA, aimed at people just starting out their careers in tech (including career changers) and those that might already work in tech, but want an introduction to some of the newer technologies, or want to gain a more hands on understanding.I fall in to the latter category – I’ve been working in a technical environment for the past 7 years**. I’ve had various roles including Computer Operator, IT Operations Manager, Performance Test Lead, and Senior Tech Specialist (Payments). The one thing they’ve all had in common is that I was working predominantly with legacy technology, and I ended up working with quite a high level view, and with a focus on governance. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the legacy stuff, things are rarely as easy as they seem and every day is a challenge, but times are changing, and that tech isn’t going to be around for ever. And governance is really REALLY important, but it doesn’t set my heart on fire. So, here I am.Assuming you want to stick around and follow my journey, I’ll introduce myself a bit more. When I’m not at work I enjoy DIY, gardening (landscaping, we’ve just built a patio – I’m rubbish at the flowers and plants bit), cars, makeup, clothes, sewing, shoes, Studio Ghibli, I’m trying to practice taking more (and better!) pictures, and I collect guidebooks from all the museums that I visit. I’m really interested in the tech industry, particularly when it’s focused on social good, or environmental concerns, but I don’t tend to code/do tech work in my spare time very often. I’m also a Governor at a regional Further Education college that has a strong focus on technology. A pretty random and eclectic mix, but to be fair I think that’s how my friends would describe me.In a bid to not just aimlessly move from one role to the next, I’ve had a think about the areas that I really enjoy and any specific skillset I can utilise to focus my direction. I’ve realised that I really enjoy the area of IT Operations and Security, and work really well in typically stressful situations (i.e. incident response), so over the next 12 months, I’ve set myself the following goals (in addition to completing the Technical Academy obvs):Attempt the Google Capture The Flag event 2020Speak at a conferenceVolunteer at Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) camp 2020Investigate roles in DevOps and SecurityFinish watching all of the Studio Ghibli collection (because taking a break is important too)If you’re interested in following how I get on, I’ll be blogging, vlogging, tweeting and ‘gramming using the handles below. Questions, messages of support, and cute animal pics are always welcome!Twitter: @CarlyInTech https://twitter.com/carlyintechInstagram: @CarlyInTech https://www.instagram.com/carlyintech/?hl=enYoutube: Carly In Tech https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqjp9hsqGmM9uldVF9OAVSgBlog: https://carlyintech.wordpress.com/*Opinions are totally 100% my own.**It’s worth noting that I didn’t start out working in tech, in fact I hated it in school (but that’s back when it was taught as ICT – Microsoft Publisher anyone?!). I did my Bachelors in International Politics, and then after a few years of working in research, I did my Masters in Environmental Health, specialising in infectious disease control and epidemiology (it’s a very long story). And all of the above is why we created Women Rock to share peoples journeys, their careers (and not the typical ‘tech’ career path) the challenges, I’m sure Carly will agree probably the stresses but most importantly the successes.We will be following and supporting you on your journey, thank you for sharing and hopefully others who have a similar interest will follow in your footsteps.#womenrocka voice of diversity in tech.@womenrockbristol

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“Do coding for yourself” – an interview with Sian Richards
WOMEN ROCK2019-10-31

“Do coding for yourself” – an interview with Sian Richards

I first met Sian Richards when she came along to help out as a coach at Codebar. We sat for hours discussing her passion for technology and how it came about, Sian also helps our students learn the crazy world of Javascript and is a great advocate at showing our students you don’t have to follow the typical career path into Tech. Sian did a degree in Philosophy and she had heard a lot of people say Software Development doesn’t seem an obvious path for a Philosophy grad. But they’re not too different. Sian decided to complete at intense 12 week boot camp to welcome her to the tech world, she is now a Software Developer in Test at Bud Systems.YOU DID YOUR DEGREE IN PHILOSOPHY AND NOW YOU ARE WORKING AS A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER IN TEST… HOW WAS THAT AS A TRANSITION?I’ve heard a lot of people say Software Development doesn’t seem an obvious path for a Philosophy grad. But they’re not too different. In Philosophy, you have to think analytically about philosophical arguments – both when constructing and deconstructing arguments. At university, I did Logic which was a Philosophy module and we had to do proofs which is essentially a practice in “clean coding” (making your code churn out the same result in fewer lines). I’d say the greatest difference between Philosophy and programming is the fact that Philosophy trains you to think about things abstractly – which is of course still useful in programming – but it doesn’t prepare you for the practical aspect of actually writing code. But I’ll go out on a limb and say that just describes the jump from most academic degrees to the real world.YOU WENT THROUGH AN INTENSIVE COURSE WITH _NOLOGY, WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THIS ROUTE FOR SOMEONE WANTING TO GET INTO TECHNOLOGY? AND COULD YOU TALK ME THROUGH THE COURSE?I would recommend a coding camp for sure. What attracted me to _nology in particular was the fact they pushed diversity so I could be confident I wouldn’t be the only women in the room (lol), and I also liked how we spent a solid amount of the course working on a real-life client project so it wasn’t just a case of cramming us full of programming knowledge without offering any experience of the other aspects of working as a developer (which are equally as important). It should be noted though, I was in the privileged position of being able to invest my time and money into a coding course. Therefore, if you are considering doing a coding boot camp and are concerned about money, I’d recommend opting for one that allows you to pay once you start earning (like _nology, I swear I’m not trying to plug them, or for a list of online courses with deferred payment, try https://igtechnologies.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/free-or-tuition-deferred-coding-boot-camps/).In terms of technologies: in the first few weeks, we covered the basics of HTML 5, CSS, SCSS and worked on creating our own CVs online. We then hit JavaScript week which involved lots of mini challenges (and hitting your head against the wall when you thought you solved it but didn’t quite). Then we moved onto TypeScript (more challenges and head hitting), then React where we began our client project and finally, we finished with Redux.In terms of soft skills: at the end of every week, we presented either individually or within a group to external clients, focusing on what we’d produced that week. Week five was dedicated solely to soft skills, where we gave a TED-style talk at the end of the week. Then we had our ongoing client project and finally, we finished with mock interviews.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO FELLOW FEMALES WHO ARE LOOKING TO GET INTO TECHNOLOGY?If you haven’t tried coding at all, I’d highly recommend giving it a go – it’s essentially like learning another language but rather than the reward being “Your German is good for an English person” or the listener not switching to English as soon as they detect an English accent, the reward is seeing magic happen on a screen through essentially telling a computer what to do with a given input. I’d say don’t be motivated to code by wanting to signal to people that you’re technically adept as that’s less fun and that motivation will fade quickly. Instead, do coding for yourself: before you even touch code, do some research and find something you want to build. Then just analyse the app you want to build by looking at syntax* (if this were a newspaper article, how would it be organised?), styling (what shape is this element? Where is it positioned?) and functionality (when I click on this element, what happens?). Then focus on the syntax and look at how to build it (YouTube is a great resource!) and once you’ve nailed that, move onto styling and finally functionality.*I trained in front-end development so I’m looking at breaking an app down into front-end languages.YOU ARE A COACH AT CODEBAR, WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE WORKSHOP?I thoroughly enjoy coaching at CodeBar workshops. I was struck by imposter syndrome during my first session because I had only started learning to code March 2019 and here I was, months later teaching someone about JavaScript functions. But my confidence grew and I realised “Ah wait, I do know what I’m talking about”. It was so much fun, and it’s such a good way to assess your knowledge. I like CodeBar in particular because it’s very chilled – “What would you like to learn?” “I’d like to learn Python” “Oh great, I’ll teach you Python”, or in my case “Oh great, I’ll swiftly direct you to someone who knows Python” Plus, there was pizza on hand, so…WHAT DO YOU THINK COMPANIES CAN DO TO ATTRACT A MORE DIVERSE RANGE OF PEOPLE?This is a difficult question to answer as the lack of representation of diverse individuals in the tech sector stems from societal expectations of roles for specific people. If you fit the archetype of a programmer in terms of gender, race, class and so on, it would be less daunting and more welcoming for you to enter that field in comparison to someone who doesn’t fit that archetype.However, focusing on what I think companies, in particular, can do, I think the biggest thing would be to reconsider filtering out applicants (particularly fresh graduates) based on whether they studied a STEM subject at university or not. I don’t quite understand the rationale behind this: either it’s because companies believe that individuals from STEM backgrounds would have the greatest pre-exposure to coding as part of their course OR companies believe that individuals from STEM backgrounds have had their minds moulded into the desired shape of a web developer through a focus on maths and general analytical thinking during their course OR, it’s down to laziness.The first option doesn’t make a huge amount of sense given most computer languages are taught on the job and neither does the second point considering degrees like Music and Foreign Languages involve a hell-of-a-lot of analysis. For example, does my approach to learning how to code through breaking a page down syntactically play to the strengths of someone with an English Literature degree or a Chemistry degree? Furthermore, coding doesn’t necessarily have to involve any maths at all. It greatly depends on the requirements of the functionality of the application you’re creating. I guess that leaves the last option: laziness. And this is a poor reason to filter individuals out: the candidate misses out on becoming part of one of the fastest growing employment sectors worldwide and companies miss out on new approaches to solving problems and a wealth of analytical minds. It seems like we’re in a big lose-lose situation for not a very good reason. Therefore, I believe companies should at least give it a try rather than resting on unverified assumptions. Thank you Sian for this brilliant interview and also for your continued support at Codebar.An interview by Alicia Teagle#womenrocka voice of diversity in tech.@womenrockbristol

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Coding, Rugby, Pub? Pub – An Interview with Sarah Cronk
WOMEN ROCK2019-10-31

Coding, Rugby, Pub? Pub – An Interview with Sarah Cronk

Check out this great interview with Sarah Cronk, who is a graduate software developer working with CACI here in Bristol. CACI saw huge potential in Sarah and offered her a position with them whilst she was still completing her degree in Maths! In this interview, Sarah shares her thoughts on having the imposter syndrome, her passion for Rugby and gives advice on how tech companies can attract a more diverse mix of people. Also, her quote is probably one of the best so far!HI SARAH, YOU JOINED CACI’S ENGINEERING TEAM IN BRISTOL NOT TOO LONG AGO – HOW HAVE YOU BEEN FINDING IT SO FAR?I’m really enjoying it! I didn’t have much experience with coding before joining so I was a little nervous, but they’ve given me great training and support and I’ve been able to get stuck in quickly.BEING A YOUNG FEMALE WORKING IN TECHNOLOGY, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WOULD SAY HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT THE INDUSTRY?It’s not quite a nerdy as people make out! I think TV gives people who work in tech a reputation of being socially awkward but really, it’s as much of spectrum of people as any other industry when it comes to social skills.WHERE DID YOUR LOVE FOR TECHNOLOGY AND CODING COME FROM?During school I loved maths and science and I studied maths at university, so I’ve always been really interested in STEM however my first experience with coding wasn’t a good one. In first year, we were thrown in the deep end with a computer science module and I really struggled, I would’ve been shocked to find out what my graduate job would eventually be. It wasn’t until modules later in my course that more gradually introduced code (albeit from a statistical perspective) that I realised I enjoyed it and was good at it.LOTS OF SCHOOL PUPILS DON’T SEE THE BENEFIT OF WHERE MATHEMATICS CAN TAKE THEM, A COMMON THOUGHT AND MISCONCEPTION COULD BE ‘WELL WHAT AM I GOING TO USE THIS FOR IN THE FUTURE’. HOW DO YOU THINK SCHOOLS CAN RAISE MORE AWARENESS TO THE CAREER OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR CHOOSING STEM SUBJECTS?Maths is in basically everything we do so maybe finding a way of demonstrating that to students as opposed to learning for the sake of learning. For example, learning how taxes work would be exceptionally useful and specifically with regards to tech and coding, technology is so advanced now that if the curriculum doesn’t keep up with it then students are going to become more and more disillusioned with it. Why wait until university to start introducing coding to students?ALTHOUGH IT’S STILL RELATIVELY NEW TO YOU, AND I’M SURE YOU’RE LEARNING SO MUCH AT CACI EVERYDAY BUT WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT CODING SO FAR?I enjoy problem solving so, contrary to what people expect, I like it when things go a little bit wrong and I get to root around trying to solve it. It is incredibly satisfying when it all works in the end but the work it takes to get there is the fun bit.SOMETHING I LOVE, IS YOUR PASSION FOR BOTH RUGBY AND TECHNOLOGY (SO AWESOME!) – I’M SURE YOU MIGHT AGREE THAT STEREOTYPICALLY IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD THAT THESE ARE BOTH ‘MALE LED’ INDUSTRIES WHICH WOMEN COULD BE UNDERESTIMATED IN. HOW DID BEING IN A WOMEN’S RUGBY TEAM PREPARE YOU FOR BEING A WOMAN IN TECH?I had never noticed my interests were both aligned that way, but I agree that they are male-dominated industries. Playing rugby has given me a lot of confidence over the years, both in my own physical ability and my decision making – sometimes you have a split second to decide what you’re going to do before someone is running into you – and this has definitely bled into my day to day life and therefore my attitude at work. What helps me more at work however is the experience I gained being on rugby committee where we’d have meetings in which I was the only woman in the room and having to fight my corner. Thankfully I work with such a great team that I don’t feel the need to do that at CACI but knowing that I can gives me more confidence.HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A VICTIM OF IMPOSTER SYNDROME AND WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE LIKE FOR YOU?Definitely. I was offered a job at CACI before I had even started my final year of university due to a successful referral from a friend and I was shocked. I remember thinking back to my interview and looking over my CV and wondering if I had said something that wasn’t true or lead them to believe that I had more experience than I did. I’d like to thank the friend who referred me for putting up with me asking ‘I really don’t know anything, is that ok? Are you sure?’ a lot, but the reason I asked it was because I felt unqualified. I then finally started and realised that I wasn’t. I’ll admit that even with this interview I asked another friend whether I had an interesting enough story that it would be worth your time, so it’s clearly something that can pervade your attitude to everything. I think the best solution to imposter syndrome is take whatever is making you feel like a fraud and do it anyway because that’s the only way to prove to yourself that you’re not a fraud.IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND HANG OUT WITH YOUR 13-YEAR OLD SELF, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE HER?First and foremost, please chill out, take deep breaths, it will all be ok. If you’re not immediately good at something then that is alright, just take your time with it. Don’t be afraid to embrace the things you enjoy regardless of what other people think about them.IN YOUR OPINION, HOW DO YOU THINK TECH COMPANIES CAN ATTRACT A MORE DIVERSE MIX OF PEOPLE?By using companies like Socially Responsible Recruitment! Making a conscious effort to recruit people who otherwise wouldn’t put themselves forward roles in tech. I think work towards greater diversity in tech can even start in schools, they’ve shown that girls as young as six are less likely to attribute brilliance to their own gender (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/aaft-ygl012317.php). If an effort is made with young children, then that will ripple through and we’ll start to see a greater mix of people in the industry. An example of this is CACI currently volunteer at a local primary school, where around 80% of the children that attend the coding club are female. Obviously, gender isn’t the only marker of diversity and programmes like these are also needed in low-socioeconomic areas for example. Areas where schools might not have enough funding to introduce students to tech and coding.WHO IS YOUR NO.1 ROLE MODEL OR INSPIRATION?This is going to sound cheesy but my mum – she’s intelligent, she works incredibly hard, she’s great at her job and doesn’t take any nonsense. I’d be lucky to be like her.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?I’m really not a quotes person but something I find myself saying a lot – “Pub? Pub” #womenrockAn interview by Steph Jacksona voice of diversity in tech.I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – An interview with Jacqueline Rodríguez-Pérez
WOMEN ROCK2019-10-30

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – An interview with Jacqueline Rodríguez-Pérez

Jacqueline Rodríguez-Pérez is a software engineer working with Brightpearl in Bristol, originally from the beautiful Canary Islands in Spain. She shares her backstory with us and how she got into technology. It all started with an IBM 4.86 computer her parents bought her when she was just 8 years old! Jacqueline and I have been in touch since the beginning of the year, her passion and enthusiasm never goes unnoticed. She shares a raw and honest outlook on the barriers women face in the industry as well as her honest opinion on Jamie Oliver’s Paella recipe!TELL US HOW AND WHY YOU CHOSE A CAREER IN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT?It all started when I was a kid I suppose. At that time my uncle Carlos worked fixing computers and introduced me to this world. My father and I used to learn together how computers worked using components from my uncle’s lab.When I was 8 my parents bought me my first computer, an IBM 4.86, and subscribed me to MS-DOS course that I loved. I kept “playing” with my own computer, adding new hardware components, connecting it to other computers, installing new software.By this time the only user friendly OS I had was Windows 3.11 that came with a very old fashion WordPerfect. This text editor allowed you to see and edit all the hidden tags that transform the text appearance. That was the first time I saw some sort of coding and started digging into how those applications worked.When the time came, the choice was very clear. I went to university and study a Computer Science degree.JACQUELINE, YOU WORK AS A SOFTWARE ENGINEER WITH BRIGHTPEARL – WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING THERE DAY TO DAY?8:45 First cup of teaWell I joined Brightpearl in mid May and have to say it has been a non-stop learning process.I was just a Java developer when I joined and in these four months I have been able to work also with PHP, Ruby, JavaScript, Docker, Kubernetes, etc. For me the key to achieve this in such a short time is their very skilled engineering team and their extensive documentation.10:15 Time to ask Product teamFrom a non-technical perspective Brightpearl has a very good team of business analysts. This makes developer’s lives much easier in daily basis as they gather the requirements from the customers and are able to pass them in a detailed way to the engineering team.16:00 Fifth cup of teaThere is also life outside of engineering! There is always something going on in Brightpearl. From a Greek cold coffee master class to board games nights or chair massages to mention just a few.IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?Obviously I would like to see more women in this industry. But not just women, also people from other genders and races. I think engineering teams could benefit from having people with different backgrounds offering different perspectives.If you are reading this interview you are probably aware of the current situation and the barriers women have to face in Tech, so I won’t bore you listing them here again. There are still many things to do to break down the barriers of gender equality, and I believe technologies are helping to do it. For instance, things like working from home to improve family and work conciliation, automated recruitment processes that ignore gender and of course internet access allowing women to hear other women and to be heard.YOU’RE ORIGINALLY FROM SPAIN, WHAT IS THING YOU MISS MOST ABOUT HOME?Probably the beach! I am from the Canary Islands and always lived near the coast so the beach was always close. I used to go not just for a sun bath but also to relax after work. I have visited a few beaches here in UK and have to say they are really nice, but they are a bit far away from Bristol!WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SPANISH DISH TO COOK?I am not a person that particularly enjoys cooking, but I reckon that cooking seafood paella gives me some kind of satisfaction if it ends it up well. It’s a dish that takes a long time to cook and it can go terrible wrong if you are not an experience cook like me. Also it’s a dish that I learnt from my mother so it makes me feel closer to home.Speaking of paella, dear Jamie Oliver, why chorizo? Why?!!HAVE YOU EVER FACED ANY CHALLENGES THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER BEING A WOMAN, AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO MIGHT BE FACING THE SAME THING RIGHT NOW?Unfortunately the list is a long one and started when I was studying my degree. This industry has been in the hands of men for a long time and sometimes you have to deal with men from the old school. Sometimes they are your lectures, sometimes your colleagues, sometimes your boss or even your own family telling you are doing a man’s job. The problem I see is that even when you overcome these challenges day after day, eventually what you have learnt is that you are going to have to work harder than the rest. You have to show them that you are as capable as them and that you can do it alone, without mistakes, without any benefit from your gender. Over time, this might lead to a sort of paranoia, wondering if something, bad or good, that has happened to you is because you are woman. The only thing I could advise to those going through this is trust yourself, be confident but mainly be upbeat. You have the same right to fail than them.I KNOW HOW MUCH YOU LOVE TO LEARN NEW TECHNOLOGIES, WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU HAVEN’T YET WORKED WITH THAT YOU WOULD TO WORK WITH?So far Brightpearl is keeping very busy learning new technologies and my plan for now is to be better at then. As you know, my biggie is Java and I still have many things to learn about it so I keep this as my main goal. At the top of my to-do list still have going deeper with Spring framework and do some UI work with ReactJS. But who knows, the list might vary while I learn.NAME WHO WOULD BE IN YOUR ‘DREAM TEAM’?I’ve never thought about it! Rather than tell you names, I can tell you which skills I would look for. I think I would build a team of trusted and talented people with good communication skills, curiosity and as, I mentioned earlier, people from different backgrounds. The dead ones probably would need to make an extra effort to catch up!There have been some famous ones that have impressed me. I would include names like Ada Lovelace, Katherine Johnson, Alan Turing, Elon Musk (sometimes not for good reasons), Col. Chris Hadfield and the Queen of shitty robots Simone Giertz.FINALLY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”— Albert Einstein for “Old Man’s Advice to Youth: ‘Never Lose a Holy Curiosity'” LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955).This is just part of an interview where Einstein encourages to not losing curiosity. I believe this is not just a must do in this profession but something to keep in mind in your life too. Be curious, be brave, leave your comfort zone and try new things. Mistaking is part of the process to evolve. An interview by Steph Jackson#womenrocka voice of diversity in tech.@womenrockbristol

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Festival of Female Entrepreneurs 2019 ‘Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, have energy self-belief, determination and be the very best that you can in your own way.’
WOMEN ROCK2019-10-22

Festival of Female Entrepreneurs 2019 ‘Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, have energy self-belief, determination and be the very best that you can in your own way.’

Last week I headed to The Festival of Female Entrepreneurs by Enterprise Nation. I was really unsure what to expect as women only events aren’t usually my thing but I had the best day and felt super lucky to be a part of such an awesome event sat alongside some brilliant ladies and hearing from some of the best entrepreneurs across a range of industries.Emma Jones, thank you for putting on this event, especially in Bristol it really showed what female empowerment is all about. <3We heard from Nisha Katona MBE – Founder of Mowgli street foods. After leaving a flourishing career as a barrister to spread the word about Bengali cuisine, Nisha has defied the naysayer by opening SEVEN Mowgli sites, with plans for more in the pipeline – one being Bristol and I’m so buzzing to try it!Jenny Tooth OBE – CEO, UK Angels Business Association & Della Hudson – Accountant and Business coach spoke about how every £1 of money venture capitalists invest in start-ups, only £0.10p goes to female founders. They spoke about how female founders can explore the best finance options and how to built confidence to take a leap into the next phase of business. Jenny also discussed the lack of angels in the South West and something she is working on improving! Ruby Lee, – Studio 77 Emma Alexander, – Mother Bran Martina McDonnell – Facebook and Rachel Wilkins  – Dell. They spoke about trends and opportunities for women working in digital with one stand out piece of advice ‘don’t be put off by the lack of female digital role models. Prove them wrong and just bloody do it’ #justbloodydoit get it trending ????  We also had talks from Nimisha Raja – Founder of Nim’s fruit snacksAnd Rebecca Linnell and Sarah Barrett – Make me famous: How Rebecca converted a farmhouse into one of the most in-demand dog hotels in the country.Everyone was amazing, and then Dame Stephanie (Steve) Shirley took to stage, we sold out her book ‘Let it go’ I cried, we clapped – a lot and clapped again from a lady with the most amazing story, energy, wit and intelligence. So yeah a lot of people asked if she could adopt us and we also asked what it is like having a dame title? – she said – ”it’s pretty good as you always get a table at a good restaurant.” 🙂 If you haven’t heard of Steve Shirley she is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent philanthropist who exercises every day ????Her life story begins with her 1939 arrival in Britain as an unaccompanied Kindertransport refugee. In 1962, she started a software house, freelance programmers that pioneered new work practices and changed the position of professional women, especially in hi-tech. She went on to create a global business and a personal fortune which she shared with her colleagues; she made 70 of her staff millionaires at no cost to anyone but herself.Since retiring in 1993, her focus has been increasingly on philanthropy based on her strong belief in giving back to society. In the words of her friend Baroness Martha Lane Fox ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ and it’s a line she often deploy when talking to people about the complex issues of equality in the rapidly growing technology sector. How can girls chose careers in tech if they don’t see opportunities for them in companies, How can women apply for jobs in the sector, or start technology based businesses if the world looks so unlike them? Well if we looked in the right direction we would see Dame Stephanie Shirley, the woman we should all aspire to be. We seem to have gone backwards or at least sideways in using Steve’s creative ways to build successful, diverse companies. What Martha says I also completely agree with from hearing from her and also reading her book.It’s not just how to be a woman in a male-dominated industry but more importantly how to have a life that is meaningful for its entire length. Too often, especially in the culture of start-ups and technology we lionise founders who build huge monopiles or who achieve some massive company valuations. Steve did this but she did far more of more importance as well. I highly recommend this book and that you take inspiration as I do and I think everyone else in the room did from this brave and brilliant woman. “We can see what we should all be. Let’s just make sure we are all looking” – boom!Her advice –  “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, have energy self-belief, determination and be the very best that you can in your own way.”And that my friends is why Women Rock will always be a platform to share the best stories from fascinating women who are bossing it and just lovely humans. I came away inspired and a brain buzzing of ideas of how to take all of this to the next level.Link to Dame Stephanie’s book (do something today and buy it) : hereInfo from Enterprise Nation: hereThank you again, I’ll be back next year#womenrock #wereallyrockAn interview by Alicia Teaglea voice of diversity in tech.I: @womenrockbristolT: @womenrockbrstl

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“One can never have enough socks” – Meet our newest team member Sophie Edensor
WOMEN ROCK2019-09-18

“One can never have enough socks” – Meet our newest team member Sophie Edensor

We’re not a women’s only club here but I am buzzing to have so many amazing females here at SR2, even more so that recruitment is such a male dominated industry. Everyone is different and brings all different personalities, skills and experience to the table but one thing we all have in common here is our passion for diversity and inclusion and doing good!I am excited to welcome Sophie as a brand ambassador to Women Rock who is heading up our contract desk and going to be helping us spread the Women Rock story and mission and interviewing brilliant folks for the blog from the world of testing. Welcome to the maddess Soph, don’t forget your socks!WHY DID YOU JOIN SR2?I have a lot of friends that work in recruitment and have heard about their challenges and experiences. This helped me to really nail down what I was looking for in a career: autonomy, responsibility, fun and dogs. I never expected to find a company that could offer all these things, but SR2 do! I work alongside not only incredible recruiters, but also incredible people who care about their community and their company. Who knew that a workplace could be so positive on a Monday morning?WHAT DOES YOUR DAY TO DAY LOOK LIKE?My day starts with checking the job boards for any new candidates and finding out what they’re looking for. This way, I can either match them with a live role or I can go and find them one! The rest of my day consists of finding managers who are open to conversations about good candidates that I’m working with, drinking lots of coffee, organising the South West Test meetup, organising interviews, helping and advising with CV adjustments, reaching out to inactive candidates (with perfect jobs for them) and drinking even more coffee. People say recruitment is like a rollercoaster and this is something that I learnt extremely quickly. Your day can change in a matter of minutes, something that I love as it keeps it exciting!WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?Since forever, my main role model has always been JK Rowling. She not only pushed through some horrible times and changed her life by writing THE best books ever, but she has also never been afraid to speak her mind. As an example, she stood up for her friend, Serena Williams, when people over the internet body shamed her. It shows that even though she probably will have lost fans, her values are what’s most important to her – something I really look up to.WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AND AMBITIONS FOR WOMEN ROCK?I would love for Women Rock to become nationally recognised and be read by thousands of people. Diversity and Inclusion is super important and is something that I’m proud to support through Women Rock. By having a platform where diversity can be talked about openly, I hope we can make a difference to those that feel excluded from the tech community and show that it doesn’t matter who you are, your skills and personality are the most important thing!WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO EAT AND DRINK?To be honest I eat anything and everything, but have a soft spot for Italian food as carbs are life. I really enjoy going to new, quirky restaurants in Bristol and trying things that I’ve never tried before! I’m also really into Gin at the moment (like the rest of the world) and like trying different flavours whenever I can.WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE WORLD?Apart from my bed, my favourite place has to be Ibiza. It really sparked my passion for DJing in my first year of university, as I saw some incredible artists there when I went on holiday. I love that it’s acceptable to wear glitter all day and be covered in paint all night too… *cough* holiday incentive? *cough*WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING OUTSIDE OF WORK?I’m really into the Drum and Bass scene in Bristol, especially the smaller festivals/gigs, as I used to do quite a lot of DJing when I was at University. My days at weekends usually consist of exploring Bristol’s green spaces trying to find cool adventures in preparation for when I have a puppy (watch this space for the cutest puppy ever) and gaming because I’m a secret nerd. I also enjoy any activity that involves the water, so tend to go either swimming or surfing if I can get home to Newquay.IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE TECH INDUSTRY WHAT WOULD THAT BE?We all know that the tech industry is very male dominated and this is something that I’d really like to change. When I was at school deciding what courses to take, a career in tech never crossed my mind yet I have male friends that were encouraged into IT by teaching staff and are now quite high up in their careers. I genuinely believe that if more schools encouraged young women to take tech courses, diversity would naturally increase.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?‘One can never have enough socks’ – Albus DumbledoreIF YOU WERE ROCKETED UP TO MARS, WHAT WOULD BE THE 3 THINGS YOU WOULD TAKE WITH YOU?I’d have to take a kettle, as I can’t function without at least 13 cups of coffee a day… Although that means my other 2 choices have to be a mug and some coffee! Welcome to the family Soph – it’s so good to have you with us on this journey!#womenrocka voice of diversity in tech.@womenrockbristol

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Mayden Academy Diversitech Fund
WOMEN ROCK2019-09-10

Mayden Academy Diversitech Fund

Our lovely friends at Mayden Academy have recently announced their Diversitech fund and we want to shout this from the rooftops! This new funding scheme has been designed to encourage more people from underrepresented groups to embark on careers in coding and increase diversity in the UK technology industry.The aim of this fund is to increase diversity in the tech industry. We believe the best teams are made up of diverse individuals with different experiences and backgrounds. This fund will open up software development as a career choice to underrepresented groups from the industry to help improve diversity and ultimately help build the best teams possible.The fund will offer a discount on course fees for Mayden Academy’s Full Stack Track course to individuals from groups which are underrepresented in the tech industry. These groups include, but are not limited to: women, black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.The fund is awarded on a discretionary basis, and may cover anything from several hundred pounds to the full cost of the course. It is awarded based on a combination of factors including underrepresentation, financial need, and other adversity.This fund comes in addition to our existing deferred tuition offered via EdAid, which gives all UK and EU students the chance to delay paying the course fee until they have graduated and have their first coding role. A combination of Diversitech Funding and EdAid deferred payment can be applied.The fund has been made possible through the generous contributions of our hiring partners, a group of forward-thinking tech companies based in the South West. Contributing hiring partners include Redington, Play Sports Network, LoveHoney, blubolt, Seccl, RIVIAM, Maydenand Altran.Diversitech Funding can be applied for following acceptance onto the Full Stack Track course.Mike Oram, director of the Academy said: “We’re hugely grateful to our hiring partners for making the Diversitech Fund possible and for taking such an active role in making the tech industry more inclusive. Programming offers so many opportunities to develop and grow in your career, and we believe those opportunities should be open to everyone.”Adam Jones, CTO of Redington said: “As a tech business, we know that diverse teams make better products and deliver better services. Supporting initiatives like the Diversitech fund allows us to drive positive change in our industry.”WHY OFFER A DIVERSITECH FUND?The lack of diversity in the tech industry, coupled with a shortage of new talent and rapid growth, has been widely researched and reported.Tech Republic believe there is a potential $400 billion additional revenue in the US alone if they solve the diversity problem. Tech Talent Charter say “Just 17% of Tech/ICT workers in the UK are female, only one in ten females are currently taking A-Level computer studies, and yet there is a looming digital skills gap where the UK needs one million more tech workers by 2020.”According to a study done by Fortune, black professionals hold only 5% of the jobs at large tech companies and Latinx professionals hold about 7% of the jobs. The Tech Nation 2018 report found that “48% of people felt that gender diversity in their local tech ecosystem was low, 40% felt that ethnic diversity was low and 33% perceived a lack of age diversity”, while their 2018 report on diversity and inclusion in UK techfound that the proportion of women represented on tech company boards has remained stagnant over the past 20 years.ONS Labour Force Survey says “Whilst employment in IT professional occupations has consistently grown in the last decade and is forecast to grow by 1.42% over the next decade, the representation of females within IT and Telecoms occupations has steadily declined.” A 2018 report by the Edge Foundation estimated that skills shortages in technology are costing the UK £63 billion a year.INTERESTED?If you have never tried coding before and aren’t sure if it is the career for you, come along to one of our free taster sessions. In 2 hours you’ll have the chance to use some CSS, HTML and Javascript to build a simple computer game. It can be that quick to pick up these skills!COME TO A CODING TASTER SESSION If you think that coding could be a career you’d love, take a look at our course, the Full Stack Track. We’ve designed it to cover everything you need to get your first role as a junior developer, and work with employers to ensure it covers everything that is most needed. You’ll also have a trainer who is with you the whole way through, supporting your learning every step of the way as well as connecting you with tech employers for your new career.FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE FULL STACK TRACK If you’re sure that this is something you want to do, apply for the course. We’ll invite you to our next assessment day, these are usually held every few months. At the assessment day you’ll have a chat with the trainers and do a problem solving test. If accepted onto the course, you can then request to apply for Diversitech Funding.YOU CAN APPLY TO STUDY WITH MAYDEN HERE We are really looking forward to supporting this and seeing the new careers of the students <3#womenrocka voice of diversity in tech.@womenrockbristol

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“All she could do for all of them was be herself, here and now, as hard as she could.” – An interview with Bruce Hughes
WOMEN ROCK2019-08-28

“All she could do for all of them was be herself, here and now, as hard as she could.” – An interview with Bruce Hughes

I’m super excited to be sharing a pretty awesome person with you all. I met Bruce a few months back after she did a talk for SW Test which was pretty epic and I knew I needed to meet her! So we met for coffee and spoke about all the great things Bruce has been doing inside and outside of work. Not only is she just a legend but she has a genuine interest and care in diversity and inclusion (naturally, we had a lot to speak about!). I love how honest and real this interview is – it’s a must read for any company who are struggling or have challenges around these types of issues.SO BRUCE, HOW DID YOU GET INTO A CAREER IN TESTING AND QA?I kind of fell into it, like a lot of people do. I’d moved to Bristol a couple of years earlier, and had been working multiple part time jobs just to scrape by paying rent and bills, then for six months I had a full time job as an operations manager for a fun science workshop company. I began working 6/7 days a week running the office while also presenting to 3-4 school assemblies, 5 after-school clubs and up to 3 birthday parties every week. I was working myself into the ground for 16k a year, and thought nothing of it until my friends said I should leave and find something better. Not that I had options. I’d always worked either in cafes or in education settings that needed no teacher training, and couldn’t afford to stop even for a week to take a course. It had been so long since I got my degree in earth sciences that it might as well not exist. Where exactly was I going to get a better job than the one I had?In the end, it was the typical tech story of getting a job through a friend, though he had to really pressure me into it because I thought it to be way too good for me. I am so grateful to the company that took me in, and to the testing community as well, because I couldn’t have carried on the way I had before. Not just the workload, or living from paycheck to paycheck, but the feeling that I wasn’t worth any more than that. I now know how much I am worth, and I will fight and fight and fight to show others who I am. I will give my entire heart to being a software tester, because that’s what the testing community has given me.WE LOVE HOW INVOLVED YOU GET IN INCLUSIVITY AND DIVERSITY WITHIN THE WORKPLACE – WHAT WOULD YOU SAY SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES ARE?Humm, I think about this a lot – being a tester is about finding the problems, right? I’m always finding problems. I’d say the first big challenge is getting the issue taken seriously enough. Diversity and inclusivity are really important, and people generally recognise that… but then they don’t do anything about it. There’s this tendency to think that if you do nothing about a problem but you’re generally a nice person then you’re not part of that problem. No one likes to think that they might be biased, but the truth is we all are. We have unconscious biases that take conscious effort to challenge. A lot of people aren’t willing to recognise the work they need to put in, so you have to convince them of that without making them feel rubbish. You need everyone on board, feeling totally unthreatened by the change.After you get moving, you need two things: time and knowledge. Unfortunately, those can be really difficult to come by. Startups like the one I work for don’t have the resources for HR or a hiring specialist who could implement or change policies and processes as part of their day-to-day role, so it comes down to the developers and the client team, designers and management. These are people who already have their hands full doing their own jobs, who don’t know what needs to be put in place to make things better. They first have to spend time researching what to do, and then somehow find more time to actually do it, inevitably make mistakes, talk about it, improve again… That’s a lot of time and mental energy you’re asking for, and the ultimate challenge for willing startups trying to do D&I in my opinion.WHAT’S YOUR ONE BIT OF ADVICE FOR A COMPANY OR TEAM WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION PROGRAMME OR ROADMAP?Accountability: you need it. Someone or something has to be accountable for the goals, and there needs to be a clear and transparent plan for reaching them. What I did to kickstart the process was to hold a workshop with everyone in the company (fewer than 30 employees). We came up with some definitions for diversity and inclusion, made sure that everyone was onboard with the reasons it’s important and understood that D&I benefits everyone, and then we built the roadmap together. You can see a few more details about it in a company blog post I wrote here or spread out across lots of posts in my personal blog. We decided as a group on which actions were important, and then broke them down into the quarters of the year. By writing the actions down on a board, we made ourselves accountable for completing them. We made a solid commitment to get things done. This was important because if you don’t agree to a plan or write anything down, then the promises you make will disappear as soon as the next big project comes along. This isn’t something you can do overnight – it takes commitment and effort over a long period of time, so you should be prepared.Might be cheating, but I have a second important piece of advice. I wrote about it recently, but I’ll say it again: celebrate your successes. When you get something done, make sure people know about it. Tell your colleagues that you finally managed to get a document together about cv redacting, that you found a new online resource, that you got things done. No matter how small the win, celebrate. Good job you! You did the thing! WOOO!!!WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO PUSH FOR CHANGE AT FRESH8?I wouldn’t say that there was a single moment that drove me to it, just the uncomfortable feeling of not fitting in and finding it really hard to make friends. Everyone was lovely, but I didn’t feel comfortable going out and socialising at a pub with a big group of men I didn’t know well. It seemed like the wall I had to climb over just to feel part of the team was so much higher than if I’d been a man. I also had no idea if I could come out to anyone, because in my experience you never know which lovely and kind people might turn out to hold transphobic or acephobic views. I was pretty terrified when I started talking about that stuff, to be honest. I suppose a turning point would be when I saw a talk by Mereen Mohammad at the South West Test meetup about her experiences being from a minority group in the industry, and of seeing some really badly implemented D&I. It got me thinking about where I worked – I started asking awkward questions, for which it quickly became apparent there were no answers, and no plan for coming up with answers either. I’m not really the type of person who can let go of perceived injustices to others, so I just kept talking about it and then eventually got fed up and sat down a manager I trusted and the CTO and told them what was going to happen next… It was a list of demands, basically. And when I’d finished talking, heart pounding in my ears, they both agreed that it sounded fantastic. I definitely recognise how lucky I am to have those two, because as much heart/research/planning as I took into that video call, it would have been very easy for them to turn around and say “well yes we obviously care about this, but we have other priorities for the quarter…”WHAT’S THE BEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU THIS YEAR CAREER WISE?I don’t really know what my career is doing right now, as I’m at a crossroads between different paths through the misty QA mountains. The one thing I can be totally certain was amazing for my development as a tester was going to TestBash Brighton in April through the Ministry of Testing Scholarship programme (thanks, MoT!). I’d go so far as to say that I likely would have quit the role if not for the things I learned and the people I met at TestBash. It can be super frustrating being in a small company, because the available resources for training and progression are limited, and that conference armed me with the knowledge and community I needed to move forwards. Plus it was super fun. I did a 99 second talk in front of 300 people, from which I’m still not sure I’ve recovered… FAVOURITE SUPERHERO OR PERSON YOU LIVE UP TO?Everyone and their uncles know that I’ve been slogging my way through the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I don’t want to include any spoilers, but Egwene al’Vere is a big inspiration to me right now. She’s just some country bumpkin like me who never thought she’d go off into the world and learn magic – but in the later books, she goes through so much and carries it with such dignity that people can’t help but follow her. I would really love to be like her in the future. This dignified, powerful and kind person who knows when to use each of those traits, if I could have a tenth of her composure and ability to unify people then I would be very happy indeed.HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED?This is very difficult, because I am by nature both self-loathing and egotistical. I happen to know that I am simultaneously the best and most amazing, empathetic, beautiful, intelligent and driven person ever to grace the surface of the Earth, and also a steaming stinking pile of rubbish someone put out on the curb a day late, which has been attacked by gulls and cats until it’s in bits spread all over the road and everyone’s front gardens. I would very much like to be remembered as the first of those two options, please.QUOTE OR WORDS THAT YOU LIVE BY?“All she could do for all of them was be herself, here and now, as hard as she could.”That’s from Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies. I just love Granny Weatherwax a lot, even though she’s this traditional old woman who could probably never abide by someone like me. She was totally, unrelentingly and unapologetically herself every moment of every day. Could not have thought for a moment to be anyone else. I mean, she got bitten by vampires and instead of her getting turned, they got Weatherwax’d. The strength of her will and surety in who she is, no matter what, is awesome. If there is one idea that I live by, it is that I am totally and authentically me. So very, very me. Amazing, thank you so much Bruce for sharing your incredible story and thoughts.If you’re interested in finding out more about how you’d like to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace then feel free to give us a call! We’d love to hear from you.Interview by Charlotte Bakera voice of diversity in tech.@womenrockbristol

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Making Shit Better
WOMEN ROCK2019-08-28

Making Shit Better

Last week we were invited over to Olio’s ‘making shit better’ pop-up tech event about people/companies/projects that are making the world better in any way possible. Making shit better was about anything from solving environmental problems, improving education, or making writing software better for developers.A few of us are Olio members and even with that it was still unbelievable to hear about how much food goes to waste and the impact it has having. Highly recommend downloading the app if you haven’t already, it’s really easy to use and sharing’s caring!Over 1/3 of all food produced globally goes to waste.The annual value of food wasted globally is $1 trillion, and it weighs 1.3 billion tonnes.All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe.An area larger than China is used to grow food that is never eaten.25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten.If food waste were a country it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China & the USA).In most developed countries, over half of all food waste takes place in the home.Meanwhile, food waste at the retail store level is less than 2% of total food waste (though supermarket practices are directly responsible for much food waste elsewhere in the supply chain.)In the home food waste is worth £800 per year to the average UK family ($2,275 in the USA), which collectively adds up to £15 billion per year.2.3 billion people are joining the planet by 2050 – this will require a 60-70% increase in global food production. Or we can just stop throwing away our food!We heard from:TANIA PAPAZAFEIROPOULOU – HOW WE’RE USING REACT NATIVE TO HELP SAVE THE WORLD!Food waste is one of the biggest environmental and social challenges facing the planet. OLIO helps people connect and share surplus food. And it’s built in React Native! Tania spoke about everything React Native and how much she loves working remotely. She answered a lot of questions around the technology Olio are using to build and scale as they reach now a lot of different countries. Both Tania and Lloyd also spoke about how they translated the languages of the app to fit their growing audience and members across the globe!TOM MAKIN – ADVICEAID : HELPING TO PREVENT HOMELESSNESS – ONE COMMIT AT A TIMEAdviceAid is a web based service which makes it easy and affordable for councils to give the right advice to people who are in the s**t and are at risk of becoming homeless. This talk aims to give an intro to the AdviceAid project and share some of the insights learned along the way. Tom is working on this with his business partner, as a side project and is currently working with 8 different councils to help prevent homelessness across the UK.AndBRUCE HUGHES – BIG WORLD, SMALL COMPANY: A GUIDE FOR DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN TECH STARTUPSBruce is a QA at Fresh8 Gaming and an active member of the testing and LGBT+ communities in Bristol. Their job is testing products, but what he actually does is test people. She is never (read: constantly) afraid to talk about problems at all levels of the business, and has used this superpower to help Fresh8 make their work environment more inclusive.Then us:We spoke about how we are working on promoting diversity and inclusion within technology in the South West and our mission to make Bristol the most diverse city in tech in the UK by 2025.In short it was a night to bring people together to discuss what we could all do to Make Shit Better!a voice of diversity in tech.@womenrockbristol

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