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!

Get stuck in and give the tech industry a try! An interview with Ruth Waterfield
WOMEN ROCK2018-05-01

Get stuck in and give the tech industry a try! An interview with Ruth Waterfield

This is an interview that I was really excited to do, and explores the personal story of another talented woman in technology. I met with some of the team at Mayden earlier this year and I was really impressed by the set up of the organisation and also the achievements of their Mayden Academy.Mayden Academy teaches aspiring developers the fundamentals of coding, software design and agile project management in 16 weeks. It was created by a leading tech firm in the South West. No experience necessary, you’ll learn all you need to land your first job as a junior software developer. They know exactly what employers are looking for, and their intensive training will get you there!I was interested to speak to Ruth about why she chose Mayden Academy and her journey through university. In my experience, and through conversations I have had with others, the consensus is that women who graduate with a maths related degree are earmarked for careers in accountancy, scientific research and economics although rarely programming and as Andrew Carr would echo, software development is all about problem solving to create beautiful code. Some of the most talented software engineers I have met, and had feedback on in my time have been very mathematical. Maths and programming are closely interlinked and it would be great to see more women studying maths related degrees consider programming a career option, this is something we all know needs to be worked on and promoted which we will be soon.Ruth’s career should encourage any young lady who is thinking about a career in tech that anything is possible, yes it’s a lot to take in, a lot to learn, but remember—it’s worth it.RUTH, YOU ARE NOW A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER FOR MAYDEN BUT YOU DID A MATHS DEGREE, HOW DID YOU BECOME A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER?I really enjoyed studying mathematics, especially the abstract concepts and logic puzzles and I wanted to find a real world application that would have the fun and satisfaction of problem solving with a positive impact in the world. I investigated a few options, and software development stood out to me, so I gave it a try, and then I enjoyed it so much I knew it was what I wanted to do!HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT MAYDEN AND THE MAYDEN ACADEMY?I first found out about Mayden at a fair at university for companies that had taken on computer science placement students. I met a couple of people who had done placements and one of the directors and loved what I heard about the company. The culture and values of the company along with the areas they work in really drew me to them and I was so glad to have the opportunity of doing the Mayden Academy to give me all the skills I needed to get stuck in to working in my team.YOU WERE THE ONLY WOMAN WITHIN THE ACADEMY WHEN YOU DID YOUR COURSE, HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?Although it might sound a little daunting to be doing an intensive course for 16 weeks in a room with 9 men (2 trainers and 7 other students), it really made no difference to how I was taught, valued as a team member working together on projects or my ability to learn and progress. Both trainers and other students were friendly and it was a great environment to learn in.HOW HAS THE ACADEMY HELPED YOU WITH YOUR CAREER?Learning rapidly and intensely for 16 weeks was brilliant to set me up to go straight into a development team afterwards. I was able to learn relevant skills and tools in an environment with trainers ready to answer questions as quickly as I could think of them and alongside peers who were grappling with the same puzzles I was. Working on projects with the other students in the course gave me the chance to learn incredibly valuable non-technical skills too which prepared me really well to go and work in a very similar environment.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO GIRLS IN HIGH SCHOOL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY?If you enjoy solving problems and working with others to find ways to do things smarter and better, the world needs people like you! Keep learning, keep asking questions, keep challenging yourself. There is no reason you can’t do as well as your male peers at Maths, Computer Science or whatever you choose to apply yourself to, go for it!WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN GRADUATES INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY?Get stuck in and give the tech industry a try, you might love it! Don’t let potentially unjustified preconceptions put you off pursuing something you enjoy and find satisfaction in doing!YOU MENTIONED TO ME THAT YOU DON’T HAVE LINKEDIN, ANY REASON BEHIND THIS?I have so far not seen a need to sign up, but neither have I really investigated its merits! I was fortunate in that through researching the local area through university and keeping my ears and eyes open I found a software job that was perfect for me.WHO DO YOU LOOK UP TO?I loved the film ‘Hidden Figures’ and I wish I could be as courageous and assertive as the three heroines Mary, Dorothy and Katherine. In challenging, male-dominated environments each of them were confident in their technical competency and potential to do work of great value. The manner in which they conducted themselves to remove any potential barriers they encountered lead to them having crucial roles in the work of NASA and enabled other females to join them.WHAT ARE YOU FUTURE AMBITIONS?I want to use my technical skill set, love of problem solving and logic to make a positive difference to people’s lives. I believe that we such an amazing opportunity to use tech intelligently to find solutions to problems we face as a society and I want to be part of the transformations. My current job at Mayden is transforming the way people access mental healthcare for example.WHAT DO YOU THINK IS LACKING FOR GIRLS/WOMEN WITHIN TECHNOLOGY?Perhaps a little confidence from within the community that we as women are valued for our contributions and opinions. The idea that we are the minority potentially feeds a rumour that we cannot speak up and will not be listened to by male peers. I have not found this to be the case, sometimes we just need to speak up a little I think! Thank you Ruth & the team at Mayden Academy, looking forward to working with you in the future. #womenrock

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Never be afraid to stand out from the crowd (says the mum with blue hair). An interview with Emma Hopkinson-Spark
WOMEN ROCK2018-04-24

Never be afraid to stand out from the crowd (says the mum with blue hair). An interview with Emma Hopkinson-Spark

I met with Emma earlier this year and within the first 2 minutes it was obvious we shared the same passion. Emma is a delivery director at 101 ways, who are one of the fastest growing consultancies in the market, where people thrive by being themselves! She was the 2nd employee joining Kelly Waters, and you have probably seen the company is doing phenomenal things and going from strength to strength. Earlier this month Emma and the team hosted their first WTF (‘Women Tech Focus’) get together which is aimed specifically at the underrepresentation of women in technical careers, and addressing an obvious imbalance when looking at the number of female freelance consultants or contractors. Emma has had a very successful career contracting in many agile positions so I was keen to discuss more about this (the good and the bad!) and see what advice she can offer to any females thinking about taking the leap into the contracting world. It’s a great read, Emma is an inspirational character and if you aren’t following 101 Ways yet as a contractor or as a business who uses consultancies then you should be! They are an amazing bunch!YOU ARE ONE OF THE FIRST MEMBERS OF 101 WAYS WITH KELLY, WHAT IS YOUR DAY TO DAY ROLE?My day-to-day has completely changed since we started; that’s probably one of the things that I love the most.Back in 2015 I was working with Kelly on some part time coaching contracts. The following year, once we began partnering with more client organisations, building teams and growing 101 Ways, my role became much more business focused. Now I spend my time supporting and developing new and existing client partnerships as well as the consultants we have on sites. I still get the opportunity to do some personal and organisational coaching on a part-time basis, but much of the focus now is really about developing those coaching skills in others.YOU HAVE A SUCCESSFUL CONTRACTING CAREER BUT IN MY EXPERIENCE MANY WOMEN IN TECH AVOID CONTRACTING. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ABOUT CONTRACTING POSITIONS?I think it can feel risky when you’re looking from the outside in. I struggled with the decision when I was offered my first contract role as my daughter was just a few months old at the time. But, I spoke to friends who had already made the transition, braved it and never regretted taking the plunge.I was given great advice to make sure I had at least three months ‘wages’ saved before I started. I had to pay two mortgage instalments before my first invoice was paid and it took a while to feel settled. One of the things I did was to pay myself regularly, whether I was working or not, which worked out well. Whilst I was working and invoicing, my business bank account was growing, which meant I was always able to take time off without impacting my personal income.I would work contract roles from September to May and take the summer off before starting again; it would allow me to work intensely and save up so I could take a break, spend time with my daughter and travel. Most importantly it was a break timed perfectly for the summer festivals season.COULD YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE NEW WTF COMMUNITY AT 101 WAYS?On International Women’s Day, we launched the 101 Ways’ Women’s Tech Focus (WTF) – a new community group. Our first event is on Wednesday 11th April and we’ll be talking about ‘going freelance’. What want to build a support network of women working in technology. We aim to facilitate the initial conversations so the groups can become self-organising and self-sufficient, and go on to work out how best to help each other in the future.WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SUCCESS IN YOUR CAREER?That’s hard to answer! There’s been plenty of career highs that I should be proud of. For example, I helped develop the standards and examination process for the Scrum Alliance CSP Certification (as it then was). I’m also on the team organising London’s Global Scrum Gathering 2018;and have both won awards and sat on the judging panel for the UK Agile Awards, which was exciting.At the risk of sounding cheesy though, what I’m most proud of is the people I’ve coached, the differences I’ve seen in them and how they’ve developed. Is that career success though? I don’t know. I truly believe my biggest successes are yet to come. While I don’t know what the future holds, I’m already working on a couple of new projects that I am excited to see develop over the next couple of years.AND THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE OR CHALLENGE?Time. I live in Somerset and work in London almost every day, but I still manage to spend time with my family in the morning, and am home in time for bedtime stories and snuggles. You get used to the travel, and helping grow a business is never a 9-to-5, but it’s pretty exhausting. I get incredibly frustrated when there isn’t isn’t enough time to do everything I want to do.WHAT DO YOU PUT THE RAPID RISE OF 101 WAYS DOWN TO?Without a doubt, it’s the people. We have an awesome team in 101 Ways; each and every one of us are able to connect with our clients and consultants in a very human way – and that’s the key. Our time is spent building partnerships and developing conversations and ways of working together. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to helping people and organisations; it has to be personal and individual, that’s why we’re called 101 Ways.IF YOU COULD CHANGE ANYTHING WITHIN THE INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND WHY?When it comes to hiring people, I’d like to see less emphasis on a specific amount of time spent working with any particular technology and more focus on good engineering practices, communication and collaboration, problem solving and analysis. Technologies will come and go, but quality engineers will always be valuable.HOW CAN WE GET MORE WOMEN INTO TECH CAREERS FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE?I believe it has to start young. As a woman who has been an engineer before moving into different roles within technology, I can only talk from personal experience about why I left an engineering career path. At the time, I didn’t know any other women engineers and never felt like I had a handle on the issues. As they say, ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.Being a mother of an eight-year-old girl gives you a different perspective. She’s a massive Minecraft fan and has asked if I can help her learn how to write her own mods. Most of the girls in her peer group seem to love gaming too. I recently gave a talk at her school to years 10 and 13 about technology careers and noticed a stark difference in the interest in technology between my daughters’ age group and teenage girls.Certainly, my message to my daughter and her friends as they grow up will be that it’s okay to be geeky. Expressing and following your passions – whether it’s creating a race of vampire mermaids in Minecraft or practising ballet in the garden – is always awesome. You don’t have to choose between one or the other. I never want her to be afraid to stand out from the crowd (says the mum with blue hair). The skills needed for the future of technology are rooted in creativity and imagination, leadership and communication. It’s everything we need to foster in our daughters anyway, regardless of the career path they choose.WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BOTH YOUR ROLE AND ABOUT 101 WAYS?I love the variety and the people I get to work with. One the main things I enjoyed about being freelance was that it satisfied my wanderlust. I find with 101 Ways, it’s still sated by the diversity of projects and teams I work on/with, but I also have a core group of people (known as the crew!) that I can trust both on a professional and personal level. It’s the best of both worlds. Thank you Emma, keep an eye on the 101 ways website for details of their next event. I’m looking forward to working with you and seeing you at some events in Bristol in the very near future.#yourock #womenrock

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Always remember that nobody in this industry knows everything. An interview with Rachel Baker & Rocketmakers
WOMEN ROCK2018-04-17

Always remember that nobody in this industry knows everything. An interview with Rachel Baker & Rocketmakers

SO WHO ARE ROCKETMAKERSThey are a team of passionate experts who design, develop and deploy technology for startups, scaleups and corporations using the very latest technology.They have been around for over 10 years and built a reputation for quality and innovation which is second to none. The directors of the business have considerable tech and consultancy experience and still own 100% of the company. They have been consistently profitable and have grown responsibly from day one, with no money spent on advertising and all clients coming to them by word of mouth.They are based in the centre of Bath and are a big part of the brilliant Bath and Bristol community around us. They run the React South West meetup and are active sponsors of local organisations and events such as The Guild, CreativeBath, SiliconGorge, TechSPARK and many more.They get together for a team breakfast every Friday, enjoy unlimited holiday, and host numerous other team events, from BBQs and cake baking to poker nights.They work on technically complex projects for great brands such as UK Sport, English Institute of Sport, Zendesk, BBC and Microsoft as well as innovative early-stage and funded startups who want to do good while doing well (such as Neighbourly and Pure Planet).SOMETHING A BIT MORE PERSONAL:It’s an exciting time to be part of Rocketmakers. They are moving into a brand new office in just a few months which is double the capacity of their current space and seconds away from the train station. Having recently celebrated their tenth anniversary, they’re going strong, and always have interesting new projects on the horizon.SOME OF THE INTERESTING PROJECTS THEY ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON INCLUDE:•A medical records app for Olympic athletes•The app and website for a green energy provider•A new platform to improve letting services and relations between students and landlords•An app for volunteers to reduce food waste by delivering leftovers from cafes to charities•Plus many more!They are all about VR/AR, AI, tech startups, corporate innovation, apps for mobile and web, and tech for good. They are very active in the local tech community. It’s a relaxed and interesting place to work, with a lovely welcoming culture. They’re growing both their development and design teams, and welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds – They have a very flexible working environment so please do get in touch with hannah@rocketmakers.com if you’d like to find out more!MEET RACHELI have worked with Rocketmakers for a little while and I definitely have a soft spot for them as a business, they are brilliant! You may also have seen that Rachel is one of the ambassadors for Women Rock and I wanted to share her story with you.Rachel is a young single Mum, so not your usual CEO material. However, she has built two startups, one in the UK and the other in the states and has 10 years’ experience in understanding the challenges of being a CEO in the tech industry and everything that comes along with it. She is currently Business Development Manager at Rockermakers. Bath Life Magazine also recently interviewed her where she was asked ‘what do you hope the future for women entails?’ She hopes that one day we won’t even have to ask this questions specifically about women, but just about humanity as a whole. Rachel is a great ambassador for Women Rock, a mentor, advisor and speaker for women in tech.COULD YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR TWO START UPS?The first company was a high end hair and beauty business that covered the south of the UK. I would hire and train specialist hairdressers and send them out to high profile clients (including some celebrities!). I also built a hair and beauty academy with HABIA approved courses to train the hairdressers in how to do professional hair extensions, as well as building partnerships with hairdressing companies like Toni&Guy.I moved to Las Vegas to be part of the Downtown Project. Tony Hsieh (the founder of Zappos, which was sold to Amazon) invested 350 million dollars into building a tech community in downtown Las Vegas. He travelled the world finding awesome startups that he wanted to invest in. It was a really nice little hub of techies. My friend’s company was invested in by the downtown project. I was trying to book a cleaner in for his office and it took me three days to get a quote – the whole process was a nightmare and the service was super poor. So I got investment with just a funny deck, built an online platform, hired and trained all the specialists, and sent them out to customers. I built partnerships with large residential complexes all over Vegas. The concept was really simple, people could put their details in, get a quote, and book a maid in a couple of minutes.The reason I started both of these companies was so that I could work from anywhere in the world, and spend more time with my kids. I built both companies for recurring customers – high effort up front, but more income through subscriptions later on.HOW DO YOU JUGGLE BEING A MOTHER AND WORKING?Actually, with great difficulty. I’m always learning. I never stop. But I love what I do – my line of work – and I love being a mother. And that makes it so much easier. I try at least once a week to have a little bit of me time, even just a couple of hours in the afternoon. And my yoga in the mornings keeps me sane!YOU HAVE 2 YOUNG DAUGHTERS, ARE THEY INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY?The oldest is completing her first novel, and my youngest, who is 14, loves technology, and has just finished building her first game. She wants to run her own games studio when she’s older. She feels very passionate about getting more girls into tech.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN WHO ARE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN COMPANY?Always remember that nobody in this industry knows everything. Everyone is always learning. And almost everyone is faking it until they make it. Seek out the people that can give you the best advice and ask for their mentorship and opinions often. I found mentors in friends of friends.No one ever told me that no one knows everything. I spent the first four years of running my own company absolutely terrified, thinking, “God I’m going to be found out”. I’m just winging it and trying my best. It wasn’t until I went to the States and started networking that I realised everyone was just faking it until they made it.WHAT CHALLENGES/STRUGGLES HAVE YOU FACED IN YOUR CAREER?People not taking me seriously because I was a young single mum, and people not thinking that I was able to do it. But that put fire in my belly, making me want to do it even more.The other biggest struggle I had was that whenever I was at work I was worried about the girls, and whenever I was with the girls I was worried about work. It was hard to stop worrying and disconnect myself from being a parent vs CEO.I realised that what I was doing wasn’t achievable long term and that something had to give, so once I was aware of the problem, I put processes in place within my company so that when I wanted family time with my girls, the business wouldn’t fall apart without me. And when I was at the company rather than with my girls, I reminded myself that I am an awesome mum and they would be there when I got back. It was my decision to be a young mum and to run a company – I had to own it and stop worrying about it.WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT ABOUT MENTORSHIP AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP?Entrepreneurship is just a spin word, and in my opinion it just means someone who thinks outside of the box of your typical 9 to 5 job. People who want to work their hours around themselves, from the developers here at Rocketmakers to our CEO who built the company from scratch.Mentorship is so valuable and it doesn’t matter what position people have within a company, everyone should always have a mentor. It’s 100% about who you choose. Just as having an amazing mentor is wonderful, with the wrong mentor you can be sent down a rabbit hole and it can be very detrimental to achieving your goal. I’ve seen people experience bad mentors – all intelligent, but none in sync with what person wants to do with company. You end up with multiple mentors with multiple different visions pulling in different directions.I love being a mentor – as long as the person is coachable and wants a mentor. I find it really satisfying being able to sit down with someone and make a difference in what they’re doing, and help in any way I can.WHO DO YOU LOOK UP TO?I mostly look up to my daughters. I think they absolutely rock and are amazing. They surprise me every day with how mature they are and how incredibly powerful young ladies they’re growing up to be. I don’t know what I’d do without them.I also look up to my dad – he was in uni studying science and had a fantastic career ahead of him, and he turned that all down to bring up myself and my two sisters. He’s always been an incredible role model and taught me to feel happy and always made me feel loved. That’s pretty incredible for a young guy. I hope that I’ve taken that on with experiences I’ve had in my life.IS A MALE DOMINATED ENVIRONMENT INTIMIDATING TALENTED WOMEN?It’s specific to individual companies and the behaviour of the team as a whole. I think that there are fields of work that currently have more men, just as there are fields of work that currently have more women. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be intimidating just because there are more men. Take Rocketmakers for example, where the guys are probably more intimidated by the girls than the other way around! 😉 Thank you so much Rach, I’m so exited to be working with you are an inspiration. Also Rocketmakers are currently recruiting for a Fullstack Developer. Please get in touch with myself or Hannah Sweet to find out more. 

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This is my shot to do what I want to do! An interview with Genesis Self-Fordham
WOMEN ROCK2018-04-03

This is my shot to do what I want to do! An interview with Genesis Self-Fordham

This is my shot to do what I want to do! An interview with Genesis is a full-stack developer at Ecotricity, Bristol. I met her at the WTHub last year. She is uplifting and has made a positive impact on her company and leading the way for young women in technology.  Her passion and interests lie in working with technology to make a profound and positive impact to the environment, people, & business. She loves being in a career and place where she gets to work on puzzles, research, experiment and have fun. In her words, ‘always ready everyday to evolve like a pokèmon’FROM GEOGRAPHY DEGREE TO UNDERWRITER FROM CHICAGO, IL USA TO BRISTOL, HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR INTERNSHIP AT ECOTRICITY?This question makes me smile because when I first signed up for my courses in Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, I didn’t know I would be where I am today. I knew when I was assigned to make a portfolio for my Geographical Information Systems course, my professor had us make our own websites using bootstrap templates. She didn’t want us to spend so much time on it and just wanted us to add pictures and text. I went all out and created a GitHub and making my first repo. I was really proud of the portfolio and I found myself asking for more more and more!I thought about doing a bootcamp course but the student loans were killing me, so I just took any job and got promoted to be an Underwriter. I wasn’t happy doing that, so I started going to tech meetups that were women focused when my schedule allowed me. Then my husband got a job offer in the UK and that’s when things definitely started changing.I had just moved to the UK in May 2017, making my third international home. I told myself when prepping to move here, “this is my shot to do what I want to do.” I have had this desire to just code for a long time. So I did that for 3 months and went to different Meetups to learn about people’s journeys, resources and support. One day in Women’s Tech Hub, a recruiter had spoken to us about a GREEN, VEGAN, ENERGY, INNOVATIVE company. I felt sick to my stomach because I knew straight away that was where I needed to be. So I reached out the agency and my passion about the environment and coding got me an internship.WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR CODING COME FROM?I think of coding projects as one of those DIY craft kits where you make beaded jewellery or the obstacle courses but they can grow more complex. I like to problem-solve; I appreciate the emotional and the logical bits of the journey to solve something. I think I also like getting immediate feedback if something is not right which keeps me engaged.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO LADIES WHO WANT DO AN INTERNSHIP WITHIN TECH?Please first look into getting a job first. If it’s an internship for a company that you’re passionate about, go to the interview and be yourself. Show them what makes you unique, tell them why you’re interested, sell your personality for what it is. You deserve to be there so don’t profile yourself and think of stereotypes you may or may not fit. It’s 2018, we want inclusive, friendly, intelligent and diverse workplaces. Get yourself a mentor and once you have one get another, then after working for a couple of months, become a mentor.CONGRATULATIONS ON SECURING A PERMANENT POSITION WITH ECOTRICITY. DID YOU FACE ANY CHALLENGES WHEN MOVING FROM YOUR INTERNSHIP TO A PERMANENT POSITION?It caught me off guard to be honest, I have been working hard setting up our new office in Bristol and working on a project at the time. It was a lot of work so when I was offered a permanent position, I was excited but also felt the imposter syndrome. I think what helped me get over the imposter syndrome, not that it ever goes away, is looking at job description I had when I applied, the JIRA tickets I have completed and speaking to the people who have supported me along the way. It’s important to speak to the people who have supported you because it’s difficult calculating your accomplishments as it’s your first Junior permanent role. I found talking to supportive people helps a lot.WHAT ARE YOU AMBITIONS?Setting up my own tech company one day, and start learning about hardware hacking because it looks fun!WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?My mother is the most positive person in my world. She left Ecuador with my sister and I to move to Chicago for a better life and opportunities. She did it as a single mom, it’s incredible! We had nothing and yet my mother took care of us both. She is my number one cheerleader and I absolutely love talking to her about anything and everything in Spanish.Thank you so much Genesis, keep rocking!

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Don’t stop following your path, no matter what others will tell you. An Interview with Karen Copley
WOMEN ROCK2018-03-27

Don’t stop following your path, no matter what others will tell you. An Interview with Karen Copley

What’s behind the world’s most loved pizza company? Fun and innovative people who are driven to win and believe in the power of the possible. Inspired to make each day better than the last! What motivates them to stay are the passionate and talented colleagues committed to their vision of making Domino’s the number one pizza company in the world. And, they’re having fun doing it! Their IT and Marketing teams, have debuted technology firsts like their iPhone® and Android™ apps and recently they became the first pizza take away service to offer voice ordering using Alexa through the Amazon Echo.They run a high transactional e-commerce platform which at peak smoothly takes more than £1m an hour across their responsive website and mobile app channel. The whole team at dominos are driving their corporate social responsibility and focusing on improving their diversity within their tech team.I spoke to Karen Copley about her career from Banking Assistant to Head of Infrastructure & Operations. Karen has had a stellar career within technology and now a respected and senior leader for Dominos.YES, GENDER EQUALITY HAS COME A LONG WAY, BUT THE FIGHT IS NOT OVER YET. YOU HAVE HAD A SUCCESSFUL CAREER SO FAR AND I DON’T THINK IT’S ANY SECRET THAT MANY WOMEN IN THE TECH INDUSTRY HAVE FELT THEIR GENDER HAS AFFECTED THE WAY THAT THEY ARE PERCEIVED OR TREATED. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT? HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT?I think (being very honest), women in technology weren’t taken that seriously (but remember! I started my IT career back in 1995). I think when I started on a Service Desk as an analyst this was seen as more acceptable as you were answering basic queries from users and doing fairly menial tasks (which is what people thought women were capable in my opinion). But when I moved into Desktop Support and Server Infrastructure (in new companies) things felt a little different. Eyebrows were raised so to speak. I was somewhat patronised and told how to do something word for word, not for one second did my new team members think that I may have already done it (or at least knew how to). But as time went on and I did what I did very well, I was respected for being a “tech” that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the men based on skill and nothing else. But it took a good few years for me to “earn my stripes” as they liked to tell me. I handled the constant questioning and raising of eyebrows in one way – judge me by my work. That was fine until I got something wrong of course. When I made mistakes, it was a pretty grim experience as there was sniggering and finger pointing at how stupid I’d been. I would say that during these times (certainly in the early years in both Desktop Support and Server Infrastructure) I questioned whether I should leave the IT industry altogether.DO YOU THINK WOMEN FEEL INTIMIDATED IN BUSINESS?I think in some scenarios yes, especially in a technology role but I think the tide has turned. I attend technology events where more and more women are solving business challenges using technology. The sad thing is – these are leadership roles rather than technical roles. I still think there is a huge gap in men vs women in the technical part of the IT industry.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN WHO WANT TO SUCCEED IN THE WORKPLACE?Be comfortable that you are entering an industry where you are always learning. You never know the job inside out as it is constantly changing as technology moves forward. You think exams finished when you left school or Uni? Think again. Exams and Certifications will part of your DNA as they can be something to anchor yourself to when doubters are around you. Don’t stop following your path, no matter what others will tell you. If you want to be a cloud technician – do it. A software tester – do it. But…..be really good at it. Be the best you can be and do it really well. I always wanted to be the expert in my field and this gave me huge confidence when dealing with men in my area of expertise.HOW DID YOU GET WHERE YOU ARE TODAY, AND WHO/WHAT HELPED YOU ALONG THE WAY?Study would be the first thing. I kept my technical knowledge fresh and current and took the opportunity to take the exams as well (these were my stripes I could display when the doubters moved in!). Work hard at being the best you can be. Also, no matter how hard it may be to do; ask for help. Be humble. Don’t think you have to act alone to try and prove something (no matter how much you think you have to). Form strong relationships with technical people around you and work together. I was fortunate that I formed strong bonds with technical people across many different companies and these are people I still reach out to today. And finally, try to develop a second/thicker skin. It helped! AFTER ALL THIS SUCCESS, WHAT DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH NOW?I think the main thing I struggle with now is the pace of technical change. It was fast back when I was a technician but it feels at lightning speed now compared to back then. I try to keep my technical awareness up to speed (as my role is no longer deeply technical) but even that is a challenge. I think even now as an IT Leader, I can count on one hand the amount of meetings I attend where women are present and I think the eyebrow raising still somewhat exists (albeit more subtle and mostly hidden). I do think that sometimes my opinions are brushed aside and I struggle to get air time amongst a mainly male audience. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT LEADERSHIP, ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND MENTORING OTHERS?The main thing I would say is “one size doesn’t fit all”. You have to be adaptable as a leader, and know which management style you typically are by default and which one suits the challenge/person. You get the best out of people if you are adaptable. I am not the most entrepreneurial person so I am not sure I can really answer that! As for mentoring others, I have found it useful to listen rather than talk. To help the person breakdown the challenges and understand how they could solve it. I certainly don’t give the answers as I don’t think there is value in their development if I did.WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?There is nothing permanent except change. Heraclitus.  Thank you Karen, looking forward to hearing more about Dominos and working with you all moving forward.Dominos are hiring, please click hear to see their current positions or contact Vicki Croxford     #Womenrock

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Meet our Ambassadors.
WOMEN ROCK2018-03-20

Meet our Ambassadors.

BEN HUTCHINGS, EMEA TALENT PARTNERBen has been in the recruitment game for over 7 years, 3 of those he’s been taking center stage as a passionate Internal Talent Partner with a thing for creating emotive and engaging content. Content that makes people go “I want some of that”!Ben is keen to express that whilst working in a largely male-dominated environment he finds working amongst women as peers and leaders a very rewarding experience. Starting off his career as a Hairdresser (Yes, really!) Ben has seen first hand the passion and drive women in the work environment have and is excited to be apart of an initiative that will create a more diverse environment, whilst being firm in his belief that this is not about a battle of the sexes, but about educating and empowering those who can make a change.RACHEL BAKER, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER AT ROCKET MAKERS AND MENTOR AT STARTUP WEEKEND BRISTOL.Rachel is a young single Mum, so not your usual CEO material. However, she has built two startups, one in the UK and the other in the states and has 10 years’ experience in understanding the challenges of being a CEO in the tech industry and everything that comes along with it. She is currently Business Development Manager at Rockermakers. Bath Life Magazine recently interviewed her where she was asked ‘what do you hope the future for women entails?’ She hopes that one day we won’t even have to ask this questions specifically about women, but just about humanity as a whole. Rachel is a great ambassador for Women Rock, a mentor, advisor and speaker for women in tech.ANDREW CARR, HEAD OF DEVELOPMENT AT SCOTT LOGIC, BRISTOL.Andrew’s career has taken him to work in Telecomms and Banking including a good few recognised blue chip companies such as Airbus, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Nortel. He is very driven about getting more women into tech, and making it a more level playing field after working for Nortel in Canada and seeing how behind the UK was compared to Canada. His first manager when working in Canada in the giant Tech company Nortel was a women, his manager’s manager was a women, in fact in that management chain, going up 5 managers, 4 of them were women. Andrew has been in the Bristol/Bath tech scene for 5 years and has introduced a fair few females to the Tech Industry, encouraging people to try development, doing introductions to TechSpark, and has located, hired and trained 6 females himself who had never worked in Tech previously along side hiring numerous experienced female technologists. In his current role at Scott Logic in Bristol Andrew wishes to increase the diversity of the work force and is very actively looking to hire more females into the office as well as mentoring females who wish to progress their career in IT. He is also now super driven to change the way we sell IT as an industry, as he believes the problem solving nature of the industry is far more interesting and will appeal to a much more diverse workforce than the current image/way it is sold. In his spare time Andrew can mostly be found running social meet up groups, or talking about personality theories.GEORGIE HOPKINSON, AGILE COACH.Georgie is a proud ambassador for Women Rock, an IC Agile certified professional, PSM1 professional Scrum Master and certified BCS Agile Practitioner. Her interest in coaching started during her time volunteering as a ChildLine counsellor for the NSPCC. She has a genuine passion for coaching individuals and teams to increase motivation, team effectiveness but most importantly, increase happiness in the workplace. She’s fallen into the tech world through her passion for coaching but now thrives off the excitement of working in an ever-evolving industry of highly skilled professionals. She’s spoken at Agile MeetUps and is speaking at Agile on the Beach this summer to share her experiences and enthusiasm for working in an Agile way. Why these ambassadors.Before someone asks me why are their male ambassadors on a women’s initiative? Yes, Women Rock is my initiative to promote and support underrepresented folks in tech. I am doing everything I can to support this but like I have said in previous posts, I can’t do this alone. I support gender inclusion, and I believe this is about creating the perfect balance. The reason why I wanted male ambassadors was due to the fact that they have first-hand supported and continue to support this cause from the start, and also have supported me throughout my career, they are internal stakeholders in their company who champion diversity. This isn’t a woman only job! There are many issues in pure women environments also, I’m looking to promote equality with a 50/50 split of diversity. We are building this community TOGETHER.I am really exciting to be working with you all, confident that as a team we can make a real difference. You will get a chance to meet all of our ambassadors at our first event in April.#womenrock

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I can’t do it by myself we need to do it together! An interview with Eriol Fox
WOMEN ROCK2018-03-13

I can’t do it by myself we need to do it together! An interview with Eriol Fox

Eriol, is a multi-skilled designer with 9 years of experience with awesome UX and Interaction skills, an Illustrator of cute things, code learner and video game enthusiast. She is a non-binary advocate and the cofounder & organiser of LGBTQIA+ Bristol. If you haven’t or spoke to Eriol you really should. They’re just bloody brilliant not only at what they do but they another reason why I started Women Rock.I know Eriol as a Non-binary, we live in a modern world yes, but I understand some may not fully understand the term ‘non-binary’, so for those who don’t know a non-binary can be someone who doesn’t identify with the binary system of ‘man’ or ‘woman’ but identifies as ‘in-between’, neither or moving fluidly between the two identities. Eriol is the strongest, confident and respected non-binary person that I know and they have a story to tell.WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AS A SENIOR PRODUCT DESIGNER?Anything and everything at Ushahidi that’s related to design – Visual design, UX design, user research, field studies, digesting the results and applying it to the products. We also get involved across the organisation, for example I took over the Ushahidi Instagram and Twitter for two days.SO, HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECHNOLOGY?To be honest I was going to go into retail management. After university, I was offered the management track but I wanted to use my creative skills and be paid to do what I love. I didn’t chose tech when I was at school, I didn’t have any useful skills really but I was good at drawing so went to art school.I completed my degree in Fine Art but knew I could do something more. So along with working retail, I signed up to a part time evening courses (in web design) as I was always interested in the internet as I was online from an early age.I was offered an internship at Go wales where the government paid half my wage contribution, which was amazing! I did 3 internships before landing at a junior designer position at Confused.com, I owe them a lot and they made me the designer that I am today! I worked ridiculously hard for about 4 years straight, working full-time and doing night-classes about 4 nights a week and then weekends for homework! It was tough but now I look back, I wouldn’t change anything.YOU HAVE 9 YEARS’ EXPERIENCE IN THE WORLD OF IT, WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A “WOMAN” IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?The thing that keeps me here even though it’s tough sometimes, is the potential the tech has to do good in the world. Improve health and life. The fact I work in human rights activism and crisis response for a diverse global NGO – well that’s the most exciting thing and what I’ve wanted all my life!I love using my problem solving skills and empathy in design and I’ve long thought that “women” are socialised to cultivate these skills more so than “men”. I certainly was socialised to use empathy to solve problems and while this is a lot of emotional labour sometimes, the fact that I can make things better for people around the world is amazing.YES, GENDER EQUALITY HAS COME A LONG WAY, BUT THE FIGHT IS NOT OVER YET. YOU HAVE HAD A SUCCESSFUL CAREER SO FAR AND I DON’T THINK IT’S ANY SECRET THAT MANY WOMEN OR NON-BINARIES IN THE TECH INDUSTRY HAVE FELT THEIR GENDER HAS AFFECTED THE WAY THAT THEY ARE PERCEIVED OR TREATED. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT? HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT.  I get mistaken as a woman a lot, I ‘pass’ as a woman and will be ‘she’d’ and ‘her’d’ a lot. I use they/them gender neutral pronouns and while ‘she’ doesn’t typically bother me, if I’m having a very gender-dyspohric day it can be hard! Not a lot of tech companies have ‘gotten’ this and I’ve had everything from over sexualising of my sexuality to micro-aggressions around gender expression.Turns out there are a whole lot of us non-binary folk and trans-gender folk in tech and we really need a platform to help cis-gendered people understand how to interact with us (hint: like you would any other person, with respect and kindness) just don’t ask us what genitals we have or who we’re attracted to and we’ll get along fine.That being said, I’ve had experiences of sexual harassment from unwanted physical advances/touching, coercion, hate speech – the lot. You just have to find the ways where you can communicate this is not okay and find your community that’ll have your back.When you get ‘hit on’ at a tech event or in a work place or when you’re representing your profession it really makes you think “Do they see me for the skilled professional I am? Or do they just see a physical shape that they want to be involved with?” I’ve had to shut down several freelance clients and workmates on this subject.It shakes your sense of worth as a human who has worked hard at a profession and really knocks your confidence in a workplace or industry.YOU SAID IT’S TOUGH IN TECH SOMETIMES, WHY?I’ve been in office and environments where I have had to hear how typically men speak about women, it’s overtly critical and often personal. Referring to someone as ‘mother hen’ for example, purely because they presumably and older woman. It’s sometimes really tough to hear even if it isn’t directed towards you.I think there is also a problem within the female community, some work environments. I heard one women say to another, don’t be to bossy, don’t be strong and just going along with it. I mean………………..I once had a female boss that I really looked up to, in the beginning. After I had been there a while started to notice her public interactions with her male boss – who was pushy and a bit of an a**. I started noticing that she just went along with his awful (sexist) comments and did everything he told her to do even though it wasn’t right. She told us all you need to listen to him, he just wants attention. I didn’t want to lose respect to for because we have to pull together, but I could feel my blood boiling and having to bite my tongue. It was hard to find a way to approach the topic – I couldn’t say “hey what are you doing, stop agreeing to everything he says even though it isn’t right!” In the end I left because I couldn’t listen or watch anymore. It wasn’t setting a good example and that could of rubbed off on me. Now I look back on it I don’t think there is a perfect way to address these types of issues I can’t do it by myself we need to do it together!There’s generally not a lot of people in tech companies who know how to set healthy appropriate boundaries around work interactions. I’ve ended up as career counsellor, relationship counsellor, marriage-breaking-down counsellor and a tonne of other roles I never signed up for but here’s the thing, when you need that job to pay rent, buy food and keep the heating on, how do you raise with a colleague or boss “I can’t be you’re leaning post anymore!” when you fear losing your job for not being accommodating, it’s a dangerous world.WHO’S YOUR ROLE MODEL?My immediate role models – everyone who goes to the WTH! I admire, the younger women and their drive and passion and equally the older women for their unbelievable persistence. The women who are doing career changes, I look at them and think if that’s me in 10 years’ time and I can change industry’s (I’m not planning on it) but I could and I’ll be alright if I do!Specifically there is Zoe Quinn. Zoe is a now famous games developer who almost lost everything due to the effort of her ex-boyfriend who punished her for leaving him and started a 3 year public hate campaign (known as GamerGate). She was receiving death threats across every social media platform. Her personal information was publicly posted, her accounts were hacked and her family members and friends harassed. But she still stayed active online, She still exists in the space and has reasserted herself as an awesome creative human and not just an event story. Read her book if you get a chance – Crash Override. How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate.CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE LGBT COMMUNITY IN BRISTOL?  We have an active community, especially through Pride. However we still are not doing as much as we can for tech or professional environments and our representation is much more on the white, cis-gendered, ‘gay men’ demographics. I’d love to see more women, non-binary and trans folk especially from marginalised ethic groups and people with disabilities in LGBTQ+ spaces and on the Pride committee.ProudBristol is an organisation that connects up LGBTQ+ folk in business and run socials and speaking events about what it’s like to be an LGBTQ+ person in the workplace.I co-run LGBTQIA+ in tech with a great person I met at WTH to give folks a platform to speak and talk about the challenges of being LGBTQ+ in tech. I saw Queer Code London doing this really well and thought “Bristol needs that!”.People are scared to come out in business and in tech for fear of forms of discrimination.There’s ‘smaller’ day to day things like a lot of the conversations in workplaces are very centred, around heteronormativity – That if you have a partner that they are going to be of the opposite gender to you. Family projects and conversations, that assume that families are a mum & dad they can also be mum and mum, dad and dad or people who transition to another gender and I desperately wanted to talk about it when I worked on a product that was to do with and targeted at families. I wanted to say “Hey, don’t assume what families are like! ask real families!”. You don’t want it to affect you personally but it makes it hard to exist in a space that tries to deny your lifestyle and who you are. You find folks lie about the gender of their partners and they don’t want to “out” themselves.IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?I think it is getting better but I want bias around your route into tech to be removed. You don’t have to do a STEM degree. I want opportunities in tech to be open to everyone!Blind CVs and hiring people with a diversity of thought and experience are the way forward.Let’s remove the name, education & origin and focus on the life experience, dedication and attitude that people can bring to the table! Eriol, thank you so much! You really are an inspiration and I love your story, keep telling it and keep up everything you are doing.@EriolDoesDesign LinkedIn: Eriol Fox #YOUROCK #WEROCK #NON-BINARYROCK

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Women have to harness their power – it’s absolutely true. It’s just learning not to take the first no. And if you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.
WOMEN ROCK2018-03-08

Women have to harness their power – it’s absolutely true. It’s just learning not to take the first no. And if you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.

We are becoming more aware of the reality of inequality and if anything, starting women rock has proved to me and hopefully everyone that reads the blog that women are empowered, they are strong and we are capable of causing disruptive change in the tech scene.I am so proud to be a woman in technology and I have a burning desire to help every single woman I speak to. I believe it’s time to call bullsh*t on the notion that we as women are not enough or just here to make up the numbers.This new awareness is often seen as women speaking up at last, but in my experience, women have been speaking up for a long time. Women Rock is giving everyone a voice to share their story and encourage others. Today you need to know that a change is coming, and with the women that I know this change will be sooner than you think! I will fight hard to make sure you can become everything you can be. Why? Because we’re good enough and we are bloody worth it.My mission is for Bristol to become the most diverse city in the UK by the end of 2020 and it is doable! But it’s time for each of us to do what we can to step up.Today I recognise the inspiring women who have stepped up to make change and I celebrate the women I believe have had an impact on both me personally and our industry in technology. These women are helping fly the flag for every single one of us!Katie Alcott – Founder and Director of Frank WaterDr Constance Fleuriot – Writer. Game Maker. Producer at Pretty Digital Ltd & Co-founder of WTHSimone Bartly – People Business partner and cake maker at Jisc.Serrie Chapman – Requirements engineer & Co-Founder of WTH and WTFSian Webb – VP growth & partnership at GapsquareZara Nanu – CEO – GapsquareLouise Chawich – Operations manager at Booking LiveAbby Scarbourgh – Head of Operations at YENANicole Neo – Software & DevOps EngineerEriol Fox – Product DesignerRachel Reveley – UX DesignersAjara Pfannenschmift – Senior Web & UX DesignerDebbie Forster MBE – CEO at Tech Talent CharterAnnie Legg – Founder and Consultant at The Dot ProjectCatherine Ainsworth – Co-Founder at The Dot ProjectDebra Pentrice – Founder of 27 marketingKaren Rouldolp – Founder at TechnotopiaJasmin Taylor – Talent Acquisition at ForgerockNatasha Grange – IT Delivery Manager at South West WaterKatherine Evans – Recruitment Consultant at Thatchers.Maria Gomez Moya – Software Engineer at ForgerockLucy McNeill – Talent Co-ordinator at ForgerockRachel baker – Business Development Manager at RocketmakersHannah Sweet – Project Manager at RocketmakersGeorgie Horwood – Recruitment Consultant at Randstad SydneyHeidi Morris – My everyday motivation & Project Manager at Bank of IrelandChineme Ifedi – Digital Project Manager at Modular DigitalJo Mccready – Project Manager at RACAnna Kemp – Recruitment consultant at Computer futures.Michele Rees-Jones – Marketing Specialist at Mayden AcademyBernice Durbin – Director of South Gloucestershire Bus & Coach and Mega Bus. She’s also my nan and a complete superstar.Jean Teagle – My amazing mum.Emily Teagle – My rock, my sister.Jade Phillips, Siobhan Mccready, Leanne Ashford – My 3 best friends, I am everything I am because of you. 

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Incorporating women and tech to achieve something great! An interview with Gapsqaure
WOMEN ROCK2018-02-20

Incorporating women and tech to achieve something great! An interview with Gapsqaure

Incorporating women and tech to achieve something great! An interview with GapsqaureZara Nanu founded Gapsquare in 2015 to bring data science smarts to the challenges of the workplace gender pay gap.In the UK, women currently earn only 81p to every £1 earned by a man. The 29% difference is the gender pay gap, and it’s what Gapsquare is here to do something about.WHAT/WHO IS GAPSQUARE?Gapsquare is a tech start up that supports companies in analysing, understanding and tackling wage transparency – as a starting point, the gender pay gap as new regulations came in this year that state that companies over 250 employees in the UK have to report. But also looking at pay transparency more broadly, around ethnicity, diversity and Fair Pay. Our team have a vision, a world where workplaces are fair, unbiased and provide equal opportunities for all their employees. To do this, we bring together tech and equalities expertise to create our game-changing analytical tool.A FEMALE-FOUNDING TECH COMPANY?!Yes! We tackle low representation of women across the board in tech!Zara originally set up the company after hearing that the World Economic Forum predicted that it would take 117 years before the gender pay gap could be closed – this number has now gone up 100 years. That’s right, we are 217 years away from a gender pay gap free world! Zara knew that this wasn’t going to be good enough – for her daughters, or for any of the young women we know and work with on a daily basis. She was going to find a way to cut this timeframe by 200 years.OUR PLANS …We started off looking at the gender pay gap, but when listening to clients, they wanted help understanding pay more broadly. So, we are now supporting companies in analysing and understanding the ethnicity pay gap. Gapsquare aims to tackle inequalities across industries, levels and across nations (We’ve worked in Africa, the USA and Germany to name a few) and will not stop until 217 years of pay inequality are brought down to just 17!We are also using data to identify and tackle key issues in industries causing pay inequalities. If we know the key issues commonly facing certain types of businesses in advance, those companies can be proactive in preventing equality issues from arising. The plan for Gapsquare is create workplaces that are self-monitoring around their pay gaps and therefore ultimately, Gapsquare will not be necessary any more. At the moment, we’re a long way off.THE BIGGEST STRUGGLES WE FACE TODAY …The biggest struggle for a female founding, equalities led tech-start up? Investment.It’s widely acknowledged that it’s hard to get investment as a woman in business – Zara has even encountered direct discrimination in the Venture Capital and business worlds – as one Times article recently shared “At a networking event for start-up founders in London last year, one investor asked her to bring him a glass of wine.” She has been treated as a member of the waiting staff whilst attending networking events and conferences and has encountered resistance to a lack of a male CEO whilst pitching for funds.This has made getting the right investment a challenge, but we are thrilled that since last year, we have grown in size by over 300% and has worked with over 120 clients, including law firms, international NGOs and public sector bodies, is doing so as a bootstrapped company – with no investment, on the income that the tool brings in and the passion and drive of the Gapsquare team.OUR BIGGEST SUCCESS?We were thrilled to be invited to Berlin, as part of a Start Up Accelerator programme that focused on tech companies that empower women. So we had two months of working with Vodafone in Germany, helping scale up and expand our product and impact.We were also invited to New York last year as part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SOLVE programme, to help solve the global challenge of how women and girls can use technology to fully participate and prosper in the economy.Soon, we are off to Paris to speak at the World Pensions Forum on how we can use data to close the gender pap gap and increase the number of women on boards.We are on the cusp of something great … and challenging the way people think about women in tech in the process … stay tuned!To sign up please visit www.gapsquare.com or contact Zara or Sian to find out more!@gapsquareThank you ladies, looking forward to working with you this year.

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