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!

Life does not ask what we want it presents us with options. An interview with Rachel Reveley
WOMEN ROCK2018-02-20

Life does not ask what we want it presents us with options. An interview with Rachel Reveley

I get such a kick from seeing women achieving, not giving up easily when they fail or hit an obstacle but carrying on. I met Rach last year, and we have built an open and honest relationship, one built on encouragement and support for her to explore her true potential and create her own kind of success!DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW THAT WORKING IN TECHNOLOGY WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?Not at all. I was a part of the last generation to grow up without the internet, the first time I even heard about it was when I was using the computer in a science lab at school to produce a school magazine when I was 15. Computers were these grey boxes that boys played games on and pale men with no life or social skills did programming on. I loved Tomorrow’s World but it didn’t have any relevance to my life and to what I could do as a career.I grew up wanting to be an artist, I loved visiting art galleries and browsing through my mum’s art history magazines. As I got older started thinking more seriously about my future, I discovered design as an option and chose to do a design course with a specialism of graphic design in the second year. I very nearly went on to do packaging design but like most 18 year-olds I wanted to escape my hometown and did a general graphic design course at degree level. It was around this time that I heard about web designers and thought ‘I could do that’. It is amazing to think, that in 5 years I went from having never heard of the internet to starting my first job as a web designer.There weren’t any web design degrees at the time and it was a good thing for me as I learnt a lot on the job and I learnt a lot of things that a degree won’t teach you like building relationships with customers, negotiating with developers and explaining technical ideas to non-technical colleagues. Even now I don’t really think of myself as working in technology but rather I am designing solutions to make people’s experiences a little better.WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST PART OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?Toilets at conferences…Just kidding. Actually, what’s great is surprising the blokes you work with: from joining in with conversations in the office to impressing them with your knowledge. Partly that’s due to me often being the only front-end in a team of back-end devs. I got a real kick out of a project that meant that a colleague could cut the size of his XSLT down by 50%. To me it was obvious but he thought I’d just worked some sort of witchcraft on the CSS he called me a witch for the next few months (meant in a nice way though).WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER GIRLS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN GETTING INTO THE INDUSTRY?Technology isn’t all about ones and zeros and nerding out over a new feature of some obscure technology that only a few hundred people in the world understand (though we’ve all done it). It is about building solutions to problems and delivering value. In order to do this, the industry needs a wide range of people with different skills and perspectives. Diversity in tech has become a buzzword but it really does make a difference to what companies make.Make the most of and promote the so-called soft skills you have already developed along with any languages and methodologies you know and don’t be put off by job specs that list 20 different technologies because companies rarely need people capable of writing 10 different languages.You can get into technology from many different paths be it writing code, project management, design, testing, product management etc. They are all important roles within tech.IS THE MALE-DOMINATED ENVIRONMENT INTIMIDATING TALENTED WOMEN?It could be for some but I’ve worked with some really great teams and have never felt that way.You do find yourself having to prove yourself to be taken seriously and having to stand your ground when you know you have the right answer but in general guys in tech are humans too. There is an image that men only want other men around but this simply isn’t the case for many. One former manager of mine said he gets bored working with men all the time, having the same conversations and that having different people in the department makes things more interesting.Companies, especially in teams with specialist skills want someone who will fit well into their team. Tech teams need people who can pair-programme, collaborate, explain ideas and generally get on well with other team members. This can pose a barrier for women entering an all-male team if the incumbents aren’t open-minded to working with other people unlike themselves.I try to let my personality shine within interviews along with my work, while also showing some awareness of the issues outside of my remit to demonstrate my experience working within broader teams.WHAT DO YOU THINK BRISTOL COMPANIES ARE DOING WRONG TO ATTRACT FEMALE TALENT?They need to think less about novelties like Foozball tables and free sweets and more about things that matter, like being able to buy holidays, flexible working and making the office environment a nice place to be.Beyond that though, few companies seem to be willing to get involved with young people before they are work ready. At A-level only 9.8% of those completing a computing course were girls. Check this out – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-40960427 this is a deep-rooted problem that is likely to take years to fix.Girls are unlikely to be drawn to an industry when they see stories about sexual harassment at big-name companies like Uber or when they see how women are portrayed in computer games. Look at the major trade shows like CES, there are far more women as booth babes than as speakers. Sexy booth babes may be a lot of fun for the boys, but it makes most women and girls feel degraded and worth only as much as the make-up on their face.We need more of the women already in tech to be seen, heard and respected equally. Girls need to see that their ambition and intelligence will be valued and that they can get somewhere in this field.There has been a lot of discussions recently around wording of job adverts, and that companies automatically maybe not purposely steer them to look like this is a very male focused position. Have you been put off applying for a role because of this?I have, frequently, often companies write job specs like an eight-year-old writing a Christmas list. Evidence shows that fewer women will apply for a job they think they’re only part qualified for than men, therefore employers need to decide what it is that they actually need and what is an optional extra in order to attract the best people. I didn’t realise this was a gender issue until recently but immediately recognised it in myself when I heard about the phenomenon.Companies wanting the best talent, need to stop advertising for rock stars or geniuses unless what they actually want is someone with a huge ego and not necessarily the skills to back it up.WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?It’s a bit of a cliche but I love that Ada Lovelace didn’t care that what she was doing wasn’t very ‘lady-like’. I have never been very ‘lady-like’ as my grandmother frequently told me and it never bothered me that I was entering a male dominated industry. I couldn’t spend my life doing a job that bored me.Thank you so much Rach, you really are amazing!www.rachelreveley.co.uk@rachelreveley

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You can develop skills but you can’t train a personality, a Bristol success story
WOMEN ROCK2018-02-13

You can develop skills but you can’t train a personality, a Bristol success story

I have a lot of plans for Women Rock and I am excited to share them with you over the coming weeks. One thing this platform is for is to share success stories, here’s a good un.I began working with a brand new start-up in Bristol in January after approaching the founder and telling them about SR2 and my plans for Women Rock. As a new business they were really keen to get off on the right foot and having a diverse team was a top priority to help shape the culture they were after.I had the opportunity to build a brand new team for them, but one thing was essential, they wanted a 50/50 split of gender. The founder talked me through what they wanted which was a visionary team and to create opportunities for female talent to lead technology innovation. Although these were permanent positions, they we’re very open to support flexible working and part-time working too if it meant getting the right people on board. I’ll discuss part-time working options and flexi-time another day.Yes, they hire based on skills and ability but they opened their tech stack to anything and everything from C++, Python, Linux, PHP and Java, to encourage a variety of applications and not just ‘I want x 10 Java developers’. Their interview process allowed them to understand abilities, personalities and to demonstrate a passion to cross train into the technology needed. They offer each individual the opportunity to own their own product and have an evolving environment where you are constantly learning, optimising and inventing – what everyone in tech loves, right?IT WAS ALL ABOUT FINDING THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND NOT SKILLS. HOW REFRESHING. “YOU CAN DEVELOP SKILLS BUT YOU CAN’T TRAIN A PERSONALITY”After a successful and busy few weeks they now have a brand new team of 11 people made of 5 females and 6 male in a wide variety of skills from PHP, JAVA, Machine Learning, Linux and C++. The backgrounds are all hugely varied from all types of companies, cultures and countries but they have one thing in common. They all want to learn, they all want to develop and they are all super excited about working for one of the best start-ups in Bristol that is making serious waves in their niche sector in a very short space of time.As a recruiter or a hiring manager I am sure at some point we have all been guilty of looking for that ‘unicorn’ candidate from a key skills search and we have probably all skipped past not just women but also men because they don’t look right on paper. It’s sort of like Tinder, we are judging people purely on face value but in this case not their face, but words they have put on a piece of paper. Yes some CV’s need work, but as recruiters or direct hiring managers, are we speaking to these men or women to understand the other skills that they don’t have on their CV? What else can they bring to the table, what haven’t they shared on their CV that’s actually really relevant to your opportunity? The phrase never judge a book by a cover is really relevant when hiring and it ensures you don’t miss out on any potential hidden gems you just may have swiped left on.I will be talking at the Gapsquared event in March, details TBC. Please tune in to hear more about how I successfully hire female talent.#womenrock #successstory

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Never let the setbacks stop you from reaching your goals. An interview with Siena & India
WOMEN ROCK2018-02-06

Never let the setbacks stop you from reaching your goals. An interview with Siena & India

I was very, very excited to talk to these two inspirational young girls having followed them since they started making waves towards the end of last year. They are an example to all the young ladies out there that anything is possible and for me, they are one the many reasons I decided to create ‘Women Rock.’ They are going to be helping me promote the next generation of young women into technology and also going to be young ambassadors for Women Rock!Siena and India are the co-founders of Eat Me App which is an IOT solution which tells you when the food in your fridge is about to go out of date. It alerts you when it’s about to go out of date but also provides recipes for what is left over. So, yeah no more omelettes !! 🙂EatMe has been widely recognised and applauded – they were given the Junior Engineer of the Year title in 2017 & the engineering award for years 7-9 at the Big Bang Fair. An incredible feat for two girls who, when they started, didn’t really consider themselves engineers!YOU WON JUNIOR ENGINEERS OF THE YEAR AWARD AT THE BIG BANG FAIR LAST YEAR, FIRSTLY CONGRATULATIONS. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE EATME APP?Eat Me is an IOT solution that helps transform the relationship between the consumer and the amount of food they waste in their homes. We have built a working prototype that turns any fridge into a smart fridge. It scans best before dates, optimises menus, orders food or even alerts another user if you are running out of certain products in your fridge.It does this by connecting to a scanner secured inside your fridge. You scan the barcode located on the product, or at the end of your receipt, and the data is then sent to the app. It then alerts you when your food is about to go off and you can earn small rewards for saving food.YOUR SCHOOL WAS UNABLE TO COVER YOUR EXPENSES TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE IDEA, HOW DID YOU APPROACH INVESTORS AND START RAISING MONEY?To start off with we collected a list of people and organisations in Bristol who support technology. After scouring the web for contacts we wrote a lot of letters and emails and amazing we managed to raise over £1000 in support. Going into each meeting was terrifying but so exciting. Our first meeting to talk about funding was with Mike Jackson from Webstart Bristol. We rushed from our maths class to the science lab where our science teacher had said we could meet. Maybe a little unsure of what we were meant to be doing we got out all our handmade charts and posters, pitched Eat Me explained our USP and listened to the great advice he gave. I think we were both ecstatic when Mike agreed to sponsor us and continue to be a mentor to us if we needed any advice. Another very influential person was Mark Panay from Simpleweb, from the very beginning made it clear although we were young we had to present our idea as if we were adults and make everyone who we talked to saw us as having a good idea before they saw our age. The contacts he gave us were amazing and the help he gave was invaluable.YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR THE APP WAS NOT KNOWING THE RIGHT TECHNICAL LANGUAGE TO EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA. I READ THAT OTHER KIDS IN YOUR CLASS (MAINLY BOYS) HAD DONE A BIT OF CODING AND NOT BEING CODERS YOURSELF YOU WERE NERVOUS TO DO YOUR IDEA JUSTICE. WHO HELPED YOU AND WHAT DID YOU NEED TO LEARN?When we were approaching different companies about gaining support Watersheds pervasive media studios were one of the people who replied. We had designed the system that we wanted and after the amazing materials skills and advice from the team at Pervasive media studios we managed to have a slicker working fridge and scanner they managed to bring the ideas we had when we were sitting on our bedroom floors with a cardboard fridge in front of us surrounded by pages of sketches. Their advice, support and materials they suggested were amazing and made our first prototype better than we could have imagined.WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE APP MOVING FORWARD?We are now looking for food industry partners and investment to help make prototypes to start our user testing. We are also very enthusiastic about promoting STEM to younger generations and educating young girls why it is so important for everyone to be involved in changing our planet by creating solutions to the problems we will be left with. We are already going into a couple of local schools in Bristol to talk about being young entrepreneurs and this is something we want to do continue to promote.WHAT HAD BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SO FAR?Our age has sometimes been see as a weakness. We have had to always assert ourselves in any situation, making sure that in the pitch or meeting we can make people look past our age and see our product for what it is. In some cases people haven’t believed in us but that just makes us want to work harder and win them round.WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG GIRLS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN STEM?We would truly encourage them to go for what they are passionate about and never let anyone undermine you for your age, gender or anything else that defines you for who you are. All ideas have setbacks but what stands behind any idea are not the numerous setbacks but the recovery you make from these setbacks and that is what proves the idea is worth pursuing. Never let the setbacks stop you from reaching your goals.WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT?Our most recent win a Pitch@Palce 8.0 was unbelievable. The process is so nerve racking but exhilarating. We learnt so much about developing our business how to take it to the next steps and about gaining investment. Viva Tech was also a very proud moment for us. We were selected when they had no idea of our age only our business idea and pan. This was something that really boosted our confidence in our idea and the support, connections and opportunities Viva Tech gave us were out of this world.WHAT CAN SCHOOLS DO TO PROMOTE GIRLS IN STEM?Putting girls forward to amazing schemes like the Big Bang fair can really boost young women’s confidence. The Big Bang fair has so many inspiring speakers that it can start the ball rolling for the next generation of women in STEM careers and if schools make this available to them it can really showcase their talents. Thank you girls.You can follow them on twitter @eatmeapp and meet the girls at the first Women Rock event on the 22nd March.#womenrock

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Find your inner Sasha!
WOMEN ROCK2018-01-30

Find your inner Sasha!

I have spent a lot of time with the WTH (Women’s Tech Hub, Bristol), understanding the struggles and successes that the ladies go through. I was asked last year to do a workshop on building your confidence ready for an interview, it was a great morning and I wanted to share my top tips and takeaways from the session.Your “rock stars” may not be Beyoncé or Rihanna, they aren’t mine either! I’m more Emilia Clark & Mary Berry! Maybe yours are Amazon or Google? Your probably thinking, where are you going with this right?Sasha Fierce is, according to Beyoncé, her alter ego that she assumes when she gets on stage. Sasha Fierce is her persona, and what is responsible for her confidence as she struts her stuff on stage. When you go to your next interview, try these tips.When it comes to appearing confident in an interview or even in a job itself, many women follow what men are doing. A few sports puns, a pub reference, a neutral business suit … what could display confidence better than acting like a man?TRY THIS INSTEAD: JUST BE YOURSELF.Exuding confidence is one step towards getting off the mark, securing a job and also moving up the career ladder. You don’t have to act like a man to get there I promise, just find your inner Sasha!HERE ARE MY TOP 10 INTERVIEW TIPS:1.DRESS THE PART.You don’t have to wear a suit to prove you’ve got “swag”. Dress appropriately but own your style. If you’re more trousers than a skirt or something pretty rather than the classic black look, then you do that, you can still wear what you love and show personality. You willl feel more comfortable if you like what you wear, rather than if you dress like you think others expect you to.2.PLAY TO PEOPLE’S PREFERENCES & RESEARCH.An absolute MUST is to research the person you are going to be speaking to. Look at their Linkedin profile, type them in on google, if you are going through an agency then ask them “what is the manager like?” My best recruitment win came from typing their name into google and finding out they had just won on come dine with me, my subject line was ‘nice banoffee pie’ and what followed is a relationship that is still going strong 3 years later. Now they could be interested in golf, skiing, music, reading or whatever, everyone has a different button, and knowing what makes them light up can win you major points in an interview. It’s not about brown-nosing here, but simply paying attention to people to help you build relationships and make you stand out from the crowd.3. SPEAK UP.You have been invited for an interview because of your experience and skills, so it’s time to share them! Don’t be shy, this is your chance to sell you. Don’t over-assert yourself, either. Find the right balance between holding back, listening and steering the conversation.4.BE AWARE OF YOUR WORD CHOICE.DO NOT undermine yourself by using softer wording, such as “I think” or “maybe,” or even apologise for interjecting. You don’t have to interrupt or be rude, but use more confident words that make a statement – not a gentle suggestion. (If you want some examples give me a shout)5. PRETEND YOU’RE CONFIDENT.We don’t all feel like Beyoncé, even on our best days, but everyone else doesn’t have to know that. Realize that how you walk, talk, shake hands and make (or avoid) eye contact tells someone whether or not you are self-assured. So stand up tall, walk with purpose, smile or (have that look) and look everyone in the eye! This is important! You’ll soon find that even if you don’t feel confident at first, you will soon.6.BE MINDFUL HOW YOUR FACIAL EXPRESSIONS MAY BE INTERPRETED.Maybe you tend to furrow your brows when you get nervous, or you maintain a stiff and serious expression in interviews. Stand in front of the mirror and practice loosening up before an interview. Be mindful of how different expressions may be interpreted. Contact Ajara Pfannenschmidt, she will explain how to do the gibberish. 7.HIGHLIGHT YOUR PAST EXPERIENCES.Back them up with specific success stories, including milestones your career or life so far. For example: “My last project saved the company over £500,000 and increased sales by 15 percent.” In fact, go in with several of these short statements describing accomplishments but ensure you are specific. Always think I and not we when sharing your successes. It is you being interviewed for the job, not the whole team remember!8. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS?The dreaded question!! The question we all hate right? We hope that employers have moved along from this question but some haven’t (welcome to 1990). If you know the answer then great but If you don’t then you need to prepare and answer and be ready for it. It is ok not to know though. I know I don’t have a clue what I will be doing in 5 years’ time, hopefully on a beach somewhere with Tom Hardy! (Keep wishing yeah!)9.ASK QUESTIONS.Demonstrate to your future employer that you’re interested in the job. Prepare questions to ask at the end ahead of your interview. What do you really want to know about the company? What will help you make the decision to join this company or not? Ask for feedback there and then? Have you still got to convince them of anything? What are their expectations for the first few months in the role? Where is the company heading and how could you fit into that plan? Be enthusiastic, show that you are interested and that you have prepared ahead and lastly ensure you walk out of there confident you have done all you can.10. DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL. YOU WON’T GET EVERY SINGLE JOB INTERVIEW, BUT YOU WILL GET PRACTICE AND PRACTICE BREEDS CONFIDENCE.#BESASHA #YOUROCK #WOMENROCK

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An interview with Debbie Forster MBE
WOMEN ROCK2018-01-29

An interview with Debbie Forster MBE

“NEVER WASTE A GOOD CRISIS”Before I started Women Rock I knew that there was a lot to do and I wanted to speak to empowering Women, and after following Debbie for a while I knew she was someone I had to talk to. I spoke with Debbie a few weeks ago and straight away, it was obvious we had the same passion. I spoke to her about Women Rock and the plans for the South West and she was fully behind me with moving things forward which was really exciting.Debbie is an award-wining leader, speaker, coach, and consultant specialising in technology, innovation, diversity and education in the public, private and third sector. Debbie is the CEO of Tech Talent Charter, she was awarded an MBE in January 2017 for services to Digital Technology and Tech Development and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) named her the Woman of the Year for 2016 and Computer Weekly has named her as one of the “20 Most Influential Women in UK IT” for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.I mean, wow! I am privileged to speak to her and we are lucky to have such an inspirational woman leading the way, I am really excited and very much looking forward to working with her and supporting the TTC this year in the South West.DEBBIE, WHAT IS THE TECH TALENT CHARTER? AND WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR TECH TALENT CHARTER IN 2018?The Tech Talent Charter is a not for profit, employer-led group bringing industries and organisations together to drive diversity and inclusion and to address gender imbalance in tech roles and increase the diversity overall in tech. Signatories of the charter make a number of pledges in relation to their recruitment and retention approach. Although it is very much an employer-led initiative, the TTC is supported in the government’s policy paper on the UK Digital Strategy and is directly supported by the DCMS. Together we aim to deliver greater diversity in the tech workforce of the UK, one that better reflects the make-up of the population. And we will do it, not by doing it all ourselves or by re-inventing the wheel, but by connecting the dots and sharing the work and learnings of all our signatories and partners.In September of last year, we set ourselves some ambitious targets to reach 100 companies by the end and to hold our first annual event. We had a great event in November at the Gherkin, attended by DCMS Minister Matt Hancock and by over 200 people from across industry who had signed up. We now have 130 members onboard; this includes not just “traditional” tech companies like HP, BT, and Fujitsu, but news/entertainment (Global Radio, BBC, Sky, NewsUK, Telegraph), Finance (Nationwide & Lloyds) Transport (Eurostar), Recruitment (Monster, La Fosse, Harvey Nash), Energy (Shell) Food/Retail (Dominos) and Charity Sector (Cancer Research UK, British Red Cross). Our members are big multi-national companies and tiny startups.This year will be even bigger. We will reach 500 signatories, and will be breaking “outside the London bubble”. We will have at least 3 more events ourselves, 2 of which will be outside London. Our partners and signatories will also be having events, meaning in the coming year the TTC will be in the Northeast, the Midlands, the Southwest and in Scotland as well as events in the Southeast and London. We will be working to help connect the dots not just at the national but at the regional and local level, not just for our multinational companies, but for our SMEs, Startups and SocialEmail: debbie.forster@techtalentcharter.co.ukLinkedin: linkedin.com/in/forsterdebbie/

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An interview with Serrie Chapman
WOMEN ROCK2018-01-08

An interview with Serrie Chapman

Serrie is the founder of Women’s Tech Hub ~ Bristol. Day-day she is very experienced in hardware verification and requirements management and is currently working as a Requirement Engineering Consultant. WTH was set up to encourage local women in tech and find ways that they can develop their careers. They are also here to help local companies create a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture that benefits everyone.   I am looking forward to working with Serrie and the WTH going into 2018. Serrie has a huge passion for women in tech and has created a safe environment for women both in and out of work to come and work, talk and learn from others. She is an advocate and a great person to be supporting the issue in the south west.   ‘I WAS TOLD ENGINEERING WOULDN’T BE AN OPTION’ HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN TECHNOLOGY?   I came about it by a rather circuitous route, although I was strongest in maths and sciences at school I was told that engineering would not be an option.. I know right!? So went into Beauty Therapy at my Mothers suggestion which was fun and I enjoyed being in a female occupation. I went straight into catering management after that, which followed on from working in catering to get through college – managing restaurants & pubs around the UK. After a few years, I decided to head abroad – unfortunately, my travelling the world only got me as far as Belgium (which is really not very far I know) so I spent a few years living with a Belgium, nannying and racing side-cars (as you do). Eventually, I headed back to the UK and decided to put my career back on track and do a Business and Marketing degree … which as you can probably guess given the indirectness of all my career choices to date ended with me doing Computing for real-time embedded systems (CRTS) @ UWE. This gave me the opportunity to become a pre-silicon verification engineer, which in turn led to Requirements engineering and ISO 26262 Safety. During this time I also became involved with co-organising the Bristol Girlgeekdinners meetups, which opened my eyes to the issues that the women in Tech were having and to starting the Women’s Tech Hub with my first cofounder and fellow girlgeeker Constance Fleuriot who essentially talked me into following through on my ideas on how to solve the issues, we then talked Desklodge manager Thanh Quan-Nicholls to Join us as she was so supportive with Desklodge and instrumental in getting us set up and giving us a home to network in as well as being such a great Business mind. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WOMEN FACE IN THE WORKPLACE?   I would say it’s the unconscious Bias – all the little things that are not obvious that are the biggest put offs for women trying to make a career in the industry. The issues are not obvious but they are endemic – leading I believe to a sense of powerlessness, reduced confidence and in many cases a dislike of the industry. I have had so many conversations with women who have said either that they ‘used’ to be in the tech industry but are grateful that they no longer are – or that they used to be interested in Tech but aren’t sure why they didn’t pursue it and ended up doing English or Art or something that was less deemed to be a male role. The culture and understanding of Tech really needs to be challenged to change the perception of the industry and make the women want to enter into it and to want to stay. As Bibi from women who code stated in our Conference earlier in 2017: It’s not a case of being invited to the party, it’s a case of wanting to be there.     IF YOU COULD START ALL OVER AGAIN WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY? I’m not sure that I would do anything differently, having such a varied experience has built who I am today and enabled me to understand the industry with a wider context. It has also enabled me to have an understanding of how the tech industry differs from other industries (interestingly enough sidecar racing was one of the least sexist communities I have been in – where they are only interested in your abilities and don’t expect you to fit into their gender demographic)   WHAT CAN COMPANIES DO BETTER TO ATTRACT MORE WOMEN INTO TECH ROLES? One ‘Blocker’ is in the language – using gender neutral language in Job specifications, in company publicity, websites and generally would definitely improve things. Increasing women’s’ participation in conferences, speaking out about their excitement for their Jobs rather than just about how difficult it is to be in it. Allow women time to speak rather than making assumptions based on a male perspective on why they are not there. In interviews try not to act bullish, you need to encourage women to open up about their knowledge, find out their career aims and don’t treat it as an opportunity to try and disprove what they are saying – it’s not a game and believe me we are more than used to people questioning us in order to show off their intelligence and it really is quite wearing after a few years!   WHAT DOES THE INDUSTRY NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN MORE WOMEN IN IT? Think, ask the women themselves, don’t make assumptions and try listening! We are not an unknown or scary subject matter so try and understand the issues from the female perspective – go to an all-female conference and understand what it’s like to be in the minority! Tell all your colleagues that you are going to drop all their wages to equal the gender pay gap and ask them how they would feel about it, put yourselves in our shoes and see how it feels (not heels btw as I personally find them pretty uncomfortable !)   WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO GROW OR START THEIR CAREER IN TECHNOLOGY? Think it through – what is it you love, go to meetups like the girlgeekdinners and grrrl games etc and find your passion. Also, don’t be afraid of failure, failure is simply a learning process and a life without any failures would be boring and predictable, to me at least.   WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUNG WOMEN NEED TO KNOW/HEAR/SEE TO CONSIDER TECHNOLOGY AS A CAREER OPTION? Women – they need to see them, hear from them and know that they love their jobs.   WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR WTH IN 2018? 2018 is going to be a big year for us as we have decided to make the company sustainable, so far we have been juggling it around other work commitments on a voluntary basis and it has been growing extraordinarily fast. The amount of support we have garnered from our wonderful network and from the companies we have been in conversation with has been quite overwhelming in fact. So I will be finishing my current job to work full time on the company and see if we can make it pay for itself and us as a proper project, to do this we have planned:   A new website design which is being put together by Ajara Pfannenschmidt who is one of our advisory committees and absolutely amazing. We will be having a paid membership but it will be free to non-working women We are working with the HBB and Techspark to set up a recruitment fair in October Hopefully we will be running another Womens Tech Hub conference – possibly with another conference who are interested in us doing a joint one with them We will be setting up our training services We will be setting up a staged approach to work with tech companies on their unconscious bias, gender neutral language, recruitment process and some other work packages which will be launched with the website (we are putting the programme together currently) Women’s Tech Founders ~ Bristol! (WTF ~ Bristol! .. and yes we know it’s a great acronym and have t-shirts @ £20 which our women love!) launches in January. Details will be on the website and the meetup – it will be a quarterly meetup too support women wanting to start up businesses with a slack channel for communication. A mid-winter social in January – probably to launch the new site F3F Three Free Fridays – Friday networking sessions kindly hosted by Desklodge Free or heavily subsidised training and workshops on tech related subjects Business West is sponsoring us to do CV analysis, interview practise, transferable skills analysis and confidence building. Two of we ran in December, check them out and sign up to future events on our meetup page. Monthly out of work hours ‘unsocial’ drinks for our women that are already in jobs or the ones that we have helped return or get into tech roles to enable them to network and continue to support one another. This is open to all tech people if you want to meet the women come along We are discussing possibilities of having a permanent home … its n our ‘hold that thought’ trello page but it’s a very exciting option For the rest – who knows, the possibilities are endless!   WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS OR ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUR CAREER? I would say the biggest success or rather achievement has been, and still is, the Women’s Tech Hub.   WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR THE WTH? Most likely the biggest challenge is to ensure it’s all manageable, there are so many issues that need to be looked at and so many solutions that we can consider that the challenge all is to manage them and not be overwhelmed by them all.   WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST LEARNING OPPORTUNITY? Every day seems to be a learning opportunity – my biggest learning though was when I was on holiday with one of my best friends from California Kim Williams in the south of France and she was asking someone why they just sailed boats for a living – he responded with ‘why not?’(complete with a Gallic shrug). Indeed – why do we stop ourselves from doing what we are passionate about? Some reasons may be incidental but many are self-imposed, but they are barely ever good enough reasons to not do something that moves you forward in life to where you want to be.   WE DON’T WANT TO MAKE IT ALL SERIOUS SO…………………….. WOULD YOU GET IN A DRIVERLESS CAR? Of Course – I have worked in automotive and spoken on the industry direction with this for a few years now – I know the technology and believe it will change the face of how we drive and use our roads. Long term they will be rented essentially and come and pick you up, be in use more of the day and cut down the number of parking spaces required. They would be able to save you time – for example if you could use eye retina security technology they could go pick up your kids from school, if they were fully autonomous you could go for a drink in the country and be driven home. Long term I believe we will look back and wonder why we were polluting the planet carrying a ton of weight with us in order to travel, they could be lighter, smaller and non-polluting, being able to drive closer to one another, being failsafe, trustworthy and in communication with the signposts, no speeding, less stressful – no road rage .. I can’t understand why anyone would not want to be driven by one.   HAVE YOU GOT ANY HORROR STORIES FROM INTERVIEWS YOU FACED? No – I do get some male colleagues asking the reasoning behind the Women’s Tech Hub, most get it but I occasionally hear things like ‘I don’t believe in positive gender discrimination’ but responding with ‘but you have no problem with the positive gender discrimination that got you into your role’ seems to go down well ???? As to why we have women only groups (the Women’s tech Hub is actually open to all but we do have some women only events), I find it best to ask them to explain the masons to me before discussing in detail.   IF YOU RAN THE COUNTRY FOR A DAY YOU WOULD? Probably give everyone a break … take time out spend it with family and friends and enjoy life a bit!   Thanks Serrie

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