Women of Silicon Roundabout Event Digest inploi Team | 28.10.2016
This year’s Women of Silicon Roundabout hosted an exemplary and diverse line-up of speakers, hosts and panelists from the worldwide tech community, including headline presentations by Suzanne Timmons, Global Lead at Google UK, Naomi Gwendolyn Smit, Associate Partner at McKinsey Digital, and Melissa Di Donato, AVP of Wave Analytics. Topics of discussion varied from women’s growth and leadership in global tech firms, through to small startups, the benefits of a diverse workforce (and the challenges that are associated with recruitment in the field), ‘the truth’ of women and work - is it really possible for a woman to have it all?, and the non-tech side of tech careers; to name but a few.
The bottom line of the morning’s discussions boiled down to three simple facts. Firstly, women are underrepresented in the tech community. This is shown across the board, but becomes more evident as we move further up the career hierarchy. Interestingly, a few of the speakers shared the sentiment that women ‘must’ continue in their careers, as a way of paving a future for their own children, nieces and grandchildren to have better career opportunities and benefit from equality in the workplace. Secondly, more needs to be done to promote girls and women to pursue careers in tech - through the promotion of STEM subjects at school, training opportunities thereafter and overall awareness of the diversity of career opportunities in tech. Thirdly, despite how much we wish it, women (particularly working mums) cannot ‘have it all’. As Faz Aftab (Director of Business Development & Partnerships at ITV) said, “[we] drop balls, just have to make sure they’re not the fragile ones”.1
Over the course of the event, it became increasingly clear that women, in spite of our base similarities in gender (or sex - without going into the sociological arguments associated with each term), cannot be represented by a singular person. ‘Women in tech’ is an umbrella term that encompasses those from all sorts of different backgrounds, race, age and sexuality, as well as representing a scope of career options, from engineers and developers through to ‘non-tech’ marketers and analysts. The brilliance of this event was therefore the transparency and conversation stimulated amongst women and men. From graduates through to entrepreneurial founders, developers through to recruiters and PR champions - we need more accessible opportunities for discussion at events like Women of Silicon Roundabout; but also greater action to implement change. Although events such as this often produce more questions than answers, they do provide an arena for people to litmus test their ideas on how we can challenge convention, promote awareness and influence the rhetoric associated with women in tech.
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About the author: Victoria Bushnell is Head of Marketing/PR at inploi.