The Chronicle spoke to some excellent women doing groundbreaking work in the digital and tech fields. For the full feature, check out our print edition!
Kirsty Styles, Head of Talent and Skills, Tech North.
The tech industry is going twice as fast as the rest of the economy and promises good, creative, flexible jobs in everything from data science to design. But most people still don’t know these jobs exist – who even built the apps you use every day? – and even if they do, they often don’t think that they’re jobs for them.
This matters because the kinds of people that build and fund the products we use every day determine what gets built. If it’s only well-off, white men, then we’ll continue to see products and services that essentially replace your mum – taxi, laundry and dating apps.
The project I’m most proud of creating is called Northern Voices. In March this year, we trained 28 women from the northern tech industry for public speaking and media opportunities, then we spent six months booking them in for gigs. The idea behind it was about making women of all ages and experiences more visible within the industry, in order to make more people see that these jobs might be for them, while trying to change the business culture that implies that all-white, all-male panels are acceptable. They’re an awesome bunch and the WhatsApp group we created to connect the women together, some of whom have never actually met, has become a real place of support when things get tough.
It’s clear this kind of intervention cannot work on its own – we’ve seen the women used as tokens on panels when event organisers realise they might get called out by the audience, and we’ve seen them asked only about diversity issues, rather than their expertise. But it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
Follow Kirsty on Twitter @kirstystyles1
Lynn Roberts, Head of Digital and Innovation, Action for Children UK.
I’m the head of digital & innovation at Action for Children, which is a UK children’s charity. My job is to lead the team who manage all our digital channels (the website, social media, email and online advertising) to maximise our reach, engagement and conversions (which means people donating money, signing up to be a foster carer, lending their voices to our campaigns etc). As of this month, I’ve also been tasked with building a team to design and build digital products for fundraising and service delivery.
Charity Digital is a brilliant field to work in. It’s really fast moving and full of opportunities. The gender split in the sector is actually pretty even across most of the digital disciplines, but there aren’t many female developers. If you’re thinking about what to do post-graduation, an intensive developer bootcamp like Founders & Coders wouldn’t be a bad way to spend 16 weeks!
For more on Action for Children’s vital work in helping disadvantaged children across the UK to reach their full potential, visit www.actionforchildren.org.uk