With a month to go until London’s Mayoral Election, TLA Women in Tech hosted a roundtable discussion to give Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, the opportunity to meet angels, female entrepreneurs, and ambassadors for diversity in tech. techUK's Doniya Soni blogs about the session.
The aim was for Sophie to learn about both the challenges for women in tech roles, as well as best practice examples. Diversity in tech is an important and widely discussed topic, as evidenced by the number of questions about it in DebateTech, the Tech London Hustings with mayoral candidates following the publication of our Mayoral Tech Manifesto.
The room was packed with inspirational women and men from all corners of the sector and held at Mass Challenge – the non-equity not-for-profit accelerator. We first heard from Sophie about the aims of the party, her ambition to be London’s next Mayor and her primary role of listener at the session. She was keen to get an understanding of the issues women face within the tech sector.
Handing over to Jacquelyn Guderly, co-founder of Stemettes and GLA candidate for the Women’s Equality Party, Sophie highlighted that WEP will be writing a tech specific manifesto from within their party. Jacquelyn wanted to hear what the key priorities should be, specifically in London.
Discussion within the room started immediately, with everyone acknowledging that the lack of women in tech is a pipeline issue starting from lack of uptake in STEM subjects at school all the way to the issues of retention, support, and role models in the sector. Debate was lively, tackling issues of quotas within the sector, silos of initiatives not joining-up to be more effective, female funds for investment, and apprenticeships. A number of women within the room were entrepreneurs, investors, angels and mentors using their personal and professional experiences to implement change within the sector.
techUK’s Women in Tech programme addresses a number of pipeline issue within its work-streams. We are creating, in collaboration with WISE, a tech-specific resource pack for school girls to explore job opportunities for them within the sector. We are also running a pilot Back to Work Programme with everywoman to help connect forward-thinking organisations who are committed to gender diversity and talented female professionals who want to restart their careers in technology after taking a break of over a year. There a number of other live projects and initiatives - if you’d like to keep abreast of these sign up to our monthly newsletter.
One of the key takeaways from the session was the overwhelming feeling that we, within the tech sector, have the opportunity to create a cultural shift that will resonate across other sectors. Technology has created a plethora of opportunities – from flexible working, working remotely, and providing a platform for women to innovate within their own time. What we must tackle first and foremost is a cultural change. How many accelerators have crèches? Does the office culture allow for flexible working? How do we ensure that organisations across all sectors embrace technology to allow employees to work remotely?
While these are difficult questions to answer, there was no denying that there is passion – passion from the women and men in the room, passion from advocates, and from the ambassadors. We are only at the beginning of a Women in Tech revolution and by embracing the opportunities provided to us by technology, we can start a cultural earthquake from within the industry.
For more information on our Women in Tech programme, get in touch with: