20 Mar 2023
by Jessica Moffatt-Owen

IWD 2023: Remember to celebrate the wins of women as fuel to overcome our challenges

Jessica Moffatt-Owen, Innovation Lead at Plexal, the innovation company solving society's challenges through collaboration with government, startups and industry 

Pondering over what to write to mark International Women’s Day, I mentally cycled through a few options I thought this piece could cover: women in cyber, women in tech, women in business. But there are plenty of resources available which discuss inequality for women in great detail and I don’t think it’s new news. There just aren’t that many women in the cyber or tech fields, especially not in the UK. And this is a problem, because it’s not like the talent or potential doesn’t exist... it does – and could thrive if we nurtured it.  

Make no mistake, it’s super important to be aware of the challenges and struggles we face, to read up on the stats and to talk to your female colleagues about their experience to better understand the situation.  

But I would like to share, on this International Women’s Day, some good news stories and think of this as a celebratory day. So rather than dwell on the negatives (and until we dismantle the patriarchy, there are many!), I want to use this as an opportunity to celebrate women doing incredible things. 

I’m sure both these women get referenced plenty of times around International Women’s Day, but rightly so. In their respective eras, Hedy Lamarr and Ada Lovelace were trailblazers, doing something different for women of their time.  

Not only a Hollywood starlet, Lamarr was the ‘mother of Wi-Fi’, looking at how manipulating radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception could stop secret messages being intercepted. And Lovelace, a poet’s daughter and a countess who also invented the first computer programme. Women have been doing exceptional things within the science and technology community for a long time, defying expectations – and likely not getting the thorough credit and accolades they deserve.  

I recently had the brilliant experience of being in a discussion with Lindy Cameron, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), whilst facilitating the UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship (more on that in a moment). Lindy provided us with many sage words about being a woman in the cyber security sector, but also inspired me. I’m a non-technical person who is within the cyber security ecosystem, and sometimes that’s challenging (hello imposter syndrome) to be on the same level as others who are talking about AI in a way I can’t begin to comprehend! Lindy reaffirmed that there’s a place within cyber security for everyone, for all women, regardless of background or experience. 

And finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the UK-Gulf Women in Cybersecurity Fellowship. This Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) programme is such an inclusive and open forum for cyber security professionals across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). I might be biased, as in my role as Innovation Lead at Plexal I lead the programme delivery, but I’m continually impressed by the appetite for continual improvement, the tenacity of problem solving and the curious mindset of the Fellows. We’re in the throes of delivering some really exciting projects and can’t wait to shout about them when they’re ready to launch.  

So, on this International Women’s Day, and the days, weeks and months in between, let us continue to celebrate our successes. 

techUK is marching forward to close the tech gender gap in 2023. Throughout March, coinciding with International Women’s Day (IWD 2023) on 8 March, we are exploring how we embrace equitable workplaces. The UN’s theme for IWD 2023 focuses on Digital for All or DigitALL, and we are proud to support this.

For more information, please visit our Women in Tech hub.

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Jessica Moffatt-Owen

Innovation Lead, Plexal