Talking Women in tech at 2017 Silicon Canal Awards

…along with Anna Walters, Head of GRC at Zenzero Support and Victoria Masso. We had been invited to prepare responses to the questions “Do we have an inclusive Tech Community in Greater Birmingham?  If you think we do, could you explain how/why we do? If you don’t, can you think of a way we can be more inclusive?”

At the event, we didn’t have enough time to get into the whole subject due to time constraints so here’s the full text what I would have said – I’d love to hear what you would have said in response!

Tech community in Greater Birmingham and inclusion

The tech community in Greater Birmingham, as well as the award organisers Silicon Canal, includes Innovation Birmingham, Birmingham.io, parts of the Custard Factory, Fazeley Studios, Longbridge Technology Park, Google Digital Garage, Birmingham Science City, School of Code, Tech Wednesday, Canvas conference, Venturefest West Midlands, incubators, accelerators and multiple other tech meetups including the monthly one I run, Net Squared Midlands: tech for social good

Yes, I think parts of the community are inclusive in that it includes the Silicon Canal working groups Diversity in Tech and Women in Tech, and the 200 Silicon Canal Ambassadors. Many of the physical locations are quite accessible and some of the events include a variety of speakers, not just the usual suspects.

But no, I think other and more parts of the community are not inclusive in that the community and our events does not reflect the diverse demography of the communities in the Greater Birmingham area, and some events and meetups are held in inaccessible venues.

How can we be more inclusive?

So, in and around a smart city like Birmingham, how can we be more inclusive? I have some suggestions:

For under-represented people in tech and our allies:

Join relevant meetings and networks to gain and give peer support e.g. Ada’s List, a global community for women* in tech (“*by women we mean all women (trans, intersex and cis), all those who experience oppression as women (including non-binary and gender non-conforming people) and all those who identify as women”), based on principles of inclusion, empowerment and diversity.

For tech groups and organisations:

  • Recognise that not everyone can afford to pay to attend events, so, unless the event is free and in an accessible, welcoming venue anyway, offer a sliding scale for tickets according to what people can afford, from free to top whack, trusting people to pay as appropriate; and if you’re providing free refreshments, beer and pizza appeal to some demographics, but why not try offering prosecco and cake instead – and monitor what happens?

  • When recruiting to tech roles, use inclusive recruitment practices – this post and this one provides some pointers if you’re not sure what that looks like

  • Diversity data – start gathering data on diversity in your group or organisation to help you measure the impact of diversity, and then talk about it internally and externally, and share it widely amongst your networks

  • Sign up to the Tech Talent Charter – this employer-led initiative brings together industries and organisations to drive diversity and address gender imbalance in technology roles.

For everyone in tech

Rather than sticking to your tech comfort zone with people like yourself, places you know well, and things you can already do well, seek out unfamiliar people, places and experiences, in order to learn, share and grow, and make the Greater Birmingham tech community a better place to be, for all of us. And when you do this, please tweet or blog about it!

More resources

Here are 345 women in the UK who could speak at your tech event by Charlotte Jee, Techworld, Dec 15, 2017

#ITWomen – Lists of women speakers and presenters & Resources for planning gender-inclusive tech conferences Crowdsourced list, started 2012 by Catherine Cronin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiring Fifty: Europe 2017 award winner

collage of inspiring fifty in europe 2017 winners

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS INSPIRING FIFTY?

The best and brightest women in technology in Europe in 2017 are listed here in alphabetical order. Because they are all true role models.

Inspiring Fifty is an not-for-profit that aims to increase diversity in technology by making female role models more visible.

ROLE MODELS

Recent ground breaking research by Microsoft shows that girls cited a lack of female role models in STEM as key reason they didn’t follow a career in the sector. That underlines the importance of making role models more visible and inspire others to become active role models too.

WHO IS ON THE LIST?

Pauline is proud to be included in the list which includes Dr Sue Black, Founder of TechMums, Eileen Burbidge, Chair of TechCity UK and HM Treasury’s Special Envoy for Fintech, Amy Cole, Head of Brand Development EMEA at Instagram, Jaqueline De Rojas, President of TechUK, Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO at StemettesNeelie Kroes, Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook, Kathryn Parsons, Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Decoded, Adizah Tejani, Director of Marketing EMEA at Token and Colleen Wong, Founder at Techsixtyfour Ltd.

Outstanding Contribution to Technology award winner

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Pauline with her award – Outstanding Contribution to technology 2016; photo credit: Cheryl Garvey

We are celebrating!

Our Managing Director, Pauline Roche, won the award for Outstanding Contribution to technology at the 2016 West Midlands Women of the Year Awards held on Friday November 11th at the Novotel Birmingham on Broad St.

Pauline is an information science professional specialising in community building, outreach and developing better processes for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to use technology and data. She is passionate about increasing the digital skills and data literacy of people in charities. She co-founded the Net Squared Midlands: tech for social good meetup series and VCSSCamp.

Pauline is a tech connector, do-er and fosterer of skills and knowledge in the West Midlands and beyond. She bring charities, funders and community groups together to address social issues by organising events, blogging and tweeting through her business RnR Organisation, a social enterprise supporting data informed programmes focussing on asset-based community development and tech for good. She aims to be an example to women striving to improve life in their community.

Read the event story here

Celebrating Nollaig na MBan 2014

Nollaig na mBan

Suzzanne, Siobhan, Kath, Caroline, Noreen, Irene, Ann, Pauline, Maureen, Geraldine and I got together tonight in The White Swan in Digbeth, Birmingham to celebrate the annual Irishwomen’s celebration, Nollaig na mBan, also known as Little Christmas. We told each other a bit about ourselves, mentioned our various connections to Ireland, talked a little about our families and friends, had a few sandwiches and sausage rolls and then we sang songs – The Fields of Athenry, Slievenamon, The Mountains of Mourne, The Wild Rover, I’ll Tell Me Ma, The Galway Shawl, The Connemara Cradle Song, Hear My Song and an old favourite, Make me an island (Joe Dolan). Suzzanne provided some accompaniment, improvising some drumbeats with a few teaspoons and Maureen also gave us a spoons demo, this time with 2 dessert spoons.

I’ve been friends with Caroline and Kath for years, and Pauline and I have become friends more recently, but all the other women were new faces to me and each other. I’d only met Noreen before on Twitter, and I have recently befriended Siobhan that way, so it could have been an awkward evening. It wasn’t. It’s amazing what can happen from a bit of friendliness and some shared cultural background. Irene, Ann and Geraldine had heard about the event on the Bob Brolly show on BBCWM yesterday, and they came along on the strength of that and a small mention in the Evening Mail.

I think it’s true to say that a great night was had by all, and the spot prizes were won (more ‘awarded’) to Noreen who had travelled the farthest to get to the event, and Maureen who had encouraged us to start the singing.

We’ve agreed to get together again for St Brigid’s Day on Sat Feb 1st – we’re going to Tamworth to shop at the Dunnes Stores there – that’ll be another blog post!