I had a really great time at my first visit to the Thinking Digital conference last week in Newcastle. Thinking Digital has all the attributes of a great conference: extremely interesting presentations from experts, good organisation, fab venue, cool location, interesting and friendly delegates. It was awesome, I highly recommend you visit next year, or sign up to watch it online if you can’t attend in person.
I love travelling by train so was actually quite happy to take the 3hr train ride from Kings Cross. The English countryside is beautiful, so anytime I fancied a break I just looked out of the window…..ah lovely 🙂
On the first day of the conference I was on a Women in Tech panel chaired by Katie Moffat. Having been a champion of women in tech for quite some time now I have quite a few opinions to share on the subject. One thing that did only really dawn on me whilst I was sat on the panel was this. In the 1970s there weren’t that many women performing on Top of the Pops. I remember talking to people at the time, the accepted opinion seemed to be that there just weren’t that many good female singers. I felt sure that wasn’t true, but had no proof.
I’ve heard the same sort of opinion mentioned many times about women in tech. “Surely if women were interested/good at tech they would be in tech” Hmmmm. I don’t think that’s the case.
Just look at the charts these days, amazing singers, young women like Adele, Pink, Beyonce, Jessie J, Ellie Goulding there are so many I cold go on and on. Such wonderful role models for young girls….and me. There were very few, if any young women on Top of the Pops when I was growing up probably because they didn’t have the opportunity to be there or realise that they could be there, there were very few role models. The same is the situation right now for women in tech.
Unfortunately in 2013 there are still very few female role models who have made it through to the higher echelons of the tech scene. We have some great role models, and I really do think that things are changing, but we need to make some step changes to help that happen if we are to move forward.
I’m delighted to have been chosen to take part in one such venture which aims to make a difference. The British Airways Ungrounded project aims to address the “global misalignment of talent” by challenging 100 innovators to come up with a solution to this problem during a flight from San Francisco to London. On arriving in London the group will present their ideas to the G8 summit. A wonderful and exciting opportunity to do something really groundbreaking.
Back to Thinking Digital and the tech startup pitch competition. Here are the contestents. Notice anything? 😉
We still have a way to go before we can be complacent about women in tech, or women’s opportunities and equality in general. Things have moved along massively, but we are not there yet.