Waiting just a few minutes for my son to arrive last night I walked around the south bank of the Thames by the Tate Modern Gallery.
I went on a London street art walking tour today with my family. I thought I would like it, but I absolutely loved it. The tour led by Pepe Martinez started at Liverpool Street station and lasted 2 hours. We learnt about Shepard Fairey who also produced the iconic Obama HOPE poster, Eine, Invader, Inkie, Pablo Delgado, Jimmy Cochrane and many more. After the tour we warmed up and took a selfie at the Canvas Cafe on Hanbury Street and then got delicious salt beef bagels from Beigel Bake on Brick Lane.
Petworth is well worth a visit, Turner lived there and there are many of his and other artists paintings, the 1930s kitchens are very well kept and there are 700 acres of land, landscaped by Capability Brown, and 700 deer. Go visit 😃
I was honoured to speak on a panel this afternoon at Portcullis House. Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah chaired an interesting discussion on women in tech which ranged from getting girls coding, to Ada Lovelace, to the digital revolution and a quick reference to Gamergate.
My main points were around the fact that we are now living in a global marketplace. Trade is no longer hampered by geographical boundaries as it has been previously. Most people in the UK are not digitally literate in a 2014 way, we are behind the times. There are so many people unemployed, that with just a small amount of training could get jobs using basic 2014 digital literacy. The government needs to put more resource into this area.
There is a big focus on getting girls coding which is great and needs to happen, but we need more urgently to consider how to plug the leaky pipeline of women leaving the tech industry mid career. We also need to create a corporate culture that welcomes tech savvy women back into the workforce. Too many talented tech women I know have left tech never to return, its such a waste.
Corporates need to make their workplaces more female friendly and be proactive in bringing in more women. There are many ways this can be done, and as has been shown previously this can make companies more profitable. Diversity means strength in so many ways.
I didn’t mention quotas of women on boards, but I think the time is right now to make this happen, change is not happening quickly enough for any real impact to be felt. Equal pay is something else that needs to be sorted out. We will never get anywhere until these issues are resolved.
The main thing we need to do is to take ACTION as a country. The UK if we get our act together has an opportunity to lead in the digital revolution as we did in the industrial revolution. But we need to move quickly and decisively. Our workforce needs to be upskilled, made tech smart, this is a mammoth but not impossible task. Let’s get started now otherwise we will be looking back in a few years time saying, if only we had acted more quickly….
As it is half term I took my 10 year old daughter along with me. We left a bit early so we could go and buy a pumpkin for her to carve for Halloween. Having children makes you think about the future in a different way. I don’t want my daughters to have lower pay than their male peers, I don’t want them to see their friends taking a break from work to have children, then finding it impossible to get back into work. I don’t want to see them struggling to make sense of a narrow minded and chauvinistic workplace.
We need to change our country now to make equality of opportunity a reality, if we do that and prepare our workforce for the digital age, we will have a fighting chance of being a world leading country into the future. If we don’t I hate to think what will happen. Standards of living will drop, a brain drain will occur, big contracts will go to other countries, individuals will become disenfranchised, it won’t be fun.
Millions of people have fought in wars and worked hard to make this country succesful, let’s not throw all that sacrifice away now because we are too slow to respond to change that’s obviously going to happen, and is in fact happening right now. Britain is a great country, I’m proud to be a part of it, let’s keep it that way. Making sure our people, our families and our companies keep up with the digital revolution means that all that sacrifice was worthwhile, we owe it to our ancestors and to our children. We’ve a short window of opportunity, let’s take ACTION and build a great future for us all.
#techmums went international this week as we flew over to An Cosan college in Tallaght, Dublin to train 6 new kickass #techmums trainers. Liz Waters, principal at An Cosan, had seen me keynote the Future Jobs Forum in Dublin earlier this year and connected with me afterwards to find out more about #techmums and what we were doing.
We were greeted at Dublin airport by a very friendly taxi driver and taken to Maldren Hotel in Tallaght.
Avril from An Cosan kindly took us out for a lovely dinner on the first night. I loved the whole story about how An Cosan college was set up 27 years ago by two women, in their own houses. They wanted to help women in the deprived local area get an education with the view of changing their lives for the better. This really resonated with me as that is what I have done with my own family and with #techmums.
The next morning Avril kindly picked us up and took us to An Cosan. We didn’t have much of an idea what to expect, so were totally overwhelmed when we got there to find everyone so wonderfully kind, friendly and welcoming. After a welcome cup of tea we started off the day in the usual An Cosan way with a poem read by the principal Liz Waters. We were all sat around a large table as Liz read the poem, listening and focusing our eyes on the lovely candle and flowers in the middle.
We all then introduced ourselves around the room. As we went around the room and everyone spoke I became overcome with emotion and started crying. I’ve never before felt so in tune with a whole group of people that I’ve only just met. What a very special place An Cosan is, full of incredible women who have come from hardship to change not only their lives but the lives of many others around them.
When we had finished our introductions and had a break before starting our training I got everyone together for a #selfie 😃
We had a great first day getting to know each other and taking everyone through our #techmums train the trainer program. At the end of the first day Aly, Mary and I were elated and exhausted at the same time.
Along with the wonderful Sinead who is our #techmums champion at An Cosan we got a taxi into Dublin to meet more fabulous women for dinner. Dinner at Peyton and Byrne was delicious; our waitress was French and awesome. She thought that our #techmums tshirts said #technomums and wanted to come out to a techno club with us after dinner 😉
All the women at dinner were fabulous in their own way and all keen to support, champion and encourage women in tech: Ann O’Dea from Silicon Republic, Eithne Harley from Accenture Ireland and Liz Waters principal of An Cosan. It was a great evening of excitement and putting the world to rights.
We went home at the end of the evening feeling excited and hopeful about getting disadvantaged women into tech and changing the world.
The next morning we went into An Cosan again for the second day of our program.
An Cosan must be the friendliest place I’ve ever been to. Every single person there exudes welcome and friendliness, its incredible. Every day at break time Aisling would welcome us with tea, coffee and freshly made scones that were absolutely to die for.
I’m so delighted that Sinead is going to be running #techmums at An Cosan. She is a perfect combination of intelligence, humour and caring that I’m sure will enable #techmums at An Cosan to fly producing many kickass savvy #techmums for years to come.
At the end of day 2 of our training we held our graduation ceremony with Sinead, Eithne, Donna, Laingo, Valerie and Angela all graduating, becoming An Cosan’s very own team of kickass, savvy #techmums trainers.
All of them great role models in themselves for the women of Tallaght. I’m proud to have met and spent time with them.
We were very sad to leave An Cosan at the end of the day, but are already looking forward to going back to work on partnership opportunities. Completely like minded people are hard to find, and finding a whole organisation full of them is a life changing experience.
Thank you Ann O’Dea for inviting me to speak at the Future Jobs Forum in Dublin earlier this year, thank you Eithne Harley for telling Liz Waters from An Cosan to come and listen to my talk there. Thank you Liz for inviting us to An Cosan, thank you Sinead for being a kickass #techmums ambassador and leader and to all of our new kickass savvy #techmums trainers at An Cosan: Eithne, Donna, Laingo, Valerie and Angela. We are so delighted to have you on board 😃
Yesterday was busy, and a lot of fun. The morning was spent travelling up to Bletchley Park and being interviewed outside by the BBC’s Adam Fleming and Simon about crowdfunding, the future of publishing and my book Saving Bletchley Park. It was a really fun interview that ended up with Simon recording close up audio of me knitting. Why knitting? Well one of the perks of my crowdfunded book, the one that sold out first included a pair of socks handknitted by me. Here are Adam, Simon and my daughter Leah, and the socks that I’ve just started knitting.
When the interview was over we went up to The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park to say hi and to see their new exhibitions. There are so many!
I saw the locked gates and fence that have been put up by Bletchley Park for the first time. I have to admit it was very upsetting to see them.
I was amazed by all the work that has been carried out at TNMOC. Lots of new exhibitions since I was last there including the women in computing exhibition featuring some real female tech heroes like Steve Shirley, Grace Hopper and Barbara Liskov. I was a bit disappointed that Turing Award winner and friend Fran Allen was not included, and that Steve was the only UK hero but, that aside it was really great to see so many women represented at Bletchley.
My daughter Leah had a go on several of the very cool vintage games and on the new Oculus Rift virtual Bletchley Park. An awesome project led by Chris Monk at TNMOC to create 1940s Bletchley Park for anyone to interact with. The project has only just started, but is looking great already with a virtual Colossus and the maze, complete with hidden Easter Eggs, that used to exist at Bletchley. Very cool and exciting, and needing funding.
It was fun to see Rory Cellan-Jones at TNMOC too, there to record BBC TechTent, taking pics of virtual Bletchley too. Chaperoning Rory was Helen Armfield who it was really great to meet IRL after knowing each other on Twitter for ages.
Helen told me that @documentally’s awesome social media meetup Station X is now running from TNMOC which is great news. If you live in the Bletchley area and want to meet up with likeminded geeks I highly recommend it.
I also had a great chat with Lin Jones, another of the very knowledgeable and dedicated people at TNMOC.
After the interview we made our way down to my son and daughter in law’s place in south London for dinner. I wish I’d taken a photo of that, it was so delicious, dahl and rice, my absolute all time favourite meal.
We walked through Bunhill Fields Cemetery dating from 1665 as a cut through to the bus stop, I was amazed to find several famous people buried there including William Blake and Daniel Defoe. Incredible to find that just over the road from Google Campus in London’s Tech City.
All in all it was a great day. You will be able to hear the BBC interview “Publishing Wars” on “The report” next Thursday at 8pm on BBC Radio 4.
We had a fabulous day out at Dunster Castle this week. From the cook and butler’s tour of the Victorian/1920s kitchens to the wonderful library, antique quilted and knitted bedspreads, beautiful gardens and working watermill there really was something for everyone. One of my best days out ever. Thanks to all the staff and especially the volunteers for such a great experience. We even saw a flypast by the Red Arrows as we left 😃