Memories

Have you been shouted at by your CEO?

The combination of being in lockdown due to COVID, going for frequent walks to get some exercise and either giving talks or being interviewed about my career has led me to start remembering particular events and situations that have reoccurred during my career.

The type of situation that came to mind on my walk today was “Being shouted at by the CEO”. The situations were, on each occasion, when I was working hard to be useful to the organisation in question and had done absolutely nothing wrong.

These situations all occurred in board meetings and all some years ago. In one instance I was suggesting that it would be useful to have a breakdown of membership data by gender so that we could look at progression of women through the organisation suggesting that if we had that information it would be easy to target specific interventions to improve progression overall. The subject of the discussion at the time was “How can we improve progression?”

The CEO in this case shouted at me something that was extremely offensive so I’ll not repeat it here. There were about 30 people in the meeting. I can’t remember exactly what happened after his outburst as I was so shocked and traumatised by his outburst.

The second incident occurred at a different organisation when I reported back on some really great feedback I’d ascertained from an external expert which gave lots of ideas on how to improve our web and social media presence. I’ve still got no idea why the CEO went ballistic at me for the ideas I spoke about. He completely erupted in the meeting in response to my feedback. Again I can’t remember what happened straight afterwards because I was so traumatised and in shock. He later apologised quietly to me in a coffee break. I accepted his apology.

The third incident happened at a university exam board. The chair of the meeting, my boss’s boss started shouting at me after I presented my report for the module that I’d taught that year. There had been some issues with the module, I can’t remember what they were, but I’d managed to sort them out. I’d met up with the external examiner before the exam board to explain what I had done and why, and they were happy with it.

So I presented my module report, then said that I’d spoken to the external examiner and that they were happy with what I had done. The chair of the board then shouted at me that the external had agreed because I had “charmed” them, and that I was good at charming people and blah blah rant rant. Again I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. The external examiner then came to my defence repeating that they were completely happy with what I had done.

3 traumatising instances from my career, I still don’t really know why they happened.

I can’t be alone. Have you had similar experiences? If so how did you deal with them?

What exactly was going on? Bullying? Misogyny? If you gave some insights id love to know.

Also what is the best thing to do in these type of situations ? 🤷🏽‍♀️ if you have advice it would be great to hear it.

Thanks for reading my post, please share if you have found it valuable 🙏🏾🤩

Sapper Holland – Lest we forget #RemembranceSunday2018

Thinking of my great grandfather Frederick Arthur Holland from #Weymouth who died during #WW1 #RemembranceDay2018 when my wonderful Nannie Elsie Leah Reynolds was just 4 years old 😭❤️😭

My great grandfather Sapper Holland died aged 32, the same age as my sons are now, my grandmother Elsie was 4, almost the same age as my grandson Felix is now. It just doesn’t bear thinking about😱

My grandmother grew up in very reduced circumstances with her mother working 3 jobs just to provide enough food to eat.

And despite being a fun loving and funny person always carried sadness in her heart from her father being taken away from her at such a young age 😭❤️😭 #WW1 #RemembranceSunday2018

The two Sue Blacks!!

I was delighted to finally meet the “other Sue Black” a few months ago at Dundee University ❤️ we’ve known each other for years online but never met in person until Sue invited me up to Dundee as a digital expert.

We are often mistaken for each other, I’m a computer scientist and Sue is a forensic scientist, and congratulated for each other’s work 🤣

It was so wonderful to meet, I’m really looking forward to next time.

Captain Jerry Roberts – Bletchley Park codebreaker

Here I am 9 years ago with the wonderful Captain Jerry Roberts, Bletchley Park codebreaker, at my birthday party. What an amazing man ❤️

One of the hardest things about running the campaign to save Bletchley Park is making friends with incredible people and then losing them 😭

Check out Jerry’s book Lorenz

#bletchleypark #codebreakers #testery #savingbletchley

30 years ago I escaped from a violent marriage… #DV

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30 years ago I escaped from a violent marriage, I ran down the road with my 3 small kids + a suitcase of nappies.

I rebuilt my life after 6m in a @WomensAid refuge, went back to school, changing my/my family’s lives forever. Here’s some of the story…

Computing is too important to be left to men…

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Ada Lovelace invented the idea of software in 1843 at the age of 28 when working with Charles Babbage on his Analytical engine. The first pioneer in computing was a woman and we have had many more female computing pioneers since then: the women at Bletchley Park; Dina St Johnston who set up the UK’s first software house in 1959; Dame Stephanie Shirley who’s company employed women, mainly working from home in the 1960s, training them to write software including the Concorde black box flight recorder; and Karen Spark Jones, a pioneer in search algorithms who’s quote “Computing is too important to be left to men” is the title of this piece. And that’s just in the UK, there are many women tech pioneers across the globe.

I first realised that I needed to get involved in supporting and raising the profile of women in tech during my PhD in software engineering in the 1990s. I found out that talking to men at conferences about my research could be misconstrued which led to me not finding tech conferences an enjoyable experience. Attending a women in science conference some months later I was amazed to find that I could enjoy conferences, meet some great people and have interesting conversations. Being in the majority makes life so much easier. Being in a minority can make something that seems simple difficult.

I set up BCSWomen, the UK’s first online network for women in computing in 1998 as a result of my experiences. The idea being to provide a space for women to discuss the topics we cared about in technology with other women. I’m very proud of the fact that BCSWomen still provides a women only space where anything and everything related to technology is discussed. BCSWomen has supported hundreds of women over the last 19 years.

I’m so delighted BCS continues to take a lead in investigating, researching and publishing data around the situation not just for gender but diversity in general in our industry. We need a more diverse industry so that we can create better products and services for everyone. Take the example of the automated point of sale machines in supermarkets. I’m sure we have all experienced the “unexpected item in the bagging area” moment of frustration. Do you think the team that developed those automated POS machines was diverse? Do you think there were people on the team that shopped regularly in a supermarket? I’m guessing not.

Diversity is important for everyone. Only when we have diverse teams, diverse workforces, diverse experiences contributing to creating diverse products and services will we be creating products and services that are fit for all of us. Diversity brings strength.

Technology is such an exciting area to be in. Working in the tech industry we understand the world and the opportunities around us in a way that many others are as yet able to see without our help. We owe it to everyone else to take a lead in this area, so that they can follow.

You could say that this report paints a dismal picture in terms of diversity and women in tech, we are nowhere near 50/50 male to female in the industry. But I believe that we are at a tipping point of a revolution in technology and also in awareness of the importance of diversity. I’ve seen massive change over the last few years in attitudes towards diversity in tech, from being asked when setting up BCSWomen in 1997: “Why are you ghettoising yourself?”

I now regularly get asked: “How can we encourage more women to work in our tech department?”

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Things are changing and this report gives us the data we need to measure and evaluate progress highlighting areas of concern and areas of success that we can celebrate along the way.

Let’s take our lead from this report and use it to create a a more diverse, more successful tech industry in the UK. We owe it to Ada, Dina, Dame Stephanie, Karen and everyone who has worked hard to make the UK tech industry what it is today.

Dr. Sue Black OBE FBCS

 

BCS report: Diversity in IT 2017

 

70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park in 2009 #Bpark

8 years ago today was the 70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park.
The the wonderful Maggie Philbin and many other awesome people Christian Payne, Kate Arkless Gray, Benjamin Ellis, Hannah Nicklin, Matt Rawlinson and Steve Lawson, came up to Bletchley Park with me to interview as many veterans as possible to capture their memories of their time working on cracking the codes during WW2.
Here with Maggie is the phenomenal codebreaker Captain Jerry Roberts RIP, wonderful man and great family friend.
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We had an absolutely wonderful day with the hundreds of veterans that came along spending the whole day capturing as much as possible for posterity.
I had started a campaign to save Bletchley Park the previous year in July 2008 and met quite a few veterans, but this was the first time that I really got to meet hundreds of veterans and hear at first hand so many of their amazing stories.
Here are some photos from the day taken by Benjamin Ellis and Steve Lawson. There are many more, check out all the #bpark70 pics from the day on Flickr.
Here are a few of the interviews conducted that day in 2009.

I chatted to Hannah, giving an overview the day and speaking about the amazing discussions we had all had with the veterans.

Christian Payne interviewed many veterans on the day. Here are just some of his interviews. Enjoy 🙂

Interview by Christian with Bletchley Park veteran Margaret Warner of the WAAF:

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Kathleen Saunders

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Captain Jerry Roberts

Christian interviews Bletchley Park radio security intercept officer Alan Gordon Jackson

For more stories about Bletchley Park and the campaign we ran to save it check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

US Amazon link here: Saving Bletchley Park 

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Interviews with Bletchley Park veterans at Bletchley Park Enigma Reunion in 2010 #bpark2010

In September 2010 I was campaigning hard for Bletchley Park to be saved. I had started the campaign in 2008 after finding out that Bletchley Park were having financial difficulties and may have to close.

The whole story of the campaign along with the history of Bletchley Park, the women of Bletchley Park, Alan Turing, Enigma and much more are in my book Saving Bletchley Park. Saving Bletchley Park currently has 63 five star reviews on Amazon UK.

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Some awesome people came with me on Enigma Reunion day 2010 to interview veterans that came along on the day including former head of GCHQ Sir Arthur Bonsall. Below are a few of those interviews conducted by @radiokate and @ALRanson. Which is your favourite?

 

If you would like to know more about Bletchley Park and the campaign to save it do check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

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Turning pain into joy, 8 years on from the day our brother left us

Awesome trip to Hampshire for our brother Stephen's memorial day yesterday. Can't believe it's 8 years already since my little bro went. Glad that we can now celebrate his life and our own lives now ❤️ Thanks to my awesome sister Sarah, Daisy, Leah and Lesley and family for making it such a special day. Special mention for amazing great aunt Molly now 97 years old ❤️

Loved visiting our gorgeous Nan Elsie Leah Reynold's grave, gravestone finally now in place and leaving some flowers 🌺 Also loved visiting the church where Sarah, Stephen and I were christened inthe 1960s and having a good chat with the vicar who kindly took a pic of us 🙏🏼 #turningpainintojoy ❤️

Computation of Ripple Effect Measures For Software #softwareengineering #softwaremeasurement #rippleeffect @LSBU #PhD #2001

How exciting!! I just received a digital version of my 2001 PhD thesis “Computation of Ripple Effect Measures for Software” from the British Library. If you would like to read it, here you go:

Sue Black – PhD thesis 2001

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If you would like to read something a bit shorter here’s the Abstract:

There are many measures of structural complexity of source code, of which ripple effect is just one. Ripple effect measures the amount which a module or program may affect other modules within a program, or programs within a system, if changes are made. Measurement of ripple effect has been incorporated into several software maintenance models because it shows maintainers the ramifications of any change that they may make before that change is actually implemented. As such, computation of ripple effect provides a potentially valuable source of information. The aim of this thesis is to show that an approximation to Yau and Collofello’s ripple effect algorithm can satisfactorily replace their original algorithm as a measure of structural complexity.

The basis of our approach has been to completely reformulate the ripple effect calculation using matrix arithmetic. As well as making the calculation more explicit the reformulation reveals how the algorithm’s structure can be broken down into separate parts. By focusing on the derivation of one particular matrix we find that an approximation may be made, greatly simplifying the calculation.

A Ripple Effect and Stability Tool (REST) was created and used to validate our work. Firstly, a comparison of the original and reformulated ripple effect measures from several programs shows them to be highly correlated. Secondly, a case study is used to explore the link between ripple effect and maintainer’s intuition of the impact of code changes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this link appears to be less than clear-cut.

Citation:

S. Black, Computation of ripple effect measures for software, Ph.D. thesis, SCISM, South Bank University, London, UK, September 2001, 123 pp.