I had the pleasure of attending my virgin technology conference at Barclays in Canary Wharf. The invitation said that the conference was to start at 8:30; as I dislike being late, I decided to arrive for 8:20. However, it turns out that it started from 8:30 and most delegates turned up at 9:00! Fortunately, there was a lovely lady from Bloomberg who I got chatting to as she had also interpreted the invite the same way as myself.
It was a small shock to the system being surrounded by so many female techies as I work in an all-male team as a developer. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to hear their individual stories and how they chose their career paths into technology. The introduction speech was made by Nigel Walder, Head of Functions Technology and Business Performance at Barclays. He stated that women should “be braver, don’t hide on the periphery of jobs”. This quote in particular resonated with myself as from the concepts in the book “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, females are very good at doing themselves injustice. They will not go for something, such as apply for a job, if they do not feel that they tick every single box. On the other hand, males will think they are good enough to apply for the job if they tick just one of the boxes!
The facilitator of the day was BBC click’s Kate Russell and throughout the day we heard from various inspirational leaders of women in technology. I found Jacqueline de Rojas, Executive Vice President (Europe) at Sage and President of techUK, particularly motivational when she mentioned to the audience that “having just one woman on the board reduces the risk of company bankruptcy by 20%”. She also stated that “focussing on strengths is much more empowering than focussing on weaknesses” something which I need to learn from; I have a tendency to ignore the positive feedback that is mentioned to myself.
One other stand out presentation, in my opinion, was from the very enthusiastic Anne-Marie Imafidon, who is the founder of a fabulous company, STEMettes. The aim of STEMettes is to increase the education of STEM subjects; this for me is poignant as I feel that this is the root cause of why there are limited number of females in technology. Having spent most of my education in an all female school, I did not have the privilege to study Computer Science as this was a ‘male’ subject and was only taught in the boy’s school. Therefore, why would I choose to study this at university if I had no exposure to it when younger and it was a ‘male’ field? Having read mathematics as part of my joint honours degree at university, I was exposed to C++. This is where my love of programming started and little did I know that I would be making a career from this. However, having spent a few years programming, I still feel like I am playing catch up to those that had the opportunity to study from a younger age.
A special thanks to Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director at WeAreTheCity, and her team for organising such a great event. I found it to be a great networking opportunity to meet like minded females and I left feeling inspired to manage my own career in technology.