Last month I was thrilled to win at the Broadcast TECH Young Talent Awards in the category of Women in Tech! I am pleased to know that the talks I give to younger people about my career are being found useful. I also feel it’s another step, albeit a small step, to a world where the phrase “women in tech” is no longer needed.
I strongly believe that both males and females are needed to simultaneously influence the perceptions of both boys and girls. With coding introduced to the curriculum and many organisations now hosting, running or attending educational activities, an equal gender workplace will be a generational shift. For those women already well into their career path is when I think women in tech groups are most useful. They are an inviting place to meet other females inside and outside their organisation or field, to network and/or to make friends.
At present, I believe younger children and adults are well catered for, but think the process for those in between could be improved. The common perception across events I have attended is that girls become disinterested in STEM during their teenage years due to peer pressure (partly wanting inclusion with friends) and boys snapping up the tech roles in group work. For this reason and in my experience, events run for girls of this age tend to be all female participants run by all female hosts. This has its pros and cons. Girls get experience performing tech roles, but without boys being present working in the non tech roles, how will a mutual agreement on roles be reached when boys are reintegrated. Girls probably feel more comfortable around their female peers and role-model hosts, but how will the girls cope in an office environment where, in the present day, most of their colleagues and seniors will most likely be male. I think both genders should host these types of events, to show that it’s absolutely normal for both genders to work side by side in whatever career they choose. It could also involve some element of mixed gender team work where each member has the opportunity to try each tech/non tech role round-robin style. I’m sure this is already being done but I’d love it to be more widely promoted. I also sometimes worry that younger boys, even occasionally adult males, feel neglected or excluded due to women in tech events which isn’t going to help the cause and is all the more reason to get them involved as participants or hosts. Overall, I think the industry is doing a great job in this area and if I can help or inspire just a few people, I’m happy to be a part of it.
Back to the awards – it was hosted at BAFTA in London and I was privileged enough to peak inside the Princess Anne Theatre where the judges watch the films to be rated. The award ceremony was hosted in part by George Bevir, Facilities and Tech Editor at Broadcast magazine. The start of the evening was hosted by Alexis Conran, host of The Real Hustle, who told crazy stories of filming the TV show, as well as performing some magic tricks! It was a very fun night and also a nice change to be able to network with production people as opposed to techy people. After a nerve racking wait through lots of cheering for other awards, it was finally my category. Alexis read out about the person who had won: “It shows her as a champion and a role model for women moving into new technologies, not just traditional tech, in an industry that has always been male-dominated” and then passed over to Natalie Samson, Awards and Events Producer at Women in Film and Television UK to present the award. I was absolutely elated that it was me – especially with that fantastic testimonial! After shaking hands and having my picture taken, I was congratulated by many people walking back to my table, expressing genuine enthusiasm for women in tech, which made me very hopeful for the future. I also received a winners booklet with a small article about me (and other winners) and a huge picture of my face!
Check out this Storify about the evening.
My next event is will be a talk to high school teachers about careers available at the BBC after studying in STEM, so look out for a post about that in late January.