With International Women’s Day last Sunday, and the increased coverage of female success stories, it struck me that my own story was also made possible by the support I’ve received from female peers.
Earlier this year I attended a celebratory event for the Female Entrepreneur’s Midlands Network, at which former Dragon’s Den panellist Jenny Campbell spoke to nearly 40 leading female business owners. Jenny Campbell said that “as a chief executive of a business, you can’t be an island” and this really stuck with me and made me appreciate this network and others that I am part of. It is because I have reached out to networks and peers, and built contacts with other women in business, that I have learnt so much and been able to achieve what I have. Events like this one also give me the inspiration and motivation to continue in spite of challenges.
In a TechSparx article, I recently commented on how beneficial I have found the women in the tech community in particular. I shared how attending regular meetups had proven invaluable to my personal development as a woman in tech and a tech business owner. Surrounding myself with women who I see as inspirational as they forge their own ways in a male-dominated industry has been really empowering. These valued contacts understand and empathise with the daily challenges of my role and have both supported me and taught me a lot, meaning I have been able to thrive in this tech world. I hope I too have shared useful knowledge with them.
However, on further research into the statistics behind women coming into tech, it appears that whilst women in STEM roles are increasing, the number of women in tech roles has flatlined. In fact, in 10 years there was a less than 1% increase in women coming into tech*. I find this disheartening as I know the amazing contributions my peers have made to the industry, as well as the women I employ in my business.
With a comparably small community of us than in our other STEM industries, I wondered if networking events and groups are even more essential to retaining female talent in the industry than I’d appreciated. I then wondered if those looking to take a career in tech were aware of the small but mighty group of women staunchly supporting one another across the UK. If they were more aware of this community, would they feel more inclined to be a part of the tech world too?
The stats for female entrepreneurs look more promising than women coming into tech, and I believe that is because networks such as the Female Entrepreneurs Midlands Network and other national ones have a greater profile. Women see that it is possible to be a business leader, and that support from other women exists once you are one, so numbers are rising.
Whilst it may not have a huge numerical impact on women coming into tech, as more is needed at a policy level to encourage inclusivity and diversity, I did wonder if we should be shouting a little more loudly about the power of women supporting women in the tech industry specifically.
I’ve therefore made it my mission for the remainder of 2020 to increase my advocacy of the tech industry as one that women should enter, but specifically to be more public about the meetups, events, and networking opportunities that arise. I will also be sharing more stories of women I have met along the way.