12 Jun | Gender Equality | Women in Science

Time to close the gender gap - Women of Silicon Roundabout Conference 2017

Each year, Women of Silicon Roundabout brings together women in technology and challenges traditional gender hierarchies in the technology sector. Rebecca Gibson, School of Computer Science at Lincoln, went along to find out more...

Photo credit: PwC

I have always had a strong interest in computing. This started at school when I was inspired by my female ICT teacher. She encouraged me and helped me gain the skills and confidence to go on to University and to study for a degree in computing. I studied for four years and completed my Masters degree in Computer Information Systems. I always knew I wanted to work within technology, my current role in the School of Computer Science as a Technician enables me to continually learn and develop my skills.

I wanted to attend the Women of Silicon Roundabout conference as I’m interested in gender equality within the technology sector. I also wanted to hear other people’s experiences and gain different perspectives on gender diversity issues. Having been one of only a few women on my computing degree I know what it is like to be a minority and the challenges it can bring, attending this conference gave me valuable advice and information I could pass on to our staff and students.

Women of Silicon Roundabout took place on the 11th May at the Tobacco Dock, London.  The conference brought together women in technology and challenged traditional gender hierarchies in the technology sector. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear and learn from the stories and experiences of successful women and men in technology.

The conference was attended by industry leaders including Google, J.P. Morgan, PwC, Auto Trader, Capital.  There were inspiring talks throughout the day which discussed various aspects of women in technology. Talks included topics such as ‘Women in Tech: Time to close the gender gap’ and ‘Action on Diversity’.

Milena Nikolic, a Software Engineering Manager at Google gave a fascinating talk on what holds women back in the technology industry including structural barriers, institutional mindset, individual mindsets and lifestyle choices. She then discussed the benefits of having diverse teams within Technology. Milena also discussed how she believes that there are not enough women in technology arguing the lack of women taking computing degrees as a pipeline problem.

Sheridan Ash, Director of Technology and Investments at PwC spoke about closing the gender gap in technology. Sheridan shared the results of a recent survey completed by 2000 A level and University students showing only 30% of women studied a STEM subject at University compared to 52% of men. The results also showed that only 3% of females would choose technology as their first choice because it is too male dominated and there is a lack of female role models. Since conducting the survey PwC have reached out to schools to get more young women interested in a career in technology.

A key topic reiterated by speakers throughout the day was the importance of taking responsibility for your own career. Jody Davis – SVP, Global CIO for PepsiCo gave encouraging advice for a successful career, including excel in your current role, think about what’s next, seize leadership opportunities, know yourself and what is important, live your life with purpose, you cannot always choose what happens – you can always choose how you respond.

I left the conference feeling positive and inspired by the men and women I met. It motivated me to think about my long-term career goals and what I want to achieve from my career in computing.  The conference also made me realise the importance of female role models for young women. I feel very fortunate that I had a female computing teacher who encouraged me to pursue my passion, without this I may not have had the confidence to study computing.

Although the event focused on challenges that women face working within technology it also showed us we can improve and change this. It was great to see such a large representation of women working in the technology industry. We can overcome the challenges we face by discovering new role models, inspiring the next generation and by embracing change

Rebecca Gibson, Technician, School of Computer Science