Our community blogger Catherine Heath has struck again! She's now written us a blog on the latest Hack Your Career in Cybersecurity event earlier this month. Read on for more information about what was discussed at the event...
Contrary to what some might think, the field of cybersecurity is more than just protecting systems against potential hackers. There are a huge range of careers available in this area, and we had the pleasure of listening to a very impressive panel of speakers who came from backgrounds ranging from top management consultancy firm KPMG, the Cabinet Office, high end supermarket Marks & Spencer and an ethical hacker start up firm Hacker House.
This diversity shows the wide reach of tech in the current job market, where the Internet of Things has made even reading a book into a connected experience, and, consequently, increased the number of insecurities in data systems.
Cybersecurity is a field relating to the need to make sure that we understand the importance of protecting our data in both the business world and our personal lives, guarding against people who might wish to exploit weaknesses in business infrastructure with the aim of causing damage; perhaps even holding sensitive data ransom.
The panel mentioned the likelihood of the next world war being a cyber war. They also referenced the security breach in broadband provider Talk Talk’s network, which involved British 16-year-olds hacking their customers’ personal data.
This case in point illustrates how the complacency of businesses can endanger their customers' privacy, and underscores how some simple preventative measures could have saved them millions of pounds. Even if customers’ privacy does not stir the sympathies of the company board, the bottom line just might. Businesses are waking up to the fact that they need to invest in cybersecurity, and as a consequence the job market is expanding.
This is the job that Michal Koczwara, an ethical hacker and red team member at Marks & Spencer is employed to do: without warning, his team schedules attacks on the company’s data networks to highlight any weaknesses, analyses the results, and then patch as needed.
This is an incredibly forward-thinking initiative of M&S, in light of the fact that most companies still hold the attitude of ‘it won’t happen to me’. While Michal’s role is extremely technical, the panel stresses that there are many other jobs within the cybersecurity industry that do not require an in-depth knowledge of programming languages.
Bedria Bedri has spent 20 years working at KPMG in a mixture of cyber security and financial services. She’s made a career out of educating senior members of organisations with the knowledge that security is not just an IT issue, but something that affects everyone in the company.
She argues that technology is now so advanced that society is not ready for it, while not enough companies are taking the risks seriously – except those in government and banking.
And cybersecurity is also the focus of Ben Aung’s job within government. He is head of cybersecurity in the Cabinet Office, though he originally started his career as an illustrator in advertising firms. He highlights the skills shortage in the cybersecurity industry, not just for technical roles but across the board.
He argues that we need to empower people to enter cybersecurity, without scaring them with the potential severity of the risks if we don’t tackle these problems now. He has educated senior cabinet leaders in the dangers of neglecting cybersecurity, and reflected that there is an appetite for change. More than ever, Ben argues there is a huge talent pipeline shortage in cybersecurity.
All in all, the panel is made up of people from both ‘technical’ backgrounds (Michal used to be a developer before taking a job at M&S) and non-technical.
Luciana Carvalho is the co-founder of ethical hacking start-up Hacker House and SE3 Solutions Ltd. Hacker House rehabilitates former young hackers, and she has a degree in law. She has always enjoyed playing with technology, teaching herself to code as a child, but was inclined to follow a more traditional academic career until she experienced her ‘quarter-life crisis’.
And that is one of the most prominent themes about the Code First: Girls “Hack your career” events: anyone and everyone can enter the tech industry if they have enough interest and dedication to learning the necessary skills. You don’t need to be a genius to work in tech – but you do need to be passionate and determined to work in such a fast-paced and exciting industry.
Bedria recommends taking only roles where you do what you love, and always keeping your eye out for the next opportunity. She counsels against comparing yourself unfavourably to others, despite the strong temptation to do so. Luciana suggests knowing yourself – both your strengths and limitations, and seeking out mentors to guide you.
This was originally published on Gender and the City, and can be found here.
Beverley Newing, Programmes Intern at Code First: Girls, reflects on why she stopped coding as a young teenager, the issues she faced in STEM and how she’s now gotten her coding mojo back.
Code First: Girls (CF: G) is a not for profit social enterprise startup with a mission to get more women into technology & entrepreneurship. I work on community programmes there and we offer free coding courses to women to help them get into coding. Over the past 18 months 3000+ participated in one of our courses or events. In telephone interviews I do at CF:G, I often get insights into the crazy gender imbalance in university courses across the country – there often being only 3 women in computer science courses (for some weird reason, it’s always 3) and that only 17% of those in the tech industry are female – and I’ve been wondering why this ever since starting this job. There is a personal story behind why every girl interested in STEM subjects turns to alternative subjects, and so I’ve decided to share my own.
When I was a young teenager, I used to start and tweek the HTML of Invisionfree forums. I loved books, and living on a lonely farm in the middle of nowhere, used to chat to people on a huge online forum instead. I soon realised there were also lots of smaller communities of groups who had created their own forums and before I knew it, I was creating, publicising, customising and managing my own with a group of international friends. I loved this community and the creativity, and was always pestering my mum for more internet time (back then, it was 1.5p per minute through the phone line in the evening!). This world was a home to me in those early teen years.
Despite this hobby, STEM subjects didn’t come easily to me at school. My engineer maths-genius father was disappointed at my choices at GCSE – ICT and languages, not Design Technology. This was a blow to me, and his knowledge of technology wasn’t sufficient for me to explain to him that I did actually enjoy making and creating things just like he did. Further disappointment came after a year of classes, when I left the last Further Maths class of year 12 in tears with an exam that was graded 30% and the written recommendation that I move down to Standard Maths.
My Further Maths class was a male-dominated class, and the (always incredibly) enthusiastic help I asked for from my male peers was often overwhelming. I’ve found that men and women often communicate differently, and my low confidence meant I often felt bad interrupting the well-intentioned but overwhelmingly long explanations from men to speak up and ask the small questions I really needed to ask. I quickly got left behind and felt like an outsider because of this.
The failure hit me hard. In hindsight, the qualities that I had used in the forums – Googling bits of code, troubleshooting things myself and with the help of peers – would have translated to Maths, but I’d lacked the confidence to do so. Over the same years, personal issues hit me hard and some home issues meant I had limited internet access, so my online communities all died as we all drifted apart. I drifted away from STEM and away from coding.
After the Further Maths failure, my university options for studying Physics were limited – Russell group universities were only an option if I went down the English and German route. In a year 13 assembly, the headmistress announced to us all that University ranking, not subject, mattered the most, and so a bit spooked, I applied for and got accepted onto English and German Literature at Warwick University. I spent four years on the whole enjoying my degree but wishing I was doing Physics instead.
Five years on, by a twist of fate, I noticed the Code First: Girls internship advert in the Warwick Graduate Internship scheme and successfully applied. I’m now back to coding after having done one of our own HTML/CSS courses and co-organising the same coding courses for women all over the UK. Beyond HTML/CSS, the course taught me that it’s okay to ask questions, to not know or understand everything and to use Google. I’m once again in a motivating, friendly, coding community.
As well as this community helping to rebuild my confidence, coding itself is empowering. You start with a blank screen and end up with something you’ve designed and created yourself with your own bare hands. I’ve seen the same enjoyment in lots of my female CF:G coder peers. I’ve found the passion for coding again that I’d lost all those years ago, and whilst it’s not all plain sailing, I’m so happy.
If this resonates with anybody else, I’d love to hear your stories. I’d also like to say that there are also tons of communities out there to help you get back on your feet. Code First: Girls offer amazing courses, and Founders and Coders and Women who Hack for Non-Profit are wonderful as well – there really are so many organisations. Get Googling and reconnecting! There are so many groups out there for you who would love to have you join them.
Delighted to introduce you to our first community blogger Catherine Heath. Read on for Catherine's write up of the event...
The evening began with a definition of health tech - useful as this was a careers-focused event. Unsurprisingly, the term 'health tech’ meant different things to different people, but perhaps the most comprehensive definition that surfaced was the many technologies available to us that support our health objectives.
The Speakers and their Definitions of Health Tech
The speakers on the panel were an impressive bunch and came from a variety of backgrounds that include an academic department, a tech startup and even a top consulting firm. Mark Bartlett, from an entrepreneurial background and now working for the NHS in health tech, suggested the term health tech refers to any technologies we can use to improve our health. In contrast, Debbie Paterson, working in healthcare innovation design, suggests that tech should support the design rather than being the focal point.
Bobby Dhaliwel, who works in analytical environments, states that wearable tech is exciting because of its possibilities for helping hospital patients to manage their conditions more independently. UCL PhD student David Crane, in contrast, focuses on the prevention of disease by using mobile apps outside of a clinical setting in order to limit alcohol consumption and other destructive behaviours. Sheridan Ash, director at Price Waterhouse Cooper with a history in fashion modelling as well as pharmaceuticals, argues that we need to use technology to solve our problems.
Overcoming the Difficulties
David argues that our vision should be to aim for better communication between data scientists and marketers, thus enabling improvements in the use of customer insights across the board. We need to avoid a Big Brother-style scenario and steer away from health apps that become overly controlling, but equally we also need to be aware of security issues surrounding patient data. Sheridan pointed out that, contrary to popular opinion, technological systems are far more secure than paper ones, and that new technology Blockchain has the ability to provide high-encryption systems for patient data.
An attendee pointed out how, in a ‘real life’ setting, given the difficulties in getting patients to follow a medical program prescribed by a doctor and take their pills, it’s no more likely they will listen to instructions from an app. David argues that we need to reward users for using apps by showing them the benefit of completing an action, such as showing them what they will gain in the long-run if they drink less alcohol.
The Possibilities of Health Technology
Another attendee pointed out how, in a global market, technologies such as apps are less relevant to individuals in developing countries, many of whom may not own a smartphone. This raised an interesting discussion about the importance of knowing your audience, and the conclusion that poorer countries, because they lack the somewhat cumbersome infrastructure of health systems in developed nations, may have an advantage in the area of health tech as they are more able to implement new initiatives more quickly and easily.
The NHS in particular is notoriously slow in its uptake of technology, partly due to the aforementioned concerns about security in regards to patient data and also the NHS's historical infrastructure. However, new tech initiatives are being launched slowly but surely, Sheridan tells us, and she cites examples such as the creation of digital roadmaps for patient journeys. She also highlights the NHS's aim to be completely paperless by 2020. Mark reminds us of his work on an app called Doctor Doctor, which is being used to help more patients to attend their appointments and reduce cancellations.
Women in Tech
Sheridan brought the discussion round to reason we were all there - the serious lack of women in the health tech industry. The large number of women in the room was nevertheless an encouraging sign.
While there is often an equal intake of genders at entry level, statistics show that women are far less represented at senior levels in tech. One possible suggestion for this trend was the tendency for women not to return after maternity leave, perhaps due to the unfavourable culture in the working world for women trying to balance their careers with motherhood.
And, of course, our ethos here at Code First: Girls is to encourage and help more women to enter tech and entrepreneurship roles. The pleas for job applicants came thick and fast from many of the speakers, as well as co-hosts DigitasLBi, Digital Innovation Group, and Healthtech Women. Sheridan promoted an exciting Women in Technology initiative at Pricewaterhouse Cooper that she has pioneered, which seeks to employ more women at the firm in tech roles.
The Changing Roles of Doctor and Patient
The final and most interesting discussion was how tech will influence the roles of doctor and patient, which have already changed in recent times. For example, many patients now search online for answers to their health questions, and bring their research along to doctor’s appointments. An audience member asked whether complex machines may one day supplant the role of the clinician entirely, to which Mark responded that this was unlikely. Technology can never replace the educated professional.
David raised the interesting point that we are at a stage in society now where we have vast amounts of information at our fingertips and yet most have not developed the ability to discern between the credibility of sources. This means that some websites - NHS Direct, for example - are much more reliable sources of medical expertise than others. However, he also argues that the more serious the health issue is, the more likely a patient will be to take the advice of a team of clinicians over their own online research.
Career Advice from the Speakers
Finally, all panellists provided some advice for people setting out in their health tech career.
Mark: Make sure you expand your options, take available opportunities and attend as many events as you can like Hack your career in health tech!
Debbie: Don’t limit yourself by staying in one field but work in many different areas to gain experience. You don’t need a ten-year career plan.
Sheridan: Women are needed in the tech industries, so know your value - and watch this space!
Bobby: Make sure you get cross-industry experience, get a LinkedIn Premium account and email people in the industry to ask for advice.
Dave: There’s no shortage of jobs, especially in UX and coding. Go for it!
In her spare time, Beverley Newing, the Spring/Summer Intern at Code First: Girls volunteers with Three Rings CIC, a tech start-up and volunteer management system.
She recently interviewed Ruth Varley, the Managing Director of Three Rings, to ask her a few questions about the huge role she played in the creation of this system, and what she does now.
"Hi Ruth, so who are you and what do you do?"
R: My name is Ruth Trevor-Allen. While I was still a student I became the Managing Director of Three Rings (there were only two of us in those days so the title didn’t mean much but we had to put someone down on the form when we created the company!). Three Rings is run by volunteers, including myself, so I have a day job as well, working for Oxford Brookes University as a Solutions Architect responsible for a team of developers and analysts working on a range of strategic projects.
B: Tell us a bit about Three Rings - what is it and who uses it?
R: Three Rings is an online volunteer management system for charities and voluntary organisations. It’s entirely web-based and includes a rota management system, news and events, comms by email or SMS, and a secure filestore. We work with nearly 300 non-profit organisations, supporting almost 25,000 volunteers. Our clients include everyone from household-name charities like the Samaritans, Macmillan and Childline, to small student helplines.
B: What was the inspiration for it?
R: It came out of our own experience as volunteers, specifically at Aberystwyth Nightline, our student helpline. Back when the first version of Three Rings was written, they were still using pens and paper to organise their volunteering. Dan, who wrote the original incarnation of Three Rings single-handed, was studying computing and wanted to put the whole thing online to save time and effort. It was a very forward-thinking idea in 2002!
B: Who develops Three Rings, and what programming languages does it involve?
R: The original version of Three Rings was written in PHP, with a flat-file based storage system. In 2006 we rebuilt from the ground up in what was then a cutting-edge technology, Ruby on Rails. Three Rings is still written in Ruby, and still uses the Rails web framework. We also use various other technologies, including jQuery, Coffee, and SASS.
Dan, the original author of Three Rings, heads up our development team as Technical Lead. In addition to him, we have a team of seven volunteer developers, myself included - so far there hasn't been a single update that didn't include something I'd written even if some of them were finished at very much the last minute (and on one occasion, while I was in the early stages of labour!).
B: I know that you were one of the founders of Three Rings– could you tell us a bit more about your role in it's growth and development?
R: Shortly after I joined, we made contact with our first Samaritans region, which lead to the first ever paying Three Rings clients and the heady day when we no longer had to pay the server bill out of our own pockets! In those early days, I worked hard to put the company on a more professional footing. This included introducing a rota for tech support and a target response time of 24 hours, a huge amount of work on improving the testing of the system, and expanding it from its very focused early design to something more flexible.
For my Masters year, I had to choose a topic for a dissertation project which was expected to take up a large portion of my time. Rather than try and cram Three Rings work around another substantial project, I chose “Three Rings: Streamlining Administration for Samaritans”. I can remember sketching out a significant piece of design which we still use today (treating organisations as a tree, so one org can be the parent of another - important for Samaritans who are organised into regions, some of which have their own accounts with us) on the back of a program at a conference.
B: What advice would you offer to women who are looking to start a career in tech, or who want to create their own start-up?
R: It’s an open secret in the tech world that we all depend on research to answer most of our problems. I fix things by myself quite often, but only after I’ve trawled the Web to see if anyone else already found the answer! Don’t be ashamed of looking for help, we all do it.
If you’re planning on building something new, start with a very clear idea of the problem you’re trying to solve and what it is about your solution that’s special. I love the Lean Startup methodology (http://theleanstartup.com/), getting early and continuous feedback from your intended users is just about the best way I know of checking that you’re building something useful and that you’re building it right.
There are more men than women working in this area, it’s true, but I’ve never encountered prejudice or discrimination, either against myself or others. The tech world of today is a fascinating and vibrant place full of wonderful opportunities, and the only thing you need to join us is ability and passion.
B: Thanks for your time, it's been great to hear more about Three Rings!
To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th of March we’ll be running a week long series of blog posts to celebrate the work we’ve achieved with our sponsors. The fourth and final company featured in this week’s series of posts is Level39...
Level39 are one of our oldest partners, in fact we started working together way back in 2013! We launched our very first course at Level39 in July of that year and since then we’ve run a total of eleven courses. Together we’ve taught a staggering 280+ women to learn to code for free at Level39!
Following on from our first course in 2013, we've run two London General courses every Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer since. Given the number of courses that have taken place it’s unsurprising that we’ve taught all levels of our curriculum at Level39, from Beginners HTML/CSS, to Ruby to Python.
One of our most dedicated Lead Instructors, Elizabeth Chesters, who has taught on several classes at Level39 said: "Level39 have not only provided a space but an honest and first-hand experience in their offices, our industry, and in careers."
Our very own CF: G Intern, Beverley Newing was a student and ambassador on the last Spring/Summer Beginner’s course. Beverley had this to say about her experience:
“I joined the Spring/Summer 2016 course myself as a student and Ambassador, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Adizah Tejani, Head of Ecosystem Development at Level39, stopped by in the 5th session to show us around the rest of the floor and talk to us a bit more about what Level39 does, which was really interesting and inspiring. Seeing other start-ups in the various co-working spaces whilst working on creating our own websites and start-up ideas made entrepreneurship feel really tangible, and showed us that it was a very real option.”
Level39 is an amazing venue, and its beautiful views have been distracting our students from all over London for the past 3 years! As Europe’s largest fintech accelerator located at the heart of Canary Wharf, it also offers fantastic networking opportunities. Our students have the chance to understand more about the many Fintech startups and wider communities within Level39’s ecosystem.
The staff at Level39 have always been incredibly engaged and committed to growing our partnership, in particular Adizah Tejani has been a real advocate for championing CF: G at Level39 over the last three years. In fact, Adizah Tejani joined us as a panellist for last year’s CF: G Annual conference, and received some great feedback on our Twitter feed from attendees who were clearly inspired by her talk. Amy French, Ecosystem Development Manager, and Amy Tsang, Assistant Finance and Project Analyst at Level39, have both completed our Beginner’s course and built some amazing websites! We’ve also had a number of guest speakers visit our courses from their ecosystem, including Veronique Barbosa from Revolut and Diana Biggs from Uphold.
Level39 has played a huge part in helping Code First: Girls get to where we are, and supported us right from the start. Running our London Generals courses wouldn’t have been possible without them. We are so delighted to be working in partnership with Level39 to take a lead in having such a positive impact on diversifying technology. We can’t wait to see how many women we will teach to code and inspire to pursue a career in technology and entrepreneurship together going ahead.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th of March we’ll be running a week long series of blog posts to celebrate the work we’ve achieved with our sponsors. The third company featured in this week’s series of posts is Google’s Campus…
Another one of Code First: Girls long standing partners has been Google’s Campus (which is part of Googles ‘Google for Entrepreneurs’ business arm). Campus have not only hosted our first ever CF:G Conference in 2014, as well as our highly oversubscribed Summer Intensive courses and Summer bootcamp, but Sarah Drinkwater, Head of Campus, is also on the CF:G’s advisory board.
One of the great points for CF:G about working with Campus has been the opportunity to see one of the UK’s most vibrant and prolific entrepreneur communities in action. Not only do they run over 800 events for entrepreneurs and tech startups every year, but as one of London’s most popular free co-working spaces, they have played host to a significant proportion of London based tech startups at one point or another.
The other great way in which Google have supported us is through their people. Sarah Drinkwater as mentioned has been an incredible support to us both in an advisory sense as well as a fantastic conduit into the tech industry, and we’ve also had individuals such as Rupert Whitehead (UK Developer Relations Programs Lead) and Marily Nika (search insights specialist) come in to kindly speak to our students and community members on anything from how Google works with developers, through to how to work with APIs.
And from the CF:G side, we’re supporting Google’s Campus with their own ambitions to continue to support an inclusive and diverse tech community in London. A huge proportion of Campus’ entrepreneur members are already women, and CF:G plans to continue to send more amazing women with innovate ideas their way to establish and grow their businesses!
Sarah Drinkwater, head of Google’s Campus had this to say about working with us…
"Campus London and Google for Entrepreneurs are committed to helping diverse teams and founders thrive. We love hosting Code First: Girls and fully support their bootcamps which empower young women to upskill themselves, ready for technical roles within startups"
So a very big thank you to Google for their support of CF:G, we love working with you and look forward to continuing to do amazing things together!
To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th of March we’ll be running a week long series of blog posts to celebrate the work we’ve achieved with our sponsors. The second company featured in this week’s series of posts is Twitter...
Most of you will have already heard of Twitter, but some of you may not know that Twitter is also an amazingly generous sponsor in kind for Code First: Girls.
The Code First: Girls and Twitter partnership also started out as a one off event last Spring. Little did we know then that they would go on to host, not only our courses, but also our annual conference and many other events!
Our relationship started with a whopping full day of activities with two Hack Your Career talk, supported by over twenty members of staff from from a wide variety of roles. Since partnering with Twitter we’ve been really impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of their team to CF: G activities.
We’ve achieved some fantastic results over the last year, over the last two semesters we’ve taught over 70 women to code for free with them. You can read some tweets from our students here and here about how much they enjoy the courses. Our Python curriculum lead instructor Andreas Savvides, Software Engineer at Twitter, has helped transform our teaching material. Andreas is always working hard to continue to make learning to code more accessible and fun and encourage more women to pursue a career in technology.
We’ve been so blown away by the level of support from the team of seven volunteer instructors at Twitter. Not to mention the steady stream of many other members of staff who have visited our courses as guest speakers and inspired our students to pursue their dreams, such as Jessie Link, Twitter's UK Director of Software Engineering.
This is what Andreas had this to say about working with CF: G:
"Since joining Twitter, the amount of support, enthusiasm, passion and interest to get involved with what I have been doing for CF:G has been immense. We now have a large group of Software Engineers spending hours of their free time teaching young women how to code."
We were delighted to have Twitter host our annual conference last October, our biggest to date, attended by over 180 tech savvy young women. The day was truly inspiring, jam packed with an exhilarating series of talks, and speakers who offered a real insight into how varied and rewarding careers in technology & entrepreneurship can be. In case you missed it, you can see the full range of tweets via the #CFGconf here.
We’re excited to announce that Twitter will once again host our annual conference on Saturday 12th November 2016- so save the date! Here’s Andreas again on his experience of the conference:
"Hosting the Code First: Girls annual conference at Twitter UK last October was an amazing experience, a day jam-packed with inspirational talks and fantastic role models. All attendees, including the many Twitter volunteers, left the conference buzzing with positive energy, excitement and hope for a future with more women in the world of tech!"
This month we are even partnering with Twitter & Elle Magazine, to run a “Code Your Way into a Career in Fashion with Elle/Twitter!” event on Saturday 19th March. On the day we’ll be running a series of useful coding sessions, hacks and fascinating talks, to show how coding can help women to find a career in fashion and the creative tech industries.
We were so pleased to be a part of Twitter’s 2015 diversity and inclusion post, and to be working together to diversify technology. It’s hard to believe what we’ve achieved together in just one year, and we can’t wait to see what will accomplish in 2016. We feel so supported by the enthusiasm of their staff who are committed to increasing the ways we work together, and to achieving positive change in the tech sector.
Thanks so much Twitter!
To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th of March we’ll be running a week long series of blog posts to celebrate the work we’ve achieved with our sponsors. The first company featured in this week’s series of posts is Thoughtworks...
Code First: Girls and Thoughtworks’ relationship started with a single event in 2015, but has rapidly expanded to include hosting our courses and most recently us, as their London office became the new home of CF: G HQ.
Since beginning as hosts for our Spring/Summer 2015 courses at their Manchester and London offices, we’ve since run a total of four courses together and taught over 100 young women to learn to code for free. From Beginners Introduction to web development HTML/CSS to Advanced Python, we’ve been blown away by the level of support from the dedicated team of Thoughtworks staff who teach on our courses as Volunteer Instructors.
In February 2016 we took our partnership to the next level, as Thoughtworks became a space sponsor in kind for CF: G HQ as well as our courses, as we relocated to their London office.
Jade Daubney who has worked closely with CF: G and is the UK Graduate Talent Scout at Thoughtworks, (or as she terms it working in “finding the most amazing graduates for an amazing company”) said the following the work we’ve achieved together:
“ThoughtWorks have been partnering with Code First Girls for just over a year. We were blown away with how many young women were inspired and motivated by them and by the fantastic work they do to get women into tech. We have been involved in the actual teaching of programming languages and events such as 'Hack Your Career'. We were always impressed with the hard work and enthusiasm from the team at Code First Girls. I adore everything Code First Girls stands for!”
We’ve been inspired by working with an organisation that is as deeply committed to diversifying technology as we are. Thoughtworks very much walk the walk (not just talk the talk) shown by the fact that they have 33% of women in tech roles; well above the UK/Telco sector average of 17% of women.
Since moving to Thoughtworks we’ve found the office to be an incredibly friendly and inclusive environment, and have been encouraged by the support and positivity of all their staff. We’ve especially enjoyed being in the same space as other like minded organisations committed to diversifying tech, such as Mum’s in Technology, who are also supported by Thoughtworks.
For all of these reasons we’re really delighted to be celebrating International Women’s Day at both their London office tonight and their Manchester office tomorrow.
We find it hard to remember CF: G without Thoughtworks, and can’t believe what we’ve achieved together in just over a year. We’re excited to continue to work together this year, and to further grow the ways our partnership is creating the positive change we want to see in technology.
My name is Ore Ajala, I am 16 years old and a Student at Haberdashers Aske's Hatcham College doing a week placement with Code First: Girls (CF: G) during my half term. Here, I work with the team mainly on the community activities and as I do learning more about CF: G.
I went about searching placements with technology based businesses as I hope to work in this industry. By being proactive and using contacts I have, I gained a placement at Code First: Girls.
When I came across CF: G , I took an interest in the company as their mission correlates with my aspirations. They build the female representation in the STEM community that I aim to one day be a part of. Also, the community led ethos they have made them appeal to me.
Being determined to pursue a career in the technology industry, it is very common for me to hear about the lack of female representation in this sector. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons that pushed me to invest in this career path. When I was initially introduced to the computing subject at school, the lack of interest from girls was emphasised. Something that soon became very apparent to me, was that people seemed unable to adhere from mentioning the imbalance between men and women working in tech when discussing this industry. This constant reminder led me to realise that I wanted to show the people I had as company that girls are equally capable and interested as boys in computer science.
This week, I aimed to gain an insight in the day to day activities of the CF:G team and build my professional skills. I had a very busy experience working with the Code First: Girls and plan to apply the skills I gained as I venture into a degree in Computer Science. The ladies were lovely to work with and made me feel incredibly welcome so I will definitely consider volunteering for the courses in the future.
Read in full via PwC UK website here
We’ve got 1.5 million people working in tech in London at the moment, and we need another million in the UK by 2020 – it’s a big ask, and is part of what drives me in my role as CEO of Code First: Girls. We work with companies as well as with young and professional women, to help increase the number of women in tech. We do this to make sure that no one is missing out on amazing female tech talent.
I started my career working in manufacturing and footwear production. Working in this middle ground between technical and creative industries gave me a unique insight into how the two can combine successfully. It also made me realise I have an interest in how we build products and services to fit the people that use them, which led me to a career in research and strategy. I’ve worked in billion pound industries where margins of 0.001% can make a difference.
I’m also a PwC alumni, and during my time there I worked extensively with the senior leaders and thought leadership teams as part of the PwC Trust and PwC Global CEO programmes. Whilst at PwC I also did a secondment year at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. This was a fascinating experience. I met senior people and exposed me to a very different side of industry where private and public sector collide.
Going back to the skills shortage in the tech industry, we have to start thinking differently about tech talent if we want to make up those numbers to avoid being out-skilled by other countries.
Why aren't there more women in tech and entrepreneurship? It's a complex issue, but at Code First: Girls we do believe one thing - tech shouldn't just be a boys club. I haven’t found many people in the industry that are overtly sexist, but more often they are just used to having done things a certain way for decades. Recruiting is expensive. With human time, recruitment time, weeks devoted to bringing someone in and training them, it can often cost around £35K by the time you’ve got a new recruit in the company, so of course the decision must be the right one. I believe that thinking about diversity can actually help with this.
We help companies train their people and develop their talent management policies; and also have a community arm where we support young and professional women to develop further personal, professional and technical skills, including course in coding and programming.
Looking forward, it feels as though things are changing. London is one of the most diverse cities on the planet and certainly the businesses I work with know that their teams are better for having different people in them. Of course, this is part of wider social issues, which I’m looking forward to discussing on 15 December. Thinking about my area of focus, I’m looking forward to chatting with my fellow panellists, on how businesses can make sure that the talent stream from a young age is arriving in the workplace ready and with the relevant employability skills.
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Code First: Girls