Tech Talent Charter (TTC) has launched a campaign describing women’s various journeys into tech to encourage others to pursue a career in the industry.
The project, called Doing It Anyway, features the stories of eight women in the tech sector in the hope that sharing their paths into their roles will encourage other working-age women to seek out careers in the IT industry.
Sinead Bunting, co-founder of Tech Talent Charter, said that once the TTC campaign had started making progress in its aim to share best practice for diversity and inclusion across the tech sector, it wanted to shift focus to target young working-age women who could be possible future tech employees.
“We felt that with the backing behind us of all these signatories, it would be nice to be able to go out and say: ‘You know what, you can do it. We need you, and you have those skills anyway’,” she said.
“There are so many amazing women out there doing tech day in, day out, and they’ve not taken a traditional path. They’ve not gone to university to do computer engineering, you know, there’s so much diversity of women and their journeys and their stories and they were generally inspirational.”
Tech Talent Charter was set up to “connect the dots” between tech firms and diversity and inclusion campaigns, providing resources to help firms improve their approach to diversity and inclusion, and as of 2020 it has more than 300 signatory companies, accounting for about 700,000 employees across the UK.
Launched in partnership with the Rankin creative agency, PwC, HP and the Institute of Coding, Doing It Anyway chose eight women from more than 300 TTC signatory nominees to represent a variety of backgrounds and paths into the tech sector.
The women featured in the campaign are:
- Honesty Haynes-Williams, a digital marketer.
- Sifaya Vellaithamby, a lead technical architect.
- Magdalene Amegashitsi, a data scientist.
- Molly Watt, an accessibility and UX/usability consultant.
- Jennifer Johnson, a developer.
- Kam Rai, a product manager.
- Patience Ndlovu, a software tester.
- Clare Streets, a project director.
Research from BCS has found that women make up about 17% of the UK’s tech sector, and in the past a lack of available and accessible role models has been cited as a reason why many women don’t seek a career in the IT industry.
Accessibility consultant Molly Watt, one of the women featured in the campaign, said she is “extremely passionate about accessibility, diversity and inclusion” and that although people still face challenges when it comes to accessibility and inclusion, the more people are included, the better the situation will get for everyone, “especially in tech”, which is always adapting and changing.
“I am female, but I also have a disability, so I’ve experienced a lot of exclusion, feeling like because of who I am, the person that I am, my needs, how I look, whatever, they’ve prevented me from having certain opportunities and experiences,” said Watt.
Claiming that she wants to be a “token of hope” for others who may have felt excluded in the past, Watt said: “Anything that inspires that bit of awareness for diversity and inclusion is what I’m all about, because I couldn’t tell you how many experiences I’ve had where I’ve been excluded, and that can do so much to someone’s mental health, that can be really detrimental in many different ways.”
While creating a diverse and inclusive culture withing firms is the right thing to do, many also believe that when people feel they can be themselves at work, it allows them to be more creative and innovative, which is therefore better for business.
Magdalene Amegashitsi, senior consultant and data science at Avanade and another of the women featured, retrained in data science and artificial intelligence, studying in the early hours before her children woke up.
“Go for it – don’t hold back,” she said. “Think about the long term, think about the impact you’re having on the next generation and on people around you. If you choose the easy route, it might not lead to you bringing out your full potential. It’s only through the difficult times and decisions you take that will bring out a part of you that you never thought existed.”
For those interested in a tech career as a result of the stories shared by the women involved in the Doing It Anyway campaign, there are training and employment opportunities featured on the Tech Talent Charter website.