In June 2019, our Tech Coach Harriet had the opportunity to travel to London for Women of Silicon Roundabout, a 2 day conference designed to connect and inspire women in technology whilst also pushing the agenda for action on gender diversity and inclusion in the industry.
What were our main takeaways from the event?
Sometimes it's easy to wonder "Where are all the women in tech?". Looking around some meetups, you might not think there are any at all. With an audience of over 4000 people, the vast majority of them women, and with brilliant female speakers from all areas of the technology industry sharing their expertise, Women of Silicon Roundabout demonstrated that there is no excuse for non-diverse lineups, events or panels.
If there's one theme that we heard again and again at the conference, it was the challenges and opportunities presented by the changing future of business. With 82% of businesses beliving they will need to shift to become a software-first business, but with 93% of reporting barriers of some kind in this shift, it is clear there are huge changes afoot. AI, automation and the use of big data emerged as areas where companies were looking to make digital transformations, and the imperative to find multi-skilled, diverse and talented people to push forward work in these areas came through in many of the talks.
Not only will the way businesses work and operate change in the future, but how employees work will change, too. There was an emphasis on exploring what skills and capabilities will be needed over the next few years, and how both employers and employees can best prepare, and it was clear that being capable of learning, being open to multiple career changes and shifts, being a T-Shaped person (someone with deep knowledge in one area but broad knowledge across many more areas) and being a strong, empathetic collaborator were all desirable future skills.
Female participation in the tech workforce, as we know, is among the worst in any industry, but in many workshops we discussed positive actions that can be taken by everyone to help try to address the imbalance - whether it's men agreeing to share their salaries with women who do similar roles, to implementing reverse mentoring or re-designing how feedback is delivered to eliminate male-centric frameworks and criteria. There's so much to do, but there's so much will to improve and great ideas circulating around, and it was great to see men attending these workshops too to learn how they can be better allies.
Another theme that ran through many of the talks was cloud technologies. Adoption of the public cloud (such as AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform - technologies allowing us to use hosted and serviced infrastructure and platforms instead of on-premises hardware) is growing at a huge rate, and it really feels like companies who are not embracing the cloud are likely to be left behind, and are certainly missing out on some huge benefits that their competitors will be leveraging.
We found it telling that among the most over-subscribed sessions throughout the conference were sessions focused on self-improvement, personal development, developing confidence, improving interpersonal skills and how to find mentorship. Our conclusion from this: women are eager to develop professionally and keen to seek out the support and resources to do so. What more can we as individuals or as a company do to support women to be the best version of themselves, and the best employee, they can be? How much more can we lift up and invest in our female talent?
If you are interested in this final point, Tech Future Female Leaders is a highly successful personal development program designed to advance the careers and profile of women in tech. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.