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AS IT HAPPENED: ADA LOVELACE DAY LIVE!

Project Ada reported live from Ada Lovelace Day Live! in London, hosted by the IET. The “science cabaret” evening highlighted the achievements of women in STEM.

►Suw Charman-Anderson: Why I founded Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day, now in its eighth year, is a day to celebrate female role models. The London cabaret featured design engineer Yewande Akinola, science writer Kat Arney, planetary physicist Sheila Kanani and many more – and was hosted by comedian Helen Keen.

Sam and Clara liveblogged the event below, but you can also keep an eye on @ProjectAda_ and the event hashtag #ALD16.

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INTERACTIVE: WHO’S MOST INFLUENTIAL ON #WOMENINTECH?

It’s hardly news that the people supporting diversity in tech make up a vibrant and active community. Supporting and inspiring each other through events, in the workplace – and on Twitter, through hashtags like #womenintech.

We were curious to see who some of the network’s more influential tweeters were and built the network below, based on the latest 18,000 tweets on the hashtag.

Interactive: Explore everyone tweeting about #womenintech

Every circle represents one Twitter account, and the darker purple it is, the more central that account is to the community. The bigger it is, the more mentions it’s received from other accounts.

So who are the top ten?

1. @thistechgirl

Also known as Saadia Muzaffar, the founder of Tech Girls Can and committed to “changing the ratio” in tech. On her website she writes:

“Diversity forces innovation to snap out of becoming a claustrophobic, self-affirming, classist idea machine.”

2. @fedscoop

This is part of a US government agency and breaks government tech news, so it’s not entirely surprising that it has a central position in this network.

3. @marthalanefox

Martha Lane Fox

Martha Lane Fox (Photo: Flickr/Open University)

Martha Lane Fox balances several roles, as a business woman, the youngest female member of the House of Lords, and not least in her current position heading the digital skills charity Go ON UK.

4. @dilbert_daily

Yes, this is Dilbert’s creator Scott Adams’ Twitter account.

5. @dreamhost

A corporate account for the cloud hosting platform DreamHost.

6. @codefilm

Code - debugging the gender gap

 

7. @girldevorg

This San Fran-based organisation have a clear mission:

“Won’t stop til we #closethegendergap”.

8. @blackgirlscode

Black Girls Code works to empower young and teenage girls of colour to go into tech.

9. @womenwhocode

This organisation supporting and promoting diversity in the coding workforce boasts over 25,000 members in 15 countries across the world.

10. @aauw

The American Association of University Women have been promoting education and equality for girls for quite some time. Their tagline?

“Empowering women since 1881.”

Did you find anything interesting or unexpected in the graph? Comment below, or tweet us @ProjectAda_!

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HAS GENDER REPRESENTATION IN TECH REPORTING GOT ANY BETTER?

Back in March we found that women were not only underrepresented in the tech industry, but among the journalists writing about it as well. What we found was genuinely surprising: At the Guardian just one in five tech articles was written by a woman, whilst at the Daily Mail more articles were written by women than by men.

So, two months on with a much larger sample size, how has the gender balance changed?

Actually, for the most part, it’s got better.

Telegraph wins ‘most improved’

Every news outlet we studied got at least a little bit better, with an increased number of women making up their tech authors. Three sites had increased their female representation by over 20%.

The prize for most improved goes to the Telegraph, leaping from 46% of articles written by women in February, to 59% in April. This represents an increase of 27%. Did we have something to do with that? Probably.

The Guardian and Wired also saw the percentage of female tech reporters rise.

The Daily Mail had the largest female representation in March, and remains much the same on around 54%. Buzzfeed is also largely unchanged at 46%.

Although the Guardian increased the share of articles written by women from 19.6% to 23.7%, this is a small improvement that sees them still lag some way behind their tabloid rivals.

How many reporters are female?

The male dominance in tech journalism is clear when looking at the number of reporters for each site. Only two of the news outlets we looked at have more women than men writing about tech: Buzzfeed and the Mail.

Surprisingly, based on the articles in our sample, the Telegraph has the most skewed gender balance in the newsroom. Just 32% of their tech writers are female – but those writers have produced 58% of the articles.

What difference does it make?

Do investigations like these have any impact on gender representation? Well, as Google said when they released their diversity report last June:

“It is hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.

 

What do you think? Get in touch with us @ProjectAda_ or leave a comment below.

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THE TECH JOBS WITH THE HIGHEST GENDER PAY GAP IN THE UK

As odd as it can be, women and men are not paid equally.

In the UK’s tech industry, female workers earn less than their male colleagues in all jobs, from computer programming to data processing.

According to the ONS’s Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, women’s salaries can be as much as 37 per cent less than men’s.

In the graphic below, it’s possible to see the salary gender gap in seven jobs in the UK tech industry.

 

The highest gap is seen in the role “data processing and web portals”. While male workers earn £726 per week, women are paid much less, at £457.

Even in computer programming, where the payment difference is the smallest among the jobs analysed, female programmers still make 22 per cent less than men. Women earn £534.70 per week, while men get £689.90.

The graphic below shows that there is no equality in salaries in any job considered in the analysis. Other roles in the survey, such as software designing and computer games, couldn’t be analysed as there was no sufficient data about women’s earnings.

ChartSalaryGap

“Raise awareness”

Earlier this month, the group Girls in Tech launched a campaign to bring awareness to the gender pay gap in the tech industry.

The campaign is a response to the recent comments by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who said during an interview in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference that women should rather trust the system than ask for a raise.

Girls in Tech campaign promises to raise the gender wage gap with companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, IBM, PayPal and others.

Kate Brodock, Girls in Tech president, said:

“By teaching employees how to effectively ask for a raise and creating a system that supports that, we hope to empower those women that are currently hesitant to ask for a raise, and gain productive partners in the participating companies.”

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WHERE ARE ALL THE FEMALE SPEAKERS IN STEM? IP EXPO MANCHESTER HAS MORE SPEAKERS NAMED DAVID THAN WOMEN

Women are grossly underrepresented as speakers at tech conferences, and IP Expo Manchester, opening today in Manchester, is no exception, as a Project Ada analysis reveals it has just seven per cent female speakers.

The problem is a familiar one: women are missing not just from the industry, but on stage. Even when an event’s audience is more equally split between genders, among keynote speakers and panelists women can still be hard to find, and all-male panels still all too common.

At IP Expo Manchester, held 18-19 May, just three of the 43 speakers advertised on the website are women. A whole 92.5 per cent of the speakers are male.

In fact, there are more Davids among the event’s speakers than there are women, as we found that four of the promoted speakers are named David – and just three are women.

Proportion of male and female speakers at IP EXPO

IP Expo Manchester’s organisers tell Project Ada they’d love to see more female keynote speakers and panelists:

“It is one of our main aims, that we remain focused on attracting the thought leaders in the field, irrespective of gender but would certainly like to see a bigger representation from the talented women in technology,” said a spokesperson for the event.

This year speakers include Dr Sue Black and Dame Stella Rimington.

This isn’t just a problem for IP Expo. “Where are the women speakers?” is a question that’s been asked time and again. It’s a vicious circle, of course: with a lack of women in the industry leading to a lack of women on stage – damaging women’s career prospects.

But women are underrepresented even when taking into account their smaller numbers in STEM industries. And not all the blame can be laid at organisers’ feet: Women, it seems, are more likely to say no, when asked.

In 2013, researchers from the University of Sheffield found 50 per cent of female biologists turned down an invitation to speak, against just 26% of men.

IP Expo Manchester’s spokesperson confirmed this has been a difficulty:

We’ve worked really hard to promote gender equality on our keynote programmes, however, despite approaching a huge selection of relevant, qualified female speakers it is really difficult to get commitment.

So is there a good way of solving the problem? One study suggests that an effective way of increasing female speakers is actually quite simple: make sure there is at least one woman organising the event.

One woman makes all the difference, according to researchers at Yale University and Yeshiva University, who found that having one or more women involved in organizing scientific conference increased the proportion of female speakers by 72 per cent.

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INTERVIEW: HOW HERA HUSSAIN HELPS WOMEN EMPOWER THEMSELVES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

By day, she’s the Communities and Partnerships Manager at OpenCorporates, ensuring that data is used for social good. By night, Hera Hussain helps women to empower themselves through technology with the organisation Chayn.

Chayn is a small, volunteer-driven organisation which mainly works with women, primarily in countries such as India and Pakistan, who are victims of domestic violence.

Its team are developing a number of technology-driven projects to help these women in different ways, whether through open-source how-to guidesinformative websites or uplifting mental health campaigns. Hera, its founder, says:

“We use technology wherever we can to empower women.”

When Chayn was first founded in 2013, it was a “very lean start-up operation” with a budget of just £500, which was used to launch its website. All of its projects are open-source, collaborative and crowd-sourced from a global team of volunteers.

Why digital is powerful

Using the internet, it can reach and empower vulnerable women who may not leave the house very often, but will likely have a smartphone with internet access.

“That’s why digital is really powerful, because most women have access to a smartphone and internet.”

Not all of them, of course, but rather than try to tackle the complex issue of getting women online in the developing world, Hera and Chayn just make a difference where they can.

“You’ve got to pick your battles,” Hera states.

“So if the middle class has smartphones, then let’s go for that. It’s about targeting women you are able to help.”

Helping women escape abuse

Chayn’s resources on domestic violence aim to plug key gaps in the information available to women and give them simple, practical advice, such as how to save money if they want to leave home, or information on divorce laws in their country. So far it has helped 15 women from Pakistan to escape domestic abuse situations in some way.

The organisation has also recently started developing workshops which will teach women the basics of email, internet navigation and simple website-building.

Basic though it may seem, these are powerful technological skills which can open up a new world for women and give them marketable skills that they can adapt to their lifestyle, especially if they have children.

Empowerment pop-ups

“[Learning these skills] feels really empowering for them,” Hera says. “Getting them to set up their own website, even if it’s a WordPress site, is so empowering because many women grow up thinking they can’t do much; the fact that they can do something is life-changing for them.”

“It’s little things that add up to a big thing.”

Hera envisions these workshops taking the form of “empowerment pop-ups”, day-long workshops on key employment skills.

In the future, she also aspires to open an academy in which women who are leaving domestic violence situations learn how to build websites. “I think it’s a great profession for women,” she says.

“I think it’s great and I really want to see more women in tech.”

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JESS WILLIAMSON ON HACKATHONS, WOMEN AND INNOVATION

We caught up with Jess Williamson, director at TechStars, to talk about the importance of hackathons and why they often fail to attract female competitors.

We talked about wider issues of gender representation and what we can do to tackle it. Take a look in the video below.

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SUW CHARMAN-ANDERSON: WHY I FOUNDED ADA LOVELACE DAY

Ada Lovelace Day on 11 October is a day to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM, and shine a light on inspiring role models in an industry long dominated by men. As the date approaches, we caught up with founder Suw Charman-Anderson to learn how it came about.

She tells Project Ada she founded the day in 2009, “fed up” of going to tech conferences and seeing few women on the speaker lists – or even none.

“I knew loads of women in the industry, but so few of them seemed to get conference speaking slots,” she said.

Suw, who was working in the tech industry at the time, recalls the women in tech community online discussing the issue, in blogs, social media and comment sections:

“People would name women who they thought should be on stage, but that never seemed to move the dial.”

“No one else had that imagination”

It was this frustration that gave birth to the idea of a specific day for raising awareness of female tech role models, spearheaded by computing pioneer (and this website’s namesake) Ada Lovelace.

The 19th century mathematician and STEM trailblazer seems like a natural choice as a role model. Often described as the world’s first ever computer programmer, Lovelace is best known for her work on Charles Babbage’s mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine and was the first person to realise the machine’s potential, far beyond number-crunching, to create music and art:

“She envisioned computer science as we now understand it, and saw how useful a computer would be to future mathematicians and scientists,” said Suw, adding:

No one else at that time, in the mid-1800s, had that kind of imagination or foresight.

Success stories “hugely important”

Ada Lovelace Day is all about celebrating those who inspire us. Suw says role models are “hugely important”, and she’s backed up on this by research showing that women actually need role models and success stories more than men do.

The stories that we tell about other women inform the stories we tell ourselves about our own capabilities and futures.

In 2009, thousands took part in the first ever Ada Lovelace Day by blogging about a woman they admire. Seven years on, the day has grown into a fully fledged science cabaret evening: Ada Lovelace Day Live in London.

This year, speakers include design engineer Yewande Akinola, planetary physicist Dr Sheila Kanani, science writer Dr Kat Arney, developer Jenny Duckett, mathematician Dr Sara Santos, computational biologist Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani, and climate scientist Dr Anna Jones.

“Essential for girls to see”

“It’s an amazing opportunity to see the breadth of work that’s happening in the UK, something I think is often hidden away because the media are only interested in certainly types of STEM news stories,” said Suw.

The cabaret takes place in London, but Ada Lovelace Day events are being held worldwide. If you’re not close to one, Suw encourages women in STEM to celebrate simply by talking to their daughters, granddaughters or nieces:

It’s essential for girls to see that they have a future in STEM, and for women to see that they can progress in STEM careers all the way to the top.

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WHY GENDER DIVERSITY ISN’T ENOUGH IN TECH

Diversity in tech usually focuses on gender equality, but to be truly inclusive, the industry’s efforts can’t stop there.

Lola Odelola, founder of the Black Girl.Tech community, talked to Project Ada about why looking at gender is not enough:

Race and gender are not separate. I am both black and a woman and there aren’t days where I can choose to be one over the other.

Intersectionality is the concept that different identity categories like race, gender, sexuality or class are interrelated, not layers that can be peeled away one by one and looked at separately.

Colorless diversity

Silicon Valley giants have been racing each other recently to lead diversity campaigns and release workforce diversity figures, but critics say tech diversity focuses on just one identity. Slack engineer Erica Baker coined the term “colorless diversity” in a Medium post, pointing out that the Grace Hopper conference for women in tech had no black women at all as headline speakers – but managed to make room for two white men.

Lola agrees it’s important to be more specific about diversity. When the conversation is largely about gender, she says, it “can only really go so far”.

“The conversation is led by people who don’t have to think about race. In that sense, they’re privileged and when you’re privileged, it’s very easy to miss the effects of your privilege on others,” she says.

Black Girl.Tech is a community looking to take that conversation further. Describing itself as “a space for black girls and women to explore and learn”, BGT is now nearing its second birthday. Lola, who taught herself to code after attending a bootcamp, started it to address what she discovered when she began looking for a job in tech:

I heard the word ‘diversity’ being used a lot, however black women were missing from the conversation and from the teams I was seeing.

Black women entering the tech industry face specific challenges, according to Lola. Finding a job is the first hurdle. She has also experienced microaggressions in the workplace, as well as getting treated differently from other employees.

Better hiring practices

“People’s implicit bias comes into play a lot,” she says.

“The difficulty is knowing if this is due to racial bias, gender bias, being a junior or all three.”

To combat this, Lola wants to see tech companies improving their hiring practices. Introducing practices like blind hiring has proved effective to improve diversity in tech. Lola adds that being intentional about diverse hiring is important, to avoid racist undertones about applicants with minority backgrounds lowering standards:

Many people say they ‘hire the best person for the job’, but that implies that by actively seeking out black women or people from other minorities the bar is somehow being lowered, which implies that those people are not as qualified or intelligent.

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WOMEN MAKE UP JUST 10% OF THE CYBERSECURITY WORKFORCE

Cybersecurity is booming, but women (still) make up just 10% of the cybersecurity workforce.

Indeed, despite the industry facing a massive skills shortage, depressingly little is changing. That 1 in 10 figure is unchanged over the past three years, new figures from the Global Information Security Workforce Study by (ISC)² show.

With less than one in four roles filled by women, the tech industry as a whole remains male-dominated – but this report shows certain sectors are falling even further behind.

The CREST report “Closing the Gender Gap in Cybersecurity” explores barriers to a more diverse workforce, and suggests that women are currently shying away from the cyber industry:

There are very few female applicants to the industry, thus leading workshop attendees to conclude that the marketing and perception of the industry is the main problem.

The cybersecurity industry is growing explosively, as hacking becomes a bigger topic, both in newspaper headlines, company budgets and government initiatives.

Recruiters are clamouring for new people, but according to the CREST report, the number of female applicants in the field is “incredibly” low.

The main reasons for this dearth? Cybersecurity professionals themselves suggest misperceptions of the industry and what skills are required are a big barrier.

“The marketing of the cybersecurity industry needs a lot of further consideration, particularly relating to ensuring its messaging is gender-neutral and thus attracting both sexes,” states the CREST report.

The report also emphasizes the importance of earlier initiatives to encourage girls to take STEM subjects:

Influencing children early in their education is a key to encouraging more girls into STEM.

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