THE 5 BEST THINGS WE LEARNED AT #SWATLONDON

The name alone made it sound like a promising event. Twitter UK gathered “Super Women in Tech” at its London headquarters for an evening of panel discussions and socialising.

Panelists Alice Bentinck, co-founder of Code First:Girls and other Silicon Roundabout startups, Madeline Parra, CEO of Twizoo, Robyn Exton, founder of Dattch, and Wendy Orr from Guardian News & Media openly shared their experiences as women in this male-dominated industry, in a discussion chaired by the BBC’s Philippa Thomas.

The Super Women in Tech London at @TwitterUK. #SWATLondon http://t.co/y0W2hew5Nr pic.twitter.com/hGwE2gBm1o

— Project Ada (@ProjectAda_) February 18, 2015

The evening proved hugely popular, and was three times oversubscribed, according to an organiser we spoke to. The venue, which started filling up half an hour before the panel even started, was packed by the time the event began.

Really, really good attendance at tonight’s @TwitterWomen #SWATLondon event. Thanks for this @Twitter @TwitterDev ! pic.twitter.com/yVw3TyM85D

— Gen A (@coderinheels) February 18, 2015

Project Ada reported live from the event – but in case you missed it, we’ve put together our highlights from the evening.

1. The wonders of the women in tech community

The panelists’ praise of the WIT community was unsurprisingly warmly received by the audience.

“The female tech community is one of the most embracing ones out there,” says @AliceBentinck at #SWATLondon #womenintech

— Clara Guibourg (@cguibourg) February 18, 2015

Robyn Exton, who’s not just founder of Dattch, but also co-founder of Geek Girl Meetup UK, added that meetups and organisations are the best way to change the sexist culture in tech. “These organisations will change the world”

(You can read more about Geek Girl Meetup here.)

2. Women get called “pushy and emotional”

A murmur of recognition went through the crowd as one audience member described her experiences of working in tech. “When I’m driven I get called pushy, when that makes me frustrated, I get called emotional.”

Panelist Madeline Parra also shared some of the more sexist comments she’s received in VC meetings – one about nail polish stood out in particular:

“Why are your nails painted pink?” One of the insightful questions from a male VC @loon_burger got during funding round pitch #SWATLondon

— Ciara O’Keeffe (@CommsOKeeffe) February 18, 2015

3. Yes, there is a brogramming culture

Does brogramming culture exist, asked moderator Philippa Thomas and was met by a resounding ‘yes’, both from panelists and the audience.

‘Is there really a brogrammer culture?’ Yes @PhilippaBBC and it’s painful! #swatlondon

— BrendaOConnell (@BrendaOConnell) February 18, 2015

(Project Ada has explored the issue of this macho culture in tech – and how to eradicate it – here.)

4. Do VC investors want confident bullshitters?

Venture capital is the main funding option for the tech industry, and is completely male-dominated. Is the solution a question of confidence – and if so, do men have too much or women too little?

Interesting conversation about confidence. I wonder if investors are happier with confident bullshitters, or competent realists? #swatlondon

— Kate AG (@RadioKate) February 18, 2015

‘Women are less likely to talk about their ambitions and their visions,’ @alicebentinck #SWATLondon

— Christie Fidura (@cfidurauk) February 18, 2015

5. Three top tips from the panelists

As the evening wound down, the panelists wrapped up by sharing some of their top tips for women in tech.

From Madeline Parra: “You have to believe in yourself […] I think it is something you can teach yourself.”

‘Confidence is the number 1 thing completely in your control. So use it.’ @loon_burger #SWATLondon

— Christie Fidura (@cfidurauk) February 18, 2015

From Robyn Exton: “Get thicker skin and plough on”

.@robynexton says “GET THICKER SKIN!” We agree, and thanks for the shoutout  #womenintech #swatlondon

— Girls in Tech London (@Girlsintech_UK) February 18, 2015

And finally, from moderator Philippa Thomas: “Don’t wait for a mentor to float up to you – go out there and find them!”

“Asking for guidance isn’t a sign of weakness” Amen to that sister! #SWATLondon

— Ciara O’Keeffe (@CommsOKeeffe) February 18, 2015

Were you at the event? Any other highlights you think we should’ve mentioned? Comment below, or tweet us @ProjectAda_!

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