Hatch Events

A Celebration of women-in-tech

Part of the mind the (skills) gap series




Girls Who Code

These are all movements geared towards shedding tech’s cultural ‘bro-gramming’ legacy and reclaiming the industry as one of gender equality. And they’re movements that deserve celebration.

But what barriers to progress remain firmly in place for Women-in-Tech, and how can we work together to dismantle them?

The state of play

Where are we?

Modest gains in female representation over the last decade have been well publicised, yet recent data paints a more honest picture of how far we still have to go to make tech an inclusive industry for women & girls alike. 

  • Just 9% of girls between aged 13-17 are interested in STEM careers [1]
  • Only 15% of Engineering graduates and 19% of Computing graduates are female [2]
  • Despite 50% of workers in the labour market as a whole being women, in tech, representation is half that at just 26% [3]
  • For every 100 men who are promoted from entry-level roles to managerial positions in tech, only 87 women, and only 82 women of colour are promoted [4]
  • 17 percent of women leave employment completely in the five years following childbirth, compared to four percent of men [5]
  • At that the current rate of progress it would take nearly 300 years to achieve true gender equality [6]

Of girls between 13-17 interested in STEM careers
Of Engineering graduates are female
Of women leave employment within 5 years of childbirth
Of computing graduates are female
Of people in tech roles are female
Before true gender equality in tech at the current pace of change
0 Years

Gender equality is both an economic imperative and a fundamental human right, which is why it’s time for action. On 9th March, Hatch brought together female leaders from across the industry to facilitate a candid discussion on what really needs to be done to make tech a more equitable industry for women.

Offering different viewpoints from around the globe, our speakers spanned the experience spectrum from executive to entry-level. In this article, we’ll be summarising their key messages on the pivotal topic: “Gender Equality: How far have we really come?”

Keynote One

Tanuja Randery, Managing Director EMEA at AWS

Tanuja opened the event by setting the scene across the tech landscape.

We’re here because we have a responsibility to lay the foundation for the next generation of women leaders, especially in tech.

Today, there is nothing that moves without technology. It doesn’t matter whether you’re AWS, Zara, or a pharmaceutical business. You’re a tech company.

Every CEO I speak to globally has a tech skills gap.

She told the audience of her personal experience navigating the industry, and set forth the job to be done in demystifying tech and “making it a place that women want to work”.

I was lucky enough to learn tech by doing, and it certainly isn’t always coding. It’s marketing, it's sales, it's legal, it's business development. And it's all changing the world, so we need to be better at marketing the industry as a whole to women.

Tanuja then shifted focus to the challenges women face at the mid-point of their careers, and what organisations can do better to retain them.

Inspiring young female talent isn’t enough. Once we’ve hired these women, how do we keep them inspired? How do we make it an environment they can and want to thrive in, rather than allowing a third of our finite female tech professionals to leave the industry?

Flexibility is really important. Paid leave is really important. Pay equity is critical. And finally, it’s the management layer that needs addressing. We can put policy after policy in place, but management need training to address bias and work alongside women in order to execute those policies effectively.

To close, Tanuja relayed the wisdom she’s lived by in building her career to the predominantly female audience:

  • Have a plan
  • Calibrate vs. catastrophise
  • Don’t stay under the radar
  • Learn to be curious with the 40:40:20 rule
  • Build your network & board

Activate your sponsors. Build a personal board around you, which can be made up of friends, family, people you’ve worked with, and maintain and connect with that board. Regularly use them. Help them to challenge you.

Women don't have adequate sponsorship. They don't have people creating the right opportunities and looking out for them.

Embrace and invest in yourself. Adopt the 40:40:20 rule, meaning you spend 40% of your time with your team, 40% of your time with key stakeholders, so you're influencing customers, partners, and the final 20% of your time is for yourself to learn, reflect and do something purposeful for you.

Panel One

A thought provoking and interactive discussion

With a focus on tangible actions that employers can take to address gender equality in their own organisations, a panel of esteemed female leaders came together to share their views on why there’s such an imbalance in the tech industry today.

[Amanda Henman] We need to focus on girls aged 12-15, because that’s when people begin to ask fundamental questions about their futures. What do I want to do when I grow up? What do I want to aspire to be? And currently, where's the inspiration for those girls? Because it’s not in STEM.

Next, you need to connect inspiration with opportunity, making sure girls are equipped with the skills they need to pursue a STEM career, once they’ve been inspired to do so.

Finally, the retention of women once they’ve landed in tech is crucial. So, there are three key areas of focus that start in education, and track right the way through a woman’s continued progression in the workplace.

[Marisa Trisolino] Women have got to support women. If you've got to a certain level, send the elevator back down and bring up the next woman.

Turning their attention to unconscious bias as a prolific barrier to progress, the panel flipped the narrative, arguing that our individual biases can be channelled positively so long as they’re understood.

[Amanda Henman] It has to be a top-down approach, rather than a siloed movement. It’s very difficult to affect real change otherwise.

One of the key principles is a growth mindset that constantly & consistency reinforces and individual’s understanding of their own unconscious bias, but within a safe environment. How have you, as an employee, or as a manager, forced yourself to grow to address your own bias?

Hiring & promotional loops are incredibly important to introduce different viewpoints, mindsets and backgrounds into the decision-making process as well.

[SJ Richardson] We all need to recognise we've got that unconscious bias. We a have a responsibility to understand what that means for us and what sort of decisions that can drive us to make.

Finally, the panel shared their advice for creating an industry that’s more welcoming to women.

[Helen Tinnelly] There are two really practical actions organisations can take today to address this. One, enable shared parental leave, and encourage men as much as women to take it. It will begin to remove the stigma around taking a career break. Two, address the cost of childcare that today is crippling couples. Can you provide childcare tokens, or a creche on-site? Anything to help alleviate the burden and encourage women back to work long-term.

[SJ Richardson] My advice is, don’t be afraid to be a woman. Don’t be afraid of leaving early to pick-up your children from school. We should be proud to be women in senior roles.

[Amanda Henman] A lot of organisations have women’s networks and communities, and only women go to them. Men don’t think they’re invited or feel that it’s applicable to them. Organisations need to manage this better and reach out to clarify this to male colleagues, because it could achieve an awful lot.

[Marisa Trisolino] I think progress is rooted in collaboration. Be genuine, authentic, and open, and hope that you get the reciprocity from your male colleagues, because that’s what a diverse, dynamic workforce is.

Keynote Two

Billie Major, Chief Operating Officer at Capgemini UK

Billie’s contribution to the UK tech sector speaks for itself, but what many don’t know is that Billie came into the industry via an unconventional route. She opened her keynote speech by sharing her own experiences, and how they’ve inspired her to challenge tradition and value potential to give others the same opportunity.

I graduated from university in the 1980s when it was shockingly difficult to get a job. I definitely didn’t have a STEM degree; I had a degree in geography and sports science. I aspired to be a PE teacher but teaching practice didn’t work out for me. After a job as an assistant manager in a sports centre resulted in me being bullied by senior staff I reluctantly left for the unemployment queue, deciding my mental health was more important.

Finally, I applied for a job with the local paper, which said, “bright, enthusiastic person required for office duties”. The company weren’t interest one jot in my educational background. They didn’t care about my CV. All they wanted was to talk to me, see if I could fit well into their team and see whether I could pass an aptitude test. It happened to be a job as a trainee developer, I passed the aptitude test, and so my career in IT began.

I think we’ve gone backwards since my experience in the 80s. We’ve been insisting on STEM degrees and people that have got science, technology, or maths backgrounds, and we’re limiting ourselves by creating unnecessary barriers to getting people into our workforce.

Now, I was always stronger in arts subjects; maths was always one of my worst subjects , and I’m still not that great if I’m honest. But I’ve got a brilliant CFO, so what’s the problem? I'm here to tell you I've had a reasonably successful career in tech with absolutely no STEM background whatsoever.

Billie went on to highlight the importance of valuing talent from different backgrounds in order to benefit from their creativity, innovation and diversity of thought.

Capgemini is a people company. The only thing we sell to our clients is people; their skills and personal attributes. So, the most important thing is what each individual brings to a team, and how different people bring different perspectives to a client solution. It’s through such diversity that we drive creativity and innovation through our industry. If we don't have different people with different backgrounds and different experiences, there is a lack of challenge and fresh thinking and we're just going to look the same. Every solution is going to be the same and we get no spark, no creativity. So, Inclusion and diversity are very, very important to us as a company.

Post-pandemic we’ve got an explosion in requirement for digital skills, against a supply base that’s going down. So, even more reason to look more creatively about how we bring people in to create that diversity and innovation within our teams. Its also important for people in our teams to be able to bring their whole-selves to work and to be able to see people progressing in the Company that “look” like them; that they resonate with.

Finally, Billie introduced a panel of graduates from a Capgemini programme delivered with Hatch that saw 20 women hired based on potential, upskilled and deployed across the business.

The programme that we've done with Hatch, the Hatch Academy, is very close to my own heart, which you will know now from hearing my background. We are opening our doors, our recruitment doors, to people from all kinds of different backgrounds to give them the opportunity to train in tech, and we're having great success with it. I'm really, really proud of it.

We mustn't stop people coming into tech just because they haven’t got the right qualifications. There are no right qualifications.

Training, attitude, people's behaviours, and desires are worth so much more than anything else. In my view, if you really want to do something, you will achieve it. And these women are a testament to that.

Panel Two

Capgemini's Women-in-tech Programme

Pivoting the event, the final panel introduced a new, entry-level viewpoint; one of the women from non-STEM backgrounds aspiring to careers in tech, and the barriers they faced until the programme with Hatch and Capgemini came along.

[Claire Hamilton] When we tell people’s what great about working at Capgemini, we do it with intention. It’s not a tick-box exercise. There are a number of different programmes that we offer, not just to attract people to the organisation, but to make sure they want to stay.

[Priya Poojara] I had no experience in coding and I’d come from a very different background, so I think the first challenge I had was an internal battle with myself. “Can I do this? Do I have the potential to do this?” It was scary and intimidating going into something completely different.

The next challenge was finding a company that would invest in me when I knew I didn't have that experience. It was finding the company that would see my potential.

The final challenge was finding a company with the values and ethics that I share, especially coming into an industry which is largely male dominated.

[Emma Mack] The barriers I experienced were similar. You get turned down straight away based purely on your CV when they don't see a computer science degree or years of coding experience, or knowledge of a very specific software that, honestly, I hadn’t even heard of.

This was the nicest application process I’ve been through. The communication was clear at every stage, so I was never left in the dark; I always knew what to expect and when. And not only that, but they also didn’t ask for a CV up front. They took me at face value.

[Fussilat Ibrahim] At the time that I applied to Hatch, I was applying anywhere and everywhere at the time, so it was really refreshing to come across such a simple process that didn’t require a CV. To be honest, I was even surprised I passed the assessment. The follow-up conversation didn’t feel like an interview it all. It was really casual, more like a chat with your mates. It’s probably the only experience I’ve had like it.

The Academy itself was really practical. I’m a kinaesthetic learner, so I need to actually do what I’m being taught in order to remember it. In other bootcamps I’ve experienced, you join a call in week one, then you work on your own and come back in the final week to do an assessment and get the certificate. Hatch helped us be accountable throughout the whole process, and they kept us motivated. They helped us tackle and overcome our challenges.

[Priya Poojara] If I hadn’t found Hatch and Capgemini, my journey into tech would have been longer and very, very different. I’m grateful that I did find them because instead it’s been wonderful.

What's Next

Join us for more insightful sessions

At Hatch, we’ll be running thought-leadership events every quarter as part of our Mind The (Skill) Gap series. Each event will consider a different demographic of people underrepresented in tech today, and how we can work together to shift the dial on inclusion for all.

Our next event is on Tuesday, 13th June 2023. Whilst full details are yet to be released, you can get your early bird tickets confirmed below:

Solving the digital skills gap

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