On Saturday February 6, the University of Birmingham student chapter hosted a day of industry speakers. The Women in Science and Engineering and Computer Science Societies worked together to host a conference with speakers who were all women working in technology.
The day consisted of talks, workshops, and networking sessions from invited industry speakers and event sponsors.
The speakers were:
Jessica Rose - Head of Developer Relations, DreamFactory
Maeve Higham - Graduate Engineer, Instron
Naomi Mitchison - IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2014
Dr Christine Zarges - Research Fellow & Lecturer at University of Birmingham
Dr Louise Brown - Research Fellow, University of Nottingham and secretary of BCS Women
Charlie Pinder - PhD Student in Computer Science, University of Birmingham
Sponsors included PWC and Morgan Stanley who also held workshops on the day. Throughout the event, tweets were tagged with #WiTUOB and feedback on the event was fantastic. Much great advice was shared by women in various stages of their careers in technology, in her talk entitled ‘In Five Years’, Jessica Rose stated, “Women are not guests in technology: we are just as familiar with technology and science as men are, and should never feel like we do not belong here. We should insist that we are taken seriously and that our ideas are valid. Change is good, and the more women that get involved, the better”.
Charlie Pinder’s talk concentrated on ‘Changing Zombie Behaviours’ and included the idea that, “Flexibility is key, and any way of providing mentoring where possible, and getting one-on-one advice is invaluable. Also, we should be making sure there is no unconscious bias when hiring people, and within the departments, to ensure women are not put off from working for you”. Some recurring points throughout the day included ‘impostor syndrome’ theory and also the statistic that men would apply for roles when they felt they met 60% of the desired skills, however, women would be reluctant to apply unless they met 100% of the desired skills.
Overall this day was a great insight into some of the experiences of women working in STEM and their thoughts on the gender gap within the field. This event has led the organising students to be nominated for the 2016 Best Collaborative Project Award which is a testament to the hard work from all involved. Many thanks to all the organisers, sponsors and speakers for contributing to such a high calibre event and to narrowing the gender gap in STEM careers.