EventsStartups

Could You Name Five Famous Women In Tech?

Naming five famous women in tech isn’t a conundrum pub quiz question that’s actually simpler than you think. Nor is one of the answers “Alexa”. It’s a bonafide head-scratcher. And having pondered this for some time, and then searched on Google, I found the answer: I could name none.

This comes a full year after a Google engineer suggested that the male domination of Silicon Valley is due to irreversible biological causes. His medieval views may have earned him the sack and global notoriety, but they also put the gender gap debate onto the table.

Today (18/09/2018) a Women in DevOps meetup in London continues the conversation.

“Females populate only 17% of the UK tech industry,” says panel host Emily McDonald, of Refinery29, a digital media platform for women.

Furthermore, she continues, “Only 5% of senior leadership positions are women”.

Despite the stark statistics, the evening’s message is one of genuine positivity.

Panel guest and Senior DevOps Engineer at CBRE, Laura Herrera, says “things are changing… the culture is changing”.

Have You Experienced A Gender Bias?

In an age where conspicuous gender bias is rightly met with disciplinary action, the gender bias that persists is more “unconscious”. Or, as the only male on the panel, Simon Martin, Manager of Production Engineering at Facebook, calls it, “micro-biases”.

Martin talks of Facebook’s research that shows women [in the workplace] are likely to be interrupted ten times more than men. To overcome this, Facebook introduced the ‘Be An Ally’ programme which trains people (see these slightly creepy, but well intentioned videos) to notice micro-bias such as interpreting people, and, crucially, to call them out.

Panel host McDonald enthusiastically buts in at this point:

“A male boss did that for me once [highlighted when another man was being gender bias] and it was the best thing!”

Despite the panel agreeing that gender micro bias exist throughout their workplaces and careers, Amanda Colpoys, Head of Agile Coaching at Moonpighas had an supportive and positive gender experience since moving into the tech space five years ago:

“Before I was in the media [industry] and it was very different. I’m more valued here. I’m lucky to work with companies that have a progressive, healthy culture that encourages inclusive behaviour”.

Closing The Gap

To build on the current 17% of women making up the tech workforce, one pivotal area that is being developed is the process of keeping and attracting talented female professionals between the ages of 35–50. Fourth panelist, Annelies Valk, Global Brand Strategy Manager at Vodafone, speaks of the ReConnect programme: the world’s largest recruitment programme for women on career breaks, operating across 26 countries. Now, she says, Vodafone are very successful in recruiting and retaining women in that age bracket.

The biggest challenge, therefore, in closing the gap is to change young girls’ perception of working in tech, says host McDonald:

“According to a recent PWC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] study of 2,000 A-level female students, only 20% would consider a job in tech, whilst a mere 3% had it as their first choice.”

For Moonpig’s Amanda Colpoys, this can partly be attributed to tech’s nerdy reputation:

“Outside of the actual tech space, people think that tech is full of geeks! When really it’s full of incredibly passionate, interesting and creative people. That message needs to get out there more.”

The Famous Five?

If promising initiatives like ReConnect are helping women aged 35+ back into tech, then a reputation upgrade is needed to inspire more school girls into the wider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) community.

Host Emily McDonald succinctly sums up the quandary when she says:

“Kids can only aspire to what they see…”

And therein lies a root problem — and potential solution — of the gender gap issue in tech. More females in senior positions are needed and their success needs to celebrated in the media. Only then can they become household names, hold water alongside the (male) “greats” of digital era, and inspire women of all ages into one of the highest earning — and exciting — industries in the world.

For the record, my Google search for ‘five famous women in tech’ threw up curious results:

The first page was Five top women in tech history. This featured history-makers such as the first female computer science PhD, Sister Mary Kenneth Keller (1913–1985), and, “the queen of software”, Grace Hopper (1906–1992). But no one from after the 1960s…

The second search result thankfully provided me with more contemporary answers. According to this Most powerful women in tech 2017 article the “top five” are:

#1 Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook)

#2 Susan Wojcicki (CEO, YouTube)

#3 Ginni Rometty (President, IBM)

#4 Meg Whitman (ex-CEO, HP)

#5 Angela Ahrendts (Vice President, Apple).

Did you know these women in tech?

I’ll let you do your own research and find out more.

EventsStartups

Three Startups And An Early Exit

Three exciting startups with big futures present their groundbreaking tech, whilst another describes a £1 million investment and it’s fall into the abyss.

Hmmmm… September’s Tech Startups and New Ideas pitch event was not the startup tour-du-force of August, but the crowd were introduced to a couple of new players in the startup scene with probable big futures.

That said, the big message of the night was an anonymous guest speaker who was discouraging anyone thinking of “starting up”. His story was an embarrassing early exit: how he self-funded his way to a £1 million investment and then hired a bunch of unruly cowboy engineers and spunked the rest of the cash.

The founder opted for a plush Rivington Street address (seriously, who does that?!) and showered his staff with fridges’ full of food (he showed photo evidence on his slide show!). The “one platform to rule them all” never made it to market and he folded the business. Honestly, it was one of the most bizarre presentations ANYONE has ever seen!

Regardless, these three startups stood out on the night and deserve your attention.

mojeek

So you know how google has been tracking every infinitesimal detail of your sordid life for the past 15 years? And you know how they are harvesting a profile of you for marketing-potential, political-ends, and, as per their current Privacy Policy, “to do things like recommend a YouTube video you might like”?!Well, there’s an alternative: wholesome, awesome, mojeek.

mojeek is an ethical search engine.

In fact, it’s the first search engine to have a no tracking privacy policy, says pitcher and PR-man, Finn Brownbill. They also believe that “we cannot provide truly unbiased and fair search results whilst aggressively promoting your own competing products as other search engine providers do”. So, they don’t.

mojeek was build from scratch at the Sussex University’s Innovation Centre by a young tech team. They have recently passed the 2 billion page milestone, which puts them in the top 5 English search engines in the world.

Brownbill says, “Get your phone out and give it a go. We want feedback.”

Just don’t access mojeek via google chrome. It kind of defeats the object.

CognitoChain

The race to financial inclusion of the world’s 2 billion unbanked people involves a whole raft of fintech startups going to battle with the traditional banking system equipped with new and invigorating code.

CogintoChain is the latest startup to enter the fray.

Founded by two software engineers, both CEO Srinivas Anala and CTO Carolo Pascoli aren’t the most charismatic of speakers, but they let their blockchain technology do the talking.

In short, they believe it is unfair that the average interest rate that people pay on loans is 25%, rising to 40%, worldwide. With CognitoChain’s AI powered micro-credit scoring, when a borrower pays back their debt in a timely fashion, their credit rating improves and they pay back less.

According to their roadmap, the MVP is out, they are hosting an ICO at the end of the year, and the main web launch is planned for early 2019.

Go Pin Leads

There’s another nod to Sussex University as alumnus Raj Anand (Computer Systems Engineer and AI Researcher) takes the stage. He’s introducing Go Pin Leads, a B2B sales leads generator, that wins the award on the night for best crowd interaction.

Anand asks the crowd for any business type and a city name.

“Electric Bikes Shops!” and “London!” is the (random) order of the day.

And—as advertised—Go Pin Leads, produces a showreel of all the electric bike stores in London in under 35 seconds.

So far, so Google.

Then comes the kicker. Go Pin Leads lists all the contacts details and known-employers of the electric bike shops in London and with one click sends a spreadsheet of data to your email. There is no doubt that this is for anyone who has worked in sales and actually trawled the internet — or telephone directory — for contacts details. It seems like its worth the $9 a month subscription, and 4,000 other paying customers seem to think so too.


Sometimes events like these throw up unintended consequences. And while the crowd were there to hear about new ideas and exciting startups, the takeaway was a stinky story about bad luck and even worst decisions. Still, I doubt anyone was discouraged-enough from starting up.

Instead, they now know not to rent office space in Shoreditch.

Or hire local tech…

Life at Calcey

En svensk utvecklares upplevelse av Colombo

Andreas är en svensk utvecklare som under de senaste 6 månaderna har bott och arbetat i Colombo. Andreas jobbar för Nelly – ett av Skandinaviens största modevaruhus på nätet – och har varit i Colombo för att arbeta med Nellys dedikerade utvecklingsteam, försett av Calcey Technologies i Colombo. Se denna case study för att läsa mer om samarbetet mellan Nelly.com och Calcey.

Andreas har under 6 månader arbetat sida vid sida med Calcey teamet på deras kontor i Trace Expert City i Colombo. Vid ett tillfälle har han rest tillbaka för att besöka Sverige, och även tagit lite tid till att resa runt i Asien, men till största del har han spenderat sin tid i Colombo.

Nu ska han åka hem till Sverige, och jag har intervjuat honom för att få veta mer om hur det har varit att jobba i ett annat land med en annan kultur, 8000 km från Sverige.


Vad har varit de största skillnaderna mellan att jobba i Sverige och i Colombo?
För mig som mestadels har jobbat i Borås är ju storleken på staden, och den intensiva trafiken, en stor skillnad. Även att kunna gå ner och lägga sig vid poolen en eftermiddag i mars, det är ju inte något man kan göra i Sverige riktigt.

Arbetsmässigt så är skillnaden inte jättestor då arbetskulturen här på kontoret är rätt lik den hemma i Sverige. Alla här är väldigt lätta att jobba med och det är god stämning överlag, med mycket aktiviteter och utflykter vilket är superkul.

Vad har du gjort på din fritid här i Colombo?
Jag har mest tränat, hängt vid poolen och åkt till närliggande stränder lite då och då.

Vad har varit svårast under din tid här?
De flesta här är väldigt duktiga på engelska, men de talar också sitt eget språk vilket gör att man inte alltid blir en del av de allmänna diskussionerna.

Vad har varit roligast?
Det har varit kul att se hur mycket saker vi har kunnat beta av som företaget har väntat på länge, men som vi inte har haft tid med innan, att kunna dela med mig av bra feedback till teamet då vissa avdelningar har väntat 1-2 år på en del grejer.

Hur har det varit att arbeta ihop med Calcey?
Det har funkat väldigt bra, jag blev förvånad över hur snabbt inpå att vi startade samarbetet som vi började få in saker och kunde börja realisa saker. Det har varit hög kvalitet och teamet har varit väldigt hjälpsamma och lätta att jobba med. Dem hjälpte mig bland annat med att hitta ett bra boende här i Colombo.


Hur har det hjälp ert samarbete att du har varit här?
Det är lättare att förklara saker när man sitter vid samma maskin, och det har varit lättare för Calcey teamet att ha någon som de kan gå till direkt när de har frågor.

Hur har det funkat med tidsskillnaden mellan Sverige och Sri Lanka?
Eftersom vi är 3,5 timmar före i Sri Lanka har det ibland blivit en del sena möten för att det skulle passa teamet i Sverige vilket har varit lite jobbigt, men tack vare flexibilitet på Calcey så kommer många i teamet här in till kontoret senare på morgonen och jobbar till senare på kvällen, vilket har passat bra i förhållande till svensk tid.

Jag som precis har flyttat hit, vad skulle du rekommendera mig att tänka på?
Försök att vara med på eventen dem har, dem har en härlig kultur. Här har dom den familjekänslan som de konsultbolag jag tidigare arbetat på har försökt att uppnå, med sing-along kvällar där alla faktiskt sjunger med och har kul och det inte bara slutar i pinsam tystnad. Jag skulle även rekommendera dig att försöka resa runt lite mer i landet än vad jag har gjort, det är ett vackert land med mycket att se.


Möjligheten att få vara stationerad i Sri Lanka och arbeta sida vid sida med Calcey teamet är en chans Andreas är glad över. Utöver nya erfarenheter har han även fått nya vänner och skapat minnen som kommer finnas med honom för resten av livet.

Cover Photo By dronepicr
InterviewsStartups

A conversation with an international crypto nomad – Arifa Khan

https://vimeo.com/289062956
What’s the future of cryptocurrencies?

How can decentralization transform capital markets?

What impact will blockchain technology have on the developing world?

Find out what Arifa Khan, a well known distributed ledger evangelist, the India Partner of the Ethereum Foundation and CEO of Himalaya Labs had to say, when we posed these questions to her on the sidelines of the Blockchain and Crypto Champions Showcase, in London.