Women in tech. We’ve all seen a variation of the statistics around gender bias in this industry, it’s alarming. But like many topical issues that flash across my newsfeed, I hadn’t quite had a chance to think too deeply on the issue. That was of course, until some recent events occurred, nothing overtly dramatic, but enough to provoke further thought. As one of the founders of a relatively new company, (like many new business owners) I find myself spending an exorbitant amount of time on LinkedIn, engaging with other start-ups, discussing industry changes and often reading the trending articles. On International Women’s Day I found myself engrossed, what is it that prevents women from going into this industry? Or what is it that’s made them change directions after a few years? I needed to know more, after some interesting reads, I brought it up with a co-worker, she sent me a link to a TED talk, Dame Stephanie Shirley. I’d never heard of her, have you? Perhaps you know her better as Steve; the pseudonym she had to use in order to get her foot in the door for many years. Dame Shirley started Freelance Programmers in 1961 with the grand sum of £7, in a world very different from today.
Workplace attitudes have changed considerably and it is a testament to her drive and determination to succeed in those circumstances. Freelance Programmers grew to a multi-million dollar company and amounted a vast list of success stories, including developing the black box recorder for the Concord aircraft. Along the way, the company is known for introducing groundbreaking ideas into the workplace such as profit sharing for employees, job sharing, flexible working, and an office crèche. All things that we now take for granted in many ways. I was gobsmacked, how could someone so influential to the industry I’ve dedicated 30 years of my life to do so much without me knowing so much as her name? Stephanie sit’s alongside legends such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
After all, books, documentaries and movies have been made of some of these men. I would love to see her biopic not just for the waves she created in the tech world, but her life as a child refugee, the glass ceilings she ran into in the business world and the millions of pounds she has given to charity. And it’s not just the global players that we need for inspiration, women are making their mark on the industry. I didn’t have to look far from our backyard to see former Microsoft Australia boss Pip Marlow or the Intel MD of ANZ Kate Burleigh. It’s pretty hard to ignore the huge changes these women have made to the game and you’d have to be a fool to not want them on your own team. With that in mind, if you do have experience in the IT field and are interested in working with us please email email@example.com we’d love to hear from you!