Leading ladies

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The Campus North team

I’ve talked about my involvement in Lyndsey’s Leading Ladies before yet this time my role in the programme was something special, to me at least. I was asked if I would hold a session as part of this year’s programme, to talk about why getting more women into tech is important and my perceptions of some of the things that need to be done.

This has been an important subject for me for many years, not just because I have daughters, but rather that society needs to make the most of all of its talent. Potentially missing out a whole gender means that we miss out on half the population, half of our customers and half of our experiences. We end up with products and services designed by and for only half of the audience.

This does not make sense economically, socially or morally.

I talked about many things that I have already covered in my blogs, such as: gender diversity is a deeply embedded problem; even the big companies are getting it wrong; it takes time to resolve social issues and; we need to think in terms of diversity of thought. We talked about stereotyping and I showed a video.

We then had a class exercise and talked as a group about some of things where men and women get it wrong. These are my lists (warning, contains hideous generalisations):

Men: Interrupting; Talking about sport; Manspreading; Overstating their ability.

The standard practice of open discussion gives too much weight to the opinions of those who speak early and assertively, causing others to line up behind them. This favours the approach taken by men.

Women: Allowing to be interrupted; Talking about weight; Not using their networks; Tidying up when there are plenty of others to do it; Understating their ability.

The work place in most instances has been created by men and it is easier for them to operate in that environment. Only by working on the little things that we do, most of which are unconscious can we hope to make diversity an issue we stop talking about.

It is easier to recognise other people’s mistakes than our own. We all need to challenge our assumptions and at times this is going to be hard. As Rosa Luxemburg said’ Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.’

Diversity is important, it is not somebody else’s responsibility, it is all of ours. We are all the timber from which the future will be built.

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