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Women Working in Technology

Women Working in Technology (The Sequel)

Ding ding, round #2 - Women Working in Technology (the sequel)

Last Thursday, a salubrious group of women gathered for our second WWIT meetup at the achingly stylish Reading offices of recruitment firm Stott & May. Greeted splendidly with a glass of bubbles (non-alco variety available to cheer up the drivers), Annette and her team again did us proud with a tempting array of nibbles.

[News flash - my resolve was mysteriously strong, and I weakened only to the carrots and hummus. Yay me.] 

Louise Brown kicked us off with a meaty presentation entitled Economic Education. She shared her personal tips on a really interesting array of topics; from how to squeeze self-ed into bulging diaries, to a discussion on MOOCs (nope - I didn't know the acronym either; Wikipedia description - 'a Massive Open Online Course is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web', e.g. Future Learn). We broke to pen our own ideas on economic education to bring back and share with the group (on some of the unstickiest post-its on the globe, causing much mirth as they refused to do their solitary job of successfully sticking to the board).

I then led a discussion to deepen the conversation we'd had at WWIT #1 about mentors. Show of hands convinced me that:
a) We all knew someone who we think would really benefit from mentoring (and that quite often they are unaware of that)
b) Most of us would love to be able to benefit from access to a mentor

c) And most of us would love to be able to 'give back' by playing the role of mentor ourselves

We explored the topic together in groups (cunningly situated on the Nibbles Tables) and again came back to the board to present thoughts and ideas. Interestingly, we were all agreed on the same thing - technology tools should be able to help us link women mentors with women mentees. One group proposed the clever idea of an app similar to those of the online dating world (cue hilarious 5 minutes where we all came up with inappropriate brand names).The conundrum with a mentor-matching service is a difficult one - we all know that for a mentoring relationship to be successful it should be driven by the mentee. But when mentees are often, by nature, less experienced and potentially less confident, leaving them in the driving seat to make mentoring connections means that there's a high possibility they will just miss out. We've got to think of a leg-up way of helping to connect people, especially women. A cheekily-named app may well be the answer - watch this space!

The last session of the night was led by Anna Jones - what we could be doing better to encourage mothers back to work. It's a real topic du jour - we've all read weighty articles (like Returnships: A bridge back to work for women leaders) and were keen to swap ideas. By this time the group had really bonded - stories were shared (some pretty woeful historic ones reminding us of how far we've come in terms of maternity provisions) and a rich and open discussion ensued. A mother's approach to work is such an individual thing - our personal settings are so different that a 'one-size-fits-all' approach is inevitably doomed to irritate. Although we didn't reach any ground-breaking conclusions, one thing we all agreed on: flexibility is King Queen when it comes to attracting mothers back to work. If your organisation is stuck in the Dark Old Ages of Management by Observation, flex-friendly working solutions will fit like a square peg in a round hole. Employers who promote management by outputs or outcomes are much better placed to be able to celebrate the benefits of flexible working. In most respects those of us who are given an inch will likely give a mile, rather than greedily snatching that gift of an inch…

I felt like we scratched the surface of the juicy topics we covered. There is such a lot to talk about and more for us to do in legging-up the excellent women we know. A bunch of us resolved to meet as a project group to explore further how we can help make mentoring connections. If I’m writing the agenda for that get-together I will definitely put aside 30 minutes for us to laugh ourselves sore as we share comedy brand names.

We departed into the Reading night, taking our office-envy and nice-warm-feeling with us, all looking forward to the next WWIT session (likely January, fans).

If you’re interested in joining us for our next session, drop me a note at


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