In the UK, women currently occupy just 17% of tech jobs – it’s a sad statistic.
Over the next 5 years “1.4 million digital professionals will be needed in the UK.”
Of those 1.4 million jobs, which following scenario looks better?
There’s a lot of research which proves women-led businesses are ‘driving UK economic growth’ shown throughout this infographic.
To get the tech industry’s gender balance to where it should be, Doteveryone (led by Go ON UK founder and internet catalyst Martha Lane Fox) have created the 5050tech Challenge. It’s a new national initiative designed to encourage gender balance across technology leadership and events, and encourages women led tech start-ups within the UK to apply for a place to pitch to investors and VCs in the hope to receive funding for their amazing business plans.
The first round of this challenge saw a phenomenal amount of applications and were whittled down to just 12 finalists: you can check out the unbelievable range of businesses and their links further along.
The 12 finalists were invited to join mentors from the industry on the 3rd and 4th April to help with their winning pitches, then present. SAGE joined forces to host the 5050tech Challenge event. I was invited along to speak to the start ups about pitching, tell them about my journey as a woman in technology, and also to mentor them.
— Amy Lawson (@amyllawson) April 3, 2016
What a privilege, that these dynamic game changing, shattering of glass ceiling females somehow wanted to hear me speak?! I was inspired as soon as I walked in the room, you could feel the energy, and more importantly, the determination.
My direct mentoring was with the following companies:
Antidate – The dating app for people who don’t like dating apps. It’s way more than this, it’s an app which allows you to see in real time, who is single in a given place. It is the joining up of online dating with real world attraction. It is the ultimate of all dating apps, and one which should steam roll it’s way to success in the dating apps market.
Headliner – Headliner connects event planners with the world’s live entertainment. Whether you are a pub, couple getting married, or large corporate, you can find, communicate, and secure a booking with any kind of band or artist within minutes. Music to my ears!
Do It Now Now – This is an African Crowdfunding platform which helps social enterprises to get mobilised on the continent. The platform creates not only funds for the social enterprises, but also connects them with networks in Africa, raises their profile, and completey eases that whole complicated perks system of crowdfunding platforms. Not just that, but regular fun events in the capital will also create a ‘top up’ pot for the projects.
Do It Now Now founder Bayo, had a particularly amazing journey over the two days. I think everyone involved were overwhelmed by just how far she came, on her final pitch she absolutely nailed it.
As women, we should stand together and hold out a hand to help others up, this event had that in abundance.
It was especially inspirational to see the start ups all supporting each other so much.
The pitch day seen the start ups hear a talk from Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, who’s own organisation not only supports the project, but also bucks the trend of the tech industry, with females making up 28% of their total workforce. Still not 50, I know, but certainly a long way off the current norm in the sector.
Martha Lane Fox spoke to the group and addressed the gender imbalance in the industry, labelling it ‘shocking’. The lastminute.com co founder reminisced about the early days of web and eCommerce, which was funny but also came as a reminder of how much simpler it is now to get going, and that absolutely nothing should stop us. The startups were certainly energised and motivated ready for their pitches, which were pitch perfect. The investors and VCs met directly with the founders afterwards, and that was the ideal end to a top event for our future female tech stars.
This event has shown a solid commitment from the organisations involved.
This just the start of the very long journey to get the gender balance in tech where it should be.
How do we do more?
How do we scale this to further encourage women into tech?
This is something I will be thinking about and working on wherever I can. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear from you.
Links and info on the remaining finalists here, please do check them out
Check out my interview with the Evening Gazette where I discuss digital skills, the tech industry and more.