As the technological skills gap widens into a gulf and diversity remains hotly debated in the boardroom, a recent event proves Manchester continues to be a beacon of hope for women in tech.
As players in the technological space, we feel passionate about embracing diversity and inclusion. After all, why limit the pool of talented individuals who can become a part of Identity Experts? But elsewhere, old school ideas around technology and associated roles within the industry continue to exclude women.
Not only does this limit who can participate in what is (in our opinion) a fascinating and exciting community, but it also plays into the hands of a bigger challenge facing the country at large: the widening skills gap.
At a time when Britain must be prepared to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Silicon Valley on the world stage, achieving equality and supporting women’s journeys into tech-centric roles needs to take priority. Fortunately, Manchester’s conference scene is leading the way.
Identity Experts at Reframe
Manchester remains a beacon of hope for women in tech, it would seem, and this was evident in the hopeful faces of attendees to the recent Reframe: Women in Tech conference. Some of our team were on the ground during the day to take in some wisdom and learn more about how the tech community can make a positive change.
Taking place at The Studio in the Northern Quarter – a perfectly vibrant and modern venue to reflect the evolving image of the tech industry – Reframe: Women in Tech was a fantastic opportunity to put Manchester front and centre, and for like-minded individuals to contribute towards the equality movement.
Throughout the day, attendees were invited to sit in on talks, panels, and educational seminars, hearing how inspirational speakers overcome challenges that were familiar to many in attendance. Meanwhile, concrete advice and support was offered to help the tech leaders of tomorrow to carve out their own career in a space traditionally dominated by men.
Positive Action, Positive Changes
What really set Reframe apart for our team, however, was the atmosphere: positivity won the day, and successes were widely celebrated.
Although a few old school naysayers might expect a current of bitterness or call to arms to sit beneath the surface, there was instead a remarkable amount of heart to what was being shared, with a particular highlight being the theme of ‘positive change through positive action’.
Although almost all attendees could have felt a sense of déjà vu at some of the hurdles being spoken about, the lifeblood of the conference was the sharing of positive stories and relationship building. This was the approach taken to transform the tech landscape for women, and it was a refreshing and infectious experience.
This thread of positivity wove itself through many of the talks from our speakers, including MoneySupermarket’s Claire Reckless on the subject of managing imposter syndrome, Penny Haslam’s insight into making yourself ‘a little bit famous’, and Dr Tana Joseph‘s advice on how to embrace your differences and make them work for you. The day ended with a riveting motivational speech from boxing champion Stacey Copeland – the first British woman to win the Commonwealth title – assuring the crowd that women can do anything.
A positive approach – though frustrating in the face of inequality – can surely help to embolden women in the tech space, which is an idea our team can fully get behind.
A Spotlight on Hurdles
If positivity was the heart of the day, then the side effect was surely the blazing spotlight cast on hurdles women in the community face. To those just starting out, following in the footsteps of the trailblazers before them, some of these challenges might come as somewhat of an uneasy surprise; for others, they’re an experience rather forgotten.
Talks on lacking in confidence self-promotion, and becoming an expert in your own field were all remarkably insightful, and surely contributed towards many of the women leaving Reframe with a sense of vindication for the space they inhabit within tech.
Hearing how other women had overcome these challenges offered less experienced individuals the opportunity to gain an advantage, heading into tech more prepared than those who went before them – surely no bad thing at all.
The Future is (More) Female
It goes without saying that our team found a lot of worth in the Reframe: Women in Tech event. Certainly in our eyes, Manchester continues to set the bar for inclusion, and as we head into the future of tech, we hope that this trend continues.
In return, Britain stands a real chance at closing the skills gap that threatens to engulf us, and businesses can rest easy knowing that they have access to a pool of remarkable new talent. But before they get to enjoy those benefits, there are some hard-won victories still to be had – and we’ll be sure to play our part too.