A quick look around any room of developers will suggest that women in tech are woefully underrepresented. In fact, this 50-odd percent of the population only take up around 16 percent of tech jobs, seemingly for historical, cultural and practical reasons.
That situation is reflected at TfL, although we have some strong initiatives that are designed to reduce this effect. Another way of balancing the imbalance is by strengthening the community we already have, so I was delighted to take small part in an afternoon as part of a week of activities, talks and events for International Women’s Day, which was organised by TfL’s internal Women’s Network and Siemens.
TfL’s very first Women in Tech afternoon was organised by Imogen Thomspon (WSNG Communications Chair) and Nisha Patel (IM T&D Lead Solutions Architect, Crossrail), who brought the group together as an offshoot of the Womens Staff Network Group (WSNG).
The afternoon was opened by Chief Technology Officer Shashi Verma, who spoke about the value of women and how every competitive tech department needs to position themselves to attract the best employees – and if there’s a reason women aren’t gravitating towards the industry, it’s in everyone’s interest to change that perception. In speaking about his own personal career break, he proved that policies to benefit women are policies that benefit every employee, a point echoed by Lauren Sagar Weinstein, our Chief Data Officer.
Lauren charted her extensive career at TfL – which saw her rise through the ranks while twice taking time out for maternity leave – an inspirational story for many reasons. The other key speaker was Charul Gupta, Digital Product Manager, who focused on following your passion, and talked about her experiences of working in the tech world. She went on to elaborate the importance of gender diversity, the value it brings and what role can an organisation play.
Two words that became a theme in the resulting discussion were passion and perception, which led neatly to my workshop on thought leadership in social media. I wish more women felt confident, as many men tend to be, when it comes to expressing and sharing their knowledge because it helps us to innovate and develop in unchartered territories. So the quick workshop was an exercise in #BeingBoldForChange.
That motto is for life, not just for IWD, so this Women in Tech event is set to be the first of many. The community will be officially launched at TfL during the summer, with plans for establishing an active committee for learning and development opportunities, further events, and promoting the tech industry female pipeline at TfL, and across London.
By shining a light on the untapped potential, the Women’s Network hopes not only to support TfL’s Women in Tech community, but also to increase the number of women in the sector. Here’s hoping…