A group of some of the brightest minds in the UK technology sector convened this morning at a trendy hotel near Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout, but guess what? They weren’t all men.
Dozens of intelligent young female tech enthusiasts and professionals gathered at the Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch to mark the launch of the Google-backed Girls in Tech London mentoring programme.
"Hundreds" of women from a plethora of backgrounds applied to join the programme but only 15 strongest applicants were accepted onto the programme, which is being funded with an undisclosed amount by independent retailer platform notonthehighstreet.com and tech recruitment firm La Fosse Associates.
The programme, which will run over the next six months, aims to enable these high-potential candidates to access and learn from female role models, including Google Ventures partner Avid Larizadeh, Kathryn Pearsons from Decoded, Alice Bentinck from Entrepreneur First, Emily ffrench Blake from Spotify, as well as male mentors like TechStars managing director Jon Bradford and David Fogel from Wayra.
Baroness Joanna Shields, the former CEO of Tech City UK and now the minister for internet safety and security, has signed up as ambassador of the programme, pledging to support the efforts of getting women into technology.
The course is designed to be a springboard for career development of women working in tech. It also pledges to provide a set of best practices on how to attract and retain talent the best female talent in the tech industry.
Through the course, the cohort will be invited to attend speed mentoring sessions that will be run every five weeks with selected and high profile leaders in the technology industry.
Each session will revolve around a different topic integral to career advancement, ranging from “Tips from lean startups to improve your productivity" to “How to negotiate yourself a raise or promotion”.
The sessions will be held at coworking spaces across London, such as WeWork, in addition to the offices of several technology companies.
Josephine Goube, co-managing director of Girls in Tech London, believes that women in tech do exist but they're not championed enough.
She argues that the media should stop focusing on the gender imbalance that clearly exists and instead devote their efforts to celebrating the work being done by the likes of Eileen Burbidge at tech investment firm Passion Capital and Sarah Drinkwater at Google Campus.
Ultimately, Goube said she wants to support and raise the visibility of women in technology.
“We’re really excited to launch the Mentoring Programme," she said. "It is the fruit of three years of work in the London tech scene from the Girls in Tech team to help fill the much needed gap in female role models. Our 15 mentees were selected from hundreds of applicants to have the opportunity to be mentored and to learn from key industry figures to help them progress in their careers. They represent the next generation of women in technology.
Meet a mentoree
One successful candidate that will now enroll on the six month course is technology PR and writer Lauren Ingram.
"I got the opportunity go to the Girls In Tech mentoring event at Downing Street this year and was totally bowled over by it," she told Techworld. "There were so many talented people who have done incredible things like Nicola Mendelsohn (Facebook), Joanna Shields (UK Government) and Neelie Kroes (European Commission) - and as a bonus, they're all women. I immediately knew I wanted to apply for the mentoring scheme, and that it would provide a huge amount of value, and be instrumental in my career.
In terms of what Ingram hopes to get out of the programme, she said: "I’m looking to gain the confidence to take on more responsibility, to have difficult conversations, and to lead other people. Women tend to need more reassurance that they are 'ready' to embark on something, or that they're good enough to put themselves forward for things, so I'm looking forward to learning to push myself to do this.
"Unlike in the corporate world, if you're working in tech you generally learn everything as you go, rather than with formal training or mentoring. I wonder what I'll tell you if you ask me again in 6 months."
A full list of mentors can be found below.
|Sarah DrinkWater||Head of Google Campus|
|Paula Hanely||Sony Music|
|Avid Larizadeh||Google Ventures|
|Kate Leto||Ex head of product at moo|
|Cat Turner||CULT LDN|
|Bridey Rae||CULT LDN|
|Diane Perlman||Microsoft ventures Head|
|Alexandra Watson||Successful Mindset Author|
|Emily French Blake||Spotify|
|Abigail Khanna||Head of Biz Dev Amazon|
|Sarah Malter||Grant Central|
|Muna Khan||Head of IT Smythson|
|Lydia Goldberg||Ex Zoopla|
|Alice Bentick||Entrepreneur First|