Little Miss Geek

I wanted to share with you a campaign that has been gaining traction in the UK recently.

There has been a lot more media coverage of the lack of women in IT due to the launch of a new book. The ladies of Lady Geek have launched a campaign through their social arm to inspire young girls to become the next pioneers in technology, and to get the attention of the British Government. The founder of Lady Geek, Belinda Parmar has written a book called Little Miss Geek, to go alongside this campaign.

Whats the book about? (From the book description on Amazon)

Belinda Parmar charts the rise of the Little Miss Geek as she fights her way from childhood, through school and into the heart of the technology industry. Along the way the book outlines practical steps that will bridge the gap between women and technology, and help inspire girls everywhere to be tech pioneers.

You can get the book on Amazon here and there is also a kindle version http://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Miss-Geek-Bridging-Technology/dp/0957389809/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kinc_1

My copy of the book is currently winging it’s way to me, so once I’ve read it I will report back. Some parts of the campaign make me cringe slightly, there’s a lack of celebration of the achievements that women have had in technology, but their intentions are all good. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and speaking on a panel with some of the ladies from Lady Geek, and they are full of energy and drive for making a difference in this space. They also do a great job of addressing how the stereotypes around a “typical IT worker” can be so damaging when attracting people into our field, which we know is something thats always bothered me!

Media Coverage

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-10/03/little-miss-geek

“What I like about the Little Miss Geek campaign is that it is practical. It goes beyond merely moaning about the data; it outlines simple techniques that companies and schools can employ to address the issue. As Parmar says, the plan is to address gender imbalance in tech in the same way that Jamie Olivertackled childhood obesity. There is a manifesto that companies can adopt to attract more women to the workplace — with initiatives such as apprenticeships, mentorship schemes, and “female heroes” programmes. Lady Geek also plans to run after-school coding clubs for girls and has started carrying out workshops in primary and secondary schools exploring boys’ and girls’ perceptions of the tech industry and attitudes towards the ICT curriculum.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/belinda-parmar/girl-geek-women-in-tech_b_1934820.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/oct/01/so-few-women-working-technology?newsfeed=true

http://mg.co.za/article/2012-10-05-scarcity-of-female-geeks-questioned

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/kicking-myself-as-lady-geek-catches-the-it-bug-8202190.html

 

About Lady Geek’s campaign  http://ladygeek.com/littlemissgeek/

Why we are running the campaign:

  • Women only make up 17% of the UK’s tech workforce and this has been falling by0.5% each year = we need to encourage more women to want to work in the tech industry. 
  • There was only 1 girl for every 11 boys in the average UK A-Level computing class in2011. Girls account for 56% of high education applicants but only make up 14% of Computer Science and I.T. subjects  = we need to excite girls to want to study computing, so they are more knowledgeable about tech. 
  • 80% of women want creative independent job roles. Only 30% of women believe that tech jobs can provide such an opportunity = we need to change the negative perception women have about the tech industry. 
  • 4 out of 10 gadgets are now bought by women but only 3% of women are creative directors in this industry = we need women to become creators of tech and not just consumers.  

What we aim to achieve: 

We hope to gain national Government awareness and backing, so the issue is taken seriously and initiatives are put into place to help get more females into the industry.

We won’t rest until women make up 50% of the UK’s tech workforce. 

Interviewed for a BBC Podcast about being in Technology

On Sunday I attended the first Geek Girl Meetup in London. see here

It was a great event, lovely to see such a vibrant and varied tech scene in London. There was a total cross section of people there too, from startup entrepreneurs to low latency Java devs to web developers.

I did a short version of my Altering the perception of the Software Developer talk and was also on a panel discussing whether or not, but having female only technical events are we creating a “girl ghetto”.

After the panel I was asked to be interviewed for a BBC 5 live podcast where I talked about why I became a software developer and about being a female in the tech industry.

This is the link to the article BBC 5 Live Outriders

And this to the Podcast

The Geek Girl Meetup section starts around minute 10 and I’m on at about 14.20. But listen to the whole thing!

GHC 2011: Feedback from “What if we could alter the perception of the Software Developer”

Giving and receiving feedback is something that I think is so important if you want to improve and get better. I am also a bit of a positive affirmation person. I can be so critical at myself that sometimes I lose sight of what is going well. I have to make a real effort to remember what i’m doing well as well as what I can do better.

One of the great/scary aspects of being a presenter at a conference, is Twitter. Getting live feedback (or looking at it after the fact) is so powerful. I asked for feedback at the beginning of my talk and was so happy to see some of the responses. Here’s an example of some that I saved.

Twitter Feedback

I also just spotted the impact report compiled from the survey’s taken by attendees of The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2011.

You can find it here: http://anitaborg.org/files/GHC_2011_REPORT.pdf

I was really chuffed to get a couple of mentions in highlights sections.

First one up was from the lady that I mentioned in my post http://annejsimmons.com/2011/11/16/being-a-speaker-at-the-grace-hopper-celebration-of-women-in-computing/. I literally hunted down this woman during the party on the last night to thank her for what she did for me without even realizing. Always let people know and thank them if they make an affect on you.

Tell people that you appreciate them

The next great bit of information was the ranking that people gave about the sessions they attended. Mine got a 4.30 which I’m pretty pleased with. The  lowest of the “top six” sessions was 4.48 so not too far off at all.

Ranking from my session

The last mention was of the format that I used for my panel. There was lots of great feedback on it from Twitter and also it seems it left an impact in the survey findings too. If only we’d had more than an hour. Definitely will have to repeat the format for next year!

Presentation Format

Programming is for girls?

Over the last year, while researching and preparing for my talk on “What if we could alter the perception of the Software Developer?”, I came across, and people sent me, dozens of links to great articles. I’ve tried to categorize them into a few posts (more to come soon) so that it’s easier to find stuff. The ones below are mostly about the stereotypical developer, how it may not always be true, and also how once upon a time (in the 60s), females where the stereotypical developers.

Enjoy!

This is what a computer scientist looks like - A look at the industry

What A Computer Scientist Looks Like - Flickr group – What computer scientist women really look like!

Google Exec Marissa Mayer Explains Why There Aren’t More Girl Geeks  - Great article from a Google exec, on how she choose her employer and what she thinks is putting people off going into technology. (Very similar to my content)

Researcher reveals how “Computer Geeks” replace “Computer Girls” – Article from Standford.edu summarizing the work of Nathan Ensmenger and how the earliest computer programmers were women and that the programming field was once stereotyped as female.

The IBM Story and The Computer Girls? - From Nathan Ensmenger’s blog around his book The Computer Boys.

I’m A Barbie Girl in a CS World – Nice slide show (bear with the pink..) on one woman’s foray into the developer world, also featuring Computer Engineer Barbie.