Back in November I attended Digital Women UK’s Missing in Action held at Nottingham University. It was a weekend studying and discussing the landscape of digital enterprise in the UK, specifically women’s experiences in the sector.
I had the pleasure of meeting Digital Women UK’s co-founder Joy Francis a year earlier in November 2014 in Nottingham at the Ones and Zeros seminar for women creatives interested in digital, hosted at Broadway Cinema. Joy was a panellist and I enjoyed hearing then about the initiative and the influence it was having across London.
I must admit I felt a little envious of the diverse tech scene which seemed to be gathering strength in the capital. Don’t get me wrong, I love Nottingham and find it to be a massively open and supportive city, with many great and regular tech events. But I often find I’m the only woman in the room.
These feelings were further grounded when Digital Women UK came back to Nottingham with its Missing in Action event in November 2015. I found it very hard to advertise the event locally, because I just couldn’t find many women. I went to quite a few tech events, but more often than not I was faced with a sea of (mostly bearded) male faces.
Many a time I bottled standing up and advertising the event in these cases. Thankfully the weekend was not solely reliant on my advertising efforts and had a great turnout. However, most of the delegates had travelled up from London while us Midlanders were few and far between.
I think Nottingham is missing a trick here. We’re a vibrant university city with a rapidly expanding digital economy. So we must have talented women in, and aspiring to be in, the digital sector.
I’m under no illusions that this is a solely a local problem though, as suggested by the event title: Missing in Action. We came together to discuss the fact that this is a challenge across the whole sector.
But I believe that change starts close to home, with small actions, like getting out in the community, both online and offline. The Nottingham MeetUps I attend are already very inclusive. They’re all held in accessible venues and beer is not the only drink available.
There are organisations doing their thing online as well, Like Women in Tech Nottingham. So half the job is already being done; we just need more women to join them.
I know attaining an equal gender balance won’t happen overnight, but the more women who connect with the industry, the quicker our presence will become the norm. Then the sooner we can turn our attention back on the things we/I love, like snazzy UI designs, hackathons and shiny new tech.
Are you based Nottingham? Here’s a list of some great groups and MeetUps:
Picture credit: wallcoo.net
About the author
Annie Haley has always had a creative mind, enjoying studying art and textiles from an early age. Annie graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2008 with a BA in Theatre Design. She initially had a love-hate relationship with technology, but after creating the user interface for her first app Spectrum Puzzles, she discovered a passion for digital design. She and partner Steve now run their own app development agency, MultiPie Ltd. Annie’s main role is designing the branding and user interface for the apps that they build, but she also has a hand in running most areas of the business.