#Croydon #TechCity: increasing the number of women in tech

By - Tuesday 10th June, 2014

Jonny Rose explains how the battle for gender equality is waged in the tech industry

The Croydon Tech City team with some of last year’s Women in Tech speakers.
Photo by Fluid4Sight. Used with permission.

There is a dearth of women operating in the technology sector, globally and locally, and something needs to be done about it.

Whilst London’s technology scene has the highest proportion of female entrepreneurs in Europe, East London’s ‘tech city’ is still overwhelmingly populated with men.

Women founders form only 9% the new tech businesses established in the capital in 2012. Across the UK, according to research by Lady Geek – the campaign agency that lobbies to make technology more accessible to women – the share of technology jobs held by women has dropped from 22% in 2001 to 17% by 2011.

The reasons that have been posited for such a low number of women in tech are manifold, and include;

The response to improve these numbers have been interesting. In UK, formal groups such as Women in Technology and Girls in Tech UK have emerged to provide supportive and educational networks for females operating in tech or who are considering making the leap into the tech industry.

Organisations such as Code Club, which admittedly doesn’t have an explicit remit to engage girls in coding at an early age, have been able to engage 9-11 year old boys and girls in the fundamentals of coding.

However, merely increasing the number of women in a technology-focused job is not the end of the battle.

For the paltry number of women who are in tech companies but not the founder, there seems to be something of a crisis in progressing to the highest levels in their career.

Last year, women from the Croydon Tech City community and I had the pleasure of listening to Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook, COO) speak at News International on her Lean In book tour.

The central thesis of Lean In is that women in the workforce – both in and outside of the tech industry – need to speak up, assert themselves and not feel guilty about being professionally ambitious to get ahead in the tech industry. Sandberg’s post mortem suggests that for there to be any change in workplace practices and legislation, the onus is on women who are already there to ‘lean in’ and forge a way for themselves and those below them.

Sex & Croydon Tech City – Progress so far…

“The number of women active in the Croydon tech community is up from one eighth to a third – in the space of a year”

Croydon Tech City has been going for sixteen months now and I’m proud to see that it has grown to a community of over a thousand software developers, creatives, venture capitalists and startup founders.

Results from a recent Croydon Tech City survey.

This time last year, a rough count of our monthly meet-ups show that only one in eight attendees was a woman. Our latest survey shows a significant (and encouraging!) improvement: women active in the Croydon tech community is up to over a third.

However, I am acutely aware that we still don’t have enough women in the Croydon Tech City community.

If Croydon Tech City is to be a community that radically shapes the borough socially, economically and culturally, then it needs to be a place which is accommodating and welcoming to women, whether they are interested in technology or not.

The next Croydon Tech City event: Women In Tech

Croydon Tech City’s ‘Women in Tech’ event takes place on Thursday 19th June at 7:30pm at Croydon Conference Centre, Croydon. It will be an evening of presentations and debate focusing on female founders from South London’s tech startup community.

To attend, please sign up as ‘attending’ here or  to confirm your attendance.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He owns a lead generation company. He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training and a Linkedin lead generation service. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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