Crack open a book and get involved in tech diversity

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Diversity in technology is a topic that is close to my heart. Not only because I am a woman working in technology but also because I believe that diversity and an all inclusive environment is a key ingredient for the success of any team. I find myself fortunate to work for a tech-for-good organisation with two female founders as role models. But like many organisations out there, JustGiving is a long way from achieving an ideal balance in tech. In fact we still have engineering teams formed by only male developers.

There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have more women in our teams. However, I get that it’s not always easy to talk openly and candidly about diversity when you’re one of the few women in the technology team, or even if you are a man that cares about it. The truth is, to attract more women we need more female representation. For example the decision of one of our female engineers to join JustGiving came down to the fact that she encountered a more diverse group of interviewers than at other places she applied to. So here’s a given, if you want more women in your team, have more women interviewing candidates.

Let take a look at some hard to digest numbers. We currently have 9.6% female representation in JustGiving tech (Engineering, Data & DevOps teams). Over the period of 4 years while I have been at JustGiving, we’ve hired an average of 0.75 female engineers per year, and it is not for the lack of wanting to hire more. So how can we make this number grow? This is a really hard question to answer, and like many other people that want to see this number shift, I think about it a lot. It seems like everyone in the industry has the stats but not the answers. But even if we can’t answer this question now and while the debate goes on, there is one thing that we can all do right now, and that is to get involved!

Get involved in educating younger people(1), get involved in coaching men and women about diversity, inclusivity and unconscious bias, get involved in coding bootcamps(2), get involved in mentoring and sponsorship programs(3), get involved in conferences and meetups, get involved in writing growth mindset job specs to attract diverse candidates(4), get involved by telling your friends and professional network that your company is hiring and encourage women to apply.

I love to get involved in initiatives that support women in tech, but so far I was not sure how give something back to the community. Luckily, last month I attended the Women of Silicon Roundabout conference in London, and came back with many of ideas, inspiration and a renewed energy to bring up the topic of diversity at work. This gave the push I needed to start the Women in Tech Book Club*.

wit-book-club

This initiative is a way to bring women and men together to have healthy debates about the books that we read; to continuously grow, learn, and discuss topics that empower women and other minority groups. It is an effort to build a community that can support each other to debate ideas and come up with meaningful and conscious changes to tackle inclusivity in our organisations.

Our community grew to over 120 members in less that 2 weeks and has submitted over 30 books suggestions. Members are now voting for the book which we’ll read over the next two months, before our inaugural meetup in February. The shortlist contains immensely interesting books which cover topics such as business, self-development, women in history, technology and education.

Are you curious? Get involved, join the book club, cast your vote and start reading!


Here are some other ways to get involved with women in tech and diversity initiatives, and an excellent article with tips to widen your candidate pool to reach more diverse candidates!

(1) Acorn Aspirations, and edtech social enterprise which aims to inspire young people aged 11-19 into the world of technology and entrepreneurship.

(2) Ladies of Code, support women through our series of global meetups, scholarships and conferences we support the technology leaders of today and tomorrow.

(3) DevelopHer UK, a non-profit community dedicated to bringing women together to drive opportunities, develop confidence, and create a network of support through events, networking, and learning.

(4) “Jobs where women are hired are twice as likely to contain growth mindset language”. Read more here.


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About the author

Ana Henneberke

Head of Software Delivery - I love team dynamics, agile engineering practices, collective thinking, inclusion and science of happiness!

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2 Comments

  • I’d love to join your bookclub but since I live in the US and it is a meet-up, it probably won’t work.

    If it’s not yet on your list, please be sure to include Let IT Go by Dame Stephanie Shirley. She is the most famous female tech entrepreneur that no one has ever heard about. Although that seems to be changing.

    And if I’m allowed a plug for my book, consider Life Without Ceiling: A Woman’s Career in Computers. Between the two of us, Dame Shirley and I have written two thirds of the memoirs about women in computers in the 1960s and 1970s.

    • Hi Mary,

      You can still join if you like and read along, we’ll find a way to have some discussion online too! 🙂

      Thanks so much for your suggestions. I know what you mean about Dame Stephanie Shirley, she is incredible and her TED talk is fantastic and inspiring. I will certainly look into your book as well and I will get in touch via your email to ask you a few more questions if that’s okay. Thanks again and let’s keep reading!

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