With technology becoming more and more central to our day-to-day lives, it’s becoming ever more essential to ensure its future is shaped by a community as diverse as those who benefit from it.
Taking the lead in the South West, the Women’s Tech Hub (WTHub) is hosting the city’s first ever conference focussing solely on diversity in technology – at Bristol’s creative hub the Watershed on 24 June 2017.
“We see our event as a chance to inspire anyone who works in tech or wants to work in tech”
For the South West, the WTHub is forming an integral part of this in the region by providing a platform to support women looking to forge a successful career in the sector.
The hub has already facilitated a strong support network for women in the region, with shared co-working sessions, regular meetups, talks, industry ‘returnships’ and training courses.
However, the day-long conference, ‘Diversity? We need to talk about tech‘, will be taking things up a notch by focussing on all aspects of how our tech community can support a diverse workforce.
Focussing on recruitment, retention and resilience, the conference will facilitate talks and discussions on everything from good workplace practice in recruiting and retaining people in tech to how to support employees on being resilient in a changing work environment.
“Without spending some time to try to resolve the gender imbalance and wider diversity issues, we are ignoring a huge part of our community”
Constance Fleuriot co-founder of the WTHub (pictured left) tells us: “As women who enjoy working in tech we want WTHub to be about changing things for the better, and one way to start that is bringing people together with conversations.
“We see our event in June as a chance to inspire anyone who works in tech or wants to work in tech to get connected and find out which companies are committed to welcoming in a more diverse workforce.
“Our Diversity event is open to all – companies and individuals – so come along and listen to some or all of the three-panel discussions and hear from and browse the stalls of local companies and organisations committing to making change happen.”
Supporting diversity in the South West
Helen Woodcock, a WTHub advisor and Marketing and Business Development Manager at data solutions company KETL (pictured centre left at a WTHub event), tells us: “Bristol and the South West is very lucky to have such a thriving tech hub supported by our regional universities.
“Companies need to listen and learn if they are serious about increasing the number of women in their workforce”
“The region is attracting some big tech companies who are locating in and around Bristol. But without spending some time to try to resolve the gender imbalance and wider diversity issues, we are ignoring a huge part of our community. Supporting the work already begun by WTHub is a way to begin to address the problem.”
Fellow WTHub advisor and Senior Web and Digital Designer Ajara Pfannenschmidt agrees: “WTHub is a fantastic place to meet, network and share with other women who work in tech. In most offices and at conferences or workshops women are still a minority. That makes it really important to have a space where they can go to and don’t feel outnumbered.
“The WTHub Diversity event is a further step in starting a conversation to create more diversity in workplaces. Companies need to listen and learn if they are serious about increasing the number of women in their workforce.”
Dana Bopp, a WTHub member who has already benefited from the organisations support so much that they’re now also on the advisory board, is proof that events like these are positively changing attitudes in the South West tech community.
She explains: “Not only am I an example of a positive outcome due to the support and networking I got from the Friday meetings, but I also experienced first hand the interest the Bristol tech community has in seriously addressing the shortage of gender diversity in tech.”
As an organisation looking to be as inclusive as possible, tickets for the whole day can be purchased for just £20 each, with the opportunity to also pay for someone else’s ticket and support those who are currently unwaged.
However, there are plenty of other ways to get involved too – particularly if you’re a tech company looking to become a part of this future-proofing movement.
As Constance explains: “You can sponsor a table if you are a company or organisation that wants to support a more diverse tech industry. Companies who sponsor us by taking a table can come along and talk to people about work opportunities and connect with different meetup groups that offer peer support.”
The Women’s Tech Hub diversity conference will be held at the Watershed at 10am – 4.30pm on 24 June. To purchase a ticket, take a look at the ‘Diversity? We need to talk about tech’ event on Eventbrite. To find out more about the conference and sponsorship opportunities, check out the Women’s Tech Hub website. You can also follow them on Twitter here: @WTHBristol.