For Black History Month this year, TechSPARK has teamed up with B in Bath to shine a light on some of the established and emerging Black tech and digital leaders in our community. This time we’re talking to Research Software Engineer Tessa Alexander.
What is your job?
Research Software Engineer at the University of Bristol.
Your path into the sector?
I became really interested in programming when I took Computing at A-level. I went onto study Computing with Mathematics at university. I would not suggest this was the only way into tech at all. Interested and inquisitive minds are always welcome.
What interests you about tech/digital? What do you like about working in the sector?
You are continually learning new skills and technologies. I love that I work with on varied research projects. It keeps my role challenging and interesting and get a lot of job satisfaction knowing that I am helping expand, preserve and share human knowledge in areas from History to Medical research.
Open source and accessibility are keen interests of mine. Our ability to innovate and share globally without barriers is especially important.
I love my current role as it allows me to explore a range of technologies. My immediate plans are further exploration in Machine Learning and AI. Alongside my continued interest in software reproducibility.
Do you have any thoughts on diversity in the tech/digital industries?
I have seen diversity slowly increasing within the tech industry over the years with more visibility of gender, race and sexual diversity. I have seen greater acceptance of neurodivergence and an increase in representation of those with physical disabilities.
The days of me walking into a conference and being the only female in a room of over 200 men are in the past. However, I can still find myself being the only womxn of colour at tech events.
The likes of PyConUK have done a great job at running inclusive and supportive conferences, including signing, live subtitling of talks, creche and mental welfare services.
We do need to inspire everyone to believe they can do it too. Seeing diversity in technical roles is really important and helps break down cultural expectations of what a techie looks like. I do think mentoring, work experience opportunities, access to equipment/reliable broadband and other outreach programs could go a long way to changing the disparities we seen in the tech industry. Remote working and flexible hours can also play a part in ensuring we are all able to be represented in the tech industry.
Renée Jacobs is a Project Manager at Actual Experience and the Founder of B in Bath. She is passionate about empowering and supporting people from underrepresented backgrounds in the workplace, and she recognises the importance of ensuring diversity of thought and experience in those people who create the technology that permeates all of our lives. Through B in Bath she hopes to enable employers and employees to cultivate a sense of belonging in the workplace; creating an environment where everyone, from all backgrounds, can grow, thrive and belong.