At the first opportunity I left teaching to fulfil my enterprising aspirations. Along with my husband, we designed and built a small guesthouse to the highest possible Failte Ireland standard. A cookery school was opened, which plans on helping recession hit home cooks to reduce their weekly grocery bills and reduce mealtime stress.
Growing up, I was fascinated with computers and gaming, mostly due to encouragement from my parents who saw computing as being an increasingly relevant skill to learn. However, the only famous individuals in tech that I knew about were men like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. As a child I felt that it was strange that I was interested in computers, probably because I had no role models to look up to.
Having a greater variety of voices, backgrounds and experiences represented makes conferences better, and that, in turn, makes the tech industry better. But for that to happen, organisers need to be more proactive about recruiting diverse speakers, and more of us need to get over our nerves, grab opportunities where they come, and put ourselves forward.
Tech companies are actively looking for women to join their staff for their different perspective and their hard work. London Girl Geek Dinners relies on volunteers to run it and companies to sponsor their dinners and we have seen a large increase in companies wanting to sponsor us in order to attract female IT talent.
Gender balance in tech doesn't mean that coding styles or sales quotas will or should change. For me, gender diversity is about striving to have the widest-possible pool of opinion and experience on hand to spark innovation: the 'ah-ha!' chat over coffee, a new way of looking at a problem, or identifying an unexplored market opportunity.
Less than one in five UK tech positions (17% to be exact) are held by women. You'd think that an internationally respected event like the Mobile World Congress would be keen to represent the industry in the best possible light, yet their lineup of speakers has failed to match even the poor gender ratios of the UK tech industry.