We've had a pretty good few weeks as far as elevating the status of women in the workplace is concerned.
Articulate Network, the database of women speakers in the tech and creative industries, finally launched to the public on Lanyrd. Articulate was launched by Sheffield-based Mudlark and London-based Caper over a year ago when the issue of a lack of women speakers started being debated more and more in the Twitterverse. I know Caper spent quite a while recently working with Lanyrd following the latter's acquisition by Eventbrite to figure out how best to migrate across the data they had. With the database now live, this means that conference organisers the world over cannot provide the lame excuse that they don't know any good female speakers to invite to their events; there are over 800 women listed, and no doubt that list is constantly growing. You can search for experts by topic as well.
I spoke on a panel at the Women Shift Digital conference at Level 39 in Canary Wharf last week, organised by performance media specialists body>data>space, which brought men and women together to talk about the contributions of women in the digital space across a range of industry verticals from dance to banking. MP Chi Onwurah opened the event with the staggering statistic that in the 1980's when she was at university the percentage of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) disciplines was 12% and that number 25 years later is still about the same, according to recent research. That's rather shameful and absolutely has to change, as she rightly said. She's had a very illustrious career as both an engineer and politician and it was heartening to listen to her speak about what she's achieved. Janet Thomas, the Vice-President of Women in Banking & Finance spoke about her journey as a woman in an industry where you still see very few women at the top. I really liked what she said about women needing to take a risk on themselves because if we didn't, no one else would. Anne-Marie Imafidon represented the youth as Head Stemette; the Stemettes is an organisation that works to encourage young girls at school to get into the sciences. For anyone who hasn't listened to Dr. Sue Black speak about her personal journey to where she is today and her work with Techmums to teach mothers technical skills ranging from simple social media how-to's to programming with a Raspberry Pi, I highly recommend you do if you get the chance. It wasn't all women though, to be clear - the panels in the afternoon had a number of men chipping in to discuss what we can do to make the technology workplace better for both genders.
In keeping with this spirit (and entirely unconnected to the conference) Mike Arauz, Partner at Undercurrent in New York, recently got a group of women, including myself, across advertising, product innovation and big brands to put forth a list of do's & don'ts for companies to pay attention to if they want to build a workplace that is not only supportive of women but a happy work environment for all.
And the issue shows no signs of abating; PWC and Opportunity Now have just embarked on a survey of 100,000 women in the UK, focussing on the 28-40 age group, to assess the experience of women in the workplace. They're also looking for 1,000 men to give their views. It's called Project 2840 and the survey closes on December 15th, with results due by Spring 2014. I encourage you all to give it a go. If you're interested in knowing more, head here.