A little under eight years ago, Sarah Lamb (her last name was "Blow" at the time) founded London Girl Geek Dinners because she was fed up with being a technical woman but assumed to know nothing because she was a woman. As a woman in tech, I've faced discrimination at almost every technical job I have held and sadly so have many of our members.
I remember clearly one of the worst examples of being a woman in tech. I was the most senior technical support person on the front line. I could fix a mail server with my eyes closed - literally as I demonstrated once in front of the owner of the company. A customer phoned up with a problem, described it and asked to speak to one of the guys. I said I was happy to help and he refused saying he wanted to speak to any of the guys but not me. As I knew what his problem was and knew the others didn't, I passed him on and went on a break.
I wrote a supporting article to an infographic I was given about the pay gap in IT in relation to women. It made rather depressing reading. While there was one positive message of women receiving up to 1% higher increases in pay than men, at an almost £18k pay gap, it was going to take an awfully log time to reach equality. A depressing set of statistics given we are now in 2013 and women have proven that gender does not affect ability. This week's news about the number of women entering the workforce having flattened for the first time ever is also less than encouraging - which is why LGGD exists.
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. From EA Games to Facebook, Google to Mind Candy, Microsoft to ThoughtWorks, London Girl Geek Dinners has been helping companies get exposure to our membership and find new technical staff. Our 8th anniversary will see us at Yahoo, one of my favourite tech companies and in the research the one shining star of gender equality at senior levels.
While it is always difficult to be struggling to better things within a time when things are changing, thanks to the women who came before us and fought to be seen as equal, we're continuing the fight and winning from within and without many corporations. I hope that as we enter the 8th year of London Girl Geek Dinners the pay gap will come down more than 1%, the number of women in IT jobs will increase and the perception of women in IT will continue to improve.