Know Your Worth, Equate Student Conference, 21 February, 10am -4pm, Heriot-Watt University

Know Your Worth: We’re done waiting to equate

A call to action for STEM students to redefine diversity in tech careers

If you’re reading this post, it’s not by chance. There’s a desire for something new on your inside, a voice urging you to break norms, a little fire yearning for fuel, perhaps a dream of a tech career, held back by fear of unattainability. Even upon entry, there’s the concern of being undervalued and not considered worthy of senior roles. Guess what? You’re not alone.

The current situation

Despite the progress made in recent years, women and non-binary individuals are still a minority in most STEM fields. This underrepresentation not only limits diversity of thought and innovation but also perpetuates stereotypes about who belongs in these domains.

Why the hold up?

It is crucial to understand the challenges faced in breaking barriers to creating a more inclusive future. From societal expectations to subtle biases, the external forces, in combination with the internal hinderances (imposter syndrome, lack of confidence, fear of not being enough, etc), slow down the progress. By addressing these challenges, we can break the norm and redefine diversity in tech careers.

Empowerment through supportive communities

Building communities that celebrate diversity and inclusion, such as EQUATE SCOTLAND and Napier STEM, is essential. Encouraging networking opportunities, hosting events that highlight the achievements of women and non-binary individuals in STEM, and fostering a change within and around academic and professional circles can break down barriers and inspire collective action.

Know your worth: Equate Student Conference 2024

You must have encountered the familiar mantra from motivational speakers “It starts with you”. However, the veracity of this statement is undeniable. The truth is, your decision to contribute to global change, challenge norms and assert your creativity is the true starting point for making an impact.

QR code to register for Equate Student Conference

Register for conference

The theme of Equate’s 2024 Student conference is “Know Your Worth”. This theme has been chosen by our Equate Student Network. By bringing together students, organisations, and professionals, we hope to inspire the next generation of STEM workers to recognise and celebrate the value they bring to the STEM ecosystem. The conference will consist of a number of workshops and panel sessions on female leadership, women in construction, and knowing your rights for diversity in the work place. This is a great opportunity for transformation and self-empowerment, open to STEM students of all genders studying at Scottish Universities.

Register for free to be a part of this collective action.

It will be held on the 21st of February at Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh, from 10am until 4pm.

Deborah AbassahNAPIER STEM Student ChampionNapier STEM society logo

Info and planning meeting

If you’re a student in Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment, you’re invited to an info and planning meeting online on Wednesday 31st January, 2-2:30 pm. Contact Ella Taylor-Smith for an invite to the meeting.

Phallideth in front of the WES banner at the conference

Women’s Engineering Society Student Conference 2023

Phallideth Phen attended the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Student Conference in Leeds on December 1, 2023:

As a first-time attendee, I was genuinely impressed by the overall organization and the invaluable insights gained throughout the event.

The conference’s agenda, featuring a diverse range of workshops, team-building activities, speaker events, Q&A sessions, and catering, provided a comprehensive look into the world of Women in STEM. The WES created a comfortable space for women professionals and students alike, fostering an environment conducive to learning and networking.

One of the highlights for me was attending two insightful workshops, namely “Continuous Professional Development” and “Identifying Your Strengths and Weaknesses in Presentation.” These sessions not only helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses but also guided how to develop and leverage them for personal and professional growth.

Participating in the team-building activity “Build the Bridge” was a fun and educational experience. This challenge required strategic planning, resource management, and effective collaboration with team members. The key takeaways included improved problem-solving skills, active listening, creative thinking, and a deeper understanding of cooperation and teamwork dynamics.

The speaker events were equally captivating, with presentations on “How to Get a Graduate Job in 6 Months” and “How to Build Confidence and Stop Apologizing.” The speakers’ engaging and humorous approach left me motivated and energized, offering valuable insights on job preparation and future planning.

Women attending the conference listening to a speaker
Women at the conference

Networking at the conference allowed me to connect with inspiring women from various STEM fields, facilitating the exchange of ideas on study subjects and future career plans. This networking experience has been powerful in motivating me to be more active and productive in my pursuits.

Additionally, the conference provided an opportunity to explore the city of Leeds, offering a glimpse into another part of the UK. However, my journey back to Edinburgh turned an otherwise fantastic day into a rather challenging experience, as train disruption meant I didn’t arrive home till 3:30 AM.

Attending the WES Student Conference was an incredible opportunity, fully funded by SCEBE, and I recommend that other students look out for similar opportunities. Such as the:

Contact Ella Taylor-Smith re funding etc.

Napier STEM Society

Napier STEM is our society for women and gender minorities in SCEBE. To get involved in a wide range of events, follow our socials and/or join our network:

Ada Scotland Festival 2023

Ada Scotland Festival 2023: ENU events

Four events from SCEBE and Equate Scotland:

ENUSEC presents: Capture the Flag Competition

"ENUSEC

Test your cyberskills in ENUSEC’s annual Ada Scotland CTF. The competition is open to school students (S3-S6), college and uni students and runs throughout the Festival (2-13th October, 2023).

Equate Scotland presents: Journeys into Data Science

Equate Scotland Journeys into Data Science

Equate Scotland Journeys into Data Science

Online,
Thursday 5th October 2023, 12:30 to 13:30.

Join Equate Scotland online to explore opportunities for women and non-binary to come into a career in data science later in life.

Edinburgh Napier University presents: S2 Girls into STEM

4th year Civil Engineering Student

4th year Civil Engineering Student

Merchiston Campus,
Tuesday 10th October 2023, 11:00 to 15:00.
On Ada Lovelace Day, we’re welcoming S2 girls and non-binary students into our the School of Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment (SCEBE) at Merchiston, for STEM inspiration, challenges and fun.
To register a group please email outreach@napier.ac.uk

Napier STEM presents: Women and gender minorities in STEM careers event

Napier STEM Ada Scotland Careers Event

Napier STEM Ada Scotland Careers Event

G04, Merchiston Campus, Wednesday 11th October 2023, 14:00 to 16:00.
Career-themed get together at Merchiston.
Women and gender minority students in Computing and Engineering (especially SCEBE students) are invited to come and listen to short career talks from professionals, ask questions, and meet other people, especially our Napier STEM society, and eat ice cream.

Lots more Ada Scotland Festival events

Lots more events on the Ada.Scot website and more being added daily.

If you want to chat about any of these events or get involved, please contact Ella Taylor-Smith.

Napier STEM Society

Napier STEM Society – a society for women and gender minorities in STEM

Have you ever felt like the odd one out in lectures? Want to meet others who share this experience? With women making up 26% of STEM (Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering) university graduates, it is quite likely you are not alone.

Napier STEM is a brand new society at Napier which aims to overcome this by supporting and encouraging women and other gender minorities in STEM throughout their university experience. Hopefully, by reading about our society and what we have been doing will encourage you to become a member and join in with our next event.

Follow this ENSA link to become a member.

Idea for the society

Our society was created, while a group of us were discussing opportunities to strengthen the community of women and other gender minorities in STEM at Napier with the amazing support of Equate Scotland and SCEBE (The school of computing, engineering and built engineering).

Societies for women in STEM are common at other universities, but Napier was lacking one. We decided this was a great opportunity to put one in place, and we have found it very important to remain inclusive for other gender minorities who may also feel isolated in STEM.

As a society, we aim to provide support when students may be struggling and encourage STEM students to continue their studies. There are often gaps with support due to the discomfort and isolation often felt by these students. We strive to build a network for gender minorities in STEM with other students, and also beyond university with opportunities to be introduced to people in industry too.

Napier STEM society logo

What we have done so far

Our society has been holding weekly study sessions throughout the year at Merchiston Campus, with information about them being shared on our Instagram and discord. This has been a great chance for people to come along, meet others in the society and get a change of scenery for their studies and uni work.

This past year, we’ve managed to put together many fun events. Our first being our winter crafts event. This was a small event trying to kick off the promotion of the society while giving people a break from studying. We provided crafts supplies and a selection of movies to gain the festive feel before the semester ended.

We managed to host a very successful pub quiz last semester. Held at Three Sisters, we provided lots of our freebies from Equate, along with gift voucher prizes and sweets to our winning teams. There was an amazing turnout with all our tables full and a great atmosphere amongst everyone attending.

Our society members at the pub quiz

Our society members at the pub quiz

In partnership with Equate Scotland and SCEBE, we hosted Launching into STEM, which was a panel event open to women and gender minorities. We invited along four inspiring women at different stages of their STEM career to speak about their journey and experiences, with the chance to ask question and network. This had a very successful turnout and a lot of positive feedback, both from guest speakers and attendees.

Panel members and chairs at Launching into STEM event

Panel members and chairs at Launching into STEM event

One of our most recent activities, was a little movie and pizza night. After a poll of different movies around women/gender minorities in STEM on our Instagram, we selected The Imitation Game. The event was relaxed and low-key on the run-up to the end of semester and is something we will definitely be hosting again.

Ideas for the future

Our main goal is to grow the society and encourage more women/gender minorities to join to help provide a better uni experience for them when they may feel overwhelmed or isolated. As the society is new, we have been growing steadily, but currently we are still small, though we have a lot to offer students at Napier.

Next year, we plan to continue our regular study sessions and socials throughout the year. Particularly, we plan to provide networking opportunities by getting together groups to attend conferences, along with providing fun activities to allow people to get to know each other and a ceilidh for people to attend. We also plan to organise a lead walk in Edinburgh and movie nights to provide more fun and relaxed events for people to come along too. Continuing our partnership with SCEBE we will aim to have reduced costs, making them more accessible to people who wish to attend.

Make sure to look out for our freshers event at the start of next year and come along and join the society to meet others.

Equate Scotland and SCEBE

Equate is an organisation which strives to support and training women in STEM throughout their careers and companies with developing and maintaining diversity in the workplace. In connection to Equate, we STEM student champions are ambassadors tasked with organising events to encourage community for women in STEM within our university.

Our connections with Equate and SCEBE have played a massive role in our success. They provide funding allowing us to keep our membership prices low and our events cheap, gaining more from our partnership. We often work in partnership with them for events, helping promote workshops Equate are running and studies happening within SCEBE at Edinburgh Napier University.

Feel free to dm or email us if you have any questions or want to learn more about us

ENSA: https://www.napierstudents.com/organisation/societies/8440/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/napierstem/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/napier-stem-a46444254/
Discord: https://discord.gg/ZkZjxeAnVz
Email: napierstem@gmail.com

Sally Smith at Computershare event

Tech sector needs more women in leadership roles

Women are under-represented in leadership roles…especially in the tech sector

We know that women are underrepresented in computing courses at schools, colleges and universities, so it’s no surprise they are underrepresented in tech sector leadership roles.

In fact, Tech Nation revealed that 77% of tech director roles are filled by men.

For those women that do decide on a well-paid career in tech, 50% leave before they are 35, so many don’t progress to leadership roles. Of course, this is a problem: diversity in decision-making is better and engineered products are more inclusive, plus women can miss out on high pay and status.

Why the drop out? Researchers found sexism to be the principal reason for leaving the sector. They say women encountered a hostile and unwelcoming climate. Research has also found that women either move away from technical work or adapt by becoming one of the boys to fit in with  a masculine (bro) culture.

Our own research, however, found women in IT leadership positions had found work that chimed with their personal values. For example, they found satisfaction in helping end users. These are great jobs, great careers. So how do we prevent women leaving the sector?

Things that work

  • inclusive and friendly job adverts,
  • family friendly policies at work,
  • inclusive work environments,
  • mentors and role models.

If you are getting started in tech, don’t be deterred by job adverts, look for mentoring programmes, start social/ informal events at work (it doesn’t all have to be about beer and pizza).

If you are already a leader in tech, think about what you might be able to influence – and offer to mentor.

17 women in tech

Case studies of women working in tech

We asked women working in tech and digital, including apprentices, about their journeys into tech, what they do, and what they like about it. Here are our first 17 profiles.

The profiles were collected in 2021 and 2022 – we know that many of these women have moved forwards in their career since then, with graduations and promotions. Congratulations.

Ada Scot Festival 2022

Ada Scotland Festival: our pick of the events for you

ada.scot 12 to 28th  October 2022

The third Ada Scotland Festival kicks off next week and runs till 28th  October 2022, celebrating women in tech.

The festival includes events for women and girls at all stages of their career. We’ve picked out the best events for students and women starting or developing their tech career and those interested in building new tech knowledge and skills.

What to expect:

  • practical advice on building your online profile
  • insights from women who have successfully navigated the tech industry
  • tech talks
  • opportunities to connect with communities who can support you through your next steps in your career

Please sign up, share with colleagues and friends. Everything is free to take part. For a full events and activities listing please visit https://ada.scot/

Follow us for updates on twitter @adascot 

Events for students and career starters

Continue reading

Participant-Centred Planning

Running Effective Gender Balance Activities

We’re running a free, short workshop, within the Ada Scotland Festival, to share our Participant-Centred Planning Framework for running effective inclusion activities.

Wednesday 19th October, 3-4pm, online.

The workshop is sponsored by SICSA Scotland. The framework research was funded by Skills Development Scotland.

logos

We’ve been working on gender balance projects and also investigating ways to improve their efficacy and we’d like to share this with you and provide an opportunity for you to share what you’ve been doing. Participants with no experience are also welcome.

In this online workshop, we’ll introduce you to our Participant-Centred Planning Framework, through the projects we’ve used it in and through breakout sessions in which you start to apply to your own (future or present) projects. It’s easy. You’ll like it. Continue reading

Making Work Work for You

Making Work Work for You

Free online workshop from Equate Scotland and Women into Tech as part of Ada Scotland Festival 2022.

Wednesday 19th October, 12:30 to 13:30, online.

This workshop is for women studying towards or thinking about a career in tech and/or wanting to move into an inclusive work environment.

Looking at both the opportunities and challenges for women in the tech industry, we will explore ways to build more inclusive workplaces and why this is particularly relevant and important in the tech industry. We will try to envision what our ideal organisation look like and provide you with tools and tips to build on this vision. This workshop is also an opportunity to meet with like-minded women, and find ways to navigate change in a constantly evolving workplace.

This workshop will support you to:

  • Understand the barriers women may face when studying or working in tech
  • Understand the importance of creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces
  • Recognise non-inclusive environments or situations at work
  • Envision how you want the future of work to look like
  • Identify ways to enhance change and create a more inclusive tech sector

Continue reading

Sarah Cleland

“Identify your skills early and build them up, use them to support the skills you have that need more work.”

photo of Sarah ClelandHow did you find your way into tech?

I took my first computing course in high school and enjoyed every moment of it. We unfortunately didn’t have a teacher to take the course further, so it was set aside. After leaving high school I tried joining the RAF to become a pilot, but my spatial awareness was nowhere near good enough to fly. I was also only 18 at the time and definitely notready for that sort of life.

At this point I was at a bit of a loss with what to do with myself and a local college sent out prospectuses to encourage people to attend. I flipped through and saw they offered computing, so I applied. It was a subject I had previously enjoyed and felt I could do well in. I remembered it being challenging, interesting and a subject I could take in my stride. I got the grades I needed from college and made it into university. Since then, my interest and passion has grown, and I know for sure this is exactly what I’m meant to be doing.

Tell us a little about your course

My degree is Computing Science. It is very varied which means there is always engaging material. I’ve covered a range of topics from games development, mobile app development, databases, networks, and programming. We’ve had the opportunity to try different languages such as Java, Python, Kotlin, and C. In the early years you also get the chance to do modules not related to your degree, so I chose criminal law and accounting. It’s great to be able to develop yourself in your own unique way and build skills you wouldn’t necessarily think you would.

The material is a good mix of code-based assessment and written assessment, giving practice for the dissertation year. The written ones are usually quite open –ended, giving a chance to do additional research and apply it to the context of the code project.

There are lots of opportunities for women on the degree, such as encouragement to participate in the Lovelace Colloquium, seminars and other events designed specifically for women. It’s been so encouraging finding and getting to know other women in STEM through these events and not feeling like you’re one of very few!

What advice would you offer?

My advice is to use your strengths to your advantage. Personally, I’m not the best at maths but I have plenty of patience to do loads of examples to gain the understanding I require. The skills you currently have are always transferable, even if it’s not obvious at first. Identify your skills early and build them up, use them to support the skills you have that need more work. Don’t let anything or anyone tell you that you can’t do it and you don’t belong in tech. I’ve struggled the last couple years with self-doubt from Imposter Syndrome and only recently have I got it under control. I think it affects all of us in tech to a certain degree, but you cannot let it affect what you’re doing. Take it in your stride and use it to motivate and encourage you, don’t let it take control and sink your passion.

What interests you about tech?

My dissertation project has been based on the Travelling Salesperson Problem and the Knapsack Problem, which I’ve developed a real interest in. I’ve been developing the project with a haulage company, so it’s been exciting to develop a real, tangible project for an actual client. It’s been very interesting researching the problems and exploring how these problems don’t just apply to routing and loading in a haulage sense, but the TSP applied to things like DNA mapping, aiming telescopes at the stars and scheduling jobs. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of using everything I’ve learned the last 3 and a half years and combining it into a project that is my own. It’s been important to manage my own time and balance the rest of the modules that need to be completed too, while maintaining my own high standards of work.