Ada Lovelace all year round: Own your place in the digital world.

I was fortunate enough to celebrate this year’s Ada Lovelace Day twice, and both events made me reflect on how Ada Lovelace and the community around her is a year-round inspiration.

dxw started running a panel event last year, and we had another four inspiring women in tech (Stephanie Marsh, Coca Rivas, Olivia Campbell and Agz Deberny) talking about their experiences and answering questions about challenges they have faced in the industry. It was lovely to hear participants share their stories and I had an interesting discussion on whether someone who works in administration can consider themselves a woman in tech – I strongly believe so and we talked about the need to be part of this community; whatever connects you to digital.

I attended the Ada’s List Conference 2018 the following Saturday. Ada’s List is a global email-based community for all those who identify as women in tech and want to make the tech industry more inclusive. Year round, I receive emails discussing issues we all face in the industry as well as interesting professional, tech and science-related topics, job opportunities, events to attend and speaker opportunities. With a growing community of 5000+, it is fantastic to be a part of something larger and I was excited to actually meet some of those voices at the event.

Two strong themes emerged during the day and connected a lot of the talks:

Transparency builds trust

Åsa Nyström, Director of Customer Advocacy at Buffer spoke about the reasoning behind (and challenges with), making salaries transparent both internally and externally.

Emily Tate, Product Manager and US general manager at Mind the Product, spoke about mastering stakeholder management – the main takeaway being the importance of understanding what your stakeholders’ needs are on an empathic level, which requires transparency on both sides.

Transparency means warts and all, something we are increasingly seeing as the painful but essential path to the understanding and improvement of the situation women find themselves in; be it socially, financially, or emotionally. In order to further this cause, we need strong women in all areas of society pushing for this change, and we can only do it together.

Vulnerability is necessary

Kate Rees, agile team coach, spoke to us about role modelling vulnerability, introducing ideas such as the Johari Window, psychological safety and Brené Brown’s work on authenticity.
Babs Ofori, creator of Crazy Ambition and a workplace wellbeing warrior led a workshop on self-care non-negotiables, where we listed what actions made a good week for us (from getting a good night sleep to checking in with ourselves, spending time with friends and family or drawing/reading and so on) and how important it is not to allow these things to drop when work stress takes over.

Proclaiming yourself as a woman in tech can make women feel vulnerable, be it due to the presumptions of others, imposter syndrome or a lack of belief in our own importance in using, improving and teaching others about the digital systems around us (something admins frequently do but rarely consider). Use groups like Ada’s List and follow the inspirational women you meet on Twitter – they are the back up you need to own your place in the digital world.