I went along to the Empowering Women with Tech Conference at Leeds International Festival a few weeks ago.
As well as learning that I am not anywhere near as Luddite as I might have feared, I was struck by the synergy between some of the reoccurring themes from the speakers and topics that concern us at tlfw: such as women supporting women and finding your tribe – a topic we have posted about on this blog.
As a kid, I enjoyed watching Tomorrows World, but when I went to school the Internet and smart-phones didn’t even exist and the idea of a 3D printer was pure Star-Trek. I think my sixteen-year-old self may have been a little incredulous if I’d told her that one day in 2017 I’d end up at a conference applauding female tech entrepreneurs and then reporting to an online community via WordPress & HTML.
The caliber of speakers at The Empowering Women with Tech conference was awesome and inspirational, so I wanted to share with you some of my highlights.
First up to speak was female Eureka! ambassadors and Head Stemette, Anne-Marie Imafidon. Imafidon is about as inspirational as it gets. She achieved an M.A from Oxford in Mathematics and Computer Science by the time she was 20.
In 4 years just under 15,000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe have had attended Stemette experiences. As part of the initiative, she has also co-founded Outbox Incubator: the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls.
She shared her five reasons to tempt young women to work in tech, the first being free swag. I was scribbling all this advice in my shiny new and free notepad so I can verify that one. Who doesn’t love a bit of free gorgeous stationary?
She also warned the more skeptical in the audience that tech IS coming, whether we like it or not, so we’d better embrace it. This is the bit I am working on; nobody wants to be the out of touch codger bemoaning the new, especially me. We must elevate female tech role models, past and present, so young girls and women have people to aspire to be.
As a music lover and regular gig-goer, I was excited when Emmy Lovell: VP Digital, Warner Music took to the stage. What a cool role she has and what an amazing job she’s doing! Warner has created the Firepit, which looks like something from an 80s sci-fi film; a lab filled with tech to stimulate creativity: drones, bots, AR, VR etc. There was many an audible jaw drop from the audience as she described it. The tech landscape is crowded and they want to lead the field, so they’ve taken a risk in order to give fans amazing experiences when sampling their artists’ music.
Warner also wants the people who work there to feel like a ‘tribe’…we heard that word a lot throughout the day. There are wellness initiatives for everyone, to ensure they have happy creatives. And an ‘Innovation panel’ – so EVERYONE gets to pitch ideas for development or have their say about whatever they need.
The speaker there that I image most people have probably heard of was super-star blogger Susanna Lau (aka Susie Bubble), probably more associated with fashion influencing and social media than with tech, per se, but of course, the two go hand in hand.
She also talked about working with your tribe, but wanted to ensure there is room for all, “In this world where the key is collaboration, I hope diversity of voices carries on and continues to emerge.” I felt this really spoke to our tlfw value of friendship and the fact that our website, blog and social network at tlfw is the product of collaboration between a group of great women.
And the fact that we are trying to show the diversity of subjectivities of women without kids. She also spoke very eloquently about the importance of voice and encouraged us to find our own.
Fashion bloggers, she said, are lifestyle models: brands. But also creative: multi-tasking hybrids. Which I think applies to a lot of us. In fact, next time you look in the mirror say aloud “I am a creative, multi-tasking hybrid” Or try it out as your #quoteoftheday
Read Ruth’s full report on more of the speakers at Empowering Women with Tech on the Eureka blog
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“I am a creative, multi-tasking hybrid”