Looking back on my career, it dawned on me that I joined the tech community last century! The digital world was not something I thought I would end up in but I have always had a love of gaming starting with figuring how to code on my Amstrad 64k to make it say “hello world”.

At the time, it was a very male dominated industry and things have moved on rapidly since the world of dial-up internet, floppy disks and taking the ball out of a mouse because you wanted to play a trick on your colleague! Despite considerable progress toward gender equality, women remain significantly underrepresented in tech roles. This underrepresentation stems not from a lack of ability but from historical biases and systemic barriers.

The foundation of empowerment starts with education and skill development. Providing girls with access to quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education from an early age is essential. Initiatives such as mentorship programs, STEM clubs, and partnerships with local companies offering internships are crucial in encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers. This is something that we are passionate about at Purple Frog where our team have become STEM Ambassadors, do talks in schools and provide work experience  opportunities.

Creating a supportive environment is equally important. This involves addressing and dismantling cultural stereotypes that deter women from tech careers. Education from primary schools upwards must actively promote female role models, celebrate women’s achievements in tech, and cultivate a culture of inclusivity and respect. We found our youngest AI data scientist by doing a talk at a local University and through a chat ended up recruiting her!

After winning a ‘Women in STEM’ award last year presented at the House of Lords, it came with a request for me to pay it forward and mentor others. I thought this was a fantastic way of rewarding role models and establishing robust mentorship programs where we can offer guidance and support to make a significant difference.

Companies must implement policies and practices that promote diversity and inclusion. This includes equitable hiring practices, unbiased performance evaluations, and opportunities for career advancement. Offering flexible working arrangements, parental leave, and childcare support is essential as well as addressing the unique challenges faced by women of colour, LGBTQ+, and other marginalised communities is crucial.

We stand on the precipice of change, we must advocate for policy changes at the governmental level. The UK government can play a significant role by funding STEM education programs, providing grants and scholarships for women especially for those in digital poverty, and incentivising companies to adopt inclusive practices. Policies aimed at closing the gender pay gap, preventing workplace discrimination, and supporting work-life balance are crucial for creating an equitable digital career.

I don’t know what the next few months will hold for us but if empower people with the right skills through educating girls, mentorship, soft skills development, inclusive organisational practices, and policy advocacy we can unlock the full potential of everyone, drive innovation, and build a more equitable and prosperous future for all.