Getting smart about female empowerment in tech
“Working in the tech sector, there were obstacles to overcome that male colleagues didn’t face. I wanted to do something to change that.”
Starting up in tech
“I didn’t think I would end up becoming an entrepreneur. I did consider making the transition to the tech sector as a long-term goal, but I thought I lacked the skills to realistically make a significant career change – let alone taking on the stress and difficulties of becoming an entrepreneur. In that respect, my Masters in Management at London Business School (LBS) had a significant impact on me.”
“I was really eager to develop a practical lens on management, and was looking to build an applied skillset, better negotiating competencies and a useful business network. What I took away after my 12 months at LBS was an affinity for entrepreneurship that has paved the way for a series of demanding roles with startups. Then in 2017, I landed the job of Success Manager with the Microsoft startup accelerator."
“I owe a lot to LBS in terms of the practical and negotiating skills the programme helped me develop. Through my courses, the LBS network and the entrepreneurship classes on the programme, I got a real feel for the entrepreneurial landscape, as well as the personal aptitudes and the mindset I’d need to move forward. My switch from management consultancy to the startup world happened serendipitously because employers liked the affinity for social impact and analytical skills that blossomed within me at LBS.”
“After my tech transition I wanted to put my experience and skills to work by founding a startup myself. It felt like a natural next step. I already knew from first-hand experience about the deficit of women in tech – and in STEM subjects and careers in general. The lack of diversity is disheartening. For me, working in the tech sector, there were obstacles to overcome that male colleagues didn’t face. I wanted to do something to change that, so I teamed up with my co-founders Larissa Nietner and Scott Nill to create STEMgem - a smart device toolkit that empowers young girls between the ages of 11 and 14 to create their own bespoke technology.”
“We’ve achieved a great deal, but it was tough to get the venture off the ground. The tech scene is still male-dominated. There are usually few women in the room. When you are a woman pitching a female-focused product to male VCs, you often have to build a sense of empathy and get them to see the potential. You need to have the confidence in yourself and the knowledge to get them on board.”Read more
The benefits of bi-directional mentorship
“One of the major challenges facing women in general is overcoming issues with self-doubt. There are plenty of factors out there in the business or tech environment that already make it more difficult to succeed, but sometimes women can make it more difficult for themselves by having a higher level of self-doubt than men. We have a tendency to take failure more to heart and can be more risk-averse at times. We need to understand that failure is normal."
“STEMgem is already playing its part in addressing this by encouraging girls to experiment, prototype and design their own creations using real-world tools and coding. Another way of encouraging self-belief among women is through mentorship. I believe that women should hold together, giving and receiving support from each other. My LBS network works this way. We support each other in a way that is bi-directional so that everyone prospers.”
“Female role models are of critical importance. In December 2017, I founded Bridge to Afghanistan, a mentorship programme that connects young women in Kabul to female mentors via Skype. The goal is to help Afghan girls broaden their exposure, improve their employability skills, and cultivate the confidence to just go for it."
“I’d like to see a world in which women feel the confidence to dream big, to go for their goals, to fail and learn from failure and to be true to their authentic selves.”
“Women can make it more difficult for themselves by having a higher level of self-doubt than men…we need to understand that failure is normal.”
“Employers liked the affinity for social impact and analytical skills that blossomed within me at LBS.”