OCC developer and diversity volunteer Beverley Newing won high honours in 4 women in tech awards last year. She discusses her experiences and the benefits of such awards.
Over the past few years, there has been a big surge in the number of awards that recognise the efforts and achievements of women in the technical sector and shine a spotlight on female talent. Highlighting women who have successful tech careers in this way can encourage more women to come into the industry. This helps to bring about a more positive, open working culture, and is great for productivity and creativity. Code First: Girls Ones to Watch list was the first such award that I came across, and it has been a big inspiration for me over the past few years.
Diversity is an issue very close to my heart. There are many issues that women still face in society. The everyday ramifications can be hard to deal with in the workplace, particularly when you are in the vast minority, as women in our industry are. Going to tech meetups and being one of only 2 or 3 women in a room of around 30 men is something I still find slightly uncomfortable.
So in order to give back and be a part of the diversity-in-tech movement, I volunteer extensively in my spare time. For over 3 years, I’ve been volunteering with Three Rings CIC, which is revolutionising non-profit and charity volunteer management across the UK and abroad through its software. Since moving to Oxford, I have also been volunteering to help diversify the tech scene in the city. I set up codebar Oxford alone in 2016 and now lead a team of 4 to meet demand. I also teach on both Front-end and Python courses for Code First: Girls in Oxford.
The combination of these things has meant that I’ve been lucky enough to be successful in 4 women in tech awards over the past year.
There were 20 categories for this award. After being shortlisted in the final 10, I then went through to be one of the 5 winners of the technology category! This was a big achievement for me – over 1,200 individuals entered. I attended the award-winners’ ceremony at News UK in July last year – a fantastic event.
WeAreTechWomen – TechWomen50 2017: shortlisted
I made it through to the shortlist of 100 women for this event, before 50 were selected as winners. The awards were entered by over 500 individuals and were judged by a panel of 20 independent judges. Over 15,000 public votes were received for the 100 shortlisted nominees.
Computing – Women in IT Excellence Awards 2017: shortlisted
There were 14 categories for these awards, sponsored by Appian and the National Grid. I was shortlisted for the Rising Star category, along with 7 other women.
Information Age – Women in IT Awards 2018: shortlisted
This award is organised by Information Age in partnership with Amazon Web Services. It is a big event – over 1,100 people attended the ceremony last year. These awards have been running for 4 years, and over 700 nominations were made for the 19 different categories last year. I was shortlisted for the Rising Star category, along with 9 other women.
The high point of being involved in these awards has been getting to meet and read about so many amazing women in tech. There are some truly inspiring and wonderful women on these award lists, and it’s important to recognise that in an industry that is not very diverse – women currently make up 17% of the tech workforce in the UK.
Unusually, the front-end team of 3 in which I currently work at OCC is all female. Female developers are a still a minority in the company overall, but having so many tech role model women in our team has been a huge help in developing a career in tech. OCC has also done a lot to support organisations that promote diversity in tech, with both financial sponsorship and hosting of codebar and Code First: Girls events over the past year.
These events and the organisations behind them are vital to creating a welcoming community and opening the doors to the tech sector, not just for women, but also for people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some of the many success stories can be found at codebar stories log and the Code First: Girls Alumni Wall of Fame.
There is still a way to go in terms of making the entire pipeline welcoming, but there are a lot of people working very hard to make that happen. Awards like these help give prominence to the women, companies, organisations and initiatives that are working for change.