London Tech Week’s EQL:HER And EQL:Pledge: For Women In Tech

Photo © 2022 – ASV Photography Ltd. www.ASVphotos.com | June Sarpong OBE (left), and Sarah Kiefer (Pitch.com) (right).

Although International Women’s Day is well and truly over for this year, London Tech Week 2022’s EQL:HER and EQL:Pledge will continue on – the crucial spirit of IWD.

According to an International Women’s Day survey, UK women in tech are struggling to break the bias. London Tech Week‘s EQL:HER and EQL:Pledge aims to fix this.

Here’s what the survey said:

  • 68% of respondents believe(d) that gender perception is biggest obstacle to entering the tech industry,
  • 57% see a lack of role models as a barrier to entry,
  • 58% say that more women-led funds are leading to better funding prospects,
  • And stereotyping, and a lack of support during schooling (60% and 48%) are the biggest barriers to entry for women getting started in tech.

Despite female tech giants such as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki being championed in the press, women still feel as though they are facing barriers, when it comes to entering and succeeding in the world of technology, the research suggests.

According to fresh data obtained by London Tech Week and its anchor event, EQL:HER, in 2022, there are still many obstacles for women entering the tech industry.

“Men are thrown in at the deep end, whereas women are faced with an ‘I don’t want to give her anything too difficult’ attitude from men at a lower skill level. The perception is always that women must first prove that they are capable,” said one respondent.

“The roles are there. There just aren’t enough women applying, let alone women with the right skills. These are more senior tech roles,” added the respondent.

However, there is an improving pipeline of female-led start-ups. According to the survey, women feel this is in part, due to:

  1. Seeing more leading women in tech championed in the press (60%),
  2. An increase in women-focused business events (49%),
  3. More women-led funds (58%),
  4. Accelerator programmes dedicated to female founders (49%).

So how does childcare come into this, then?

72% of women believe(d) that tech careers are suffering, thanks to them having to shoulder most of the childcare burdens, or the care of other dependents whilst juggling work,

48% say that women being forced to scale down their work and take time off to care for their children, has had a detrimental impact on their tech careers.

BUT, only 38% of women believe(d) that increased childcare support would help more women to get into the industry. Instead, they would rather see:

A: More flexible working opportunities (62%),

B: Equal pay (68%),

C: Initiatives from companies to educate girls at school (57%),

D: Mentorship programmes (55%),

E: Providing non-technical staff with the opportunity to retrain (54%),

F: Providing clear and well-documented progression opportunities (51%),

G: More emphasis on championing female role models (49%).

On a more positive note, though, one respondent said:

“Whilst I believe that employed women may have suffered during COVID-19 due to work-from-home policies and the difficulty to manage a healthy work-life balance, there have been more opportunities for unemployed women in tech as a result of the great resignation, and the current bidding war on talent.”

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“We’re seeing a huge leap forward when it comes to re-balancing gender in tech, but there is still lots more work to be done. We need to look at the systemic issues across the board. Supporting women at just one level is not going to solve the problem,” said Elka Goldstein, the Interim CEO of London Tech Week’s EQL:HER.

“We need to be looking at solutions that start during a woman’s school age, and span across their lifetime. Educate in schools, create visible role models, provide access to skills programmes, and generate more opportunities for funding. And it can’t be just one of these interventions. It needs to be all of them,” added Elka.

“Society shapes stereotypes and creates biases that we need to address, well before women even enter the workforce,” concluded Elka.

So how did London Tech Week 2022’s EQL:HER event address these issues, then?

Well firstly, there’s the EQL:Pledge, a new global initiative established by EQL:HER in partnership with Pitch.com.

Designed to help founders from backgrounds who are often underrepresented in entrepreneurship to secure funding to grow their businesses, EQL:Pledge gets pitch decks in front of investors, that founders might otherwise not have access to.

June 1st 2022 saw the exclusive, soft launch event for EQL:Pledge, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Former US Secretary of State, Dame Vivian Hunt, a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, Anne Glover, the CEO & Co-Founder of Amadeus Capital Partners, and June Sarpong OBE, the Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC.

June 14th 2022 saw the official launch of EQL:Pledge on the main stage at London Tech Week, where June Sarpong OBE, Sarah Kiefer (Pitch.com’s CMO), and Rachael Palmer from Google were joined by Alexa Sinyachova, a Venture Partner at Ukrainian Tech Ventures, – to discuss building and sustaining a thriving tech industry.

And last but not least, October 2022 will see EQL:Pledge launch in New York.

The EQL:HER Sessions Included:

I: A welcome keynote address, featuring EQL:HER’s Interim CEO/Informa Tech Founders’ Elka Goldstein, and Silicon Valley Bank’s Erin Platts,

II: A panel session named “The Investment Gap And Biases Working Against Us,” featuring Channel 4’s Alex Mahon, Erin Platts, Goldman Sachs’ Natasha Pope, and Lisa Shu,

III: “Fueling Female Financial Empowerment… the Good the Bad and the Ugly,” featuring PropElle’s Ayesha Ofori,

IV: A “Building A Better Future” panel, featuring Meta’s Sophie Neary, Maersk’s Holly Landry, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)’s Sarah Healey, and Pipeline Equity’s Katica Roy,

V: And “Tech For Humanity, Change For Good (Virtual),” featuring Amro Partners, UK & Europe’s Ami Kotecha, SYSTEMIQ’s Irena Spazzapan, and Globant’s Mercedes MacPherson.

Find out more here, here, here, and here.