Thanks to Marina Traversari for this guest blog detailing how we can incite change in the South West tech community to create truly diverse workplaces for women in tech.

Throughout her career, Marina has been an influential advocate for diversity and inclusion, leveraging her platform to champion equality and break down social barriers where everyone can thrive. Her extensive experience in managing relationships and forging strategic partnerships underscores her unwavering dedication to leveraging technology for the betterment of humanity.

In the past 12 months, I found inspiration in the launch of the Labour Party’s Women in Tech (LWiT) initiative, led by CEO Samantha Niblett and featuring the esteemed Lucy Powell, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. As a fervent advocate for Women in Tech, I believe it’s crucial to redefine the narrative of a predominantly ‘male’ career and provide young women with relatable role models in an industry that has historically been male dominated.

LWiT stands as a beacon, uniting allies, champions, and change makers to drive positive change in gender balance within the tech sector, promising a brighter future for generations to come.

Making change in the South West

In the West of England, organisations have strategically worked towards eliminating ‘Manels’ (all-male panels) and ensuring diverse representation in both panels and marketing materials. Recognizing that perpetuating the idea of a ‘man’s world’ is counterproductive, these efforts contribute to fostering an inclusive environment where women feel not only welcome but integral to the industry’s success.

Having served as the Chair of the Gapsquare Board—a dedicated organisation focused on closing the gender and ethnicity pay gap—I am acutely aware of the challenges that lie ahead. Alarming statistics from the World Economic Forum predict it will take over 100 years to close the global gender/ethnicity pay gap and 300 years to close the gender gap in tech, according to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. While there is progress, the road ahead demands sustained commitment.

True inclusion in tech

Organisations are making strides, committed to creating sustainable change. However, there remains an untapped talent pool that, if harnessed, can significantly benefit employers and the economy. The financial impact underscores the importance of investing in diverse talents, breaking down barriers, and propelling innovation so everyone thrives.

Greater diversity isn’t just about representation; it leads to more inclusive products that resonate with and represent society. Addressing the concerning statistic that 94% of girls drop computing by age 14, there is a pressing need to influence the curriculum to ensure inclusivity, encouraging young minds to pursue careers in technology.

Enabling flexible working options, such as part-time and work-from-home arrangements, is a catalyst not only for gender representation but also for engaging individuals with ‘protected characteristics,’ including people with disabilities, neurodiversity, and the aging workforce. Inclusive technology has the power to elevate aspirations and facilitate progress in education and careers.

The future of technology will impact those in digital poverty, necessitating a comprehensive UK-wide approach. No single organisation can tackle this complex challenge alone; a collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach is imperative.

As we approach a general election, the Gender Index data reveals that UK female-led companies stand at 18.20%, with ethnic minority-led female companies at 7.57%. This election presents an enormous scope for women in business and an opportune moment for transformative change.

I am driven by the vision of women at the forefront, with due recognition of their value and potential. Together, we all have a genuine opportunity to galvanize change, influencing not only the future of women but also the trajectory of technology itself. This is a call to action, an invitation to embrace inclusivity, and a commitment to shaping a future where diversity is the cornerstone of success.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.