The gender gap is a hot topic right now and particularly in the technology sector. Statistics show us that women only make up roughly 22% of the UK tech workforce. Shocking, right? What if I told you that Black women only make up 0.7% of that? Mind-blowing.
I looked up these statistics before I transitioned into a new career in tech. They honestly scared me. My fear came from knowing what it’s like to work in male-dominated environments. I had previously worked in places where I was the only woman. Trying to fit in was a nightmare and I did a lousy job of pretending to be “one of the lads”. I had also worked in spaces where I was the only Black staff member. It was isolating, to say the least.
Not one to back down from a challenge, I pressed ahead with my tech ambitions anyway. Along the way I was exposed to more information about the lack of diversity in the sector. You’d be surprised how this manifests itself in products and services. Let me explain.
Diverse teams are inclusive teams
I remember scrolling through TikTok one day. I saw a video of a Black person trying to use a sensor tap in a public bathroom. The tap didn’t recognise their hand. As a result, they couldn’t use it. I was enraged by this tap, but of course, the tap was just doing its job. “Well, why wasn’t this tested?”, I thought. The reality is, it probably was tested before release, but not on people with darker skin tones. Something had obviously gone wrong there. I started to wonder. Could more diversity in teams help to avoid situations like this?
The beauty of a diverse team is that everyone has different life experiences and perspectives. Diverse teams offer insight that could otherwise have been overlooked. Ultimately, diverse teams are inclusive teams.
This was an extra incentive for me to join the tech world as a designer. I was adamant that I needed to advocate for inclusivity. How else would we fix the issue of exclusion? Products and services should be accessible to everyone. That’s the goal.
Advocating for inclusivity
Fast forward to applying to Made Tech. I had a snoop around the company website and was pleasantly surprised. I saw women, lots of women. And when I saw Black women my eyes lit up like a Christmas tree! What a great place to start my career.
It was comforting to know that I’d be working with people from similar backgrounds to my own. I was hopeful that this would make it slightly easier to advocate for inclusivity – as I really do believe there’s strength in numbers.
I’m pleased to say I was right. My first coach was a woman of colour and she loved all things accessibility and inclusion – what a great start. She even put together a workshop series called Power, Privilege and Equity in Designs that challenged us all to acknowledge our privileges. My biggest takeaway from these sessions was to always be mindful when developing designs. It’s important to put the user’s needs at the forefront of the product or service. And it’s also important for designers to challenge their own biases. This way, we can prevent them from leaking into our designs.
The future is diverse
My advice – if you’re thinking about leaping into tech – just go for it! If you’re a Black woman, you are very much needed in our industry. Don’t be put off by the statistics – there truly is space for everyone. It’s about finding the right place for you.
The most important thing to remember is that representation matters. Your input holds value and can encourage others to think outside the box. Your presence will inspire others from underrepresented communities to get involved in the industry just as I hope that my writing has inspired you.
The tech industry is expected to grow in the next few years and I’m looking forward to seeing more diversity in teams. It will take a collective effort to challenge rigid and outdated ways of thinking. And with any luck, we’ll be able to build services and products that work for everyone, regardless of skin colour!
Want to find out a bit more about what things are like at Made Tech? Take a look at our Life at Made Tech category on the blog.