Home / Entreprenuers / ‘People here look after each other’: life as a woman in the Scottish tech sector | Guardian Careers

‘People here look after each other’: life as a woman in the Scottish tech sector | Guardian Careers

In the previous decade, Edinburgh has quietly grow to be one among the UK’s most thriving tech hubs. According to the Tech Nation UK 2018 report (pdf), the metropolis noticed a 526% enhance in digital startups between 2006 and 2016. It was named the UK’s finest metropolis to launch a startup in 2017, thanks in half to this entrepreneurial explosion and its enterprise survival charges over a five-year interval. That’s earlier than contemplating the wealth of pupil and graduate expertise in the metropolis.

Tech employees may also discover full of life digital startup scenes in Glasgow, the place the sector contributes £1.31bn in gross worth added to the metropolis’s economic system, and Dundee, whose rising tech cluster has practically doubled its turnover since 2014.

The Scottish authorities’s Scotland Is Now advertising and marketing marketing campaign, launched earlier this yr, goals to attract much more expertise into the nation by emphasising Scotland’s openness to college students, traders, migrants and guests.

So is all of this progress and authorities assist making a distinction in terms of gender equality in the historically male-dominated tech sector?

The statistics appear promising. According to the British Computer Society’s 2017 variety report (pdf), Scotland leads the UK in phrases of gender inclusion in the tech sector, with girls making up 20% of tech professionals (in contrast with 17% nationally). This, nevertheless, is a great distance off being consultant of the inhabitants.

Jude McCorry is head of enterprise improvement at The Data Lab, a Scottish data-science centre. She says by far the best power of the scene in Scotland, and significantly in comparability with its counterparts in different areas of the UK, is the ambiance of collaboration.

“I’m Irish and people always look to Ireland for the answers for the tech community,” she says. “It attracted a lot of major multinationals on the back of the tax situation.” Ireland’s 12.5% company tax charge (in comparability with 19% in the UK) has seen tech behemoths together with Facebook, Google and Twitter organising their European headquarters in Dublin.

“Scotland has had to compete,” she continues. “But where it’s found a niche is around the sense of community. People here really do look after each other.”

Edinburgh, in specific, was praised in the Tech Nation 2017 report for its “extremely supportive digital group”. The Scottish tech sector is helped additional by a wholesome meet-up scene; the Scotland Data Science and Technology Meetup now has greater than three,000 members, convening each month in cities throughout the nation for talks on matters starting from knowledge in foodtech, to what the video games trade has to show different sectors.

It’s no coincidence that this supportive local weather has sprung up in an setting pushed by girls, McCorry says, with feminine leaders at the forefront of many startups and established companies, as nicely as the finance homes and different organisations that fund and assist them. She factors to Polly Purvis, CEO of digital commerce physique ScotlandIS; Jackie Waring, CEO and founding father of angel funding firm Women Investing; and Gillian Doherty, CEO of The Data Lab.

Likewise, there’s Carolyn Jameson, chief authorized officer at Skyscanner, the unicorn journey firm that turned one among Scotland’s largest tech success tales (it was established in Edinburgh in 2002 and offered for £1.6bn in 2016 to Chinese agency Ctrip, the place Jameson can also be now head of worldwide mergers and acquisitions, and company affairs). She arrived in Scotland from the London commuter belt city, Newbury, 11 years in the past, she explains, and says the nation is “unrecognisable now”, as a results of the tech developments.

“One of the main advantages Scotland has is that it’s small that there’s still a vibrant sense of community; and that’s what has helped it to thrive.”

But, she continues, that’s to not say that Scotland has fully overcome the sexism that permeates the tech trade in basic. Attitudes can “absolutely be challenging at times”, she says.

“Those wider networks are still largely made up of men and that can be a barrier to breaking in. The gender imbalance is still an issue.”

But, in basic, there’s a constant effort in Scotland to have girls correctly represented and catered for, says McCorry. The authorities has dedicated to rising free childcare for three- and four-year-olds from 600 hours to 1,140 hours per yr by 2020, and the nation is making progress on the gender pay hole, which is 6.6% for full-time employees, in comparability with the UK-wide determine of 9.9%. And the government-backed Equate Scotland initiative, launched in 2006, is working to extend gender equality in science, know-how, engineering and maths.

There’s no getting round the undeniable fact that Scotland’s scene is solely smaller than many different hubs throughout the UK, nevertheless. Tech Nation estimates that Edinburgh and Glasgow are each dwelling to round 10,000 jobs in digital tech, whereas Bristol has greater than 24,000 and Manchester has in the area of 30,000, all of that are dwarfed by London’s 318,000. It’s comprehensible, then, that ladies can be tempted to look south of the border for work. Likewise, the majority of Scotland’s graduates nonetheless have a tendency to go away the nation; a 2018 survey discovered that solely 32% of these learning in the nation have been planning to remain after finishing their programs.

Computer scientist Tayyaba Nafees is simply beginning out in the Scottish tech world after finishing her PhD in cybersecurity at Abertay University. She not too long ago launched her firm, CyberShell Solutions, to market a device she created in her PhD; it preempts weaknesses in software program design that might be exploited by hackers, enabling corporations to guard in opposition to assaults earlier than they occur.

The mission has already proven unbelievable promise, successful Nafees an enterprise fellowship from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, third place at this yr’s Converge Challenge enterprise contest (which showcases revolutionary concepts from Scottish universities) and, most not too long ago, the Rising Star award at the 2018 Scottish Women in Technology (SWiT) awards.

This assist has inspired Nafees, who’s initially from Pakistan, to hold on in a subject the place she is nicely conscious that individuals like her are underrepresented.

“Cybersecurity is a very male-dominated area and I am Muslim woman,” she says. “But SWiT has given me a huge network and connections to find more women who can mentor me.”

“It’s shown me that I’m not the only woman working in this area; there are many and they are doing a brilliant and successful job. It’s given me a lot of confidence that what I am doing is right. Women here are working and making a difference, and that’s a true inspiration.”

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About Beverly Hall

Beverly D. Hall writes for Entreprenuers and Leadership sections in AmericaRichest.

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