The Code: Debugging the Diversity Gap panel at Inspirefest 2015 brought together four amazing women who have all taken steps to address the lack of diversity in the technology industry, for a frank panel discussion chaired by Silicon Republic CEO Ann O’Dea.
Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code, acknowledged that lack of diversity was not just a gender issue – it’s also an issue that affects those in the LGBT community, as well as African-Americans — but she said it was in the area of gender diversity that she felt she could have most impact.
“It’s important to look at how diversity plays out in other places… because when we look at these different elements together it paints an even bigger picture of the work we need to do to change the industry,” she said.
“I resonate with this issue because I am a woman… I really relate to the path these young women are going to take in the future so, when it comes to us and our organisation, we feel we can make the most impact there.”
Bryant was joined on the panel by Robin Hauser Reynolds, the director of the film Code: Debugging the Gender Gap, which explores why more women and minorities aren’t seeking roles in the technology industry; by Northern Ireland native Sheree Atcheson, the expansion director of Women Who Code UK; and by Mary Moloney, CEO of the CoderDojo Foundation.
Atcheson revealed during the panel that Women Who Code will be coming to Dublin, while also describing those who take part in Women Who Code events.
“We have women coming to our events who are 18, 19, and we also have women coming to our events who have been in the technology industry for 25 years… we do have that great network and the ability to help women extend their own network.”
Diversity in tech will take time to achieve
All of those on the panel felt that events like Inspirefest — and their own initiatives — are making a difference in the industry, but they also acknowledged that significant change will take time to achieve.
“I think it’s going to take a long time and I think it’s going to take a concerted effort. It’s not just a gender issue… or an ethnicity issue… it’s interesting how many people look up from their iPhones when you start talking about money. [Diversity] is a huge economic issue,” pointed out Hauser Reynolds.
Moloney said that it is the generation coming up that gives her hope.
“There’s an incredible, joined-up set of leadership people, around the world, both male and female, who appreciate the difference and impact it can make to the bottom line of their business by fostering an inclusive, diverse workplace, and that’s going to create change, and the next generation, they take it for granted [that workplaces will be diverse].”
Watch the video above to see all the panel’s thoughts.
Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.
Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.