IPA Women of Tomorrow: the next breed of women leaders

It was on my journey back home after attending the IPA Women of Tomorrow networking event that I realised the contrast between celebrating women in tech and the reality of some women’s experience.

The afternoon started with meeting a female developer who recently got in contact by anonymous email with a pseudo name.

Holly and I received her email whilst we were running a series of screenings on the topic of re-addressing the gender balance in tech, sponsored by White October.

She had been a victim of harassment in the workplace by her colleague — a regular on the meet-up scene. She said that although she would love to come to the CODEGIRL screening and be part of the tech scene, the fear of him attending wouldn’t be worth it.

Meeting her was thought-provoking, but saddening as it became obvious we weren’t able to offer her an immediate solution.

A few hours later I was at the IPA building in Belgrave Square, in a room full of women who are dedicated to the #changethestats movement.

At the event Co-chairwoman, Claire Beale, Global Editor-in-Chief of Campaign, and judge Alice Weightman, Founder and CEO of Hanson Search spoke candidly about the Women of Tomorrow awards and what it took to make the final cut.

“It’s was like being on holiday when you can’t put down a good novel” 
— Alice Weightman on reading the IPA Women of Tomorrow submissions

Be more than your job

  • Leaders in the industry want to know who you are, where you have come from and what happened on the way. What have you experienced and what’s important to you?
  • Think about what matters to you most and talk about it.
  • When talking about your job. Support your references with statistics and case studies. Don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for testimonials.
  • Avoid fighting talk, similarly cut being overly philosophical, instead confidently build a profile you’re proud of.
“Where have you all been, If only I knew you existed” 
— Claire Beale, Global Editor-in-Chief of Campaign

Be ‘visibility-minded’

  • Make a conscious decision to be actively present at meetings, meetings are your stage. Be expansive and use your body language. Make yourself known.
  • Fake it until you make it. Find an assignment that will stretch you and have the confidence to go for it; even if you are not ready.
  • Be visible. Inside your organisation and out.

Stop under-marketing yourself

“It’s amazing how many women don’t treat their own brands like they do their client brands”
 — Claire Beale, Global Editor-in-Chief of Campaign
  • Women are much more likely to downplay their achievements. Create your own brand and don’t be afraid to be different. Always stay on brand.
  • Know what you stand for and be consistent: invest in your brand, build your profile and communicate your message.
  • Get comfortable with saying no. Ask yourself ‘Is this a good use of my time? Is it good for the company I work for?’ Practise saying no, practise hearing no.
“We are no longer the fierce eighties women smashing glass ceilings and kicking ladders away.
We are the next breed of women leaders who believe that getting to the top means you need to make space for more.
We understand that to truly #changethestats means we simply need more women in the numbers — and soon”
— Becky McOwen-Bank, Creative Director at FCB Inferno & Partner Creative Equals

Going to the Women of Tomorrow networking evening and listening to the female developer’s story made me realise not everyone can make that first step: turning up to an event or starting a conversation. Something we can take for granted.

Whilst these events are pivotal in raising awareness and opportunities for women in tech, the real action is on the ground. These are my takeaways:

  • Change needs to happen in first in our communities and workplace. We need to be that person to make the change.
  • Find opportunities to hear someone else’s story. Talk about the difficult stuff, embrace the awkward.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate progress along the way.

It’s our duty and our prerogative to speak to women in the industry and build better futures for us and the next generation.

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