Ladies that UX: how it all started

Ladies that UX founder, Georgie Bottomley, shares the story of how her community grew from small beginnings to having meetups internationally.

Ladies that UX was founded in 2012, in a Manchester bar after a night out.

Lizzie and I had both been working in UX for a short time and realised on that fateful evening that we didn’t really have any female role models. We hadn’t worked with any other women in the industry and didn’t really know what we could become.

Ladies that UX was born.

Sharing stories

Initially our goals were really selfish; we wanted to meet other women in our industry. We wanted to hear their stories, and learn from them.

Quickly Ladies that UX turned into an international movement of women coming together to support each other, share their stories and advice, and encourage each other to reach their full potential.

Becoming international

The UX industry has come a long way since we started nearly 3 years ago. When Ladies that UX was founded a few people thought we were mad, that women didn’t need a space to come together, and there certainly weren’t enough of them to merit a meet up.

Now we have groups in nearly 50 cities internationally and the tech industry has done a lot of soul searching.

It now realises it has a problem and is trying very hard to not only recruit more women into tech, but make it a place you want to stay. You now see a phenomenal amount of support for women in the industry, from meet-ups, mentor circles or simple awareness.

There couldn’t be a better time to be a woman in tech.

A supportive community

As a group we work hard to make sure our cities feel supported and are creating a wonderful community for our women to be part of.

We mentor every city with monthly calls, an email newsletter, a very active slack channel (!) and loads of tools and tips and tricks so that they can bring the same atmosphere to their events as we brought to the first ever meet-up in a Manchester burger bar.

It is so important to us that Ladies that UX events are welcoming.

It doesn’t matter what your job is, or how great you say you are — anyone is welcome to come along.

Lizzie and I had got so tired of those meet-up events where people tell you why they are amazing and hand out business cards. We wanted something more: a real conversation with someone where you could actually build a long lasting relationship. Somewhere you get to know the people that come because they come back every month.

This is the type of group we have created. We have had women move cities and know that they will be okay because where they are moving to has a LTUX group. It makes me so happy to think that we have been able to create this.

Talk UX

We also founded Talk UX last year. Lizzie and I had got so frustrated with conference organisers contacting us asking to be put in touch with female speakers. The first organiser was fine but when it turned into weekly emails we knew that they were just being lazy!

There are loads of awesome women out there, doing phenomenal work, you just need to reach them.

Talk UX is a one day UX conference with a female only line up. We don’t talk about being a woman in tech. It is just like any other UX conference you will go to, except you will only hear women speaking.

A platform for new speakers

Last year we had 21 speakers, 14 of whom had never spoken before. It was a great day, with lots of little touches that made it really special and lovely.

We are planning Talk UX again this year in Atlanta and our hope is that we can continue to give a platform for these awesome role models in our industry. We have all heard “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it” — and Talk UX really allows you to see it!

I am so unbelievably proud of all that we have achieved as Ladies that UX.

I truly believe that we have made a difference, not only to the tech industry and the way the problem of a lack of women in perceived. I also know we have made a huge impact on an individual basis to hundreds of women who like us thought they were the only women in the industry.

Inspiring new digital communities

Women in other digital disciplines are recognising the value of open and welcoming meetups as a means of opening the discourse on diversity in tech and within their own communities. It means so much to know that we are supporting all women, whatever their chosen field in tech.

These women now have a welcoming place to go to meet other women and together take on the world. Let’s do it ladies!

Georgina Bottomley, UX Designer and Co-Founder of Ladies that UX