A group of Manchester women are not only aiming to break a Guinness World record but also encourage more females into the tech sector.
On June 13th BCS, the chartered institute for IT, will be attempting to break a world record for the number of people attempting to build an app at the same time. There are 30 locations across the country, including at Media City, and they hope to have at least 1000 participants across all the locations.
However, that’s not all: the team behind the initiative set out to encourage women to get into the technology sector. The organisers of Manchester’s event hope that get women who don’t shy away from engaging in tech activities in front of lots and lots of people in order to change the perception that ‘women can’t do technology’ and get young people to see women doing technology.
We caught up with Urszula Stawik, who set up the NW chapter of Girls in Tech and is organising the Manchester the event alongside Ann Darby, to find out why an event like this is so important:
*Q: Apart from breaking a world record what do you help to get from the event? *
A: “We are hoping this event will showcase that women do tech and can be good at it. We want to change perceptions and shift status quo by influencing the key groups in the equation – parents who play a huge role in the choice of interest, further education and career of young people, women themselves (technology can actually be cool, fun and most importantly inclusive) and men (so it’s not unusual to them that female can do tech and need a bit of encouragement and assurance there is no bias on their end).”
Q: How important do you think it is to showcase the work women are doing in tech?
A: “It is extremely important. Unfortunately, the perception that technology isn’t for women still prevails among men and women alike and a lot of work has to be done. It is also important to showcase that one doesn’t need tech qualifications or a background to get involved in tech. Technology is present in numerous aspects of our lives and this is something that makes it exciting and at the same shows technology requires a whole spectrum of skills and talents.”
Q: Do you think that more young women are starting to choose careers in tech?
A: “I hope so! Things are definitely shifting but it may take a few years if not a generation to see a real change. What is positive is that there is definitely better and wilder awareness of the issue and willingness to tackle it that comes from both genders. I’m sure that one day, the work women in tech groups such as BCS Women, Manchester Girl Geeks, TechWomen, Women in Technology and us – Girls in Tech are doing will result the issue becoming irrelevant and non-existent.”
Q: How can events like this help change the perception of women in tech?
A: “Events like the BCS Appathon – World Guinness Record Challenge are definitely needed in the overall strive to change perceptions. To change those perceptions we need actions rather that words and this event definitely falls into the former category.What is also great about this event is that it involves various group ages and both genders and it is a hands on opportunity to do tech.”