"There is no glass ceiling"

In EC1, you can find women in leading roles in the most high-flying international tech companies. We caught up with three of them, to find out what they think about the existing opportunities for women in the tech industry, and what measures might encourage more young women to pursue tech careers.

From left: Sarah Wood, Chloe Macintosh and Divinia Knowles
From left: Sarah Wood, Chloe Macintosh and Divinia Knowles

Sarah Wood, co-founder & COO of video marketing technology company Unruly, thinks that EC1 is inherently a better place for equal opportunities in tech because the strength of the area lies in its diversity.

There is no typical leader, making EC1 a far more level playing field for women. Chloe Macintosh, creative director at Made.com, says "there is no glass ceiling. Women succeed in business because they’re problem solvers…and tech is an enabler for many of these ideas."

The area is more about mindset and individual ability than it is about years of experience or gender. In EC1, everyone is a pioneer, trying to do something that no-one has managed to do before. But there is a confidence gap, and too many women are not fully aware that opportunities exist for them. This needs to be tackled if more women are to continue working in this field.

"Tech can feel like a bit of a black box and that needs to be addressed and explained." President & CFO at Mind Candy, Divinia Knowles says. Business education for young girls needs to be more readily available, including art, design, coding and product development. This will make young girls confident that tech is a career in which they can excel.

It’s up to the companies themselves to prove to women that great opportunities exist. Women aren’t always shown evaluation and promotion processes, even though they are out there. Unruly’s Wood says "clearer evaluation and promotion processes, as well as better training and professional development" should be adopted by companies.

Made.com’s Macintosh believes the danger is that tech companies might succumb to the ways of other industries. "EC1 needs to continue to lead the way, by maintaining transparency and flexibility in the workplace".

Flexibility for women is a key point of contention. Macintosh was four months pregnant when she joined a start-up business, leaving her comfortable architecture career behind. She learned everything from scratch, but found freedom in the creative start-up environment. "Doing what I love makes me a better mother and wife," she says. Wood agrees that tech offers a culture of understanding and acceptance, "where flexible working and part-time working are not dirty words".

The women have soothing words for budding young techies. they make the tech industry sound friendly, sociable and collaborative. Mind Candy’s Knowles says: "There is an amazing vibe within this community where sharing and helping is the norm". It’s a natural home for them, and clearly a place where women don’t need to be shy of showing their ambition and being heard.