Women in Technology: So many amazing and inspirational people, who just happen to be women!

February 2, 2016 | Hannah Murfet

Hannah Murfet is a Medical Biochemist turned quality and regulatory professional. She has a range of experience in medical technology including software, hardware and in vitro diagnostic devices. Hannah is Vice Chair of the Chartered Quality Institute’s ‘Next Generation Network’, a volunteer group aiming to inspire the future of the quality profession.

I have always had an interest in technology and am excited by how many women share my passion. At one point in my life I threw myself into the deep end and joined a software medical device start-up. This was one of the best experiences I could have asked for and I believe has a huge influence on my career. As a biochemist, I knew very little about code, and my main software experiences were mainly from childhood computer games or office applications! Fortunately a wonderful group of developers and entrepreneurs took me under their wing, for me this was a life changing experience in my journey as a woman in technology.

I had the great pleasure of attending the Women in Silicon Roundabout 2016, an interactive one-day conference in London, England. Upon arriving and throughout I was awestruck by so many inspirational people from speakers to panellist to the attendees I connected with. Yes, they are inspirational women; however this is a characteristic they happen to have and clearly not a limitation to their success. The event was opened by the Head of Production and the conference was hosted by Maddox events in the America Square conference centre which was a lovely venue, stocked up well with treats for the delegates. I could feel the energy in the room, and I’m sure it wasn’t just the caffeine!

Male Perspective

A particular speaker highlight for me was Adriana Vasiu, who challenged us to change our reality. Her passion and energy shone across the room. She encouraged the audience to show determination and will, to fight but to be kind. Later Sue Black prescribed the audience with her prescription for success to conclude her unique and thought provoking life story, including saving Bletchley Park. Then as the conference was coming to a close, Clare Sudbery led us into a concept called ‘Mob Programming’, as I write this my mind is rushing with ideas on how this could be applied more widely, such an interesting concept

The workshops I attended were extremely valuable, covering technology leadership skills and marketing yourself. The facilitators from Elsevier in leadership skills were engaging and entertaining, they helped to build connections and ideas in the room. This session really made me think about how easy it is to overlook your own leadership qualities. Carol Rosati of Harvey Nash showed us how to market ourselves and ways to bypass our ‘humility gene’ to give strong sales pitches about our success. This to me was such an important take home message and certainly an area I will be looking to develop as my career continues to progress.

My favourite panel discussion was the one covering women in technology leadership, which early in the discussions referenced to the fact that there are fewer women leading FTSE firms than men called John. This is a poignant reminder on the continued existence of gender gap; however I am encouraged by some of the organisations providing support to women in technology such as Code First: Girls and #techmums. I am sure with so many positive role models and initiatives, the gap will start to close, but it is clear that companies have an important role to play to give flexible opportunities to both mothers and fathers.

At the end of the day, a fellow conference attendee asked me which my favourite session was. I have to admit I couldn’t give her an answer, too much to choose from! While I have drawn on a few highlights, I encourage you to discover the speakers and some of the amazing organisations they support by taking a look at the event website. However to go back to the start, all of the women at this conference were amazing, but not because they are women, that is just part their incredible and unique journey. Thank you for the opportunity and in the words of Clare Sudbery, let us reclaim the word Geek!

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Hannah Murfet (MCQI CQP, BSc, DipQ), Twitter @hannahmurfet