Women and minorities are still underrepresented at tech events – why is this and how can we encourage more inclusive engagement? TechExeter are the focus point of all things tech-related in the regional capital of Exeter, Devon (UK). They run local tech meetups and seminars, and called us in to help find solutions to the lack of diversity at their events.
Many economists and business analysts have long reported evidence showing that diverse teams perform better, inclusive companies hire better talent, have more engaged employees and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion. Despite this, women remain widely underrepresented in IT roles.
In the TechExeter half day workshop, we explored the meaning of inclusivity and diversity, decided to focus on the broader ranging inclusivity issue. What was stopping women from attending? What was stopping the neurodiverse from participating? In classic design thinking mode, we started with who the end users are, and worked into the solutions from there.
We spent some time defining diversity and inclusivity and what it would bring to their platform. We used persona-boards to help us “see” who we wanted to attract and cater to their needs. Along the way, TechExeter uncovered very many reasons for the lack of diversity at their events, including things like events being scheduled at times when childcare was not available, that people thought the events were only for those who were already highly skilled professionals, that when women turned up they did not see many other women there, and that the presentations were often not friendly to those with, for example, dyslexia.
By the end of the workshop, we had arrived at
- a whole list of short term solutions that they could immediately implement,
- medium term solutions that they can work on for the next season, and
- longer term, more involved solutions that were on the radar for when extra funding could be available.
“This was fun, and so very helpful.”
“We achieved a lot, and even had time for birthday cake!”
“The value was in knowing exactly what we had to do next.”
“Would definitely recommend Collaborative Capacities.”