Our very first WIT meetup generated an overwhelming amount of interest and allowed us to layout the structure for our next meetings over the coming months. As a group we spent time discussing what WIT meant to us; defining and sorting both our collective and personal goals into the following categories:
Challenging archaic stereotypes
Imposter syndrome and how to deal with it
Managing problems in the workplace - learning from experience
Tips on creating diversity in the work place
Tools for work
Hearing from a company founder
Experience of a female C-level /board level Executive
Shared experiences of overcoming challenges
Lightning talks from others in the industry
Other companies’ experience of combatting gender bias
Community / Social outreach;
What can we do to reach out to younger generations?
Local initiatives to get children into tech
Parenting tips to encourage diversity
Outreach into the community to become a voice
The growth and development of the group far surpassed my initial ambitions and at last count we were at 389 members - wow. As a result of marketing the meet-ups, I was contacted by Microsoft Research who were keen to be a local sponsor of the initiative, providing high praise even asking how I had maintained such an active group - I'm not sure I ever gave them an answer other than tenacity and passion but it was enough and a great partnership was formed.
So, what is the point of Cambridge Women in Technology? Well, we’ve come a long way since the beginning, but our goals and group aspirations remain the same:
We will achieve this through meetups, workshops and networking as well as by offering mentoring opportunities for women at all stages in their careers. Cambridge Women in Technology is helping to promote and grow gender equality across the STEM space by thinking globally and acting locally.
So far, my experience of this group has been humbling and incredibly rewarding. Seeing the difference that this group is making to fellow women motivates me to continue to grow this community and eliminate the gender gap in STEM.
At the end of the last meetup, I was approached by a member keen to share that before she discovered the group, she was completely miserable at work, with no local support network of friends around her and essentially felt trapped.
This woman attributed her newly discovered confidence to the group, advising that the support of the group and access to a safe place where her opinions counted gave her the confidence to listen to her own voice and go back and confront the problems at work. It appears that Sheryl Sandburg was right after all, groups like ours are a place where we can truly help each other to become our very best selves, regardless of gender.