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There have been many surprises in the Doteveryone adventure so far – from how hard it still is to set up a bank account to the constant trial of finding the right office space. In my naïveté I somehow thought these operational challenges for a new organization might have got better since the last time I was in the detail – when Nick Thistleton and I founded Lucky Voice in 2005.
However, the hardest piece of the puzzle we are pulling together has been the project we are doing looking at the gender balance in the tech sector – 50:50.

I have been working in the Internet economy for 21 years (I know, gulp, I think I AM 21) and it is baffling to me how the numbers of women are so desperately low – from every angle and aspect. 
I think the country that embeds gender balance at the heart of one of its fastest growing sectors will have a massive advantage and I would love Doteveryone to help the UK be that country.
The challenge has been finding the right person to lead this work and making sure we are not replicating many of the fabulous things happening already but are amplifying them and adding value to them. I am hyper conscious that there are excellent networks and organisations working hard on the issue. I regret we haven’t engaged with more of them over the last few months. I’d like to do so more during the rest of the year. 
Part of the problem has been resources – with no full time lead we are constrained. I have talked to many brilliant women who would bring a range of things to the role but I think in some instances I was talking to people who understandably want to be a ceo and we are not recruiting for that level. I also started having conversations before I was totally clear on the programme of work which must have been confusing and annoying for people and made us seem a muddle.
So, what have I learnt and what will we do differently? Firstly, it’s not fair to get better informed about what you want from a role you are recruiting by testing on the actual candidates… if you were one or helped us, I apologise. We definitely should have consulted more widely, more openly, and more collaboratively on ideas and plans. 
Secondly, I think the (slight) chaos in our approach has led me and the team to think hard and carefully about whether or not 5050 tech should be in everything Doteveryone does or whether it is a separate strand. I think we could help get funding and scale behind some of the existing communities and that might be a smarter and more effective approach. On the other hand, there are still gaps where I think we can impact – particularly in data gathering and communication. 
We are still debating but we’d love to hear your views.

4 thoughts on “5050 tech challenges 

  1. Great blog. Just let me know if you want to share/explore any opportunities via the Beyondtheschoolrun.com parent pool of talent.

    I am also writing a book supporting mothers connecting with their skills. A part is connecting with your digital journey – I would love to speak/email you about this.

    Many thanks & best
    Louise

  2. Hi Martha,

    I first started following you after reading the article in The Independent in October 2010 with the plan to get everyone online by 2012 especially assisting people in areas like Bridlington.

    Since 2010 and those 750 partners, how has the project grown and what % of the UK now has access ? How many partners are now signed up?

    Living in rural France with just about 2mb/s connection and over 5km from the exchange made getting an internet service difficult at first (512k only in 2005, gradually increasing to 2mb/s now) so I understand what the challenges can be.

    How has the project grown providing communities with a central Internet access point vs individual access per home ? I met with a resident in a small Welsh valley village – broadband was almost non-existent so the community and local businesses clubbed together to build a wireless repeater solution through the valley. Masts were installed on private land with relevant permissions and now the whole community benefits.

    With banks closing branches in rural areas, citing drop off of customers and those customer moving to internet and mobile banking, the remaining non digital customers are left high and dry. I’ve seen Post Offices take over banking functions on a contract basis – will we see Post Offices also offering an internet cafe solution with digital eagles aka Barclays helping out the customers who are new to online banking and related activities ?

    Thank you for all your efforts so far, it’s been great following your successes seeing the achievements made the combined efforts of the organisations you have brought together.

    Please continue the fantastic work you do !

  3. Hi Martha
    I have started working with a social enterprise which is supporting people with diabetes type 2 to alter their diet and lifestyle. Not an easy thing to try to do and not something that is supported much by what they see around them every day. That is what has got them to where they are. It is not what will help them make changes.

    I am using a lot of online resources to provide knowledge and techniques to empower and develop feelings of capability and self confidence…..alongside real cookery and lots of chat and group support.

    I am also trying to create positive alternative images so participants can visualise a different ‘me’ and become famiar and comfortable with this.

    I just wondered if virtual reality might be a part of the digital revolution that women could and will feel enthusiastic about. This opportunity to reimagine oneself and ones role, to individually or with supportive others try on a different lifestyle, to step into someone else’s shoes, to imagine something from the inside feelings to the outside behaviour, to immerse oneself and all at home …… Seems to be to be a way in that women would find powerful and meaningful, not all women of course……. But it all depends if the software developers see this opportunity as financially rewarding otherwise it will just be more of the same noisy games. Sharon

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