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Tech City: ‘Diversity issues can’t be ignored’

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 July 2015 | UPDATED: 15:56 29 July 2015

Boddington

Boddington

Archant

A leading tech boss has called for more action to get girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects at school and for Tech City to become more multicultural.

Shoreditch-based Ghislaine Boddington, creative director of body technology agency, body>data>space and Women Shift Digital, a conference exploring gender issues in the technology sector.

The conference is partnered with the YFactor Survey, conducted by Global Contact, which promises to include an “exclusive set of new indicators on education, employment, better growth and innovation related to gender in STEM”.

Ghislaine is urging people to fill out the survey to further our understanding of why the gender gap in tech is so large, even at early stages of education.

She said: “I think it is really important; we have a lot less women and girls in the STEM sectors in UK and Europe, and the YFactor survey is trying to pin down positive and negative indicators in terms of why workplaces becoming complicated in women involvement in these subjects which we know is the future. In fact workforces won’t be big enough without women joining.”

She added: “The Women Shift Digital project came out of a big EU project looking at avatars, robots, representation and how we deal with ourselves, behaviours and ethics. We had school workshops, family events exhibitions and out of those projects it became clear not enough women in workshops were applying for schemes that support them.

“Also, alongside the STEM debate there is the STEAM debate - which includes art and design - we want to highlight that design and artistic thinking is at the base of all of these products and software; there is a place for that creativity.”

Ghislaine said there creativity in the technology sector was growing every day, with a multitude of roles to suit women interested in art and design, especially due to the rise of the sharing economy.

Her dance background and work with body>data>space has also highlighted a lack of multicultural workforces in Tech City to her.

She said: “I did my dance training at Chisenhale dance space in Bow and was lucky enough to work with American dancers working with video. I got really interested in video and the representation of the body. I started to work with early telepresence and remote stage connectivity, linking up theatres where we had real time dancers.

“Because I became an expert in that area I started to work much more in body tech, with wearables and how biofeedback is very much at the centre of digital tech.

“I was working a lot with Brit Asian dance, and grew up in an intercultural environment so it was a bit of a shock when I went to university.

“I think also in Europe and in America there a bigger issue. These parts of the world are losing power on the political, economic and creative levels, and add to this a feeling of loss of power for men to gender equality and it feels like a double whammy.”

She continued: “I do think the gender issue and the cultural diversity issues can’t be ignored. I don’t think people are conscious about this.”

The next Women Shift Digital conference is scheduled for early 2016.

To take part in the YFActor survey, visit: yfactor.org.

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