Women of Silicon Roundabout: A Roundup
At the end of November, the UK’s largest tech event for women was held at the London ExCel. The Women of Silicon Roundabout transformed the venue into a hub of innovation, diversity, and empowerment, with over 4,500 professionals and thought leaders attending to network, break barriers and foster growth within themselves and their organisations.
Members of the Nasstar ‘Women in Tech Employee Resource Group’, were in attendance, so we asked them to share their thoughts and findings from the two-day event here.
As part of the event, our attendees attended several workshops, with the first being a leadership workshop. Sally Blake-Exley, Bids Coordinator at Nasstar, said: “The session began by differentiating between managers and leaders, emphasising that while managers focus on processes and control, leaders inspire and empower. This distinction set the tone for a deeper exploration of leadership qualities.
“An intriguing aspect discussed was how gender influences leadership styles. The workshop highlighted that while men often prefer managing 'things,' women tend to excel in managing people, leveraging their emotional intelligence – a trait traditionally viewed as feminine but often invaluable in leadership.”
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome workshop
A particular highlight for all our attendees was the ‘imposter syndrome’ workshop. It’s a term many of us will be familiar with, especially as women in a heavily male-dominated industry. The workshop explored how imposter syndrome manifests and its disproportionate impact on women and people of colour. It also highlighted that recognising these feelings is the first step towards overcoming them.
Deepa Nair from Net Company led the workshop and provided a questionnaire that helped everyone attending to identify with specific aspects of imposter syndrome. This introspection was eye-opening, allowing many to understand their insecurities in the workplace and place themselves into one of five types of imposter syndrome: the perfectionist, the superhero, the natural genius, the soloist, and the expert.
Krysia Jones, Sales Support Manager at Nasstar commented: “What this workshop taught me about myself was that I am the ‘Superhero’ type and feel I will never be good enough, no matter how hard I work. It taught that to overcome this I need to grow my self-esteem and confidence, find a good mentor and practice self-care.
“The workshop also made me realise that I am not alone and not the only one who feels this way. Some people seem to float effortlessly through life and careers while most feel it’s a struggle and that we don’t deserve good things when they happen to us. It also made me aware that women deal with so much more pressure like school runs, ‘mum guilt’, dealing with ill children and loved ones, menopause, housework, cooking, food shopping etc.
“After the workshop I spoke to someone on the VMWare stand about their HR Policies for Women in their business. I told her about our new Menopause resource group, and she was thrilled and was determined to start one at VMWare! It was great to see that what we’re already doing at Nasstar can be inspirational for others.”
Becky Urry, Senior Interconnect Analyst at Nasstar, also said: “The imposter syndrome workshop really caught my attention. While I have been in the same role for 23 years, it’s niche and one I pride myself in. However, the more responsibility I gained over the years, the more imposter syndrome crept in.
“As I took my seat in the auditorium, I noticed a very well-known face on the screen, Michelle Obama. Well, that had my attention. Surely, she could not suffer with imposter syndrome. Here is what she had to say:
“Imposter syndrome is so tough. For so long, women and girls have been told we do not belong in the classroom, boardroom, or any room where big decisions are being made. So, when we do manage to get into the room, we are still second-guessing ourselves, unsure if we really deserve our seat at the table. We doubt our own judgment, our own abilities, and our own reasons for being where we are. Even when we know better, it can still lead to us playing it small and not standing in our full power.
“Although the workshop was just an hour long, I came out of there feeling empowered and wanting to own it. Yes, I have imposter syndrome, does it hold me back? No. Will it prevent me from bettering myself? No. Does it affect the work I produce? No. But most of all, am I good enough? YES! Now I am not going to pretend I was cured in a 60-minute workshop, but I was given the tools to support myself and help me along the way.”
Tips for dealing with imposter syndrome
In addition to the above, Becky outlined some top tips for dealing with imposter syndrome to help others who may feel the same way.
- Share your feelings. Talk to other people about how you are feeling. Irrational beliefs tend to fester when they are hidden and not talked about.
- Focus on others. While this might feel counterintuitive, try to help others in the same situation as you. If you see someone who seems awkward or alone, ask them a question to bring them into the group. As you practice your skills, you will build confidence in your own abilities.
- Assess your abilities. If you have long-held beliefs about your incompetence in social and performance situations, make a realistic assessment of your abilities. Write down your accomplishments and what you are good at, then compare these with your self-assessment.
- Take baby steps. Do not focus on doing things perfectly, but rather, do things reasonably well and reward yourself for taking action. For example, in a group conversation, offer an opinion or share a story about yourself.
- Question your thoughts. As you start to assess your abilities and take baby steps, question whether your thoughts are rational. Does it make sense to believe that you are a fraud given everything that you know?
- Stop comparing. Every time you compare yourself to others in a social situation, you will find some fault with yourself that fuels the feeling of not being good enough or not belonging. Instead, during conversations, focus on listening to what the other person is saying. Be genuinely interested in learning more.
- Use social media moderately. We know that the overuse of social media may be related to feelings of inferiority. If you try to portray an image on social media that does not match who you really are or that is impossible to achieve, it will only make your feelings of being a fraud worse.
- Stop fighting your feelings. Do not fight the feelings of not belonging. Instead, try to lean into them and accept them. It is only when you acknowledge these feelings that you can start to unravel the core beliefs that are holding you back.
- Refuse to let it hold you back. No matter how much you feel like you are a fraud or that you do not belong, do not let that stop you from pursuing your goals. Keep going and refuse to be stopped.
Keynote speech: Social Mobility – The Opportunity
The Women of Silicon Roundabout event also played host to several keynote speeches, including this highlight from Sally:
“Elaine Arden, Chief HR Officer at HSBC, delivered a keynote speech that offered profound insights into how socio-economic factors shape our career trajectories. The speech underscored that socioeconomic status plays a crucial role in career advancement and is a factor even more significant in this than gender, sexuality, or race.
“Learning that women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face a 21% longer path to career progression and promotions was both startling and enlightening. HSBC's approach to understanding employees' backgrounds was an innovative method to address diversity and inclusion. It served as a model for other corporations to follow.
“The speech didn't just highlight problems but also proposed actionable solutions like diversifying hiring practices, reaching out through community work to meet people from various backgrounds and including socioeconomic diversity in D&I strategies.”
Sally: “The Women of Silicon Roundabout event was an enriching experience. It wasn't just about the challenges women face in the tech industry, it was a celebration of our potential and a testament to the power of community and collaboration. The workshops and keynotes provided not just knowledge but actionable insights and strategies to navigate and excel in our careers.
“As I left the ExCel Centre, I felt a renewed sense of purpose and empowerment. The event was a reminder that while the journey towards gender equality in tech is ongoing, forums like these are crucial in paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future. My experience at WOSR reignited my passion for our own Women in Tech ERG and gave me invaluable insights into how we can progress our own initiatives and strive for success.”
Krysia: “The most amazing thing for me about this event was that it gave me the opportunity to get to know my colleagues better, understand what makes them tick and what challenges they face daily, what they do now and what areas they want to move into.”
Becky: “For me, the purpose of Women in Tech, is not only to support women already in roles, but to also encourage the wider female audience to apply for roles within tech. Due to stigma, this can be a challenge and something as a company we all must pull together and find a solution for. Attending events like this has certainly helped me and I hope they will continue to empower and inspire women for generations to come.”