Women in tech - overcoming challenges in tech, digital and science sectors

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Located at Manchester Science Park, Vimla Appadoo is a Service Designer at DigitalBridge. But it doesn’t stop there. Vimla is also co-founder of SheSaysMCR, diversity advocate, powerlifter and women in tech enthusiast.

We asked Vimla about her path into tech, the importance of diversity in the workplace, current challenges for women in the tech industry and why International Women’s Day is so important...

  1. What does International Women's Day mean to you? 

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women across the world. It’s a time to focus on the value that diversity can bring to any working environment and most importantly, International Women’s Day is an opportunity for women who have a voice and who have power to use it to support people who are forced into silence. 

  1. What do you currently do? 

I’m a Lead Service Designer at DigitalBridge - we’re an AI-powered guided design platform and we exist to help make it as easy as possible to design your dream room. 

Alongside that, I’m a culture and diversity advocate, traveling and speaking internationally about the importance of culture and diversity in the workplace (and I’m currently writing a book about it!). I run a side hustle focusing on design-thinking in the health space and I’m also the co-founder of SheSaysMCR, a grassroots community group that supports people in non-diverse working environments to tell their story. I’m a powerlifter, a massive foodie and tech4good enthusiast.

  1. Do you enjoy working in the tech industry? How did you get into this role? 

I love working in tech. I love how open the conversations are and just how quickly things move and shift. My career into tech was far from normal, I studied History and Politics at university and knew it wouldn’t get me a job I wanted - but if I was going to spend three years studying something, I wanted it to be something I enjoyed. 

I took it upon myself to find lots of different work experiences and placements throughout my university career (and earlier) to help me understand what sectors and industries I wanted to work in. I fell in love with the tech sector, the environment and culture, and after failing to teach myself to code, design-thinking naturally came calling and I’ve never looked back. 

  1. Why do you think it's important that women are represented and encouraged to work across tech, digital and science sectors?

I think International Women’s Day is more than simply about representing women. It’s about representing all women, regardless of their age, race, sexuality and it’s important to make that clear. It’s also about including women in leadership positions, decision making and most importantly, recognising the benefit that different ways of thinking can have on your business. 

Without that difference, we’ll lose innovation, entrepreneurship and new ways of working. 

  1. What is your best piece of advice for any female considering a career in these sectors?

Find your tribe. Finding a network and supportive community helped me propel my career and has helped shape who I am today. 

  1. What have you found beneficial about working in Manchester and being located on a campus with other like-minded businesses? 

Manchester is a great place to build your career. It’s a city and place where you can be anyone and can find your voice, book meetings with CEOs, and change the world. 

  1. Can you name one of your top inspirational women and why?

My life is filled with inspirational women. My mum and my aunties are my biggest inspirations. Not only did they leave Mauritius when they were in their teens to move to the UK and start a life here, but their compassion and ability to push through poverty to being successful grounds me everyday.

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in the tech sector today?

There are currently so many barriers to entry for women in tech - from negative company cultures to unconscious bias which mean that it’s harder for women to prove their worth and capability. I think the struggle at the moment is that there’s such a focus on gender parity in tech, it takes away from talented women. 

  1. How should the industry encourage and secure tech talent for the future?

Build company cultures, processes and services that meet the expectations of new talent. Listen to what people want and need to feel comfortable working for you and design the culture with intent and authenticity. The talent gap will close once we realise what people need to be happier in the workplace.

  1. Any other top tips?

Take the time to reflect on who you and who you want to be. Let that shape the path you take.

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Would you like to get involved in Women in STEM initiatives and projects? We’re a proud sponsor of Digital Her, an initiative run by Manchester Digital to inspire and empower the next generation of girls to consider future careers in tech. From roadshow events, experience days, taster sessions and becoming a role model, there’s a number of ways you could get involved. Please email pressoffice@mspl.co.uk if you’re interested.