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Life + Code

Take a look at Bekah Hawrot Weigal’s blog Life + Code… or follow her on Twitter @BekahHW

Learn about her personal reason of why she codes: https://bekahhw.github.io/blog/2018/04/23/How-coding-has-been-therapeutic-for-my-PTSD

And see here for a beginner explanation of html, CSS and JavaScript: https://bekahhw.github.io/blog/2018/04/13/The-House-that-Code-Built

I’ve found Bekah’s blog and articles included in this post, to be both inspiring and empowering!

Keep doing what you’re doing Bekah 💪🏻👩‍💻

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Find Someone Who Understands

There’s a lot in the media about the film Oceans 8 at the moment (which I personally can’t wait to see!) but one of the worst things is about having a majority female cast is the rumours that the women all hate each other etc (🙄), which in pop culture happens a lot from Sex and the City to more recent TV and films. Whilst promoting the film Oceans 8, the actresses as part of their publicity are trying to shut down these rumours because they are apparently not true, and even if they were I don’t see how that makes a difference to whether they’ve produced a good film or not?

This is similar in business too, women are seen as “catty” and “bitchy”, and if they get passionate they are told they are too emotional. At the end of the day if you’re delivering your work and achieving what you want to personally achieve, you shouldn’t have to defend your actions because of your gender.

This is where having some one from a mentor to a colleague, who can relate to similar reactions from others or how you feel is important. Not just as a woman in tech or business, but in all walks of life it’s good to have somebody who understands you.

Sadly, there are many reports of suicide in the news at the moment of famous people who for unknown reasons feel that is their only way. There’s many more people every day who take their lives who aren’t reported about.

I personally want to aim to be approachable and personable for others around me, personally or professionally, so if anyone needs someone to understand them, I can try to be that person.

I encourage you all to do the same, because everyone needs that one person who understands.

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Imposter Syndrome

by Sarah Lewis

I was at a couple of tradeshows earlier this week and attended Women in Technology events and almost all the conversations I had were around imposter syndrome.  It really does affect more people than we realise, me included.

The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologist Pauline R Clance and Suzanne A Imes and is a concept which describes people who have an persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.  People who exhibit the syndrome dismiss proof of success by claiming it was luck, timing or even making people think they are more intelligent or competent than they are.

I was introduced to this concept of the syndrome was about 7 years ago while having a session with a career coach.  I was trying to explain my lack of desire to progress my career further.  After chatting, we realised that this apparent lack of ambition was due to my fear of being discovered as a fraud.  The career coach promptly told me that almost every executive he had worked with felt like that from time to time, especially very successful women.

Just that one explanation had a massive effect on me, I wasn’t alone! So I started to look at myself, my career and my personal life and decided to make a change starting with “It’s time to fake it til I make it”.

I still class myself as being on the road to recovery but I wanted to share some of the tips that I wish someone had shared with me way back when.

1. Take time to learn and grow

It is not easy to take time out when we have such busy work and home lives but I found that taking the time to learn something new, work on a skill, understand the business better gave me more confidence and helped me to accept some of my weaker areas.  Strengths Finder is a great book to help this process.

2. Do not compare yourself to others.

I am fortunate to work with some amazingly strong, confident women and would always compare myself to those ladies.  I wasn’t as eloquent, I wasn’t as technical, I wasn’t as good at presenting etc etc.  So, instead of comparing yourself to others, look at your own strengths and focus on those.  You are good at what you do because you are you, and you don’t have to be anyone else.

3. Find a mentor

If you are lucky enough to find a mentor who you respect and admire and who believes in you, you are on to a winner.  You just have to remember, not to try and “be” them and to accept those compliments you are bound to receive.  Please don’t fall into the trap of excusing successes as “lucky breaks” or “team work” – another classic Imposter Syndrome symptom.

4. Learn as you go

There is nothing wrong with taking on a project and feeling out of your depth.  You are smart, you are talented – there is no reason why you cannot research, learn and practice as you go. You’d be amazed how many women just “fell into” tech roles and do not have a tech based education – please don’t let the lack of a technical degree damage your confidence.

5. Speak Out

It’s ok to talk to people about how you are feeling.  Try talking about your imposter feelings, it can help.  I discovered so many women in my circle feel the same way as I do and it really helped me feel less alone.  Try it out!

I’m not psychologist nor an expert on this subject but I hope that some of my tried and tested techniques give you some food for thought.

You can find more of my ramblings as well as curated news from around the web and details on our events at https://twitter.com/TheTechieGirls

Sarah Lewis is Director Field Marketing at Ivanti and the spearhead for Ivanti’s Women in Technology movement.  Sarah started off her tech career in an internal IT support role, moving on into IT Asset Management and was finally lured away into a marketing role where she happily combines technical knowledge with a sprinkle of creativity and indulges in her passion for supporting the women in technology community.

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Marie Claire: June 2018

Really appreciating Marie Claire UK for incorporating “power play” and how to be paid what you’re worth into a hit magazine that many women read. These are the kind of articles that do need to become a resident feature in mainstream magazines, to help build up strong women who know when (and how) to stand up to the gender pay gap and earn the money they deserve 💪

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Confidence In Yourself

There are many theories to suggest that doing a superhero pose before a meeting will help you to feel confident or eating healthy and doing exercise. Whatever works for you individually is important to keep up, having confidence in yourself is empowering.

Of course, there are days where you don’t quite feel up to showing your confident side, and you need to be careful to not cross the line into cocky, make sure you are able to keep yourself grounded through your achievements.

Enjoy and celebrate your achievements, and be confident you deserve them.

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A Week It’s Been…

It’s been a week since I finished my last university exam and drove off to fly to Amsterdam where I had one of the best weekends ever, with some amazing friends.

When I returned to England, I came back to my parent’s house and went out for a meal to celebrate finishing university with my parents, sister, boyfriend and both sets of grandparents. I’m very lucky to have such a huge support system.

I then returned to Uxbridge on Wednesday to have lunch with my colleagues from GSK, nearly a year after I left and it’s great to be catching up with them, weird to not know whether I’ll see them again or not. That evening I went out for another meal with my dissertation group and tutor (Team Rob ftw!) which was great and we had such a laugh, really great way to end the year after all our worries and stress regarding our dissertation and the encouragement we got from our tutor.

Thursday was a great day too, I met up with a friend and we took her gorgeous little girl to a soft play area and out shopping! Later on I had a WCIT dinner at the Waterman’s Hall, which was magnificent to celebrate diversity and inclusion, much to my surprise I was sat at the top table and was mentioned in the Master’s speech, I very much appreciated his and everyone’s kind words. It’s really nice to be a part of that community!

Friday again was busy, met my friend for breakfast and then we helped with the Level 2 transition day for our department, anybody who knows me knows I love to talk, and I really do love chatting about how I found my placement year and this past year of university, giving them advice which I hope will be of value. I was also able to see one of my mentors, David Barker, on campus promoting the Placer app at the Brunel Careers Fair. After I rushed off to pack up my room into my car (not sure how it all managed to fit in my little Seat Ibiza), handed in my keys, and drove off into the distance. I am officially moved back to Hertfordshire now!

It’s been a hectic week but I love to be busy, better than having nothing to do!

(Now off to Corfu for a few days to actually relax… with nothing to do but read a good book whilst tanning)

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Commence Revision

Today is the day I start full-time revision for my final year exams… in just over a month I will have completely finished university! The time has flown past.

Something I have learnt, is to give myself a break when I’ve reached a deadline or need to balance out what I am doing. Having a break and stepping away from what you need to do is often beneficial to what you are able to then achieve. It’s hard to not procrastinate for too long… especially with Netflix rolling onto the next episode in a series for you! But treating yourself to a break is only a good thing 🙂

So I took a week off last week, I saw a lot of family, went on a mini break to Copenhagen with my boyfriend, and watched many films!

And now… tea fuelled revision!

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Why Don’t We Learn About STEM Vocations?

Growing up there is a lot you are taught to aspire to and careers that you go through phases of wanting to do (including become a fairy princess and cowboy…obviously feasible!) but, often these jobs don’t include STEM roles.

Even at school, the qualifications that are taught are mostly humanities subjects (History, English, Geography…). You have science and mathematics, and now compulsory IT, where theory is taught but these aren’t very encouraging to young people to inspire them to pursue it, consequently, people choose not to and often exclaim things such as “I hate maths”… trust me though, I didn’t like maths either. But likewise, I didn’t really enjoy IT at school either because the school system is so behind what real life was already teaching me, as part of my ICT GCSE I was asked to produce a flyer in Microsoft Publisher… which I already knew how to do since I first went on a PC when I was 10, yet 6 years on it was a piece of coursework.

The problem is that the curriculum doesn’t reflect nor prepare children for real life anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love and still love school! One day I want to pursue teaching in some aspect. But I think it’s time for the government to catch up, children these days can lookup anything they want to learn on Google and can code better than the teachers. So instead of boring them and pushing them away from STEM subjects, why aren’t we showing them what they could do with those skills?

Of course children need to learn the basics and be well-rounded, but how about also asking them what they are interested in doing and giving them options. Maybe even create a mandatory subject for children to learn about different careers available to them and explaining how they can achieve it.

Some kids are lucky, my boyfriend knew he wanted to be a pilot from the age of 6, when he flew a lot to visit his grandparents in Berlin. But I wouldn’t have known at that age I wouldn’t have known at all that IT was the career path for me, unless my teacher at school had pushed me to look into it.

School should be a place for learning about current, real life, as well as theory, otherwise you end up with people wishing they’d chosen a different path.