MARK MARTIN MBE
Mark has taught ICT for over 10 years and has become an expert in helping teachers and schools use technology to improve teaching and learning.
Mark, who also holds an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to education, tech, and diversity in technology.
He started UKBlackTech to make the United Kingdom the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem in the world.
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20 Nov 2020
How can we support more women in tech?
My first thought is to ensure equal pay and benefits are given to every woman in the industry. Then support them in building strong professional portfolios which include their technical skills, leadership skills and management experiences.
Having strong portfolios builds confidence, clear evidence of progression and helps them to take the reins in managing their careers.
Also we need to normalise seeing more women leading technical and managerial roles in tech.
This will help to combat those hidden biases and gender perception which is baked into the industry.
Is there one to watch and why?
The group of women to watch is Coding Black Females led by Charlene Hunter.
Coding Black Females was created in 2017. They are a non-profit organisation, and their primary aim is to provide opportunities for Black female developers to develop themselves, meet familiar faces, network, receive support and build relationships through having regular meetups.
Their vision is to inspire and empower the next generation of more women in tech.
Check them out, they are doing some fantastic work!
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What can be done to tackle digital poverty?
There needs to be greater work done in supporting people with digital skills and digital literacy.
There is an assumption the majority of the population is comfortable navigating applications and the internet. However to gain access into tech you need to have a bespoke skill that meets the needs of the industry or clients.
Digital poverty occurs when you don’t have the equipment or skills to access the opportunities that exist on your doorstep.
In the last few months tech companies i.e. Linkedin and Government have launched tech courses to upskill individuals who may be looking for career opportunities or career changes.
This is great depending on whether you have the tech equipment, time and environment to complete these courses.
There are other initiatives such as #100daysofcode which seems to be helping people to stay motivated and supported.
The difference between inclusion, participation and belonging
Imagine you were offered an invitation to attend a tech event, inclusion will let you in the room so you can see the scenery.
Participation will allow you to take a seat, grab a drink and meet some other professionals.
Belonging will allow you to be yourself, respect your views and make you feel at ‘home’.
The sad part of this analogy many people feel they can’t be themselves in these tech spaces.
As a result, many tech professionals from underrepresented backgrounds are having to recreate their belonging in external groups outside of their organisations.
Imagine how much creativity, innovation and productivity is being lost because people don’t feel comfortable in their place of work.
This has wider implications in the tech that is being developed and lack of representation.
2020 was a difficult year for us all.
We have seen a pandemic transform the way we live our daily lives.
The death of Geroge Floyd was a watershed moment in advocating for equity and justice for the Black Community.
Also the GCSE & A-Level debacle where an algorithm was given the responsibility to predict young people’s futures.
The year has been very challenging but I'm a positive person and I hope we use our platforms and voices to speak truth to power.
2021 will be the year of restarting back the local economy by upskilling and reskilling the workforce.
Making more room for women to thrive in spaces that have traditionally been male dominated.
Also we need to ensure homegrown talent feels they belong in the tech sector.