Last Friday was International Womens Day, and what better way to spend it than at the Women in Tech conference? Below we've written some of the lessons and key takeaways we got from the conference!
The day started with talk from Sandra Alba Cauffman, a Deputy Director of the Earth Science Division at NASA. She was the keynote speaker and told her story of how she started her studies in a little town in Puerto Rico and worked her way through school and college.
The key takeaway we got from her talk was to "keep your eyes on the prize". Sandra told us that after she saw the moon landing on television she knew what she wanted to do, she wanted to work with space. Even when university came around and she was told she couldn't stufy the course she wanted because it "wasn't for women", she found a way around it so that she could do what she wanted in the end.
Another learning is that even though we want things to happen quickly and come to us quickly, slow and steady wins the race. Sometimes you might even have to take a couple steps back only to gain momentum and shoot towards your goal!
After her came Ylva Hansdotter, a PhD candidate at University College of Dublin, who had a lightning talk on how Virtual Reality can change the world.
As VR is advancing, it is becoming better and cheaper for common people to use it. Even though it still has a way to go, it will quickly become easier to use.
VR is changing the way that stories are told, but it is also going to change what stories are told and how many are told. VR can immerse us into a story which makes it easier for us to truly empathise with other people who we might not be familiar with.
Then came the AI/Data session with a panel which consisted of Mozhgan Tavakolifard, (Heading Data Science and Artificial Intelligence @ Accenture Norway), Tonima Afroze, (Software Engineer @ Klarna), and Brie Code (CEO and CD @ TRU LUV).
The key learnings from their talks and the panel was that
- Data needs to go back to its owners. Companies such as Facebook and Google own the data that we share and now that the imporrtance of data is rising at all companies, it's important that we find a way to take control and ownership of our data.
- AI is designed by humans. Which means that our biases can easily slip into them. To combat this, we need diverse groups working on them to test the systems.
- We also need policies that can regulate things such as data and AI and we need knowledgable people making these policies.
- Diverse teams are also important in design. When only a certain group are designing solutions, the solutions are only designed for them, which means that other groups aren't considered and included in the solutions.
Has technology changed the way we see power? According to Carin Ism, Research Director @ Bitnation, it hasn't. However, we now use technology to materialise our wealth and power.
With how connected we are, everybody is now given a chance to veto certain behaviour and beliefs.
After lunch (vegan and vegetarian wraps), lots of smaller panels were held in topics such as; "How to get funding for your tech business", "How Blockchain Will Disrupt the World", "Cyber Security – Digital Dystopia and Utopia" and more!
After Anna König Jerlmyr, Mayor of Stockholm, talked about how Stockholm is a city for everyone, no matter where they come from to realise their dreams, Unn Swanström lead a panel on how to make change happen.
On the panel was Donna Hanafi (founder HONA), Suzan Hourieh Lindberg (Head of Diversity Management, M/Volvo Car Mobility), Anna Ryott (Chair of Board at Summa Equity), Sophia Bendz (Partner, Atomico), Rosie Kropp (Senior Advisor, Lavandel).
The key ingredients to making change happen is to not be afriad of challenging the small things that happen. Also creating and having a support system that you can lean on when you need to challenge these things so you're not alone. Know that change is scary and can be difficult, but if you're feeling uncomfortable then you know you're doing something right!
Linda Lindström, (Co-Founder and Behavior Strategist @ Beteendelabbet) then talked about how to nudge people towards change. Humans are lazy by nature and want to do the easy thing. Which is why it's important to make the desirable decision the defeault, make it easy for people to change. Also make the change rewarding and timely.
The day ended on a lighter note with Sarah Copper (Writer, Comedian and Nodder) giving us some quick tips on how to be succesfull without hurting mens feelings.
We had so much fun listening to these talks and panels, and networking with people. EmmsTech can't wait till next year!
Were you at Women in Tech? What were your key learnings?