If you want a top up of confidence to help you on your way to becoming the next tech superstar, look no further than a Code First: Girls event.
Always super informal, they go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome and keep on growing their amazing network for women in tech.
Another fantastic evening from Code First: Girls, the event focused on how women can hack their career in media tech and featured a panel of incredible speakers.
Steve O’Hear, journalist at TechCrunch, shared his insights on how to become a tech journalist.
David Henderson, Director of Technology & Operations at This is Global, described how he built his career in radio engineering.
Claire Roberts from advertising agency Unruly is Product Manager and she enlightened attendees on how she got to where she is today.
Jennifer Savapalan is Software Developer at Guardian News & Media. She told us about their new digital talent programme and gave tips on how to become a developer.
The panel was moderated by Faz Aftab, Director of Business Development & Partnerships, ITV.
ITV were the hosts of the evening, and very emphatic about their support for diversity in media tech.
Definition of media tech
First, the panel discussed what media tech actually means.
The internet has revolutionised the news, and instead of newspapers, we now have news media.
“Tech has changed the way we tell stories,” says Steve, which makes sense considering he works at technology news site TechCrunch.
Stories are immediate, and no longer require as much planning and teamwork as they did in the heyday of print. Now, a story can be picked up and published online within the hour.
“It’s getting the right content on the right channel in front of the right audience,” says Claire, who works at online advertising agency Unruly.
Challenges in media tech
One of the biggest issues in media tech today is how to monetize online content, and the closing of The Independent print newspaper in March underscores the difficulty that print media has in generating revenue.
However, Steve argues that news stories weren’t making money for a long time, and it was the listings pages in newspapers that attracted audiences. When they migrated online to the likes of Craigslist, Gumtree, and Autotrader, newspapers became less relevant.
Now, online news outlets must monetize themselves with ads, but this raises discussions about the tendency of audiences to want to avoid advertising. This makes no rational sense, as advertising is enabling the consumption of free content.
The answer is better advertising, and that is just what Unruly is working on. Their software shows consumers adverts based on their emotional responses rather than the typical demographic criteria used such as age, location or gender.
Media tech, as with all areas of tech, are constantly being disrupted, and the next big challenge to deal with is the way that algorithms determining social profiling are changing the way we consume news.
This means that social media sites like Facebook curate your news feed based on your past interactions, and the chronological timeline is no more.
Changes to Google’s search algorithms such as local listings, the increasing prominence of adverts over the organic search results, and rich results that mean users don’t even need to click through to websites, are threatening the traditional model of organic search traffic.
Media companies can no longer expect that users will visit their own websites. Social media sites on mobile host internal articles to prevent users from navigating away from the platforms to external websites.
How to work in media tech
This means that all media companies have to be savvier and more adaptable than ever. If women are planning a career in media tech, they need to demonstrate their continual desire and willingness to learn.
“A modern online tech journalist must be multi-faceted,” says Steve.
Of course, women in tech is a much-discussed topic and the fact of the matter is that women are still underrepresented in the industry.
Dave says, “My tech team was 95% male, and it didn’t feel right. The best tech firms empower the right people to do their job. It’s hard to find the right tech talent, even in media.”
As well as discussing the Guardian Digital Fellowship, which encourages new developers to join the Guardian’s Digital department, Jennifer says, “You don’t have to have a computer science background.” You simply need to be interested in the user’s needs, and keep learning.
As well as encouraging more women to enter the tech industry, we also need to work hard to keep them there.
The answer is mentoring, says Faz. Women must seek both male and female mentors to help them build the confidence they need to succeed in the competitive tech industry.
Code First: Girls’s mission
And that’s exactly what Code First: Girls set out to do.
They encourage women to enter the tech industry by hosting free and paid coding courses and, in the process, give their students and alumni access to their impressive industry networks.
The influence of Code First: Girls is growing as they continue to collaborate with some of the most exciting businesses, in the UK including The Guardian and ITV, as well as companies like LinkedIn, Twitter and ASOS, to deliver amazing events and courses.
Check out the Code First: Girls Alumni Wall of Fame to see what some of their former students have gone on to achieve.
Or, have a browse of my curated list of free coding groups for women in the UK.
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