Reflections on Thinking Digital Women
On November 1st, Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science and Thinking Digital partnered up to (according to the website) “celebrate the inspiring contributions by women to the fields of science, technology, innovation, engineering and entrepreneurship across the globe.” It was an interesting day, filled with inspiring talks, hard-hitting questions, and a lot of humour. The school calls it a ‘Big Success’ so let’s hope that more events like this will be put on in the future!
Having attended other tech conferences (both academic and non-academic) before, this was one that I didn’t really know what to expect from. I hadn’t been to a thinking digital conference before, so that was new, but I also hadn’t been to a conference that was dedicated to the achievements of women before either! It was weird to host a workshop (alongside two other amazing women from the lab: Teresa and Madeline, with the amazing support from Janis) that was attended only by women, and it was even weirder to be in an audience that was primarily made up of women. It was a comfortable experience.
It felt safe.
I’m a bit conflicted on what to think of this event as a whole, though. On one hand it was fantastic to hear from so many women, to see so many women in the audience, and to be part of a women-focused techevent. On the other however, it was a bit strange to have the two co-founders be men, but then to also see such few men in the audience.
Yes, we as women need to see more role models, examples, people to aspire to be like. But men also need to see these women. Men need to share and experience the awesome power that women have. I’d love to see this event happen again next year, and it was an absolute privilege to be part of the first Thinking Digital Women, but I’d also really like to see an inclusive event that celebrates not only women, but all the underrepresented voices in tech and STEM!
Anyway, let’s talk about fempower.tech’s contribution to the event!
A few students from the School of Computer Science hosted workshops to start off the entire conference.
- Laura Heels hosted a workshop about learning with robots.
- Elisa Anastasi ran one about Bioinformatics, and whether it could save our lives?
- Maryam Mehrnezhad hosted a workshop to learn more about sensors, and what they say about us
The fourth workshop was hosted by some members of fempower.tech: we got crafty with electronics, using conducting paints and everyday objects (such as paper clips, pipe cleaners, paper, etc.) to create circuits. These were used to turn on little LED lights, or to create touch sensors to start off sounds. After a few minutes of experimentation, groups began creating buildings, objects, and characters that came to life!
The different groups came up with all sorts of different things! Some made christmas trees, or a house with flowers that lit up.
Another group created this beautiful star, and yet another group re-created the Sage Gateshead!