Brighton Digital Festival: Women in tech should make their voices heard

Rifa Thorpe-Tracey
Rifa Thorpe-Tracey

Take inspiration from the amazing contributions women have made right across the festival.

This year’s successful Brighton Digital Festival - and more broadly the tech conference season as a whole - has seen positive improvements in the gender balance of their various contributors, including artists, speakers, panellists, and organisers.

I think we can be pleased about this. We’ve been vividly shown how aware Brighton’s tech and creative businesses are becoming. Both towards the issues facing women already working in our industries (across all disciplines) and towards young women banging on the door to get in.

I’m particularly excited, as organiser of SheSays Brighton, to see many of our fabulous alumni and volunteers stepping into the spotlight to organise their own events and widen the reach of our message. We can be proud of a more responsive, equalised scene.

But, such a positive experience doesn’t mean we take our foot off the gas. Even a significant cultural shift towards more thoughtful curation of conferences (which I believe is occurring in Brighton in a real, vibrant way) cannot trigger complacency.

If anything the opposite is true: I think we must now work even harder to give as many women as possible access to the support and empowerment offered by our own networks.

At least two people have said to me in the past couple of weeks that the gender gap in the Brighton tech industry is “not a problem”.

Well, a cursory glance at statistics, or at conference lineups shows that there is still work to do.

For our part, at SheSays Brighton this coming winter we’ll continue - and hopefully expand - our programme of networking events for women in tech and creative.

We are still regularly over-subscribed, so we need more space, hosts, and sponsors to come forward who believe in equality of opportunity.

BDF_logo_date_pink_cmykOne key message to women I’d like to share as Brighton Digital Festival draws to a close is this: don’t hesitate to put yourself forward. Take inspiration from the amazing contributions women have made right across the festival.

Daily, we still see the challenge of hesitancy among women to offer to contribute to events, while arguably less qualified men are keen to have their voices heard. And this endemic imbalance can be solved without the guys doing anything at all.

We as women must find our confidence and put ourselves forward; whether to organise, give talks, or become panellists. Be unafraid to take lead roles. Let’s keep going.