Talking about mental health as something we all have, and approaching it with the same attitude, curiosity and openness as we do with physical health, helps give it equal weighting.
In the UK, only 1 in 5 tech workers are women, and last year just 2% of venture capital funding went to women. These statistics matter to us, because Unmind is a technology startup, and we care about the success of the women who work here.
In acknowledgement of these statistics, we've made a conscious effort to offer equal opportunities within leadership at Unmind, especially amongst our tech team. Our two Development Team leads - Lori Lee and Tulara Webster - set our precedent for female leadership in technology, and across Unmind in general.
'It’s of the utmost importance to have gender-balance, and I’m determined to ensure Unmind continues to be an environment in which women can thrive, personally and professionally. I have three sisters and four sisters-in-law, and a background in Clinical Psychology - I’m very used to being outnumbered by women, and grateful to work with our talented team' - Dr Nick Taylor, CEO and Co-Founder
Women make up a quarter of the Unmind tech team, and two thirds of our tech leadership. I sat down with our Lead Developers Lori and Tulara to get their thoughts.
How did you both first get into programming, and was it something you always wanted to do?
Lori: It was by accident actually - I spent my first year in university studying life sciences and I basically couldn't deal with all of the memorisation. I looked through the course handbook to see if there was any other science that I would be interested in and settled on trying an ‘Intro to Programming’ Computer Science course. I ended up doing well, enjoyed the course, and changed my major.
Tulara: Programming honestly wasn’t something I was really aware of when I was younger. Like Lori, I started university in a different degree, in my case Actuarial Science. After three miserable years, I switched to Computer Science and Linguistics on the promise of more balanced course content. I was surprised when it was the programming components that really resonated with me.
It’s so interesting you both discovered programming after starting different degrees! What advice would you give to young girls who already know they want to work in tech?
Lori: Don't think you can't do something just because you haven't seen someone that looks like you doing it. I’d also suggest always taking on projects outside of your comfort zone. This industry is continually changing, and it’s really important to keep learning.
For girls already in tech, I’d say build a network. Find a mentor; they will get you through the hard times. For those still deciding, I’d say forget what you know about programmers. Tech offers a unique mix of collaboration, creativity, travel and competitive salary. The future is a technical one and you should be a part of it!
Can you tell us a little more about your roles at Unmind, and how your career led you here?
Lori: I'm one of the Lead Developers at Unmind, but I started out as the first full-time employee. I’d just moved to London and was looking for a small company to work for that made a direct social impact and where what I did actually mattered in the grand scheme of things, and Unmind was perfect.
Tulara: At Unmind I’m a senior full stack developer, and new team lead. Much like my introduction into programming my career so far has been a meandering journey of roles, tech, people and countries. When I found Unmind I couldn't believe my luck - I was looking to move back from Sydney to London, and here was an opportunity to do so whilst contributing to a field that is so important to so many people.
Alongside our commitment to promoting the success of women in tech, we also encourage women to lead across the company - our Head of Design, Head of Psychology and Head of Client Success are all women - Aaina Sharma, Heather Bolton and Daisy Corfield.
They shared some of their thoughts on the importance of gender parity in the workplace and learning to lead in a startup environment:
We’re really proud of our gender balance at Unmind. There’s always work to be done, and we are committed to progressive leadership, acknowledging our failures, and always listening to the voices of women.