News Blog “Technology can help change the world for the better” #ShakeUpSTEM #SHAKEUPSTEM The UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science is 11th February this year. The day draws attention to the significant gender gap which persists at all levels of STEM disciplines all over the world. Even though women have made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in high education, they are still underrepresented in these fields. All this week, from Monday through to Sunday, Fawcett will be showcasing women who are #SmashingStereotypes through their work in our #ShakeUpSTEM guest series. Together we can #ShakeUpSTEM! Our #ShakeUpSTEM advocate today is Lola Ola, a technology analyst and social entrepreneur on her journey in to the tech industry. She tweets at: @LolaOla_ When you are a child you believe that you can be anything you set your mind to. For me, I wanted to be a fashion designer, a lawyer and even a pharmacist. You might be questioning, how, after all that, I ended up in technology and I’m excited to share my story with you. Let’s rewind to university. I started off studying Financial Services at Coventry University. After attending several insight days at Corporate Banks whilst still in college I became consumed by the ‘City Girl Dream’ and my heart was set on becoming a Wealth Manager. But by the time it came to second year of my course I knew I needed a break. In-keeping with my millennial credentials I decided the best way to do this would be to take a gap year. I applied for and was offered the opportunity by the British Council to study Chinese Culture and Language at Fuzhou University for 6 months, and I knew I couldn’t let such a rare experience pass me by. This “self-discovery’ phase, fully immersed me in life as an international student. I took every opportunity handed to me. Including one to sing a famous Chinese song Tian mi mi at an International Concert. ￼Whilst in China my eyes were opened to just how many possibilities were available to me as a young person. I witnessed students running multiple ventures, from owning a cafes to establishing English Language Centres against a backdrop of global business. One day, whilst browsing online, I happened upon a programme designed to teach about some of Googles’ products and decided to apply. I was selected to participate in Google Top Black Talent. It was here that I would deepen my understanding of the technology industry immeasurably. When my time in China ended I moved back to London. I decided to do some more traveling within Europe and then completed my 8 weeks at Google. This was an enlightening experience egged on by my motivation to explore the technology industry. That’s when I saw an email in my inbox inviting me to Accenture’s Inspiring Women’s Spring Event. I was so inspired by the speakers and the attendees that I applied to the technology Graduate scheme the next morning. When I finally returned to Coventry University I decided to change my course to Global Business due to the experience and insights I gained during my gap year. I received a First Class degree and was one of the top 5% of my course. I had a few months to spare before starting at Accenture. During this time I had also applied to Code First Girls, a charity that teaches women how to code. The fact that I now had the opportunity to learn how to code at twitter with fellow women who had the same passion to change the face of technology fired up my motivation to continue developing myself and the representation of women and those of African -Caribbean descent in the technology sector. I won an award relating to the work I was doing at Accenture and in my local community. That award was Code First Girls Ones to Watch 2017. ￼During my time at Accenture I worked on a variety of projects ranging from working as a Business Development Analyst to building proof of concepts and working with emerging technology like Artificial Intelligence. My time at Accenture allowed me to develop, not only my technical skills but my business acumen, which has helped me within the workplace as well as in my personal life. I have had some amazing opportunities at Accenture and one of them was being sent to One Young World 2017 - an annual summit which attracts young leaders to discuss social impact and how we can ensure we are building a better future for the current and future generations. Upon returning I started my Social Enterprise: thinkHER ambition, birthed from the desire to ensure that no young woman is limited due to a lack of knowledge, nor left behind and most importantly, to ensure that every woman that thinkHER ambition connects with, is provided a fair chance, no matter their background. After two years I transitioned in to digital consultancy, with AND Digital and I’m currently working on an exciting Migration project with one of our clients. My route in to the technology sector hasn’t been easy, but it has been a learning experience and one I’ve benefited from immensely. People ask how can you get into technology without a technology background and I respond that you need to have the passion to learn, you need to have a bigger picture in mind as well as an understanding of how technology can help change the world for better in ensuring that women finally have a seat at the table. There’s no secret into getting into technology, you just have to have to courage to go for it. By Lola Ola Follow the rest our #ShakeUpSTEM guest series on the Fawcett blog JOIN OUR MOVEMENT FOR GENDER EQUALITY We've come so far in a century of campaigning for gender equality, but our work isn't over yet. Create a fairer and more equal society by becoming a Fawcett member today. Together we can end sexism and misogyny for good.