Alumni in Focus

Eilidh Southren

Eilidh Southren

What changes can we all make to shape a more inclusive world? Eilidh Southren (Computer Science, Class of 2019) who shares the “quick wins” to boost equality in all its forms.

Research by Business Reporter in 2023 highlighted that even though the computing industry is changing only 27% of female UK students would consider a career in technology. With this figure shooting up to 61% when asked to male students, the tech industry is male dominated.

Eilidh worked as a Software Engineer for Google for just under four years before joining FlutterFlow as an Enterprise Engineer. Working in computing for the past four and half years, “things are improving,” she tells us.

“I've been lucky to start my career in companies which had a large female presence, but still, I'm often the only woman in a meeting full of men.

“Things are improving - I've found a greater awareness of intersectionality in the past few years, which is great. Being a woman in tech is one factor, but the overlap of other factors such as race, sexuality and religion can have an even larger impact on someone's experience in the industry. There's no one-size-fits-all experience for women in tech.”

Continuing to ask questions is something Eilidh prioritises in her work-life and credits it to her career trajectory.

She shares: “Something I experienced at RGU while helping manage the Computing Society was, ‘It's amazing what you can get away with when you ask for things’. Throughout every stage of my career so far, I've extended myself far beyond what I thought was possible by simply asking for help. Whether it was a CV review for my first internship or asking to take on a larger project at work - now I'm in a position to look back and help others, I understand why.

“It's a true joy to use your experience to help other people achieve their goals and grow. Keep asking. You'll really be surprised where it gets you.”

The benefits of asking questions aren't limited to only helping a career, says Eilidh. Encouraging others to think differently about processes, environments or dynamics is something that can help shape society.

“Being able to change society is a big ask! But I think a good starting point is with yourself and go wider.

“How can I improve myself? How can I improve my team? How can I improve my organisation? There are quick wins you can make at an organisational level, particularly in hiring, such as blind resume screening. Start where you are and change what’s in your power to change. Then, start nudging the people who can change the things that you can't.”

The topic of unconscious bias came into conversation and to make real positive change, Eilidh pins that the work starts at home first. Observing your own unconscious bias before addressing those around you can unlock a new method of reshaping.

“When you imagine a Software Engineer, are they always male? If you meet a group of tech folk, are you making assumptions about who are the engineers? Who works in UX? Who's the tech lead?

“Identifying these internal biases makes it easier to observe them in others and call them out when they occur.

“Continue to question and that’s a good start.”

What are you doing to boost inclusion in your work and personal life? Join the conversation on our Facebook and Instagram this week where Eilidh and others from the alumni community share their thoughts.

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