…you’ve had it all for decades!”
You know the drill by now- we find brilliant women in tech, and then we talk about them on our blog. We’ve had Delphine, Ada, Roxanne, Hedy, Anne-Marie and Zoe- and today we have Kate Russell, of BBC Click! We’re very lucky in the people who’ve responded to our call for help- lots of you!- and we’re incredibly pleased to be bringing you Kate today… You might have seen her on the telly- you might have heard her on the radio- you might have read her columns in National Geographic Traveller„ her book, or her website- but now you’re seeing her here. Because the Enternships blog definitely competes with the BBC, right?
The first thing we ought to say is that Kate got into television on a bet. Yep. “It’s kind of a funny story,” she told us over email- and having done a bit of digging, she’s definitely right. Being the only tech girl people know can pay off- Kate, then working in sales, was dared by a customer to apply for a role as a “young and funky” game reporter on Nickolodeon. We wish our job title came with that description.
She got the job, with no qualifications, and since then she’s been “writing about technology, gaming and the Internet,and appearing weekly on BBC2 and BBC World News, reporting for technology programme Click.”
This led to her first book ‘Working the Cloud’ and companion website workingthecloud.biz. Hopefully, she says, it’s “the ultimate collection of online tips, tricks and resources for small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to get ahead online”- and features our very own Rajeeb Dey. The book was published in March 2013, and the companion website continues to keep readers updated with the latest in tech. We really liked this redux of the PRISM scandal, actually. Maybe you will too.
Anyway, having found out all this, we were pretty keen to talk to Kate. Wouldn’t you be? NOW READ ON….
“I rejected education, but the game taught me tech…”
She always loved gaming, and it was loving gaming that encouraged that customer to encourage her to apply for the young and funky job. “I still love gaming,” she tells us, “although, sadly, I don’t have as much time these days to indulge! I think gaming has a huge role to play in engaging young people to learn about technology. I was attracted at aged 15 by a space trading game called Elite. Despite the fact I rejected education, this game taught me many things, like economics, geography, astronomy, cultures, physics, maths and so much more.. I became interested in learning this stuff because I wanted to get better at the game!”
And once you’ve got into tech through games, you’ve got a gateway into the world. Look at Kate- gaming led to television, and from television, she’s created an entire career of writing, blogging, and speaking about the the thing she’s “really passionate about- the Internet, and all the amazing ways it can enhance all of our lives. From young children turning education into an interactive journey of discovery (I wish there had been the Internet when I was in education as I would have been far more academic!), to the older generation who can remain empowered and independent because of it. My 75 year old grandmother is able to continue living in the house she has spent the past 50 years in because she can access services, doctors, banking, food shopping and stay in touch with family and friends on her laptop.”
It’s something we’ve been thinking about a lot, lately- and part of the reason we’re running this series. How can we use the technology at our disposal to do the best things possible in the world? In our case, that’s trying to get more people into work, and promoting those people and causes dearest to our hearts. In Zoe’s case, it’s making people speak. In Kate’s case, it’s introducing people to technologies that may change their lives.
“Why is this a good thing? Positive discrimination, baby!”
“Right now is a brilliant time for women in tech,” says Kate, “as there is a massive gender gap. Only 17% of ICT jobs in Britain are held by women and that figure has DROPPED from 22% in 2001. Why is that a good thing? Positive discrimination, baby!”
“There is a lot of attention on this gender gap right now, both in business and in government and academic circles, and until it is drastically closed you will have a much better chance of securing your dream job coding a game or designing a rocket ship or in forensic science if you are a woman! Sorry boys, but you’ve had it good enough for decades.That said, don’t expect any free rides just for having ovaries. That isn’t going to do anyone any good. So, work hard, and get good grades and training, because you have a real opportunity to score a great job when you leave university. To be honest even the boys are onto a good deal right now as there is a bit of a skills shortage in STEM careers looming, so anyone would do well to take up science, maths, engineering or technology as a subject of study.”
“I’ve always existed in male dominated worlds – even as a child with two brothers and we travelled the world for my father’s engineering job – so I’ve never felt it to be out of the ordinary. I wouldn’t say I have been discriminated against, but I have often been made to feel ‘different’, especially when I started writing for gaming magazines in the mid-90s. Not in a negative way either, I think people are just surprised and interested when they meet me and find out I am into technology, because I don’t look like the mental image most people have of a geek.”
“I’m an incurable show-off, an…alpha female type!”
“But you need to be happy with being the centre of attention or I can see how this ‘interest’ could make you feel uncomfortable. Luckily for me, I’m an incurable show-off, and an alpha female type, so I had no trouble trash-talking the guys and beating them at whatever game we were playing – then trash-talking some more nullify the sulks. What needs to happen now, in my opinion, is there needs to be less focus on the differences between genders so that people can be left to get on with whatever career they want to pursue without being made to feel ‘different’… and this means that boys need role models as well as girls. Role models to teach them how to be fair and respectful and look at the important things about a person they work/study with, like knowledge, ability, commitment and flair – not whether they look good in a pair of heels.”
Name: Kate Russell
Company: BBC Click…and others
Role: Presenter, reporter, writer
Advice: Be a show-off. Work hard. Play games.
Where to find her:https://twitter.com/katerussell, https://www.facebook.com/ClickKate, https://plus.google.com/u/0/100064567945868696054/, http://bitly.com/u/kateclick/bundles, http://workingthecloud.biz/
This blog is part of Enternships’ Women In Tech series, within our ongoing commitment to supporting ladies who work in STEM sectors. Want to be involved? Email [email protected] for more information. Written and devised by Ella Risbridger