Good Housekeeping (UK)

Rav Bumbra is passionate about helping women get to the top in tech through her mentoring app Cajigo.

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‘It is incredible seeing girls get excited about technology’

Growing up, my biggest role model was my aunt, Harwinder. She worked in paint technology, and she made science seem so cool and fun. She inspired me to study the sciences, which led me to a Higher National Diploma in science, then a postgradua­te diploma in Informatio­n Technology. My first tech job in the 1990s was with the world’s first online services provider, Compuserve.

I was lucky that my first job in the 1990s was with a very inclusive company. But when I left a couple of years later, I realised that tech was not such a welcoming place for women. In one workplace, there was a room with a pool table, but I was told I wasn’t allowed in, as it was

‘men only’. In another role, I knew my male counterpar­t was being paid more than me and the company did nothing about it. I noticed a lack of women in the industry, with even fewer working in senior leadership. I always hoped there could be another way.

After 20 years in the industry, in 2015, I founded Structur3d­people with a goal to help employers attract and retain diverse talent, including more women, and started advising businesses on building their diversity strategies. While speaking at panel events and attending networking evenings, I spoke to women about the challenges they were facing. They’d tell me about pay disparitie­s, sexism, the barriers they faced as mothers and not being able to work flexibly.

This galvanised me to self-fund a free year-long mentoring programme for 70 women. They signed up after I posted the event online. I found 10 mentors – five women and five men – who were leaders in the industry and brought the mentees together in groups of 10 to receive guidance on entreprene­urship, switching careers and progressin­g into leadership roles.

The programme was a success. Having male mentors made a difference, too; as the women often worked in such male-dominated settings, it helped for them to know there were men who wanted to see them succeed. I believe it’s vital to involve men in women’s empowermen­t.

When so many of the mentees made successful career moves, I knew I had to take this further, so Cajigo was born. It’s an app that provides mentoring to support women in developing their skills to enter and progress in tech careers. As well as helping women already in the industry, we started visiting universiti­es to trial it with students; in order to create a bright tech future that involved women, I knew we had to inspire the next generation.

I also hosted workshops to tell schoolgirl­s about careers in tech; I aimed to show them that tech influences everything. I’d say, ‘Instead of just shopping on those fashion sites, what if you designed the website? You could help create apps like Tiktok.’ It was incredible seeing them get excited about the possibilit­ies.

Every Monday at 8pm, I host an Instagram Live series called Women Talk Tech, where I chat to women about their tech careers. The technology industry is continuall­y growing, and it’s an exciting time for more women to get involved to develop products, start up companies, lead teams and drive innovation for the future. Technology is changing our world, and the more women there are in leadership positions, the greater the impact they will have on deciding our future.

Find out more at structur3d­people.co.uk

It’s vital to involve men in women’s empowermen­t

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 ??  ?? Rav wants to encourage girls to go for careers in tech
Rav wants to encourage girls to go for careers in tech

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