An Open Letter To Women In Digital

International Women’s Day 2023.

It’s hard to know what to say on days like today. There’s so much that can be said, has already been said, and should be said, that it’s tricky to put together a piece that does a day like today justice. The driving force behind Brave Bold Digital is to encourage, empower and support women in the digital sector. So getting this article right felt really important.

There’s strength in numbers. And, what’s more powerful than one voice? Lots of voices. Lots of voices coming together to empower and support one another.

To show our support and mark this day, Brave Bold Digital has combined the voices of strong, inspirational women from the digital sector, to put together an open letter to women in digital.

Women from all across the sector have come together to share their thoughts on the sector right now, words of encouragement, advice and experiences, to the present and future generation of women working in digital. It only felt right that we gave the incredible women in our sector right now a platform to voice how they feel about being a woman in digital, so that’s what we’ve done.

This article has not only been produced to celebrate International Women’s Day, but to mark where we are right now in the sector and be a permanent resource of advice for anybody who needs it, not just today, but all year round.

I’ve been trying to word a ‘thank you’ message to go into this article for days, but if I’m honest, I’ll never be able to put into words how grateful I am to the women who have contributed to this article. The number of role models I was able to reach out to for contributions shows just how many incredible women we have supporting one another in the digital sector. Even if this article helps just one person feel empowered, supported or inspired, then I think it’s fair to say it was an article worth writing. So, to the contributors you’re about to hear from, thank you so much for taking your time to share your thoughts on being a woman in digital right now.

Well, I suppose you’re wondering when I’ll stop waffling on?

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m done now, and the rest of this article is bursting at the seams with valuable insight into what it’s like being a woman in digital, helpful advice and words of support from so many incredible female leaders. So, to the future, the present, and the past generation of women in digital, this is an open letter for you…

“Know your own worth, and support other women. Tech is a male-dominated sector - particularly at leadership level - and misogyny is dyed in the wool. You can’t change that overnight, but you can identify and address biases, including your own, and play your part in ensuring that your fellow female colleagues are heard, included, and championed.

You don’t need to be militant to create change, but the easy option of quiet complicity blocks the path for future generations of brilliant tech women.

Whatever stage you’re at in your career, I’d also recommend reaching out to other women in the wider digital industry for help and advice when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask - you’ll be surprised how many are willing to offer guidance.” Sarah Louise Taylor | Freelance Content Writer

“The business landscape is very much male dominated in some way or another, so seeing young, professional women excelling within the digital sector is exciting.

During my time in education, I was never exposed to the roles available in Digital Marketing; it was a new concept, even in 2016. However, there are now so many opportunities in the sector that are perfect for creative and / or analytical minded people. I think there is scope for many more talented, young women to dominate the industry with fresh & exciting ideas.

The main advice I’d give to those thinking of a job in digital is to grow your network – LinkedIn is a great way to do this. Reach out, support, and have discussions with likeminded people. You’d be surprised at how the smallest of interactions can open doors for you.” Chloe Churchill | Marketing Manager at Steel River Consultants Ltd

“As a female business owner in the North East, I know first-hand the challenges and triumphs that come with pursuing your passions. But I also know that when women support each other, incredible things can happen. Let's inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs and show them that with determination and courage, they too can make their mark in the Tech world and beyond.

Teesside has a fantastic network of fierce, bold, barrier breaking women, challenging & changing the digital sector. On International Women's Day, let's celebrate their courage, strength, and resilience as they lead the way towards a brighter, more inclusive future.” Eleanor Rees | Director at Collab Social Media Consultancy, Founder of Women in Collaboration Networking and Lecturer at Teesside University

"It's more important to support others in digital now more than ever. The biggest lesson I've learned over the last 17 years of my career is to network and build solid relationships with those in the industry. Whilst there will always be a competitive nature in terms of gaining clients, it's important to understand your own skill gaps. Working closely with others in digital closes such gaps whilst ensuring clients experience the best service possible". Helen Zagrovic | Director at ICDigital

“My experience of being a 'woman in tech' has on the whole been really positive. I've found my career in the tech industry to date really rewarding, and despite some challenges early on finding my feet, one that I would absolutely recommend to any younger girls wanting to get started in the world of digital.

Not all women in tech are the stereotypical image you see on some of the try-hard diversity ads (and surprisingly, not all men are arseholes) - women are managers, directors, developers, marketers, and project managers. Women fulfill a whole range of technical and non-technical roles in the digital and creative industry that are both just as crucial as each other and allow each role to perform successfully.

My advice to anyone thinking about a career in tech: go for it! Make friends, build a support bubble and grow your own network of people from all disciplines. Being a woman in tech isn't all negative - it's a fantastic opportunity and one that can lead to a hugely successful career if you know your worth and fight a good fight.” Sarah McCormick | Chief Operating Officer at Big Bite

“Having worked in the Digital Industry for over 17 years, I’m proud to say that I’m one of the 26% of women in the Tech Sector. I’m very passionate about encouraging women, not only at Colewood Digital but throughout Teesside and beyond to follow their ambitions in Digital and strive for career progression and equal opportunities.

As MD at Colewood Digital, a female-led Digital Agency is pretty unheard of in the North East. I hope to inspire women who are starting their careers in Digital, already working in the Industry or are interested in the industry to champion themselves and other females to stamp out any gender bias and show you can have a very successful career in Digital. Let's increase that 26%, show what the industry has to offer and support each other on the journey!” Helen Stewart | Managing Director at Colewood Digital

“It's vital to be proactive, but also be willing to make yourself uncomfortable, immerse yourself in challenging scenarios that help you develop as a professional and build upon your experiences.” Lucy Tranter | Graphic Designer

“My advice to women getting into a digital career:

1. Be confident in your abilities: Don't let imposter syndrome hold you back. You belong in this industry just as much as anyone else, and you have valuable skills and fresh perspectives to offer.

2. Be persistent: Building a career in digital can take time, and there may be setbacks along the way. Don't give up on your goals, and keep pushing yourself to learn and grow. The digital world is constantly changing so being up to date with the latest advances can you put you ahead.

3. Advocate for yourself: Speak up about your accomplishments and contributions, and don't be afraid to ask for opportunities that can help you advance in your career. Don't be afraid to speak up in meetings, ask those questions and make your voice heard.

4. Find a supportive community: Look for groups and organizations that support women in digital. These communities can provide resources, networking opportunities, and a sense of belonging. There are some podcasts, Linkedin groups and newsletters.

5. Be yourself: Don't feel like you need to conform to any particular stereotype. Bring your unique perspective and personality to your work. As women we live in a world where we are constantly scrutinised for our appearance, don't mould yourself to someone else's expectation of you.” Millie Henderson | TikTok and PR executive

“My advice to women in digital - make friends and give it a bash. Reach out to people in your industry, you’re not in this alone. We are all just giving it a good go!” Sarah Carlton | Founder / Designer at KINSHIP

“In my time in tech, I have learnt that collaboration and sharing knowledge is one of the most powerful ways to work together and help each other to grow. Being a leader in marketing has enabled me to improve start-up journeys and help others to grow within themselves.” Milly Craven | Marketing Executive at Alt Labs

"One thing I really love about women in digital, is the 'collaboration over competition' mindset. It's so amazing to see women championing other women, and to experience first-hand how we can help each other grow and thrive. My piece of advice for females in the digital community would be to not let the fear of what others might think of you stop you from grasping opportunities and saying yes to things - we'll be cheering you on from the sidelines!" Holly Thompson | Founder & CEO at Blonde Creative

“As a female tech business owner in Teesside with global clients, I am proud to increase the representation of women in the industry. I feel it is important for women to be in tech because diversity in the industry leads to more innovative and inclusive products and solutions.

My advice to women working in tech is to believe in yourself and your abilities, seek out mentors and advocates who can support and guide you, and don't be afraid to ask for help.

It's also important to continue learning and expanding your skill set, and to actively participate in networks that promote diversity within the industry. Teesside is doing a fantastic job at paving the way for future generations of female entrepreneurs!” Danielle Croce | Director at Intasite

“I struggle with how few women I see around me in tech. Not only of my own age but the lack of younger women taking up a tech career. I think they fear their voice may be drowned out so they don't take up opportunities. It's an incredibly male dominated sector as girls still aren't encouraged to fully embrace STEM right the way through to degree level and beyond. In essence, one part of the problem is education and the curriculum. That's one change that needs to be made.” Sharon Sinclair-Williams | Agency Lead at The Digital Gene and Founder at Shout Louder CIC

“Right now we are on the precipice of the next industrial revolution here in Teesside, this time its digital.

This is such an exciting concept for everyone but particularly exciting if you're a women looking for a career in Teesside.

There have never been more opportunities to succeed then there are now, with young female founders forging the way and lighting the light in the creative and digital industry.

With just over 9/10 jobs reported to require digital skills by 2030, we must make sure our young people are leaving education with the skills required by jobs of the future.

With plenty of inspiring female leaders all around us, it's time to connect the dots between education and entrepreneurship so that we ensure the success of the young female founders of the future!” Sarah Heward | Chief Operating Officer at Tech Equal

“There are so many amazing opportunities in tech for women, especially in Teesside. Whether that be working within the tech sector itself or using digital skills in a different role. What’s great - there's a growing close network of women in tech, whose voices are getting louder, and whose position is getting stronger, and we're all there for each other. So, I’d say if you love tech go for it, we’ve got your back.” Louise Gilbey | Marketing and Business Development Manager at Abacus Bean

"From motorsport to gaming to digital tech, I’ve spent a large portion of my career working in industries that are traditionally seen as ‘male-orientated’ and, in my experience, it’s such a toxic term.

Everyone should be encouraged to focus on roles that match their passions, their skills and their values, regardless of their gender. Negativity around such roles often stems from a bad culture in a business and isn’t indicative of any sector as a whole.

I think the biggest shift that can help women move forward in the digital sector is to aggressively celebrate individuality, and place the emphasis on skills over stereotypes." Samantha Wilcox | Marketing Manager at Alt Labs