We met Nicole recently at the launch for Edtech 50 as she was a judge for 2020’s list and we were included as a product! And in the run up to International Women’s Day we thought there was no better person to interview.
Find out below about her work as CEO of GEC (Gender Equality Collective), how she balances her life, what she’d like to see next for women and how you can get involved in championing gender equality.
Could you explain to us why you founded GEC and a little bit about its work?
I co-founded the GEC two years ago with Cat Wildman. Graham Andre from BBC2’s BAFTA nominated documentary, ‘No More Boys and Girls‘ brought us together in a Twitter chat and we have not stopped discussing all things inclusion and equality since.
We are both technologists, both leaders in our field and both parents of three children (boys and girls). We felt that gender equality was everyone’s business and we needed a solution. We came up with the idea of an online platform – which we have nearly completed. Whilst we researched it, it launched a series of online communities which EXPLODED.
Two years later we have 6000+ in our communities, 350+ in our GEC Collective (experts, change makers and trail blazers in the field) and have just been nominated for The National Diversity Awards 2020 (please vote for us!).
How do you balance being a CEO, co-founder, writer and parent of 3?
I am not sure I do! There simply aren’t enough hours in the day – which is great, but tricky to manage. Before I had the kids, my teacher colleagues used to call me ‘Monica’ as I was so organised. When the twins came, I had to learn to embrace the chaos. Working is now organised with the help of my GEC right-hand woman, Gemma, and an ever-packed Trello board! When the kids are there, I simply cannot work so it solves that part!
Your new project, GEC Topics, seems really open and exciting, what are you hoping comes out of it?
We know that discussion leads to reflection, then changing practices, policies and cultures. We are also keen to be evidence-driven so the voting helps us see what our community is experiencing and what they need next to close gender gaps in their homes, organisations and educational settings. Plus it is lots of fun too!
It’s also really exciting that GEC Futures has moved on from getting more women in tech to #BoysReTreat. What’s your new project all about and how can everyone get involved?
They just have to get in touch! We have a website to get people to sign up to – and then we will create a plan as we go along. We like the members of our collectives to shape the form this takes. For our EdtechCollective, it made sense to make a visible plan of technologists (who happen to be women) to shine a light for inclusion. As a result, they have now smashed it at BETT2020 and the recent Edtech50 2020 (which included over 20 of our collective and GEC Ambassadors).
For our Boys ReTreat (thinking about how we treat boys and how to engage them in literacy) my initial thoughts is that we will create a ‘hub’ for best practice and ideas with some free webinars for educators and parents. As an ex-English teacher, I know that the gender literacy gap has not closed since the 1960s. I want to do something practical about it. If others want to help, they are more than welcome to join us. I am creating a ‘Wisdom Council’ of teachers, academics and organisations now so please drop me a line.
Do you think the role of women in the workplace (particularly in tech) has changed in the last 10 years, how?
Hmmm… the dial is not moving quick enough for me. That is why the Edtech Collective is crucial – as we need to attract more young women into tech. As well as this initiative, our GEC Leader for Google (Cat Lamin) and I are working on a digital tech festival for girls. This will be on the 5th June at Google 123 Building (London). We are calling it ‘SmashingStereotypes: Women In Tech’. We will be announcing a call for proposals today and looking for sponsorship. Please see the website for more information.
What changes to the role of women in the workplace, if any, would you still like to see?
What a question! Ultimately changes to the workplace need to empower opportunities and productivity. This means that changes need to happen to men and women in order for things to improve and gender gaps to close.
Do you have any tips for promoting gender equality in daily life?
Yes, follow us and get involved with the GEC!