Women’s History Month: From Now to Next in Tech

Harriet McNaughton EMEA Marketing Manager Airship

Earlier this month, as part of Women’s History Month, Airship hosted its third Annual International Women’s Day event as part of Now+Next to inspire young women to explore pathways to STEM careers. This year’s IWD theme was “Inspiring Inclusion,” so we partnered with Mixpanel, Candyspace, and AB Tasty to celebrate the power of inclusivity and together foster an environment where every voice is heard and valued.

Now+Next is an association of companies operating in the data, technology, and design space that aims to inspire young women and provide pathways into the industry. We aim to drive affirmative action and create an environment that better supports and encourages young women interested in pursuing a career in technology. Since the association’s launch in 2022, Now+Next has connected with 6,000 female students (and counting!) across the UK.

The Airship team, from left-to-right: Harriet McNaughton, Paulina Skubisz, Ammi White, Shapla Begum

Why Now+Next?

Our mission at Now+Next is to inspire young women through understanding possibilities, providing connections and gaining experience in data, design and technology. We represent a proactive effort to build upon past achievements and propel further advancements in gender equality, particularly by fostering inclusivity and representation in areas where women have historically been underrepresented. 

Laura Schwarz, Airship’s Sr. Director, EMEA Sales and Now+Next co-founder, underscores the importance of looking ahead and identifying areas where women are still underrepresented or marginalized. She said:

“We called this initiative Now+Next because we, as women in different sectors, businesses and fields, have already come a long way — which led us to the now. But we also have a responsibility to continue creating more equality — that’s the next step. We always need to ask ourselves, ‘What’s next?’ That’s why it’s so important that we do this work of getting girls to imagine themselves in tech jobs.” 

“We always need to ask ourselves, ‘What’s next’?

Airshippers Ammi White and Harriet McNaughton introduce the mobile app lifecycle and the ongoing role of engagement and experience in helping brands capture more value
Candyspace presents the consulting challenge of the day — reinvigorating streaming platforms’ appeal among key age groups

Voices from diverse backgrounds amplified the importance of the Now+Next endeavor. Daria Granstrom, Partner Manager at Mixpanel, said:

It’s important we broaden girls’ perspective on what working in tech really means, inspire them to pursue STEM subjects and challenge gender stereotypes in these disciplines. This helps the whole tech ecosystem in the UK welcome more diverse talent and, therefore, deliver better solutions.”

Sahara Baig, Head of Delivery at Candyspace, noted that the industry is male-dominated, so it’s crucial to inspire young women to take up careers in tech. She said:

Diversity drives innovation, and women bring different perspectives, ideas and approaches to problem-solving, which can lead to more innovative solutions for businesses. Careers in tech pay significantly higher salaries than non-digital roles. By encouraging young women to take up careers in tech, we empower them to access jobs that pay more and offer them financial freedom. This can have a ripple effect on our society: if more women take up tech, there will be more female role models for future generations.”

Airship’s Laura Schwarz commented: “It’s representation. It’s being an example. It’s opening their minds and showing them something they didn’t even know before that they may like or want.”

These voices and others in the technology space echo the urgent need for initiatives like Now+Next. They aim to dismantle barriers and pave the way for a more inclusive and innovative future across tech and industries that utilize it.

Girls Learn About Design, Engagement and Data 

Engaged in a consulting challenge for the day, the girls divided into breakout workshops to explore various aspects of technology solutions.

Workshop delivered by Harriet McNaughton and Ammi White

Candyspace guided the students through User Experience Design (UX), emphasizing research methodologies and the fusion of art and science. They highlighted how thoughtful and empathetic design can help address real-world problems.

Mixpanel provided an overview of data analysis, stressing the significance of customer understanding and utilizing data to drive action. They emphasized the role of analytics in guiding data-driven decision-making processes. 

AB Tasty’s workshop centered on personalization within the user journey and digital experimentation strategies. They highlighted the importance of tailoring experiences to individual users and leveraging experimentation to optimize digital interactions.

Airship’s workshop focused on engagement, beginning with an exploration of the mobile app lifecycle. We prompted students to reflect on their own app usage behaviors, then provided insights from Airship’s research on consumer behavior, comparing the students’ generation to other age groups. Discussions followed about strategies for brands to engage their app users effectively. We highlighted the importance of prioritizing apps as premiere destinations rather than using them as just another promotional channel.

Diversity Across Disciplines: What’s Next For Tech

A panel featuring speakers from Accurx, LCH, Brompton Bikes and Monday.com discussed the broad range of roles available in tech — from marketing and sales to data and operations — and the challenges women face across the sector. They stressed that having more women in organizations is not only important within tech — it’s vital across all industries. With millions of girls without access to education worldwide, it’s our responsibility to support and inspire those with this educational opportunity. 

Panelists offered guidance to young women contemplating careers in the tech industry. They cited the significance of purposeful engagement, assertive communication and self-worth. They also discussed the key attributes crucial for women’s advancement into leadership roles within the tech field, highlighting qualities such as resilience, adaptability, empathy and agile decision-making skills.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Airship

As a founding member of the Now+Next association, Airship’s mission is to inspire young women by helping them understand possibilities, providing connections, and supporting experiences in data, design and technology. 

As part of our Women’s History Month celebration, our ERG for female-identifying individuals, Airship FIRE (Female Inclusion, Resilience, and Empowerment), will host a virtual coffee hour chat on self-advocacy and its importance in inspiring an inclusive and thriving work environment for women – both within and outside their profession. 

Airship continues to focus its DEI work on Talent, Workforce Culture, and Community Impact. The Now+Next initiative fits well into our Community Impact work by reinforcing Airship’s DEI commitments and year-round efforts to #uplift the industries and communities we serve across the globe. There’s plenty to do, but we know that creating an inclusive culture must top the agenda for all. It’s our mission to attract, retain, reward and develop top talent, says Airship’s Senior Director of DEI, Temidayo Afonja

How does your organization shape up in terms of gender equity and inclusion? Let us know if we can help share ideas or resources.

Interested in getting involved in one of our future events? Just get in touch.