Today marks the end of Bristol Tech Fest – a week-long festival filled with tech themed events discussing industry changes, innovation, and inclusion.

One of the many highlights was the Ava Lovelace event at the Engine Shed, in partnership with SETsquared.

Ella and Tamara went along to find out what it was all about, and how we can inspire the next generation of Women in Tech.

(From Left: Lai Li, Joyann Boyce, Josephine Dorh, Caroline Clark and Lisa Matthews)

The panel:

Caroline Clark, Co-founder of Zebera

Josephine Dorh, CTO of FluoretiQ

Lia Li, CEO of Zero Point Motion

Joyann Boyce, Founder of Inclued.AI

And Lisa Matthews, Head of Operations for KETS Quantum Security

Caroline Clark:

Caroline is the co-founder of Zebera, a company with the core focus of inspiring and empowering young people to become the innovators and inventors of the future.

Initially, she studied a PhD in Mechanical Engineering before becoming a Senior Researcher in Ultrasonics.

After a couple of years, she had a career break to have children and retrained as a sports physiotherapist.

She later found herself back in the STEM environment, working for KETS Quantum Security where she has been for the past 5 years until recently.

What would you tell your younger self?

Crack on and do what you want to do, not what you think you should do. Listen to your own advice.

Where do you think the industry is heading?

The use of quantum computers will increase and will be able to support current studies i.e., cancer drug trials, as they can analyse more complex molecules. We hope tech for good rises along with purpose driven businesses as we become more connected.

“For me it’s always been about the next step and what looks interesting, which is why my career path has been a windy route”

Josephine Dorh:

Josephine is an Electrical Engineering alumni of Bristol university. After completion, she became an engineer in the oil and gas industry before finding her niche in bacteria testing.

Now CTO of FluoretiQ, Josephine is revolutionising bacterial diagnosis. The aim is to be able to identify bacteria in a sample within 15 minutes, this will be 200 times faster than the current method.

What would you tell your younger self?

Everything is possible

What skills do you need in tech?

Patience – When developing a product, you are testing and testing and testing.

Resilience – Sometimes you finish an experiment and may not understand why it does or doesn’t work.

Where is the industry heading?

Automation and making life easier

Any process you see, it’s all about making it easier

“..Nothing beats passion so don’t let fear deter you from trying”

Joyann Boyce:

Joyann studied a psychology at university after debating whether to go down the creative or mathematical route. After graduating she went travelling before landing herself in a tech recruitment role.

From working in recruitment, Joyann found interest in LinkedIn and how it can be utilised and optimised for opportunities which sparked her interest for marketing.

Joyann wanted her career to be both a mix of creativity and tech. This has landed her to found Inclued.Ai where she explores how AI can be used to detect bias within marketing.

How creative is STEM?

Creativity comes within tech, despite society making it seem like 2 different worlds. We need the creativity to teach the machine, basically whatever you’re doing can be made tech related.

What skills do you need in STEM?

Fall in love knowing you don’t know what you don’t know

The more I spoke about AI the more I realised what I didn’t know, however every conversation led to more confidence talking about the subject.

What would you tell your younger self?

Do things for yourself and not to prove others right or wrong

Where is the industry heading?

AI is very up and coming, if you’ve engaged with something which recommends to you something you may like, it’s AI.

“If you’ve ever been annoyed that Netflix doesn’t know what you want to watch, you should get into AI”

Lia Li:

From the get-go Lia experienced imposter syndrome and didn’t have the initial confidence to conquer her great ideas. After much deliberation between studying music or science, Lia studied a Physics degree where in her final year she built lasers from scratch. This sparked her interest and gave her the power to realise everything out there has been invented by someone.

She later moved away from academia and worked at BAE systems but felt disconnected from the end use of the product. This led her back to university where she studied a PHD in Quantum Physics.

Lia is now CEO of Zero Point Motion which researches cavity optomechanics to detect displacements. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory won 3 scientists the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics. It has the ability to sense motion 10,000s smaller than the size of an electron meaning they can build chips which will detect the smallest of motions.

What skills do you need in STEM?

Teamwork and Communication

Be transparent and open about your mistakes as a leader.

No one underperforms on purpose, it always relates to the environment, communication, knowledge etc.

How creative is STEM?

Chip design is creativity, it’s an image of something, you just need to learn the geometry. There is software to take over the manufacturing, so you don’t need to fully understand that.

Gender inequality in STEM:

Have full clarity on what you’re going to overcome – particularly the stereotypes surrounding women in tech

Don’t spend your time thinking it’s a silly mistake, it’s a societal issue and you can be angry about. Push back and correct people on who you are.

You have less chance being interviewed, and on average paid less if you are a woman or ethnic minority. Don’t hide the fact these things happen.

What would you tell your younger self?

Fully accept yourself and be zen with who you are, despite any bad experiences you’ve been through.

“It’s always possible to make something, you just need to find the right people, skills and knowledge to make it happen”

Feeling inspired to take your leap of faith into tech?

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