SME News speaks to Rachel Clancy, Co-founder and Creative Director, of Tea Creature Designs about shifting the gender balance in the tech industry…
I think I’ve had an uncharacteristically positive experience of being a woman in tech. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the tech sector through an organisation called Code Liberation, who focus on teaching women/female-identifying people to program as a way of addressing the gender imbalance in the industry. Tech is notoriously male-dominated so to start in a space where I was surrounded by female classmates and mentors was a rare and hugely motivating experience. I began learning about game design and went on to study a masters that was led by a phenomenal woman called Phoenix Perry. I have been fortunate to have always been surrounded by female peers and role models, but sadly this is rarely the case for women who work in this industry.
When we look at the stats for young women considering a career in technology, the numbers are pretty disappointing. 20% of 16-18-year-old girls will be advised to consider a career in technology in comparison to 45% of boys. Almost half of girls (48%) aged 16 – 18 have discounted a career in technology compared to only a quarter (26%) of boys the same age. There is an imperative need for initiatives like Sky’s Women In Tech Scholarship that aim to address the gender imbalance, creating visible female role models in the tech sector so that young women can see themselves reflected in this industry. Another figure from research by Sky is that girls are three times more likely to think the technology sector is sexist than boys. I think the industry needs to take a critical look at itself and its practices to find out why young women feel this way, and use that as the basis for reform.
I have been fortunate to have always been surrounded by female peers and role models, but sadly this is rarely the case for women who work in this industry.
The biggest on-going challenge I currently face is balancing my job with developing our game. I think a lot of independent game designers go through this experience where they still need their day-job to support the launch of their first project. It’s extremely demanding, I work as an advertising creative during the week and I develop Hero’s Guide over the weekend. At first, I had to learn how to manage my workload and stress levels, some weeks are more taxing than others. Now I have a better sense of our needs for breaks and taking a rest. I’ve realised I don’t make good work when I’m burnt out and so I’ll make time for getting out of the house and having a life to make sure I have the energy to keep going. Our project deals with mental health themes, so I’m acutely aware of the need to look after myself in this regard.
To be awarded the Sky Women In Tech scholarship is one of my proudest achievements. As well as financial support, Sky has provided us with mentors and workshops in things like PR and communication training to equip us to promote and run our businesses. I’ve really benefited from this training, I’m quite a shy person so being able to work on my public speaking and presenting skills has greatly improved my confidence. The scholarship isn’t just for facilitating us financially, it aims to develop us into successful business people and leaders.
The Sky Women In Tech scholarship is such a wonderful endorsement of my work, and another window into a positive and optimistic view of the future for women in this industry. I am a passionate mental health advocate and I am so grateful they’ve given me this chance to develop a game that helps parents open a dialogue with their kids on the subject. I think making games like A Hero’s Guide To Gardening is the perfect meeting of my interests in technology, writing, and design – as well as being able to create something positive drawn from my own experiences of mental illness and neurodiversity as a young person. If Hero’s Guide is successful, my hope is that I’ll be able to continue to produce educational games and playable experiences that tackle themes of emotional literacy and mental health for children. I have been fortunate to have always been surrounded by female peers and role models, but sadly this is rarely the case for women who work in this industry.