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Q+A: Tackling the diversity challenge with Deb Leary OBE

Wed 27 Feb 2019

On March 12th as part of International Women’s Day Techerati is joining forces with famed comedy community Funny Women to present a unique evening of empowering comedy and workshops celebrating women in tech. One of Funny Women’s favourite techies, Deb Leary OBE, founder and CEO of the award-winning Forensic Pathways, will be rounding off the evening with a typically inspiring and witty talk advocating for more women in tech

Just some of Deb’s accolades include being named in the UK’s Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs by Real Business Mag; receiving the Joyce Award for Services to British Association of Women Entrepreneurs; FCEM International Woman Entrepreneur of Year; European Woman of Achievement and British Female Inventor of Year.

We sat down with Deb ahead of Techerati/Funny Women’s HERlarious for a quickfire Q+A touching on the problem of diversity, her advice for young women, and the female techie who inspires her the most…

Deb Leary OBE - founder and CEO of Forensic Pathways

Name an event or encounter that really crystallised tech’s diversity problem.

The fact that in 17 years despite the fact that Forensic Pathways have often recruited from a range of universities and through a variety of online and traditional media we have never had one woman apply for a position either as a software developer or researcher.

What is one skill that you have recently mastered that other’s in tech often overlook?

My academic background is in English Language and Literature so my focus has always been on the ‘story’.  Developing tech as a tool to solve a challenge – that’s one skill I don’t have!

As an entrepreneur, my skill is spotting the opportunity and building the team to deliver the solution in collaboration with the end user. I’m at the soft skills end which often drives my software development team nuts! I’m loud, excitable, always say yes and then think about the solution and then hand over the dream to the dream team developers.

What is your one piece of advice to young women struggling to find success in tech?

Develop your own personal brand, be memorable.

If you could be any tech professional for one day – past or present – who would you be?

Dame Stephanie Shirley – she is a hero of mine. Firstly she is an absolute maths ninja! Sadly I only got points for turning up at maths class, never for actually doing any! Her dedication is amazing. From building computers from scratch and writing code back in the 1950s when most women were pressured to stay at home.

With just £6 she founded the software company Freelance Programmers and has since supported and created job opportunities for women in tech.  At a time of conformity she bucked the trend and has remained true to herself. I would love to spend one day in her shoes in the 50’s to make me fully appreciate the trailblazer she was and continues to be.

Marie Curie: would she have been an Android or iPhone user?


Do you want be challenged, inspired and entertained?

Claim your ticket to Techerati HERlarious.

March 12 – 17:30 – 20:30 – ExCeL London.


diversity funny women herlarious techerati
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