that you weren’t there.” Before then, it hadn’t occurred to me that I was an outlier. I’d briefly considered pursuing an electri-

cal engineering degree, so by comparison computer science was less male-dominated. Even then, I still didn’t think of myself as a ‘woman in tech’ until I started my profes- sional career. More than 30 years later and I’m glad that

I no longer need to think of myself with that qualifier anymore. And while I’m still quite often the only woman in the room or on a call, at least there’s acknowledgement that it shouldn’t be the case. For example, I was recently on a company

board call with 14 attendees, and thanks to the grid-view gallery of participants, it struck me that the entire grid, minus me, was made up of white men. It made at least two other non-executive directors so uncomfortable that they commented on it. It used to be the case that if I didn’t call it out, no one would. Now in 2021, either no one needs to or every- one else does — that’s meaningful progress. As another example, it used to be the case

that we’d have ‘Women in tech’ panel ses- sions at events in an effort to spotlight women who were making contributions. Thankfully, we don’t have that anymore (except for during International Women’s History Month or on International Women’s Day), because we just have women on panels alongside men — or once in a while, a panel that just happens to be composed of all women. We have certainly come a long way.

Diversity must include everyone However, for as far as we’ve come on the gen- der axis, we are woefully behind in other areas. I’ve often said that I didn’t consider

myself as a woman in tech because I was always far more self-conscious about being from an ethnic minority. I grew up knowing that life would be far less complicated and easier if I was a white girl. The Black Lives Matter movement and protests of summer 2020 helped put racial inequality and lack of

diversity at the forefront of the broader con- versation, which was both long overdue and sorely needed. And recent increases in the rate of hate

crimes against east Asians in both the US and in the UK have brought about another con- versation. The future of diversity in tech has to be one which reflects the world at large. We know that that world is not just white and we, as an industry, need to reflect the society we live in. We have a lot of catching up to do, and I wonder whether it will take the same long arc that we did for gender diversity and representation. Will we have to go through a phase of all-

black panel participants or specific days and events to shine a light on ethnic minorities making contributions, or can we learn from the past and avoid the same drawn-out process? Either way, what’s painfully clear is that

tackling ethnic diversity won’t have a ‘job done’ moment either. We won’t have achieved legitimate diversity in tech until we also have social class diversity. We can’t have everyone in tech from “the

best schools” — something I assert with full awareness of my own privilege having attended one of the best computer science degree programmes in the world. And we can’t have everyone in tech from a

certain social class — one in which parents were able to afford laptops, iPads and iPhones for their children. The gulf between the ‘One percenters’ and everyone else is even wider than ever thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Again, in order to reflect the world we’re ser- vicing and living in, we need to do better. I recognise that I raise more questions

than I propose solutions, but you don’t get answers without asking first. I can only hope that the momentum behind gender diversity will expand to include diversity across the board. And only then will I take comfort in equality within the tech sector and for what the tech sector can provide. ■

EileenBurbidgeisafoundingpartnerofLondon- basedventurecapitalfundpassioncapital



April/May 2021 47

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96