Kathryn co-founded Decoded in 2011, on a mission to spread “Digital Enlightenment”, decoding the languages of technology and show anyone that they can be an empowered participant in an increasingly technology driven economy. Most famous for teaching “Code in a Day”, Decoded have since taught thousands of people from professionals, CEOS and boards to creatives, students and start-ups across thousands of different organisations globally. Grown entirely through word-of-mouth, Decoded now have offices in London, New York and Sydney, and in the past year they have popped-up in over 40 cities worldwide.
“…Technology needs a rebrand. For many women it doesn’t immediately appear aspirational or inclusive…”
Geeky, good at maths, and have an engineering background … be a guy?
The digital world is this huge open, welcoming, creative environment, yet it feels exclusive, niche and the preserve of the few.
There are certain negative myths and clichés around coding and technology. People presume you have to be geeky, good at maths, and have an engineering background … be a guy? But actually skills such as creativity, communication and problem solving are equally as relevant.
Flying in the face of the national outlook for STEM
We’ve been very fortunate at Decoded, with over 50% of the team and alumni made up of women. But this flies in the face of the national outlook. The stats showing women opting out of STEM subjects at school and out of technology at career level too.
For me, if you believe that the future is digital, that we really are in the midst of a digital revolution, it is these skills that will get you a job and indeed allow you to thrive in any chosen career. Therefore, debunking the myths and clichés which discourage women from embracing technology is for me an economic issue, women need to be able to claim the premium digital literacy and skills will give them within the workforce.
Technology needs a rebrand
Part of the problem is potentially the most easily solved. Technology needs a rebrand. For many women it doesn’t immediately appear aspirational or inclusive. This is changing and it’s trailblazers such as Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington that are helping to change this stereotype but more needs to be done.
I get very excited about the opportunities the world of technology can offer and how the current digital revolution gives us the chance to rewrite the rules. Consider it a blank canvas. You can create incredible businesses in the course of five years, even less than that, and women here have the opportunity to develop to be at the helm of those businesses. They can reshape the culture and processes from a place of female insight and understanding.
Take away the fear and be enthralled
For me, it was my own feeling of “illiteracy” when it came to coding that powered Decoded’s existence. I have always had a fascination for languages, having studied Ancient Greek, Latin and Mandarin at university, but there was a black hole when it came to possibly the most important language in our collective future – that of digital code. I wanted to demystify it, take away the fear, empower anyone with the ability to learn and to be enthralled by it.
Since Decoded began, digital skills have risen to the top of the corporate and government agendas. We have worked with tens of thousands of professionals across sectors as diverse as finance, the arts, media, aerospace and beyond. I am so proud to be part of a collective in the UK who championed putting code on the national curriculum, the first country to make it mandatory on a curriculum.
Women have the opportunity to lead this change
Access to technology is the most liberalising, democratising tool you can have and it’s one of the greatest levellers. Broadly speaking, access allows you to innovate, be faster and better, and that’s where business is going. We are on the crest of a wave when it comes to digital skills and the innovation that comes from it. I am unbelievably excited that women have the opportunity to lead this change. It truly is the next revolution when it comes to the world of work. We need to claim our digital vote.