The power to empower us all: Taking control of your own digital destiny through technology – Fiona Tatton, Womanthology Editor

Guide to Better Living
Fiona Tatton - Womanthology Founder and Editor

Fiona Tatton

Technology as a great enabler

Putting together this edition of Womanthology has been particularly close to my heart. I decided to start Womanthology as a way to do what I love passionately – to build networks, share ideas and information.

I became interested in diversity and inclusion, with a particular emphasis on gender equality, and I decided that I wanted to create my own place where I could share all the stories from the kick-ass women I’d found who we didn’t always get to see in the mainstream media. Self-publishing has been an incredibly liberating experience and technology has been a great enabler for me here.

If incredible women can’t be seen or heard, do they actually exist?

Chatting to the awesome Suw Charman-Anderson, founder of Ada Lovelace Day, she talked about the invisible women of tech and it reminded me of the old adage,

“If a tree falls in a forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

So if there are loads of incredible women in tech (or any other sector) who can’t be seen or heard, do they actually exist? In career terms, not really. Suw talked about developing a certain type of career and the need to be out there talking about your work so people know who you are, what you do and why you do it, in order that people will buy your products or service, or want to recruit you or hire you as a freelancer. And she’s right.

Anywhere, anytime working

The other thing I got to thinking about when putting this issue together was about how technology is pushing the boundaries around how we all work, women and men. Jacqueline De Rojas, Chair of techUK talks about contributing to a culture where anywhere, anytime working is the accepted norm. It’s not about where you do it or how long you spend at your desk – it’s about what you actually deliver. A radical notion for most employers.

You don’t have to work the way you’ve always worked

Dr. Sue Black talks about how you don’t have to work the way you’ve always worked and you can proactively manage your own career. More and more of us are choosing to split our time between high value work that pays the bills and perhaps more rewarding work that pays less but feeds our souls; and technology is enabling us to do this.

Work that looks the way we want it to

Debbie Wosskow references the rise of the ‘gig economy’ that Hillary Clinton described – so there’s regular employees, freelancers and now this new category of worker in between, the ‘dependent contractors’ who earn their living through companies in the technology driven Sharing Economy. Surely work can now look however we want it to? If you’ve got a laptop, Wi-Fi and a phone, well then away you go.

Using technology to free us

How’s about we start to use technology to free us all rather than to enslave us? Who hasn’t cursed today’s always on culture of smartphones which means that your work email is always within your grasp 24/7? I remember a time, not too long ago, when you switched off your desktop PC at work, you went home and you had no way of looking at your emails until you were back in work the next day. But not anymore. Now the power of a laptop is in your smartphone and it’s rarely switched off.

I’m as guilty as anyone. Do you ever get that feeling of panic when your smartphone battery is almost flat? Or when you’re on a long train journey and you know you won’t have signal and hence proper email access for a couple of hours? I get physical withdrawal symptoms if I am kept away from Twitter for more than half a day or so.

Super productive and distraction free

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were able to work smarter and the masses (with the obvious exceptions of people who absolutely have to be in a specific place at a specific time to do their jobs) could work at a time and place of our choosing, free from needless distractions and hassle? We could be super productive, working distraction free, and we could be liberated from a succession of needless meetings so we’d no longer have to trail into an inconveniently located office.

When we finished all our work to a high standard this would be noted by our manager and we would be rewarded, rather than with a pile of extra work, but with more time to spend with our families and friends. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

If I’m working with a colleague, client or supplier and we are able to work together effectively and share the information needed, I can honestly say I don’t care where they are when I’m interacting with them.

Wwaaayyyy to much information

If you’re sat in Starbucks, fine, you can tell me. I’d prefer not to know however, if you are talking from the bath or you’re visiting a nudist camp (wwaaayyyy too much information here … there’s a need to retain a bit of a veil of professionalism, so people, please don’t overshare when you’re working remotely, you’ll ruin it for the rest of us…) but other than that, go for your life. Work anywhere. I honestly don’t care where you are as long as you’ve got the skills to pay the bills, so to speak.

Inbox taming

Kat Gordon wrote a brilliant piece for the very first edition of Womanthology and it stayed with me. She talked about using lessons learnt on the tennis court and how they could help you tackle your to-do list – essentially this meant powering through your day by not wasting the five minute gaps between conference calls or meetings. I started using my iPhone to help here and it worked. How about using that five or ten minute gap to answer a couple of emails to get my inbox under control, regardless of where I might be? And hey presto – it worked!

Not some kind of digital utopia

So this maybe sounds like some kind of digital utopia, but it doesn’t have to be. How’s about we start to use technology to empower, rather than to enslave us? Women in particular have a great deal to gain from being allowed to work smarter in order to level the playing field when it comes to career opportunities and equal pay, so given half a chance, that’s what we’ll do.

Let us show you the true meaning of working smarter. It’s time to fulfil our digital destinies

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