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"Do what you enjoy." - Poppy Patel: International Women's Day 2024.

We put our #IWD24 Questions to Poppy Patel a curriculum and resources lead at U.K Charity Tech She Can.

Before taking up this role Poppy had spent 14 years working within the primary school setting in Coventry. Poppy now shares her enthusiasm for education with young learners aged 5-14, getting them excited about a potential career in tech.

1. What is your proudest achievement?

"Probably qualifying as a teacher. I had always thought that I might like to be a teacher, and after I finished university I decided to apply to complete a PGCE (a university based route into teacher training). I was unsuccessful at interview and requested feedback, where I was told that the interviewers didn’t think I could hold the attention of a class. Following this, I decided to get more experience in the area, and got a job as a teaching assistant in a primary school. Here I learnt so much about teaching and learning, and I decided that I really wanted to train as a teacher. The following year, I applied for and was offered a place on the Graduate Teacher Programme, which was a school-led route into teacher training. I qualified in 2011, achieving an outstanding grade."

2. What role has education played in your life?

"Education has played a huge role in my life, I’ve always been in or worked in education in some way! I always enjoyed Geography at school, and as I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to pursue, I decided to do what I enjoyed so went to study Geography at University. Following this, I worked as a teaching assistant, and then trained as a primary school teacher whilst working in school. I taught for over 12 years, working in a range of primary schools, before moving to Tech She Can, where my job involves designing and delivering lessons both virtually and in-person."

3. Why do you think equality in the workplace is so important?

"Equality in the workplace is really important because everyone comes from different backgrounds and has different experiences, and we need this diversity. Equality also helps people to feel happier and more valued, which makes the workplace a more productive and positive place to be."

4. Have you faced any barriers in life because you are a woman? And how did you overcome them? 

"When I was pregnant with my eldest son, I requested to return part-time after maternity leave. Around the time that my son was born, I was told this wouldn’t be possible. An alternative was offered, but not one that was possible without putting my son into full-time childcare. With hindsight, I wish I had challenged this, but having just had my first baby, I didn’t feel physically or mentally able to. With support from family and friends, I spent my first few months of maternity leave writing applications and attending interviews to make sure that I had a job to return to. Eventually, I was offered the part-time role which I’d originally requested, but by this point I had been offered a new part-time role at a different school, which I decided to take."

5. What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

"Do what you enjoy. My parents always encouraged me to do this, from choosing subjects to study at school through to deciding on careers"

6. If you could give one piece of advice to a young woman who's thinking about a career in tech, what would it be?  

"There are so many different tech careers out there, find out more about them, try different things, and pursue your passions!"

7. How can we, collectively in the U.K, encourage more young women to take up careers in tech? 

"Encouraging more young women in tech careers is an over-arching aim for the charity I work for, Tech She Can. The charity is on a mission to change the ratio of women in technology, to create a world that works for everyone. We inspire girls and boys about careers in technology through free, inclusive resources and experiences. We also create pathways into employment for women and inspire change, working closely with education, industry and government. I think it’s really key that we bring many different organisations, charities and educational partners together to work towards this common aim, as no-one can do it alone.

I think that one of the key answers to this question is education. A lot of careers education is delivered when students are aged 14+, and I think that this is too late to start teaching children about what they could be. More careers education needs to be delivered when children are younger and believe that they can be anything, before their views of what they can be have been narrowed too much. My job is to create and deliver our ‘Tech We Can’ lessons to students aged 5-14. We share interesting examples of tech, tell the students about some of the tech careers that are out there, and show them how their hobbies and interests could lead them into a career in tech in the future. Our resources are delivered to both boys and girls, but use content and images aimed at connecting with girls, so they feature a wide variety of women role models working in tech. We also include examples of how tech can be used for good, and to help people, as research shows that girls often gravitate towards these kinds of careers."

8. Who is the most influential woman in your life?

"This is a difficult one! There are so many influential and inspirational women around me, friends, family and work colleagues- so naming just one is really tricky. If I had to choose, I’d say my mum, the strongest woman I know. She has overcome and dealt with so many challenges in her life, and has had to find so much strength, particularly when my dad passed away very unexpectedly."

9. If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why? 

Taylor Swift, because I love her music. She is such a talented singer, songwriter and musician, and a great role model too!

My grandma and my nan. I lost them both within a few months of each other, almost 8 years ago now. I miss them both very much, and now there are so many things I’d have liked to have asked them both about that I didn’t have the chance to.


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