Liverpool Geek Girl Academy awards

We’ve been sponsoring the Liverpool Geek Girl Academy. The Academy was created to inspire girls who may not have considered a career in technology before to experience what that might be like.

Picture from one of the Liverpool Geek Girl Academy sessions
Image courtesy of Liverpool Geek Girls

Last week they celebrated the end of the programme and showcased what the 15 girls had achieved.

A picture of all the attendees of Liverpool Geek Girl Academy
Image courtesy of Liverpool Geek Girls

Over 8 week 15 girls ages 11-15 coded, bonded and successfully built their own websites using WordPress. 

 Becky Arrowsmith who’s a developer at Co-op also stopped by during the Academy to give the girls a a special master class.

The winner received a one to one with Mike Little one of the founders of WordPress and he also presented the awards. The winner was Amelia Roberts, aged 13 who created a website to celebrate Tim Peake and space exploration.  You can hear from Amelia in the video below.

 

“I have really enjoyed Girl Geeks Academy. It has helped me realise how much I can do and achieve, and that tech isn’t just for the boys anymore!”

Amelia Roberts

It was a pleasure to be at the awards ceremony and see the change in the girls since I first met them on their first day. I saw girls with more confidence and with a new found curiosity in technology. This is so important as studies suggest that only 1% of the tech workforce will be female by 2040 if we don’t try and redress the balance. Providing opportunities like this to show what a career in tech is like will hopefully encourage more girls to take that step.

The Co-op is committed to education and diversity which is why we were delighted to have sponsored this event.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Business Architect

Judging Hack Manchester

This weekend, Hack Manchester took centre stage at the Manchester Science Festival, hosted at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). 350 participants competed in the annual 24 hour event. It was actually a 25 hour event, as the clocks went back mid-hack. We sponsored the event as a challenge setter, alongside GCHQ, GMP & Ladbible, Cancer Research, Clockwork, Sky, Evestor and Valtech.

The entries across all the challenges were amazing, and I was especially proud of the care and attention that teams gave to our challenge, which was making something to help people experiencing loneliness. We had the most entries to our challenge: 19 in total. For some teams, the reasons for entering our challenge were very personal. Some had been or were lonely themselves, or had a close relative who was lonely.

As our head judge, it was quite the task getting round to all the teams to see what they’d come up with and how they were progressing. Luckily, I was supported by my co-judges Rob Bowley and Emer Coleman. Stephen Foreshew-Cain also stopped by to take a look around.

“Call James” won on the night

Our winners, on the night were The Lovely Lads with their hack, Call James.

Picture of the team from Northcoders who won our challenge at HackManchester
The winning team, photo – HackManchester Blog

They developed an app that uses a supercomputer to connect older people with groups that share their interests. They used technology to solve problems for technologically disconnected people, with a prototype where customers would find a message on the bottom of their Co-op receipt saying, “Interested in meeting some new people? Call James on +44 115 824 4806.” 

We chose this as our winner because the idea really answered our brief. They got their idea to actually work while using some really challenging technology. Also, the team, that came from local tech company NorthCoders had only learned to code just 4 months ago – an amazing achievement.

Runners up

Our runners up were the Nuts Hack for their entry Paltopia and the HackStreet Boys for their Co-op Community Hub. Paltopia is a multiplayer app for lonely children, who are matched up with someone and take care of each other. It’s a safe way for them to interact with someone else, thanks to features like using emojis for chat, and is built around routines, interaction and companionship. 

The Co-op Community Hub caught our attention because it turns the idea of an events website on its head. Instead, it automatically creates events based on the interests of people in a local area. 

Bleating Baskets won Best in Show

The Best in Show prize went to another of the entries responding to our brief.  The Basket Cases won for their Bleating Baskets, which were talking shopping baskets. When customers with baskets walk past each, other the baskets “talk” to each other, making them an ice breaker between the customers, and hopefully starting a conversation between them. 

There were some great ideas on how use digital technologies to make people less lonely, and the hackers came up with some really diverse solutions. Hack Manchester and all the teams did the North proud this weekend and showcased the abundance of digital talent here. 

You can watch the awards show and see more pictures of the day.

Thank you to the team at HackManchester and to everyone that took part.

We’re hiring now

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson

Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. It’s an international celebration day of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). 

Events in Manchester celebrating Ada

Emer Coleman, Gemma Cameron and myself are taking part in a number of events in Manchester over the next couple of weeks to celebrate Ada, everyone is welcome to join us.

Manchester Digital  Ada Lovelace Day – Fireside Chats
Tuesday 11th October

Ladies of Code at Autotrader – Mob programming with Clare Sudbery
Tuesday 18th October

Ada: The Empowered Technologist at ThoughtWorks
Thursday 20th October

Who was Ada Lovelace?

Ada was a writer and mathematician and is most famously noted for her work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Babbage worked on the design of the engine itself (the hardware) and Ada on paper explaining what the engine did. Ada’s notes on the engine include what is now recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine –  what we now call software. Ada is often regarded as the first computer programmer.

Babbage had kept his thinking on his analytical engine to the analysis and output of numbers. Lovelace had expanded that thinking to the analysis and output of symbols. This meant that the machine could analyse and output words, music and pretty much anything and everything – the modern notion of universal computation.

Whilst neither lived to see their work become a the reality we know today, they had 100 years earlier anticipated the implications of modern computing.

Picture of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage
Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage

An opportunity to celebrate diversity & teamwork

I also see the day as an opportunity to celebrate what can be achieved when individuals from very different backgrounds, generations and sexes come together and work as a team. Lovelace and Babbage are a great example of that.

As you celebrate Ada Lovelace Day this year, celebrate the achievements of women in STEM, but also celebrate what amazing things diverse teams can achieve when they work together.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Business Architecture & Analysis

 

Charlotte King joins the team

I’m delighted to welcome Charlotte King to the team. Charlotte joins us as an agile business analyst. She’ll be a key part of the Membership product team, focusing on the Membership website, where the team will be working hard to respond to member feedback and iterate the experience to meet our members needs.

Picture of Charlotte King

Charlotte isn’t new to the Co-op, she’s spent the last 3 years on the graduate scheme in our Food business and the last 2 in the team delivering Membership. Most recently Charlotte has been working on how we give our Member’s more of a voice.

I’ve known Charlotte throughout her time working on Membership and have seen the outstanding contribution she’s made in business analysis, delivery and business change. This is why I’m so pleased to be able to add Charlotte’s skills and experience to our growing agile business analysis practice.

Welcome Charlotte.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Business Architecture & Analysis 

Hack Manchester Junior challenge

As well as sponsoring Hack Manchester. We’ve also set a challenge for Hack Manchester Junior. The competition is a 2 days coding competition for those 18 and under. 

Picture of children at Hack Manchester Junior

Here’s our challenge

Let’s tackle Loneliness

We’d like teams to make something that can help people who may be experiencing loneliness connect with each other/someone. It could be something physical that can go in the front of a Co-op Food store using something like Raspberry Pi’s, Arduino’s, or something purely internet based.

Background

The Co-op has a history of campaigning for a better society, tackling issues of concern to our members across the UK, whether that’s climate change, votes for women or fair trade. Last year, once again, we asked our members and colleagues to tell us what issues where facing their communities, and as a result we are tackling social isolation and loneliness.

One of the ways we are responding to this issue is through a Charity Partnership with the British Red Cross. We’re not just raising money but also undertaking our own research into loneliness. Already we know it affects many people (one in 7 of our own members and customers). It’s not just something that affects people in later life, it’s something that can affect anyone at any time for many different reasons .

The research will inform how we respond through volunteering, expanding British Red Cross services, through campaigning and through what we do ourselves as a business and employer.

Judges

 Danielle Haugedal-Wilson who is our business architect  and Tom Taylor our chief product engineer will be judging the entrants.

Prizes

PS4 plus game OR Beats Headphones & Sony Wireless Speaker OR iPad Mini
plus a bag of Co-op goodies.

We’re really looking forward to seeing what’s produced on the day. Good luck everyone.

Gail Lyon
Digital Engagement

 

 

Hello to Liam Cross

I’m really pleased to welcome Liam Cross who’s joined the digital team as an agile business analyst. We’re working hard to build up our own community of practice in agile business analysis and Liam is the first to join this newly formed team.

Picture of Liam Cross

Liam joins us from Reckitt Benckiser, where he’s spent the last few years working on their global digital product catalogue. Liam will be joining the Membership product team and will be supporting them in reviewing user feedback and writing user stories for the next iterations of the product.

I’m excited to be bringing his skills and experience to the team. You’ll hear more from Liam and about the community of practice we’re building in the coming months on the blog.

Welcome Liam.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Business Architecture & Analysis 

Hack Manchester

We’re delighted to be sponsoring Hack Manchester the 24 hour coding competition this year. Organisations get to set a challenge and then teams of 4 people enter, choose a challenge and after the 24 hours is up present a working product. It’s being held as part of Manchester Science Festival on 29th and 30th October 2016.

It’s a fantastic way to get people to look at a problem from a different perspective and learn to code and to work in teams.

A picture of Hack Manchester

Here’s our challenge

Let’s tackle Loneliness

Arduino

We’d like teams to make something that can help people who may be experiencing loneliness connect with each other/someone. It could be something physical that can go in the front of a Co-op Food Store using something like Raspberry Pi’s, Arduino’s, or something purely internet based.

Background

The Co-op has a history of campaigning for a better society, tackling issues of concern to our members across the UK, whether that’s climate change, votes for women or fair trade. Last year, once again, we asked our members and colleagues to tell us what issues where facing their communities, and as a result we are tackling social isolation and loneliness.

One of the ways we are responding to this issue is through a Charity Partnership with the British Red Cross. We’re not just raising money but also undertaking our own research into loneliness. Already we know it affects many people (one in 7 of our own members and customers). It’s not just something that affects people in later life, it’s something that can affect anyone at any time for many different reasons .

The research will inform how we respond through volunteering, expanding British Red Cross services, through campaigning and through what we do ourselves as a business and employer.

Judges

Mike Bracken our chief digital officer and Danielle Haugedal-Wilson who is our business architect will be judging the entrants.

Prizes

PS4 plus game OR Beats Headphones & Sony Wireless Speaker OR iPad Mini
plus a bag of Co-op goodies.

We’re really looking forward to seeing what’s produced on the day. Best of luck to all of those entering.

Gail Lyon
Digital Engagement


We’re currently looking to recruit talented digital engineers/developers to support the growth of our unique business. We need people at all levels, with all kinds of skills and experience. If you’d like to be part of our digital revolution, find out more here.

RailsGirls workshop

I was asked to speak at the first RailsGirls workshop in Manchester, an event with the aim to help women to understand technology and to build their ideas.

Picture of attendees at RailsGirls Manchester Event

Here’s an edit of my talk:

So I hope most of you know a little bit about the Co-op, I hope you’ve at least visited one, we have a store in every postcode so we are hard to miss. We’ve just launched a new brand and we’re over 170 years old, with our origins only a few miles up the M60 in Rochdale. The Co-op was a movement, created by a group of people who wanted to do good for their community and was founded on some amazing values and principles. One such value remains pertinent to us today, helping people to help themselves.

At CoopDigital we are open and agile, we’re blogging about the things we’re doing, please do take a look. One of our aims is to be at the heart of the digital community in Manchester as well as hiring digital talent aligned with our values. CoopDigital has a team of leaders committed to diversity aiming to ensure your gender is not a barrier to you succeeding, this runs right through the team and diverse teams are better – more on that in a moment.

So the Co-op is here because it believes in its members, education, diversity and the tech community here in Manchester – so why me?

Since I had my daughter two and a half years ago, I decided to take a more active role in promoting diversity in tech. My own personal experiences made me think about the sort of challenges my daughter might face when she’s thinking about a career. I want her to do what she loves most and not face the barriers I faced. I have now, after 16 years in the workforce, found a job I love in an amazing environment with wonderful people.

So enough about me – this next bit is about you and why you being here is really really important. So, I’m going to leave you with 3 things to think about today

According to McKinsey:

“Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

So, companies with more women in them perform better.

According to the Harvard Business Review and Carnegie Mellon University:

“There’s little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.”

So, teams with more women in them are smarter.

We’re likely to have 1 million vacancies in the tech sector by 2020. Let’s make sure more than half of them are filled by women.

1. Your contribution to this industry is not only valuable, it’s vital

About a month ago I listened to a Ted Talk by Reshma Saujani founder of Women Who Code called – Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection.

It’s a great talk I encourage you to seek it out. I wanted to share some snippets of her talk with you today:

How many of you look at a job ad and don’t feel you can apply unless you meet 100% of the requirements? (Many hands were raised at the RailsGirls event)

Reshma talked about psychologist Carol Dweck who in the 1980s looked at how bright fifth graders handled a difficult assignment, Reshma said of the findings Carol observed,

“bright girls were quick to give up. The higher the IQ, the more likely they were to give up. Bright boys, on the other hand, found the difficult material to be a challenge. They found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts. In short if were were socialized to be brave instead of socialized to be perfect”

You’re here to learn to code and coding in itself is an endless process of trial and error, It requires perseverance. It requires imperfection and being comfortable with that

2. Be comfortable with imperfection not getting it right first time is what coding is – and that’s ok.

Reshma also observed this in her program, she says,

“Every Girls Who Code teacher tells me the same story. During the first week, when the girls are learning how to code, a student will call her over and she’ll say, “I don’t know what code to write.” The teacher will look at her screen, and she’ll see a blank text editor. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think that her student spent the past 20 minutes just staring at the screen. But if she presses undo a few times, she’ll see that her student wrote code and then deleted it. She tried, she came close, but she didn’t get it exactly right. Instead of showing the progress that she made, she’d rather show nothing at all. Perfection or bust.”

It’s rooted in how we perceive ourselves and our output, a professor friend of Reshma’s at the University of Columbia who teaches an Intro to Java told her when the guys are struggling with an assignment, they’ll come in and they’ll say, “Professor, there’s something wrong with my code.” The girls will come in and say, “Professor, there’s something wrong with me.”

3. If it doesn’t work there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just your code

Whilst you’re here today if your code doesn’t work ask for help and please don’t delete your work or you’ll never know how close you came.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Architect

CoopDigital sponsors the first Girl Geek Academy

CoopDigital are sponsoring the first Girl Geek Academy run by Liverpool Geek Girls. It’s an 8 week project based programme for girls between the ages of 11-16 to immerse themselves into the technology sector. The key focus will be building a website with code but will also look at female role models and confidence, something that we’ve recognised are incredibly important skills to have within the sector.

Both Liverpool Girl Geeks and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) are introducing this as a pilot with the hope for it to be a continuous course. Due to the location of the academy we’re also able to offer extra insight into the tech sector by giving them the opportunity to use 3D printers and robotics as well showcase the great spaces and modern technologies that the industry has to offer.

Picture of girls at Liverpool Geek Girls

Why is this important?

We’re committed to supporting gender diversity in the digital sector, only yesterday we talked about our support for gender diverse panels. One of the ways to tackle the gender imbalance in this sector is to educate girls and young women to show them the possibilities of working in technology.

What will they learn?

Lauren Williams one of the tutors will be facilitating the 8 weeks by teaching the 15 girls how to build their own websites. We want them to learn some basic HTML & Javascript skills as well as build on their self esteem. We want them to speak about their passions, show off their skills. Our own Co-op engineers will join the academy during half-term which is 24 October to 28 October, to do more in depth sessions on code and other skills.

The academy will run from 27 September to 15 November, every Tuesday 6.30 to 8.30pm at FACT in Liverpool. If you want to find out more or apply for a place visit the Liverpool Geek Girl Academy website.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson  & Chelsea Slater 

 

 

 

Work Experience at CoopDigital

Hello my name is Caitlin. I’m 15 and have spent a week with CoopDigital on work experience.

Picture of Caitlin
Caitlin Graham

I’m doing computing at school as one of my GCSEs where I’m the only girl in my computing class. So far I’ve learnt the basics of Python and MySQL using Codeacademy and Grok Learning.

I chose Co-op for my work experience because my mum, who works in IT at Co-op forwarded an email she had received about the CodeGirl event that was held at 1 Angel Square by Ladies of Code and arranged by Danielle. I emailed Danielle and got an almost instant response, it was that easy. 

I expected the people that I was going to work with in the week would have tunnel vision on their own projects. But I was wrong, the people on every team are very involved with each other, and a lot more relaxed than I expected, but they still got their jobs done very well.

On my first day I spent time with the social media team, doing Boolean searches to analyse things people had said about retailers on Fathers Day on social media, the conversations were really interesting.

My second morning was spent with the Paperfree team, which was brilliant because instead of listening and being passive, I felt like they wanted me involved with their team, and valued what I had to say.

I think my favourite day was my third. It was spent coding with Thoughtworks and BJSS. I learned to code in JavaScript, which I’d never done before.

I also learnt to code in HTML on my fourth day, which was different but interesting. Becky who is working on the Wills Alpha helped me build a website for French Bulldogs, which was brilliant.

I’ve had a great week here and felt very welcomed by everyone. Thank you.

Caitlin Graham.