Hello 2020, Inspiring Figures is back! ✨
Inspiring Figures is a monthly column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people that you should really know about. You can find the whole list of my inspiring figures over on the shiny new website, InspiringFigures.co.
Each feature first took place live on YouTube Live (a move away from Instagram), this is a write-up of our conversation. Thank you once again to everyone that joined in live!
To kick off 2020, this month features Penny Hindle
Penny is a recent Computer Science graduate from the University of Leeds, currently working as a Software Engineer at X-Lab. She’s also known for her massive contributions in the local Leeds tech scene, working with Code First: Girls Leeds branch to teach young women how to code, a volunteer at Women in Leeds Digital, working with groups such as Empowering Women with Tech, She Does Digital and more!
Penny and I actually first met in the tech community, and last summer we worked together to run the summer intensive course for Code First: Girls at Sky Betting and Gaming.
Although it’s not a title she has named herself, I also see Penny as an “influencer” especially on Instagram where she has inspired me to shop smarter when it comes to fashion. More on that later!
Listen to our live conversation
How Penny ended up in technology 👩🏼💻
Penny didn’t hear about Computer Science as a subject until she was 15 years old at a University Open Day when she was researching subjects to study for further education. Once she heard about it, she was very excited about it! Around the same time, she was keen to make custom themes on Tumblr. This is always surprising to me because a lot of people I know were inspired by sites like Piczo, Tumblr and Neopets! Eventually, Penny took on the Computer Science degree route after finishing her A Levels.
Exciting projects and learnings ✨
Throughout her degree, Penny has had experience with several different languages including C sharp, Java, Python, HTML, CSS, PHP, C++ (her favourite!)
One project that Penny is working on at the moment is creating an application, and although she has never had any app development experience before, she’s persisted through learning Swift.
If anyone is reading that paragraph and is feeling a little overwhelmed, Penny ensures, “The first technical language you learn is always the hardest. But once you pick up one, it gets easier to apply technical concepts elsewhere such as describing variables, calling functions, setting a loop to other languages.”
The flourishing Leeds tech community and it’s importance 💜
It’s important to get involved in your local tech community! If you’ve been a long-time reader of mine, you’d know that this is a particular important subject for me. Communities are awesome.
Penny has been involved with several communities across Leeds. This first began with Code First: Girls at the Leeds University in 2017, but her involvement has flourished across the city – being a part of She Does Digital, Empowering Women With Tech, Women in Leeds Digital and more! The diversity issue wasn’t something that Penny was aware of at first, she was just wanted to encourage more women after being the only girl out of 1000 in her year group.
Taking part in these communities are powerful – they are important for people in tech but also people who want to get into tech. There is constant inspiration that developing a career in tech is actually possible! Penny shares, “even if you work at a place where there is a lack of diversity, you can go to these communities for support.”
The diversity and inclusion conversation 💪🏼
The previous section naturally led to this conversation – these are some of the key takeaways from our chat:
- Start thinking about Diversity and Inclusion before the interview process e.g. if a requirement is a Computer Science degree, you’re already picking from a very specific group of people.
- Ensure that language used in job descriptions is inclusive of everyone
- Listen to minority folks when they have issues e.g. not feeling welcomed or included. It’s not their problem. It’s yours.
Sustainable fashion – why is it so important? 🌱
For the longest time, Penny has been into shopping at car boot sales and charity shops.
Back then, it wasn’t really about sustainability but more about grabbing clothes for cheap (often getting clothes for as cheap as 99p!) At primary school, whenever someone asked her where something was from, Penny was reluctant to say that it was from a charity shop because of the negative connotation that is often associated with shopping second-hand. Eventually, Penny started to own it! If you follow Penny on Instagram, this is totally her “brand”. 😆
As we all become more aware of the affects of our consumerism especially in fast fashion and it became “cool” to shop sustainably, Penny is leading by example on all the ways you can move away from the trap of fast fashion. She recommends checking out second hand pieces from Depop, charity shops, car boot sales, clothes swaps.
“Persistence is definitely key. Go often, and you’ll eventually find things you’ll like!”