Sophie Creese: sustaining female success in tech


5 mins read

Sophie Creese

Sophie Creese is the unstoppable force behind MotherBoard, a business charter, community, event series and podcast that’s actually making a difference for mums in tech (hell yeah!).

If that wasn’t impressive enough, Sophie also co-founded Hey Flow. The learning and development (L&D) tool uses data surveys to help build inclusive businesses – let’s face it, we could all use a little more inclusivity in our lives.

We’re thrilled to have Sophie on our podcast, and we only had to promise her a few bad tech jokes to get her onboard. But really, who can resist a chance to talk with someone so inspiring. Keep reading for our highlights and learn what it takes to be a more inclusive employer.

Half of women in tech drop out by age 35

Sophie aims to fix the mid-30s tech exodus among women through MotherBoard: “We are trying to rectify that bottleneck of women leaving the industry because it means there aren’t enough women going into leadership roles.” Respect! Tackling this underrepresentation really matters, as we need to include all kinds of voices and viewpoints to create a more welcoming and fair tech scene for everyone.

“Employers need to take action,” Sophie continues. “They can start by signing up to the MotherBoard business charter. They create pledges and work towards them every year. The charter holds them accountable. We support them through educational events and workshops. We also produce an annual impact report each year, highlighting what they’ve achieved and how they can continue to improve.”

But it goes beyond policy

“It’s about feeling,” Sophie highlights. “We need to be able to tap into how women are feeling and why they’re leaving at 35. One theme stands out.”

"“The common denominator holding women back in their careers is motherhood.”"

“It’s especially hard for mothers in the fast-paced tech industry,” Sophie says. “When they return to work after maternity leave, they might need to learn new skills to keep up with industry changes. Unfortunately, many employers fail to provide sufficient upskilling opportunities, leaving these women at a disadvantage and causing them to fall behind in the industry.”

Employers need to understand their people better

“They need to understand what’s holding their female employees back but also their male employees,” Sophie shares.

"“We’ve got to ditch the notion that mums are the only nurturing ones. Our research shows that many dads genuinely want to be involved in raising their children and supporting their partners.” "

“Businesses need to have open conversations with their employees,” Sophie continues. “This means finding out what each individual wants and needs, whether it’s a longer paternity leave, flexible work arrangements or something else entirely. It comes down to employers understanding their employees better.”

Sophie also explains how Hey Flow, the L&D and survey app, can help businesses bridge the gap between policy and feelings. “The survey results reveal areas where support is needed for women going through things like pregnancy or menopause. Using these insights, specific workshops and other educational events are designed to address the gaps between how leaders think their team feels and how they actually feel.” Invaluable, right?

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

“By planning ahead and continually evaluating progress, you can achieve your goals,” says Sophie, pumping us up more than a caffeine-infused, confetti-filled office party.

She continues: “It’s a long-term journey with varying results of different businesses. Some we’ve spoken to recently are doing really well. Other businesses haven’t had such an immediate effect. And it’s harder for small businesses because the gender balance can shift by just one person leaving. But by putting the right policies in place and holding yourselves to account, that’s ultimately going to impact your business’ inclusivity long-term.”

Everybody needs to be educated

Sophie aims to bring the gender balance game to a 50-50 score. A key move involves schooling everyone on the ins and outs of keeping women in the game and navigating the twists and turns of reproductive health. She also points out how:

"“It goes beyond just a basic understanding of what it feels like to be a woman. Because everyone is unique and every situation is different.”"

“Even those involved in the movement require ongoing education,” Sophie emphasises. “As someone who hasn’t experienced menopause, I need to learn about it. Likewise, since I haven’t faced period-related issues, I have to educate myself on how endometriosis might impact someone at work and what we can do to support them.”



We will get more women in tech

If Sophie’s enthusiastic interpretive dance routine is anything to go by, we believe her. She asked us to delete that video, but we still have her inspiring words:

“We’ve partnered with coding academies, including Le Wagon, General Assembly and Code-First Girls, to get more girls interested in tech, including mothers who want to upskill or change their careers.”

She continues, “And, by enhancing our understanding through apps like Hey Flow, we can make a difference. Companies that are onboard with long-term action will see their productivity and happiness go up – it’s a win-win.”

“But there’s still loads of work to do,” Sophie highlights. “We need to acknowledge the amazing women who have dedicated their careers to fields like software engineering and may have taken time off to support their families. Their skills aren’t lost; they may be just a bit behind. It’s crucial to focus on upskilling these talented individuals. With some outside assistance, the tech industry should invest in return-to-work programs that provide the necessary support for these women to thrive.”

Well, that was epic

Sophie really knows how to get us pumped up, especially when it comes to promoting inclusivity for underrepresented groups. We can’t thank her enough for sharing her inspiring work with us. Check out MotherBoard on Instagram, LinkedIn or their website to learn more.

If you haven’t already, give the podcast a listen and soak up even more of Sophie’s insights. And don’t forget to follow us on Spotify for the latest discussions on digital transformation, sustainability, and inclusivity in tech.