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“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” – Interview with Dulcie Jackson

Meet Dulcie – She’s a Bristol based full stack developer working for Gravitywell, who are currently on a journey to gain their B Corp certification. Dulcie & I have been chatting over LinkedIn for quite some time now, discussing all things tech for good and B Corps. As we are currently in March, which is B Corp month – I thought, what a perfect time to get Dulcie involved with Women Rock and discuss her passions around these things. We had a lot to chat about, due to her passions around ethical & sustainable tech and wanting to make the technology field all the more diverse, inclusive and empowering.

You are going to absolutely love reading this interview, before we get started here are some things you might not have known about Dulcie before reading this…

When she’s not working on building tech for the greater good… she can be found visiting one of her favourite spots in Bristol – the Riverside Garden Centre in Clifton, full of glorious plants… or you could catch her munching on a veggie breakfast down in the Bristolian café in Stokes croft! (it totally sold her on moving to Bristol when she first tried it) 😊 Dulcie’s biggest inspo is her Brother, they’ve always been super close and he has helped to install confidence in herself seeing how he has had the courage to do what feels right to him in life, such as deciding to leave & re-join Uni to do a course that really mattered to him. On top of that, Dulcie loves to listen to Rock & Metal music – perhaps not what you’d expect from her but she’s looking forward to discovering the Bristol music scene more!

Ok, now that we know her a bit better… let’s get straight to it! Throughout this interview, Dulcie touches on topics such as the process of becoming a B Corp, working at Gravity well, how she first got into software development and what true equality means to her! She even gives us the scoop on her top 3 favourite B Corp brands 😍

 

Hi Dulcie! All of us here at Women Rock are super excited to have you involved with our initiative. After chatting together you come across as someone who is passionate about the ethical side of technology and tech for the greater good – could you tell us what first sparked that interest for you?

I’ve always wanted to live as ethically as possible – for example, I’ve been vegetarian from a very young age and always apply sustainability principles to my day to day life. Ethical technology and tech for the greater good is just an extension of my ongoing passion for making the world a better place!

You currently work for Gravitywell, could you tell us a bit about the company and what first attracted you to join their team?

Sure! We’re a small software development company, specialising in innovative tech for start-ups and new ideas. We do a bit of everything, from helping with initial brand creation, discovery and design right through to web and mobile development. Because our projects all start with new concepts, we’re really able to think outside the box and use the newest, most exciting tools and technologies on every project – which is both loads of fun and great for our clients!

I was mainly attracted to Gravitywell because of the diverse projects – I’ve always loved the problem solving and creativity of building something new from scratch! I was also looking to join a smaller company – I think it offers more freedom and is generally more rewarding. Throughout my application process to Gravitywell, I got the feeling that it was a team where people are friends and not just colleagues. I’m glad to say that my hopes have been met, and exceeded! In fact, we have a team holiday and a festival lined up this summer!

Gravitywell are currently in the process of becoming a B Corp which is so exciting! As you know, March is B-Corp month. What would you say is so important about B Corps and why do we need them?

The B-Corp process offers a framework to get conversations going about the topics that really matter. There are plenty of companies out there that are already doing great things for their employees, community and the environment without being B-Corps, but it’s a great badge of recognition and also an incentive for companies to uphold those standards. The process to certification offers a roadmap to continuous improvement of all things ethical, but also helps to spread the word with wider audiences and turn it into a movement. Small changes multiplied many times make a huge difference.

What does it mean to you personally to be working for a company that will become a B Corp soon?

When I was changing jobs, I actively looked for B-Corps because I wanted to work for a business with values I believed in.
I feel a great deal of pride in Gravitywell for our steps towards B Corp certification. We’re all responsible for maintaining and improving the planet and society, and certification is tangible evidence that we can make a difference. It’s a rewarding process and comes with a very supportive community.

What are your thoughts on recruitment agencies like SR2 gaining a B Corp certification?

I think it’s great! If I were to talk to a recruiter then two things would matter to me: that they understand my industry and they respect and share my ethics when looking for new work. I’ve had tons of recruiters get in touch in the past trying to place me in roles in industries that I’d never be comfortable working in – so B Corp status is a great reassurance!

Looking back on your career and journey through education, do you remember what it was that made you want to get into technology and more specifically software engineering? Tell us how it all started for you!

I wouldn’t say that my path into tech was clear-cut – I certainly wasn’t one of those teenagers who spent hours coding or building computers!

I’ve always had a lot of pretty diverse interests, and when I first started thinking about potential careers I was looking for something that let me combine my enjoyment of both analytical and creative subjects. I went through a lot of phases, considering architecture, law, orthodontistry and graphic design within a year or so – and I really could have gone in any of those directions!

The big decision that eventually led me towards a Computer Science degree and a career in Software Engineering was probably picking my A Levels. I’d done equally well in arts and science subjects, so I found it tough to choose a direction and commit to one or the other. I think being pushed to make that choice made me realise that I didn’t want to pick just one, and so I chose to study Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Computing and Fine Art. I had to argue with my school that it was a sensible combination of subjects! At that point, I definitely wasn’t planning to study tech, but I wasn’t willing to give up art and felt I could find a way to tie it all together.

During my A Level years I interned at 3 Sided Cube, a tech-for-good agency in Bournemouth. Seeing the work environment there is what sold me on tech as a career. I loved the laid-back vibe, but also the great combination of technical knowledge with creativity and problem solving. So when it came to applying to universities, I looked for courses where I could learn the fundamental theory, but also apply it to real world problems. Royal Holloway was absolutely amazing, and set me up brilliantly for the work I do now!

I can see you were a Women’s Ambassador during University, could you tell us what it was like being a female within a relatively male dominated subject and how has that moulded you as a person?

I’ve actually always enjoyed standing out in this industry! I think it’s a great opportunity to surprise people, and to challenge myself to achieve what I’m aiming for.

Obviously, it’s not always plain-sailing to be in the minority, but I think the mindset you bring to it is more important than any inherent bias. People will have preconceived ideas and expect certain things of you, but what you do about it is always in your control – whether that means working hard to prove them wrong, increasing public awareness, or having the strength to walk away from a company that doesn’t value you.

In a way, I don’t like to think of myself as a “woman in tech” – I’m a woman who works in tech, but day-to-day I don’t think that should make any difference to my experience or contributions to the field. I ended up in the role of Women’s Ambassador of the Computing Society almost by accident, but the main benefit for me was being part of a diverse committee where we were all able to bring our skills and opinions to the table. I was voted in as President the next year, and the whole experience really proved to me that it was better to be part of the group and immerse myself in the field than to view myself as a minority.

What does equality mean to you? And, what advice would you give to other tech companies to ensure they are providing a equal working environment?

I think equality is hugely multi-faceted. Firstly, it’s obviously about things like equal pay and equal expectations when it comes to reviews and promotions. It’s about understanding that the ways we express ourselves vary, and encouraging everyone to ask for the things that they want and need. It’s about working together as individuals, not forcing everyone into a box that fits a business decision or profit margin.

I also think that equality is about treating everyone and everything – people, animals, the environment – with respect. There’s so much good that can come from decisions made with care and appreciation for the world around us, and one of the best things we can do is ask how our actions might affect other people or things. Often by just listening we can solve problems that sound bizarre or unrelatable to those of us who aren’t impacted in the same way.

As a woman in tech, there must have been some barriers & stereotypes that you’ve faced. If so, could you tell us about one of them?

Honestly, the thing that I’ve struggled with most about being a woman in tech is the positive discrimination associated with companies aiming for a 50:50 gender balance. Taking steps to remove biases from hiring, reviews and promotions is obviously very necessary, and I absolutely support businesses in doing this – I’ve certainly been on the receiving end of negative stereotypes in the past.

But I would be offended if I was offered a job in preference to someone else just because I’m female, or if the main incentive was to boost a company’s diversity stats. I believe that true equality comes from me being able to stand alongside whoever else applies, and be chosen for my personality and experience, irrespective of gender.

As it’s B Corp month, who are some other B Corp companies you follow that you think are awesome?

I think DAME are great – they make environmentally friendly period products and aim to reduce erase single use plastic from the industry as well as the stigma around discussing periods! Everything from their products to advertising drives positive change on a subject that is often seen as taboo.

I’m also a big fan of Triodos, Tony’s Chocolonely and Patagonia, who are really leading the drive for change in industries with traditionally negative environmental and ethical impacts.

If you could give advice to other women about getting into a career with tech, what would you say to them?

Don’t be afraid to aim high.
Figure out what it is that you want, and stay aligned to those goals – even if they’re not what other people might expect of you.
Call out discrimination, even when it works in your favour.
Imposter syndrome is totally normal – just remember to look back at how far you’ve come and pat yourself on the back from time to time!

Lastly, what is a mantra you live by or your favourite quote?

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

What a great note to end on!

Cheers Dulcie you rock! #womenrock

An interview by Steph Jackson

A voice for diversity in Tech and Engineering

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