Scotland is home to a flourishing technology sector, with a bustling startup scene, life sciences sector and a hub for financial services, the country’s global reputation is growing rapidly.
With an ever-expanding tech sector, however, challenges arise – particularly with regard to talent.
Traditionally, talent development and retention has been an area which Scotland’s tech sector has struggled with. Running parallel to this has been concerning cultural issues surrounding the gender deficit in STEM subjects.
Simply put, it seems we aren’t doing enough to encourage more young women and girls to pursue careers in science and technology.
While initiatives the length and breadth of the country, many supported by the Scottish Government, seek to address the issue, the reality is that the road to progress will be a long and arduous one.
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- DIGIT Q&A | Leah Hutcheon, CEO and founder of Appointedd
To mark International Women’s Day 2021, DIGIT caught up with some of Scotland’s trailblazing women in tech and business.
From software development to ethical AI and skills development, Scotland has an enormous wealth of exceptional female role models pioneering in a range of fields.
In the fifth and final instalment of our Q&A series today, we speak with Loral Quinn, CEO and co-founder of Sustainably.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Loral
Hi my name is Loral, I’m from Edinburgh, and I’m an entrepreneur. I co-founded Sustainably, an app that rounds up your spare changes so you can give to causes you care about without sharing your personal details and track your impact, with my daughter Eishel in 2015.
We wanted to make it easy for everyone to have a positive impact every day. My background is in digital marketing and Eishel’s is in ethical retail so we joined forces to create technology for good!
What inspired you to pursue a career in tech/business?
I’ve always had a passion for learning and when I was doing research for my last role I was inspired by Acorns Investing, which rounded up your spare change to your investment portfolio, and Toms Shoes, where you buy a pair and give someone a pair.
At the same time Eishel was making our home eco and organic. And we thought it would be great if every transaction could have a positive impact, so that’s where the idea for Sustainably came from.
Have you entered the digital technology sector via a ‘traditional’ route?
I was in the digital marketing team in a financial services company, so to become a fintech co-founder was not the most obvious next step. I’m not sure if there is a traditional route into tech or starting your own business, but I was always a self-starter and good at making things happen.
Is there a particular person – or group of people – that inspired or supported the path you have taken?
My mother is the most resilient person I know and my daughter inspires me every day, but I am hugely influenced by women who get out there every day and make a difference.
Are there any women currently in tech / business in Scotland who you admire?
Lesley Eccles is a stand out entrepreneur I admire and inspires me, but I also admire all the other female founders in tech in the community, many of whom I’ve called upon for advice over the years.
The STEM gender deficit is a growing issue, what more can we do to inspire and support young women and girls to pursue careers in tech?
We can support young women and girls into tech by having more role models who can tell their stories, in a relatable, accessible way, and are able to offer help and support, as well as directly investing in underrepresented founders, to make it happen.
Why is International Women’s Day important to you, and how does it help to address some of the issues affecting women in tech?
We need to break down all the barriers and get more girls involved from a much earlier age.
It’s great to see the work that Stemettes and others are doing in this space, and we need to support more initiatives in this area, as well as helping skilled women into the industry now.
What advice would you give to other women looking to enter tech?
There are so many varied and interesting careers in tech from being a product manager, designer or marketing, to user experience, customer success and engineering.
It’s a great place to learn and really exciting to be involved in creating new products that people love and can help shape the future of how we live.