Women in Tech: Emma Lewis

Throughout our crowdfunding campaign we'll be interviewing leaders and upcoming women in the UK tech industry, asking how they got involved in tech and the importance of role models.

In this interview we speak to Emma Lewis, front end developer and Cambridge Engineering graduate.


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're working on

I'm a front end developer, specialising in data-visualisation for the web. I mostly write HTML, CSS and Javascript code and work with designers to create websites that look beautiful and interact smoothly. I am freelance which gives me the freedom to choose the projects that I work on, and take time off to work on my own projects or just have a break! I've worked for clients including the BFI, Channel 4, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. I am currently doing some work for a really exciting organisation, Code for Africa.

How did you first get involved in tech?

I went to university and studied Engineering (I should have studied maths, but a friend warned me off, saying it was "too geeky"); I really enjoyed the degree, but I wasn't sure what to do afterwards. I ended up in Japan teaching English, which was really great because I got to ask all sorts of people about their jobs. I have always had an artistic side and found that the sector that appealed to me most was the creative digital industry, as it would enable me to combine arts with technology. I was fortunate enough to secure a fully-funded place on a Master's Degree in Design and Digital Media where I learnt all about the fundamentals of design, animation and much more. From there I got my first role with a digital agency in London who were willing to take on a complete novice and train me up.

Why are role models so important? Can you give us an example of how a role model has influenced you and your career?

In my career I've had a lot of people who I respect and I think that's really important. I was fortunate to start out my career with a couple of excellent line managers who taught me good coding principles and I've learnt a lot from many of the developers I've worked with since. Having said that I'm not sure I would call any of them "role models", and I think the main reason for that would be down to gender: throughout all of my roles, freelance or otherwise, I've worked with very few coding women, and I've never worked with one who is senior to me. That said, the absence of a coding role model has at least partly been filled by a number of brilliant, inspirational women - designers, project managers, business leaders - who I've had the chance to work with.

You can find Emma on Twitter as @emmalewis