We’re delighted to be sitting down with Lizzie Kelly-Dyson – co-founder of Ladies that UX. Without Lizzie, there would be no Talk UX – it’s that simple. So if she’s talking, we’re listening!
So Lizzie, for those that don’t know the story, tell us, how did Ladies that UX come to be?
Ladies that UX started because Georgie (Lizzie’s Ladies that UX co-founder) and I didn’t know any women in the industry. All meet ups were the same, one person standing at the front telling you what to do and how to do it. After one of the meet ups, Georgie and I went for a drink and we discussed what we would do differently if we were to start our own. I wanted to create a meet up where you built up the community, where you were able to turn to the person next to you and build a relationship and have a conversation. Georgie loved the idea and highlighted the lack of women in the industry. We discussed how we could bring these two together and the idea of Ladies that UX was born.
“I wanted to create a meet up where you were able to turn to the person next to you and build a relationship and have a conversation”Lizzie Kelly-Dyson
Why was it so important to you to create a female specific network?
As someone that has never really had a strong group of female friends to speak to I find Ladies that UX invaluable. Something happens when you bring a group of women together and having that safe space to discuss work topics and experiences is really important. Especially in a world where there is an imbalance between men and women in the workplace. Ladies that UX provides a place where we can support and promote the work these amazing women are doing.
And how did it turn from casual local meet-up to the global movement that it is today?
Twitter had a big part to play in our global movement. We were getting such positive feedback from our meet-ups that word started to spread. Two women from Brighton heard about the events we were hosted and wanted to be a part of it. They messaged us asking to start their own group. We were excited that other people believed in what we were doing and helped get them up and running. More and more people started to hear about us over twitter and more and more women reached out to start their own group. It was like a snowball effect.
Making the leap from local meet-up to global conference is bold – what inspired you to take that step?
As our community grew people started to approach us asking us to suggest names of women in the industry for their conference because they were struggling to attract female speakers to apply. They also stated that there weren’t any women out there doing the hard stuff! Only the fluffy parts of UX. We knew this wasn’t true and the fact that our network was growing was evidence of this.
We decided to prove them wrong and start our own conference, the first of it’s kind in the UX industry due to it having a full female line up. We didn’t announce this fact as we wanted the conference to stand out due to its content and the experience of attending.The fact that the speakers all happened to be women was a side note.
When you surround yourself with passionate and enthusiastic people it gives you the energy to keep goingLizzie Kelly-Dyson
Why are networks and connections so important?
In a industry struggling with diversity and equality it’s essential to build up your network and lean on others for encouragement and support when times get tough. We’re all capable of great things but we all experience tricky times, dips in motivation and enthusiasm. Networks like Ladies that UX give you that boost and energy to go back out there and try again. I personally find Ladies that UX empowering and the people volunteering to make the network successful breath energy into everything we do. When you surround yourself with passionate and enthusiastic people it gives you the energy to keep you going and doing the right thing.
How have you seen others flourish through connections they’ve made at Ladies that UX?
Over the 6 years that Ladies that UX has been going I’ve seen women join as students, build up their network and go on to get careers in the industry. I’ve also seen women go through the difficult process of changing careers into UX and having that community has had a big influence in inspiring and supporting them through the transition. It’s amazing and such a privilege to see these people grow.
Given Ladies that UX’s roots in helping women find and connect with each other, who inspires you these days?
To this day it’s still the people that are willing to give their time and effort to make Ladies that UX a success and keep our community going. Everyone that volunteers puts so much time into supporting and promoting the women in the industry, selflessly. It can take up good few hours of every week, organising sponsorship, venues, speakers, volunteers but they keep going because they believe in our cause of supporting and promoting women. This inspires me to keep going.
What’s next for Ladies that UX?
We have some big plans for this year. We want to clean up our old processes and focus on driving our vision of supporting and promoting women forward so that no matter where you are in the world, even if there’s no meet up in your city, you can be involved.
And finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to build their connections, but scared of “networking”
Ladies that UX prides itself on being a welcoming community and we do find that people that have never been to meet ups build up the courage to come along alone. We’ve had feedback in the past saying that they’re so glad they made it along, that they’ve met new people and learnt something new. If this is too much then why not ask a friend to come along with you? Ladies that UX is open to anyone that wants to support and encourage each other.