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#IWD2023 Celebrating women in tech at LCF

Women trying at Virtual Reality headsets at a VR session hosted at Chelsea College of Arts for European partners as part of Accelerate
  • Written byLubna Hussain
  • Published date 08 March 2023
Women trying at Virtual Reality headsets at a VR session hosted at Chelsea College of Arts for European partners as part of Accelerate
VR session hosted at Chelsea College of Arts for European partners as part of Accelerate

Movies like Back to the Future, Inspector Gadget, Flubber, Matrix and Men in Black were a few of my favourite movies growing up in the late 90s but now come to think of it, they all portray men as the main characters in the science and tech industry with no women of power set as the protagonist in that field. As a South Asian woman myself, I have always wanted to push boundaries in fighting for what I want when it came to building my career. With a marketing background and having previously worked at a fashion tech company, I am familiar with working with data collections and analytics in an area which is mostly dominated by men.

We want to shed light on what is available and how more women can get involved in an evolving world of technology. We want to celebrate the current staff members and graduates alike in respect of International Womens Day 2023 and share their thoughts and journey in getting there.

Lisa Chatterton

I work as the Business Manager at the Fashion Innovation Agency, at London College of Fashion. I establish collaborations between the worlds of fashion and technology and have overseen award-winning projects within fashion-tech, including immersive technologies, retail technology, wearables and blockchain. I have a background in merchandising, shedding insight into how new technologies can be applied within fashion businesses.

Headshot of Lisa Chatterton
Headshot of Lisa Chatterton
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman changing from a predominantly female environment like fashion retail to a more male dominated setting like the technology industry? How did you overcome this?

Personally, the biggest obstacle for me was overcoming impostor syndrome when sitting around the table with technical teams and not wanting to appear foolish. I realised early on not to compare myself to others. I wasn’t employed to be the technology expert, in a sense my limited understanding could work in my favour as I approached things differently and provided a fresh and valid perspective, proposing project ideas that relate back to fashion. I believe that diversity of perspectives only strengthens the work we do. It’s vital to not let self-doubt creep in and to recognize your own skills and strengths and to focus on your own progress. I saw this leap into a new field as the perfect opportunity to learn. Through my role and experience in managing fashion-tech projects, I can now see that I have a great understanding of so many emerging technologies that most of my peers do not, so this in turn gives me more confidence.

What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career in the field of fashion-technology?

I would really encourage young women to consider some of the new and exciting career opportunities in fashion-tech. The field is evolving rapidly, and women have the chance to play a key role in shaping its future. Don’t worry if you don’t have the technical skills yet – a background in fashion and having an interest in technology is a powerful combination. You can start by playing around with some of the open-source tools like AI chatbot ChatGPT, and generative design tools like Dall-E and Stable Diffusion. If you’re interested in fashion design, start learning how to use 3D design programmes like CLO3D, if you want to create virtual experiences then check out game engines Unreal and Unity. There are loads of videos on YouTube to support you on this journey, just have a go! These skills will prepare you for new roles emerging in areas like digital fashion design, AI generative design, virtual content creation, virtual fashion production and machine learning.

Women remain the largest consumers of clothing and accessories, so it’s vital that the products and services created reflect their needs and preferences. I believe a more diverse team can lead to more innovation, and increasing opportunities for women in these fast-growing, high-paying fields can help promote gender equality and economic empowerment.

Lisa Chatterton speaking at a live panel holding a microphone with two other men at Gitex conference in Dubai with a digital screen projecting the same frame
Lisa Chatterton at Gitex conference in Dubai
Have you seen changes in the gender imbalance in your industry over the years? What further changes are needed?

There has been changes. When I first started working at FIA a decade ago, most of the technical teams consisted primarily of men with a few exceptions. However, there has been progress over the past few years, and I’ve seen many more women becoming involved. We need to make fashion-tech roles more visible, and I believe that the projects we deliver at FIA can help to demonstrate how these roles are expanding and becoming more appealing and accessible to women. While software engineering and other hardcore tech roles were once dominant, there are now many technology jobs focused on users, design, and business applications.

We still need more effort to encourage young girls to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Programmes like Girls Who Code are excellent at helping girls envision themselves in tech roles, but we need to see more female role models in the industry, setting an example. A couple of years ago we ran an ‘AI for fashion’ course for students here at the college and were thrilled that all twenty participants were female. Despite the fact that none of these young women had any previous experience using AI, by the end they had learnt how to code in Python and used open-source AI tools, 3D design and animation to generate an entirely virtual catwalk show. At FIA we try as much as possible to bring together and encourage collaborators with a mix of genders, cultures and perspectives, because we firmly believe diversity and inclusion are key drivers of innovation and progress.

Jeanne Indriani

I began my career as a conventional fashion designer but pursuing the MA Fashion Future course exposed me to technology and revolutionised my understanding of fashion. It opened up a world of new possibilities and completely transformed my career path. I now work at London College of Fashion after my studies as a Support Technician in Creative Computing at the Digital Learning Lab.

Headshot of Jeanne Indriani
Headshot of Jeanne Indriani
What inspired you to explore the tech industry?

Fashion is all about revolutionising our experience, and so does virtual reality. Bringing them together makes sense to me. The fact that I can express so much creativity through a screen is mind-blowing. I love designing, but sometimes the traditional fashion process can get tedious. Using technology lets me unleash my ideas in different ways.

What are your views on gender equality in a professional setting?

Today, my work lies at the intersection of education and tech. Despite the tech industry's male dominance, I've enjoyed a rewarding experience in education. However, I recognise that many women may not share the same positive experience. It's important to recognise the valuable contributions that women can make to this field. I firmly believe that gender equality is a fundamental human right and I hope to create a more inclusive workplace for women of all ages, races, and nationalities in the future.

Jeanne talking about VR with a girl wearing VR headset, a women sitting down, a girl taking a picture using her phone in a classroom
Presenting Virtual Reality by Jeanne Indriani
Jeanne taking a selfie with girl posing in the background and two people in the background working in the Digital Learning Lab Office
At Digital Learning Lab Office by Jeanne Indriani
Rubin Jiang

I am Rubin Jiang, a multidisciplinary creator from China. As a fashion designer and illustrator with advertising and branding skills, I am always eager to explore emerging technologies. During my MA Fashion Futures studies at London College of Fashion, I researched a few new tech areas, such as Artificial Reality and Artificial Intelligence. My final project uses AI as a supportive tool to empower customers as designers and prolong the emotional durability of clothes. My focus is bringing fashion design back to people’s lives instead of fast trends. Fashion should reflect our attitudes towards life rather than it being at disposable.

Headshot of Rubin Jiang
Headshot of Rubin Jiang
What does it mean for a woman to want to break out from a 'trend' in wanting to achieve their dream career?

Women need to be bold while exploring tech. In some east Asian countries, mainstream cultures ask girls to be modest and humble. There are some so-called “best job options” for women, trying to prevent women from getting their dream job. And biases against women's performance in science still exist around the world. Working as what others want us to be is not our job, we should be rising up and pushing boundaries to become the person we want to be. “A proper job for women” is just a projection of patriarchy, while “a proper job for me” should be something that could fuel real passion for life.

As a graduate of MA Fashion Futures, I am proud to say that all my classmates are brilliant women and have designed great projects with 3D printing, AR, VR, etc. Women are capable of every challenge. At the beginning of the course, we all had various of different backgrounds, and many of us were unfamiliar with a few of the widespread technologies but the end product looked stunning at a professional level.

What motivates you every day as a young woman exploring the tech sector?

I am a heavy social media user, which is one way I keep catching the newest technologies. As a young woman, my passion towards tech is based on my imagination of future scenarios. Technology presents endless possibilities in the future, and I am dedicated to building the future I want as a woman. I would say it is vital to keep “dreaming”. Though achievability is necessary for the developing process, boundless imagination is still the origin of creativity. It is nice to be adventurous and ambitious while exploring new tech.

We are aspirants.

Rubin Jiang working on a iPad using a digital pen on Nomad 3D app
Using Nomad 3D App by Rubin Jiang
Pooja Shah

I recently completed my MA in Fashion Futures on a scholarship from LCF affiliated with UAL. There, I have also been awarded sponsorship for my Master’s research project by Procter & Gamble on ‘Reimaging Sensory Perceptions to Enhance Embodied Fashion Experiences in the Metaverse.’

My undergraduate degree is in Applied Art, and my last work role was with Nykaa Fashion as a Senior Art Director. With over 10 years of experience in the fashion and the beauty industry, I have worked with brands like Elle Magazine [Fashion],, and Ogilvy. I have conceptualized and directed photoshoots and designed in both print and digital - including website, marketing, social media design, and films.

Headshot of Pooja Shah
Headshot of Pooja Shah
What does the idea of a powerful woman to you?

I see men and often notice how easy it is for most of them to go through life. And by comparison, it is so much more difficult for all women. Not to say we are not as competent, if not more. Perhaps this is because we live every aspect of our life—from small things such as how to sit, act and dress to big ones related to education, jobs, relationships, and procreation—at a disadvantage, and so much of it. This condition is so deeply entrenched in our existence that sometimes we don't even realise what it must be like to live like the other half and be marginalised. Imagine not having to validate yourself or worry about safety—the list goes on.

So, to me, a powerful woman is one who fights to change this asymmetry in her life—in ways big or small. And equally, a powerful woman is one who permits herself abundant grace and compassion in her life because it is an exhausting and unfair battle not of her choosing. The trick must be never to give up. Because if you persist, you can't lose. We owe our progress to generations of women past. And we do what we can for ourselves and other women, in the present and for future generations—until we live in an equitable society.

Have you encountered any sociocultural biases around women of colour in (tech) education?

In India, the country I have previously studied in, I haven't faced any sociocultural biases in education. And I do recognise that comes from being in a position of privilege. Neither did I when studying in the highly diverse city of London, especially at UAL.

Although, at first, I was conscious of my background, but this was more a reflection of my internal sociocultural worth. It was so ingrained in me that I didn't even realise it existed until I was forced into the open in a foreign setting. However, over time, I did change my perception to have a stronger sense of belonging.

Pooja Shah wearing a VR headset in a VR world, a room in space
Pooja Shah wearing a VR headset in a VR world as part of her graduate project 'SENSE OF SELF' - by Pooja Shah
Tessa Atkins

I am an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in digital pattern-cutting for both luxury made-to-measure businesses and technical high street production. I have an interest in the intersection between the fashion and STEM industries, and how technology shapes our everyday practices. This led me to question the design of digital systems currently used in the fashion industry. Graduating from MA Fashion Futures at London College of Fashion, UAL, my exploratory research into novel ways of enacting ethnographic research, through the use of motion capture technologies, takes a humanity-centred approach to understand how digital systems have the potential to positively benefit makers' well-being.

Headshot of Tessa Atkins
Headshot of Tessa Atkins
Are there any connotations or stigmas you've come across in regard to women working in this (tech) sector, if so, how did you overcome these?

There are many unconscious socio-cultural biases that influence girls from not entering or accessing STEM and tech-based careers, these start in early education and persist much later in life. Not seeing someone similar to yourself in a room when you go to educational open days or after-school clubs can subconsciously create a sense of not belonging in that sector. Creating space on curriculums with tech activities tailored towards girls at a young age shows these spaces aren’t ‘just for boys”.

My research into the lived experience of pattern cutters stems from my career in the fashion industry as a digital pattern cutter, which is an industry that predominantly employs women, especially garment workers. Fashion has allowed me to be creative, utilising problem-solving and spatial awareness.

Yet ultimately, I pursued a career in fashion because it was accessible to me. We encounter clothes every day, so taking the step to start designing and making garments themselves was more tangible than pursuing a stem-based career in my teens.

Moving into the fashion tech sector happened later in my career when I had developed confidence in my skillset, abilities, and interests. After completing MA Fashion Futures at LCF, it further cemented my drive to critique the current systems we use. Wearable technology and digital fashion allow for this beautiful intersection between creativity, design and technology that can create bridges between STEM and arts fields to foster innovative forms of experiencing fashion.

Image of Tessa working on her MA project using garment ruler and measuring tape around her neck
Working on MA Project by Tessa Atkins
If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

● Naomi Klein: reading "This Changes Everything" fastened my desire to shift my career into a more sustainably minded role and expand my knowledge through an MA at LCF.

● Donna Haraway: due to her post-humanist writings on how technology can exist in tandem with matters of care and sustainable practice and in turn, foster liveable futures.

● Jacinda Arden: An admirable woman in the world of politics that also knows when to step back from leadership and prioritise herself.

Tessa Atkins working on MIM Performance work
Tessa Atkins working on MIM Performance project by Tessa Atkins