Fanning Flames & Breaking Biases

An International Women’s Day Fireside Chat

Event Information

Teaming up this International Women's Day, the Microsoft Reactor and Tech Inclusion bring you this virtual fireside chat to discuss experiences of being in the gender minority in tech, and how workplace culture has a huge impact.

With even the most illustrious tech companies struggling to crack 20-25% representation of women in technical roles, the tech industry can be a bit of a boy's club. Our guests will take you through some of their personal experiences from their tech careers, and tell you how these moments, positive or negative, shaped them and their pathway through the tech world.

We'll talk about how culture is not just something thrust down upon us from management, but rather is something built from the collective behaviours of every team member, where everyone has the power to take a step in the right direction. For the women watching, we hope to give you the confidence to insist on more inclusive behaviours to #BreakTheBias and create welcoming workplaces. And for our allies, we'll give you some everyday attitudes and practical tips to help women around you feel supported, and lay the path for creating an inclusive workplace culture that truly celebrates and flourishes from diversity.

We'll have plenty of time for audience questions, so come along and join the discussion, and poll the wisdom of our fantastic fireside guests.


Date: Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

Time: 4pm (AEDT)

Where: Online

This event is sponsored and run in partnership with Microsoft and the Microsoft Reactor.

Your Hosts - Tech Inclusion's Own CEO and COO

Renee Noble

Renee is the Regional Cloud Advocate for the Sydney Reactor and the Australia region. She's passionate about technology, education, community, and bringing them all together in-person and online.

A self-proclaimed "Jane of all trades", Renee has worked in sectors across tech, outreach, and education. She's worked in ML and web development in the past, dabbles in embedded tech, and is always keen to learn more!

Renee is a passionate women in tech advocate, spending her spare time leading the Girls' Programming Network to support women and girls in tech, and growing support for under-represent communities in IT as the CEO of Tech Inclusion. She also teaches CS in a high school and runs her own business, ConnectEd Code, working to bring exciting coding opportunities to kids and teachers. She’s been named amongst the AFR’s 100 Women of Influence in 2019, featured as one of Women’s Weekly’s “Women of the Future”, and showcased by CREATE Magazine in their “10 Emerging Women of Engineering”.

Beside teaching and tech she loves swing dancing, cats, and having a ridiculous number of plants

Alex McCulloch

Alex is a Software Developer at Atlassian where she works on architectural features that keep Atlassian's biggest customers running. She also works with the Atlassian Foundation team to support education not-for-profits including FIRST Australia and The Purpose Project, providing them with talented and passionate volunteers.

Alex is also a passionate leader in the women in tech scene, she is the Coordinator of the Girls' Programming Network Sydney, and is also at the forefront of the initiative to spread the GPN program around the country, by training and visiting up-and-coming GPN nodes. She loves teaching the next generation of girls that tech is really for everyone, and one of her passions in life is creating inclusive, welcoming and supportive spaces where anyone can be themselves to explore new and interesting concepts without fear of failure or judgement holding them back. This passion lead her to co-found Tech Inclusion, where she is the COO, and is working on her dream to see programs like GPN spread all corners of Australia so that every girl has the opportunity to learn programming in an inclusive environment.

Alex collects new hobbies like it's going out of style. If it involves technology and making things she's probably tried it, from e-textiles to 3D printing and everything in between. She loves exploring the intersection between creativity and technology.

Our Fireside Guests

Shiva Ford

Shiva is a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft where she develops community-centered strategies that will empower learners around the globe to love and fulfil their learning aspirations through Previously, she was a Community Program Manager for Microsoft’s top technical community leaders and thought leaders in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia.

She launched and delivered Australia’s first enrichment-focused professional learning program, which saw over 900+ school teachers transforming their pedagogy and inspiring their students to pursue an interest in STEM subjects.

Before coming to Australia, she was responsible for cultivating alliances and partnerships that resulted in passing two landmark pieces of legislation that mandate the use of renewable energy and biofuels in the Philippines.

Nicky Ringland

Dr Nicky Ringland is a Product Manager at Google, working on Open Source Software tools. She is passionate about advocating for the user and driving consensus while solving gnarly problems.

A recovering academic with a background in Computational Linguistics, Nicky completed her PhD at the University of Sydney. (Her thesis involved thinking hard about the names of things, then training a computer to do the thinking for her.) She went on to co-founded Grok Learning, an edtech startup teaching hundreds of thousands of students to solve problems with code, and the Girls' Programming Network Australia, which runs free workshops introducing coding and computer science to school students across Australia. Named one of Australia's “Superstars of STEM” and 2018 AFR Women of Influence, Nicky is passionate about teaching the next generation the skills they need to become the creators of tomorrow.

Alex Hope

Alex works on the Red Team at Atlassian, helping test their security by trying to break in exactly like a real hacker would, then sharing how it was done. Their blog,, has stories that take people along for the ride of how they've hacked things. One of the blog posts is titled "When you browse Instagram and find former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's passport number".

On the side, they volunteer to teach computer science to students, and organise purplecon, a pastel-purple, gentle, slightly mysterious information security conference. purplecon tries to give more of a voice to marginalised groups, by making sure half the tickets go to people from these groups, as well as trying to be open and encouraging of everyone's diverse perspectives.

Their hobbies include getting overly into things unprompted and picnics.

Lavender Chan

Lavender is currently a senior software engineer at MongoDB in Sydney, building out a new migration tooling and data modeling product. Her passions lie in mentorship, and she has been involved across many such programs, including one at MongoDB, aimed at supporting underrepresented groups in their early career.

Lavender’s journey in software began in her student years as an intern at Google, before becoming a graduate engineer at Atlassian. In her spare time she likes all things in the great outdoors, especially rock climbing and hiking. When not outside, she is an avid cook and loves discovering and trying out new recipes!