One hundred women across the north and midlands will have the chance to retrain in the technology sector thanks to a new programme that brings together universities and the tech industry.
Currently, women make up only 17% of the technology sector workforce, significantly lower than most other UK sectors.
Funded by the Office for Students through the Institute of Coding, the Tech Up programme aims to address this shortage by recruiting women who want to start a career in the tech sector, particularly from Black, Asian and other minority or under-represented communities.
The six-month programme, is led by Durham University and has been developed alongside the University of Nottingham, York and Edge Hill Universities and 16 industry partners from the tech industry.
Course participants will learn about software development, data science, project management and public speaking amongst other skills.
Most of the training is completed online, allowing participants to fit learning around current commitments. In addition, four residential weekends will give participants the chance to listen to industry-led talks and network with tech industry experts and their course peers.
Increasing female representation
The project is led by Sarah Sharples, Pro Vice Chancellor for equality, diversity and inclusion at the University of Nottingham and delivered by the School of Computer Science. The team will provide support and materials for the courses, as well as host one of the residentials. This will contribute to the University’s wider efforts to promote equal gender opportunities in Science and Technology.
Dr Mercedes Torres Torres from the University of Nottingham is part of the team supporting the project and said: “We are delighted to be part of such an important programme to encourage women to train in the digital sector, an industry that is still largely male dominated. We really want to see female representation in the technology sector pick up pace and this programme gives a clear path into the industry with fantastic support along the way and we hope women will be encouraged to take the first step on this journey and sign up.”
Durham University’s Professor Sue Black, a pioneer of women in technology and founder of #techmums and BCSWomen: the UK’s first online network for women in tech, and computer scientist, Professor Alexandra Cristea, are collaborating with industry on the programme.
Sue’s own career had an unconventional start after leaving school at 16 and becoming a single mum of three by the age of 25. She returned to education at 26 and graduated with a degree in computing, followed by a PhD leading to her academic career.
Sue’s notable achievements also include the campaign to save Bletchley Park, the site of World War two codebreakers, from demolition.
Kick starting a revolution
Prof. Black said: “Education and technology have changed my life. Thirty years ago I was living in poverty as a single parent with three small children. Going back into education at the age of 26, ten years after I left school, completely changed all of our lives.
“Technology is a massive field that offers job opportunities in so many areas. We want to show that it’s a great career for women and kick start a revolution creating awesome female tech role models. In the 1960s, fifty percent of the technology workforce were women and we would love to get back towards this level.
“TechUp has been developed between four universities and 16 industry partners, with the opportunity for 100 women to change their lives by taking part in this exciting programme.”
Industry mentors will be paired up with participants to make sure they are supported and guided throughout their learning.
Prof. Black added:
“If you have a degree, are passionate about technology and are looking for a change in career or want to try something new, I would really encourage you to apply for the programme.
“This is a brilliant opportunity to learn new skills and start a new career in a fast-paced and dynamic sector.”
Applications will be open from 10 April 2019 to 10 May 2019 and successful applicants will be notified by the end of May. The application process will involve a short form and a video explaining why you want to be part of the programme.