University initiative for women in tech wins national award


TechUPWomen, a technology initiative led by Durham University, has won an award at the Digital Agenda Impact Awards during a virtual ceremony.

The enterprise’s programme team was recognised under the employment and skills category, which awards initiatives that change ways into employment and increase skills.

Piloted by Durham University along with the universities of Nottingham, Edge Hill and York, TechUPWomen was founded to aid and address the predicament of the lack of women’s employment in the technology sector, taking special account of Black, Asian and other overlooked minority communities. 

TechUPWomen maintains a retention rate of 96%, accommodating the needs and requirements of its exceptionally diverse cohort. As of now, 61 women have or are in the process of graduating with another 17 still studying on the programme under a flexible extension. 

TechUPWomen brought together the 100 course participants over four residential weekends, one held at each of the four universities while offering teaching on subjects such as, machine learning, project management, data science and life skills.

 “For 20 years I’ve heard people asking how we can get more women working in tech sectors. We’ve shown that we can do that successfully within six months.”

Professor Sue Black, Department of Computer Science at Durham University

The award was collected at a virtual ceremony by Professor Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science at Durham University and founder of #techmums. The programme has been a collaboration between Professor Black and computer scientist Professor Alexandra Cristea.

Among their many exceptional course graduates is Benedicta Banga, who launched her own app, Blaqbase, while she was on the programme, and is operating a new functionality release this week. 

Fellow graduate, Winona Sharpe, started a new position of Junior Release Associate with Double Eleven Ltd, a games developer based in Teesside.

Another course graduate, Shakirah Mustapha-Tahir, has been elected as Board Trustee of Being Woman UK after completing the programme in January 2020. She is also employed for HR in One as Content Manager. 

Professor Black commented on the success of TechUPWomen: “Seeing how our TechUPWomen first 100 grew in confidence throughout the six months was truly inspiring. 

“For 20 years I’ve heard people asking how we can get more women working in tech sectors. We’ve shown that we can do that successfully within six months.

“We have started a women in tech revolution with TechUPWomen and can’t wait to see what the future brings.”

Image: Durham University. Please note this photo was taken prior to the pandemic and lockdown.

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