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How a Tech Team Changed 100 Lives

A programme which helped 100 women kickstart a career in technology has scooped a national award.

Technology initiative TechUPWomen was recognised at the Digital Agenda Impact Awards, which celebrates how technology and innovation improve lives.

Led by Durham University with York, Edge Hill and Nottingham universities, TechUPWomen was launched in 2019 with the aim of addressing the shortage of women in technology, particularly from Black, Asian and other minority or underserved communities.

In a virtual ceremony, Prof. Sue Black from Durham University picked up the award on behalf of the programme team for the employment and skills category, which recognises initiatives that change ways into employment and increase skills.

Image shows a large group of diverse women in a lecture theatre with their hands in the air
TechUPWomen students and staff

By meeting the varied needs of the diverse cohort, the TechUPWomen programme has achieved an excellent retention rate of 96%.

To date, 61 women have or are in the process of graduating with another 17 still studying on the programme under a flexible extension.

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

One course participant, Benedicta Banga launched her own App, Blaqbase whilst studying on the programme and continues to drive this forward with new functionality released last week.

Prof. Sue Black, who is a pioneer of women in technology and founder of #techmums, and Computer Scientist, Prof. Alexandra Cristea, collaborated with industry on the programme.

Course graduate Shakirah Mustapha-Tahir is now working for HR in One as Content Manager and has been elected Board Trustee of Being Woman UK after completing the programme in January 2020.

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

Photo taken from above of a large group of TechUPWomen and their supporters
Graduation ceremony

Prof. Black said: ‘I am utterly delighted and so proud of our fabulous team for winning this award and massive credit is also due to the amazing women who took part in the programme. 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.’

About Durham University

Durham University is a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research based in historic Durham City in the UK.

We are a collegiate university committed to inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham and in the world.

We conduct boundary-breaking research that improves lives globally and we are ranked as a world top 100 university with an international reputation in research and education (QS World University Rankings 2021).

We are a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive UK universities and we are consistently ranked as a top 10 university in national league tables (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, Guardian University Guide and The Complete University Guide).

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