#techmums “Educate a woman and you educate a nation”

Open letter to the people and government of the UK

We have a massive opportunity in the UK right now to be leaders in the digital revolution. If we don’t step up as a nation, we will be kicking ourselves in a few years time when we are overtaken by other nations and our standard of living drops. We led during the industrial revolution, let’s not get left behind this time….

We really can make this happen but we need your help and support before it is too late.

I spoke at the UN Broadband conference in New York last week about women and technology and how important technology and education are for the empowerment of women. Neelie Kroes the EU Commissioner spoke there too saying

“Technology can be a game changer for women…..technology is a huge boost for our economies, if we are missing women we are missing out….billion Euros in Europe alone.”

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From a personal perspective education and technology changed my, and my children’s lives for the better. You may know that 25 years ago I was a single parent with 3 kids living in poverty. I studied maths at Southwark College, took a computer studies degree and software engineering PhD at London South Bank University and became a computer science academic. I was Head of a computer science Department at the University of Westminster for several years and am now based at UCL.

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Getting an education and understanding tech and all its opportunities has dramatically improved not only my, but also my children’s life chances. They have happy, accomplished and successful lives.

We need to give more women the chance to see what opportunities there are in tech. To give them the confidence and understanding that enables them to create a better life for themselves and heir families. This is not only good for them, but also in the long run good for the economy. The more people in the UK that are tech savvy, the better chance we have as a nation of taking part in the digital revolution. Due to our inventiveness and creativity in the UK we led during the industrial revolution, are we leading now? Let’s wake up and take this great opportunity to create a Britain that is leading again. A digital Britain we can all be proud of.

I’ve recently been working on trying to make this happen. #techmums is a 10 hour program of immersive, hands on workshops in app design, web design, online security, social media and Python programming with Raspberry Pi. We take mums who are in their own words “afraid of the keyboard” and help them to become tech savvy. We have had amazing results. E-Skills UK have accredited our #techmums program, Bethnal Green Ventures has supported us, and we are working with Intellect, Mumsnet, RS Components and Apps for Good.

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We have run an extremely successful pilot in the UK’s poorest borough: Tower Hamlets, the average female life expectancy there is the lowest in the country at 54. That’s just 3 years older than me.

We have made an obvious difference to our first cohort of #techmums’ lives, Dr Lela Koulouri from Brunel University carried out an investigation throughout the program into the #techmums self esteem, confidence and attitude towards technology. The findings were that not only did the #techmums confidence in and around technology grow, but also their general self esteem.

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In the next few months we are planning to run #techmums across secondary schools in Tower Hamlets, then scale it up and roll it out across the UK.

It would be great to have your help and support. There are at least four ways that you can help us:

1. By donating to our Indiegogo campaign Let’s start a #techmums revolution watch the video and see what the mums say about how it has changed them.

2. By signing up as a volunteer, mum or school.

3. By spreading the word to others that you think may be interested in helping us by email, Twitter @SavvyTechmums or liking #techmums on Facebook.

4. By offering us support, advice, contacts and/or advocacy so that we can make sure our campaign is successful. Who could you connect us to?

Please comment here on this post or email me if you would like to discuss.

Changing mums lives changes not only their life for the better, but the lives of those around them. This quote from Dr Kwagyir Aggrey, Ghanaian intellectual, missionary and teacher sums up what we are all about:

“Educate a man and you educate one person, educate a woman and you educate a nation”

Let’s educate *our* nation ๐Ÿ™‚

Dr Sue Black

Founder and CEO, Savvify “Engage Enlighten Inspire”

14 comments

  1. I love the initiative. Good luck with it all. I still struggle with the idea that men don’t help educate others in society and in their families. But it’s late, it’s been a long day, and I may have missed the point. I know a few people of both sexes who might be able to sign up to help. I’ll check out the links.
    Hang on, it’s not even late yet, is it? Shows how long a day it has been!

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