Bringing young women into the tech industry has been one of the things I have been involved in for the last few years and so it was on the back of this that I found myself at Campus North again for the second time in a week. A different day, a different subject.
I was there to see the launch of FDisruptors in the North East. Debbie, the Chief Executive and I had met a couple of months ago and I was delighted to help out where possible.
The idea behind the programme is to use young women to challenge assumptions about tech through improving confidence, empowerment and self-belief. It is about creating a world where the skills, career choices and life aspirations of girls and women are equally matched to the opportunities available to them across every global sector starting with tech.
It is a peer to peer idea in a similar way that the eCadets works with children to teach each other about online safety.
There were nine young women who had come up from the Liverpool area for the day and the room was full of delegates form several schools in the area. As soon as I heard the FDisruptors speak I understood what the programme was about – empowerment, self-belief and breaking down some of the myths that hold young women (and all of us) back.
As Debbie put it, ‘Young women need to believe in themselves, they are going to be the future and we need to help them change the lens through which they see themselves.’
There was a great focus on challenging assumptions. Worry and negativity are a misuse of your imagination. We face many of them on a daily basis and need to adopt practical strategies to deal with them with confidence. We metaphorically scrunched our negative thoughts and threw them away.
We need to find the right environment to be more comfortable and more open. All of us are special in our own way and each of our voices is important. All of us has a story to tell.
The final session was on the power of networking. Building your web of contacts and drawing upon them to get where you want to be, in my experience is something that men have been better at doing than women. Don’t ask me why though I suspect it goes back to self-confidence.
Having Chi Onwurah, the MP for Newcastle Central speak was definitely a coup.
It was a great event and something I hope gets taken up across the region, especially in Durham.