What is TechUP?
Spearheaded by Durham University Computer Science Profs Sue Black and Alexandra Cristea, working with the Institute of Coding, Edge Hill University, The University of Nottingham, and The University of York. TechUP aims to take 100 women from the Midlands and the North of England, particularly those from underrepresented BAME communities, and retrain them through an intensive six month course in Computer Science. At the end of the programme, the participants may have the opportunity to interview with a company for an internship, apprenticeship, full-time, or part-time position.
Only 16% of IT professionals only are women, and the number is decreasing. Only 19% of students in Computer Science degrees are women (UCAS 2019). 38% of women do Maths ‘A’ level (2005-2015). In the context of reduced demand for part-time traditionally-delivered HE and a widespread need to upskill in ways that will work for people with responsibilities, TechUP’s innovative approach to provision of teaching enables the programme to be flexed around work and caring responsibilities whilst still achieving the peer contact that is instrumental in motivating, sharing learning, confidence building and ultimately widespread success for participants.
The unique TechUP approach
The TechUP approach is a holistic one, looking into motivation, wellbeing, a network for life beside two-sided, customised content creation, consisting of reverse-engineering industrial needs into course topics and content, in close participation with industrial partners, on one side, and based on the needs of underprivileged and underrepresented communities on the other. Wellbeing includes a unique one-to-one mentoring scheme (100 mentors for 100 women) and an additional network of 60 volunteer mentors online. 4 residential weekends ensure networking and bring in excellent internationally reputed motivational speakers for all stages of the participants’ development, as well as contact with industry (talks, fairs, etc.). Reverse engineering industry needs led this intake to two initial directions: technical and non-technical, and four job-focussed final tracks: business analyst, agile project manager, data scientist and developer/tester. The TechUP focus is on enabling instead of teaching. The resulting modules are at FHEQ levels 6&7 and include: Technology: coding, data science, cyber security, machine learning, agile project management; Work-place readiness skills: public speaking, clear communication and working as a team. Social media support (Twitter, Teams, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr) allows for further networking, skill development and wide-scale dissemination. Participants had access to online training throughout, and successful participants received a certificate and the potential for an interview with a Partner company. Participants are encouraged to become ambassadors for TechUP. The whole programme is delivered by a very experienced, interdisciplinary, complementary team.
The TechUP Success
The programme is proud to have enrolled women a diverse range of backgrounds and marginalised communities including:
- 54% women of colour
- 46% women with disabilities
- 40% women with dependants
- 21% women from the LGBTQ+ community
TechUP featured massively on various media; stats include:
- Over 20 talks and speaking opportunies across over 5 countries, with cumulative audiences in the thousands
- News features (Horizon, BCSwomen)
- Over 200,000 engagements on Twitter in July 2019
- Website (www.techupwomen.org) over 4000 visits in 6 weeks
- LinkedIn posts average 250-350 views with large announcements 800-1000 views