Supporting role: Lyndsey Britton and Gemma Carlile

April 2, 2018

Tech for Life, based at Newcastle’s Campus North, aims to introduce people from all backgrounds to digital skills via a range of events and programmes. Gemma Carlile, HR employee care solution manager for P&G, attended one such programme – Leading Ladies for Life – in the summer of 2017. Here, she reflects on what she learnt, while Lyndsey Britton, co-founder of Tech for Life, reveals why the programme has recently been rebranded 50:50

Lyndsey Britton

Tech for Life was born out of Campus North to support people of all ages, skill-sets and backgrounds to gain digital skills and opportunities in STEM.

Currently, only 18 per cent of the workforce is female, and far fewer are in leadership roles. We started the Leading Ladies programme to help women working in the tech sector gain the skills and confidence to progress in their career or rise to leadership roles, looking at the barriers and developing some practical tools and solutions.

We had a lot of positive feedback from the programme, including from male colleagues who wanted to ensure organisations have a culture and opportunities that are genuinely open to all.

We decided to launch 50:50, our new programme to have those conversations with and offer support to both women and men.

50:50 is for anyone working in the digital and tech sector who are keen to increase accessibility and opportunities for all and develop their own career – it could be someone just starting out in their career or managers and leaders in large companies. People can choose to come along and go to a taster session or workshop and then progress to our more in-depth six-month programme.

We invite in expert speakers and mentors to explore issues like unconscious bias and imposter syndrome to raise awareness and understanding, as well as share experiences and discover what actions can be taken to improve opportunities for all in the digital sector.

Participants also get to share their own experiences too, as well as hear from specialists about possible solutions and things they can do to improve things in the workplace.

Gemma Carlile

I attended the Leading Ladies for Life programme in July/August 2017, as part of the pilot group. I originally went to Campus North looking to build some connections with organisations and companies across the North East Tech industry and seek out opportunities to skill up in the Tech area, in general.

Talking to Lyndsey, it became clear that what our organisation really needed was something that specifically focussed on propelling the passions and capability the women in our organisation had. By joining the Leading Ladies programme, I really wanted to test something outside of our corporate environment to benchmark how a mixed cohort would impact the delivery and learning achieved.

Our group covered six topics across a series of half and full day training as part of the programme. This ranged from the ‘science’ and assumptions related to gender differences, to confidence building, microbit coding and lots in between. A range of trainers and speakers spoke at each session so there was a huge variation of styles, opinions and perspectives.

The communications workshop, in particular, made a big impression on me. I realised that I was allowing myself to be massively distracted by things I had very little influence over and I have been able to address this.

What would I say to someone thinking of attending one of the Tech for Life programmes? Stop thinking and sign up!

Tech for Life