A leading computer science professor is to highlight the ability technology has to transform women’s lives at a conference looking to advance their economic empowerment.
Women’s Enterprise Scotland (WES) has joined forces with the Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI) to host Scotland’s first Women’s Economic Empowerment conference in Edinburgh, starting today and finishing on Tuesday.
It has attracted more than 100 thought leaders and change-makers from across the globe, including tech evangelist Sue Black.
The University of Durham professor, who is working with Scottish digital skills academy CodeClan on her #techmums programme, will look at harnessing tech to unlock women’s economic potential – telling her own story, which includes a spell in a women’s refuge, and seeking a career path compatible with raising her children alone.
“What’s been wonderful for me is to have become empowered through technology, through understanding tech,” she told Scotland on Sunday. “And then that’s led to me having a successful career, which I don’t know that I would have had otherwise, and that’s amazing.”
She also noted that the “transformative” impact of technology has benefited her children and grandchildren – and is keen for more women to see its benefits, for example being flexible and compatible with childcare.
It has also been pointed out that coding, for example, is like learning a language. Women have a reputation for being good at languages, Black said. "Programming is programming in different languages, or more artificial languages, I guess - but they're still languages, so why wouldn't women be good at it?
"It's the kind of message we need to get out there - I don't see any reason why women would enjoy it less than men, or that there would be any difference, really."
WES boss Carolyn Currie said: “We must ensure that gender equality thinking is placed centre-stage in all future economic policy making and economic development if we want to deliver true, transformational change here in the UK and internationally.”
Margo Thomas, founder and president of WEI, said: “The timing of this conference is right. We know the key issues and drivers of women’s economic empowerment.
"We now need to craft solutions, define specific actions, and secure the commitment of our participants, partners and networks to act. I am delighted that we are working with WES to deliver this conference, bringing together thought leaders and partners representing civil society, the private sector, public sector, and academia.
"With our WEI board, specialists and wider team, we are leveraging our networks and expertise to share knowledge and engage participants in active dialog and problem-solving to advance the women’s economic empowerment agenda for the benefit of all.”