Women in Tech: Launching a Successful Career Through Digital Workshops

Leeds City College women digital skills

Luminate Education Group sets professional development for underrepresented communities as its priority, bridging the gap between women and digital careers through interactive digital workshops.

Diversity in digital and IT has become a regular focal point in the tech industry, especially relating to the underrepresentation of women. As more and more businesses look to address this, attention has also turned to how we can make it easier for this demographic to access digital roles in the first place.

As the Deputy Head of Apprenticeships and Projects in Digital and IT, this is an issue that my department continuously seeks to address for the 16 to 18 and adult learners we serve across the Leeds city region. Whilst regular outreach, signposting and work placement opportunities are all successful entry routes, another avenue that often isn’t championed enough is the digital workshop.

Better Sector Awareness

In many ways, the word ‘digital’ is still not clearly understood. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that pairing it with the word ‘skills’ or ‘career’ often results in different interpretations.

For some, digital skills may refer to digital literacy rather than prowess in a particular specialism, whilst others may wonder how one role differs from another – the digital analyst from the data analyst, for example. This is why it’s necessary to help women understand both the sector as a whole and the specialisms that lie within it. By bringing different areas of expertise together under one roof, digital workshops provide women with an understanding of all the industry has to offer, allowing them to make informed decisions about any career avenues they would like to pursue.

Expanding the Job Search

Many workshops are designed to make women aware of local career opportunities, exposing them to businesses and recruiters they might not have connected with on their own. Moreover, the interactive format of digital workshops, which usually involve Q&A sessions and panel discussions, allow women to learn about the skills required for roles in a level of detail that’s not often possible through the standard job advert.

Crucially, this chance for extra knowledge-gathering can sometimes be the difference in whether a woman applies for a vacancy or not. The data shows that, despite possessing transferable skills, women are less likely to apply for roles when they don’t meet 100% of the criteria, compared to men who apply when they meet 60%. Workshops, therefore, provide educators and recruiters with a way to put women’s minds at ease by drawing attention to what else they are bringing to the table.

Skills Development

One perk of digital workshops is the tutorial aspect and how it enables others to learn new skills or develop existing ones. This was the case for a recent Leeds City College Women In Tech session that commemorated International Women’s Day, and focused on cybersecurity and data in the hope of addressing the rise in demand for these specialisms.

These workshops introduced women to the labour market insight behind course syllabuses, exploring the different tools and techniques taught in each of the qualifications. Conducting this in a workshop setting allowed the team to learn about each individual’s interest in more detail, enabling us to signpost them to the right training. Women who expressed an interest in IT system vulnerabilities, for example, were guided to cybersecurity.

Access to Resources

Workshops also allow women who are new to the digital sector to learn about existing resources that can further their learning. Informing women of the software tools, mentorship programmes, and online learning materials that are available furthers inclusivity as, without these resources, some may be disadvantaged and face barriers in the job market.

A lack of support may also prevent women from exploring a new career, which is why it’s necessary to point individuals to services that can help with any obstacles, such as employment coaching or interview skills training.

By facilitating spaces for women to learn about the region-wide resources at their disposal, digital workshops enable those working in the sector to further the industry learning of others.

Role Models and Representation

Workshops provide another way for women of all backgrounds to see themselves represented, affirming that they too can thrive in traditionally male-dominated spaces. At one session, Cyber Security specialist and founder of Cyber Security Unity, Lisa Ventura MBE, shared her experience of working in the tech industry as a neurodiverse woman and advised others on how they could launch their careers. Similarly, representatives from Axiologik, KPMG, Cognizant, and Smart Works Leeds, who came together at a workshop for International Women’s Day, were able to share their career journeys, discussing challenges they had overcome and the lessons they had learned along the way.

Spotlighting women who are excelling in the digital sphere is key to addressing the sector’s gender imbalance. In doing this, we can inform and empower the next generation of tech professionals who hope to follow in these women’s footsteps.

Additional Information

The Cyber Security Level 2 Accredited Qualification and Project Management with Data Accredited Qualification will both run at Leeds City College from 26 March to 14 May, with similar digitally focused workshops and courses offered throughout the year.

For more information, email [email protected].

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