In her keynote speech at the Future Jobs Forum 2014, computer scientist and radical thinker Dr Sue Black introduced her latest initiative, #techmums, and explained how educating all of society in how to work with technology can reap great benefits.
Black left school at 16, returning to education late in her 20s, following a marriage, three children and a divorce. In order to improve her career prospects, she completed a night course in maths, eventually working her way up to become the award-winning computer scientist listed by The Guardian as one of the 10 women in tech you need to meet.
Now, Black is the founder of Savvify, a social enterprise aimed at empowering people through technology. “What comes with revolution is lots of opportunity,” she said, comparing the current digital revolution to the industrial revolution of old.
However, while ‘digital’ is increasingly invading every aspect of our lives, many are still wary of computers and shy away from getting to grips with technology. Black calls this the ‘computer says no’ attitude, alluding to a character from popular comedy sketch show Little Britain.
Computer says yes
To remove these negative associations with technology and flip the switch from ‘computer says no’ to ‘computer says yes’, Black proposes that we need to educate people from all walks of life on how technology works and can work for them.
Savvify’s #techmums initiative is a first step towards this progress. This five-week programme educates mothers of young children on the basics – such as email and Google Docs – working up to social media, app and web design, and even programming in Python.
While, in Ireland, we have coding classes targeting kids – such as the massively successful CoderDojo movement – Black noted parents need this education, too, in order to understand their kids’ education and not discourage them from working with technology in their future careers.
The reason why it’s #techmums and not #techdads is because Black saw a greater need for this training among women and trends suggested that if the programme was opened up to #techparents, mostly dads would get involved.
The #techmums programme has already had successful participants, one of whom landed a job thanks to the social media training she receive there. Now, Black hopes to bring #techmums, to Ireland – though we may have to rename it #techmammies!
Watch highlights of Dr Sue Black's keynote speech at the Future Jobs Forum 2014 here:
Part 1 of 2:
Part 2 of 2:
Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. On 7 March 2014, we will kick off the campaign’s second year. Let’s change the ratio.