Women in tech: A spotlight on the Java4Women event at Leeds Digital Festival

Last year, the technology industry in the UK accounted for 1.64 million jobs in total, however unemployment rates among 16 to 24-year-olds are still increasing and the biggest rise recorded is amongst young women. This leads many across the industry to ask the question: why aren’t more women getting involved in tech?

On the 16th of this month, the annual Leeds Digital Festival will host a session which aims to answer this question, in a unique panel discussion around women in technology. The Java 4 Women: A Presentation & Panel Discussion About Women in Tech event is taking place on the 23rd of April at the Bruntwood Office Space in Leeds and promises to be an eye-opening investigation into collaborative approaches to improving digital skills training that empowers those under-represented in tech to enter the workforce, aiming to leave a legacy of discussions around practical solutions for Leeds companies who want to lead the way in promoting digital workplace diversity.

The event is hosted by UK-based Virtual Pair Programmers and Bita Jabbari from Lexicon in Sweden, and will look at and discuss the role of women in the world of tech and the scope of diversity in the industry. Bita Jabbari is an expert in this arena; and is in charge of shaping a specialist Swedish government pilot training programme for women in technology, delivered by Lexicon together with Stockholm-based recruitment company TNG, and gaming company NetEnt. This pilot scheme sees female candidates undergo intensive training in the technology sector and has proved extremely beneficial to date, with 90% of candidates secured jobs in the digital workforce on completion of the course.

Considering this success, and the fact the digital and tech sectors are growing twice as fast as non-digital sectors, Bita Jabbari will discuss the fact that the world is gearing up for career options to expand and change as we move towards a digital future, and will look to provide tactics for women to open doors for themselves in the technology sector; not just in Leeds as a digital powerhouse, but across the rest of the UK too.

Matt Thornfield, Managing Director of Virtual Pair Programmers, says, “We are really excited to bring Java4Women to the UK. It has been a great example of companies working together to solve two important problems, increasing workplace skills whilst addressing the gender imbalance in our industry. These are key issues major UK companies are trying to address and we hope that the Swedish experience will add value to those discussions.”

Leeds is one of the most innovative digital hubs in the UK, now being home to over 3,500 digital and technology companies across a range of industries. Furthermore, Leeds now has a digital GVA of £688 million with a growth potential of 92%[1], so provides the perfect backdrop for an event like Java4Women, and the Digital Festival as a whole.

The Leeds Digital Festival, the North’s largest digital festival, takes place between 16th – 27th April 2018 and is a city-wide, open platform celebration of all things digital within the city. Since its birth in 2016, the festival has grown in numerous ways, with 150 events and an expected 15,000 attendees. The festival will see a range of industry professionals from far and wide come to the city to deliver talks on a wide range of digital topics in industries such as media, healthcare, communications and security, to name just a few.