women in tech

Have you been shouted at by your CEO?

The combination of being in lockdown due to COVID, going for frequent walks to get some exercise and either giving talks or being interviewed about my career has led me to start remembering particular events and situations that have reoccurred during my career.

The type of situation that came to mind on my walk today was “Being shouted at by the CEO”. The situations were, on each occasion, when I was working hard to be useful to the organisation in question and had done absolutely nothing wrong.

These situations all occurred in board meetings and all some years ago. In one instance I was suggesting that it would be useful to have a breakdown of membership data by gender so that we could look at progression of women through the organisation suggesting that if we had that information it would be easy to target specific interventions to improve progression overall. The subject of the discussion at the time was “How can we improve progression?”

The CEO in this case shouted at me something that was extremely offensive so I’ll not repeat it here. There were about 30 people in the meeting. I can’t remember exactly what happened after his outburst as I was so shocked and traumatised by his outburst.

The second incident occurred at a different organisation when I reported back on some really great feedback I’d ascertained from an external expert which gave lots of ideas on how to improve our web and social media presence. I’ve still got no idea why the CEO went ballistic at me for the ideas I spoke about. He completely erupted in the meeting in response to my feedback. Again I can’t remember what happened straight afterwards because I was so traumatised and in shock. He later apologised quietly to me in a coffee break. I accepted his apology.

The third incident happened at a university exam board. The chair of the meeting, my boss’s boss started shouting at me after I presented my report for the module that I’d taught that year. There had been some issues with the module, I can’t remember what they were, but I’d managed to sort them out. I’d met up with the external examiner before the exam board to explain what I had done and why, and they were happy with it.

So I presented my module report, then said that I’d spoken to the external examiner and that they were happy with what I had done. The chair of the board then shouted at me that the external had agreed because I had “charmed” them, and that I was good at charming people and blah blah rant rant. Again I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. The external examiner then came to my defence repeating that they were completely happy with what I had done.

3 traumatising instances from my career, I still don’t really know why they happened.

I can’t be alone. Have you had similar experiences? If so how did you deal with them?

What exactly was going on? Bullying? Misogyny? If you gave some insights id love to know.

Also what is the best thing to do in these type of situations ? 🤷🏽‍♀️ if you have advice it would be great to hear it.

Thanks for reading my post, please share if you have found it valuable 🙏🏾🤩

Why is it harder for women to be leaders? I spoke to Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4 Late Night Woman’s Hour #leadership #culture #diversity


Turbo charge your career #womenintech mastermind

Turbo charge your career!

I’m always being asked for advice on how to approach particular situations at work/university/college particularly by women and particularly in the tech sector. I want to help as many people as possible so I thought “Why not set up an online group where I can help more people get to where they want to go more quickly?”

So that’s what I’m going to do!

#comingsoon I’m starting a #womenintech Mastermind featuring an online discussion group, webinars, advice sessions, one to one mentoring and a lot more. Add your email here if you are interested:


Talk to you soon!

#tech #mentoring #careergoals #careeradvice #gettingpromoted #skillsshortage #technology

Honorary Doctorate from Royal College of Art presented by Jony Ive

I had a wonderful time today receiving an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art ❤️🙏❤️

Massive congratulations to all students graduating today at TheAlbertHall and my fellow honorands Siobhán Davies and Peter Gabriel

#RCAconvocation #lifegoals @siobhandavies #petergabriel

#STOPJECTIFY – An exhibition, highlighting the damaging effects of objectification, imagining & creating CHANGE!

An exhibition, highlighting the damaging effects of objectification, imagining & creating CHANGE!
Do check out #STOPJECTIFY fabulous #girlpower #sexpositive exhibiTion curated by the incredibly talented Jess De Wahls, on for this week only in Percy Street, London this week. Don’t miss it!!!

Kickass #techmums training at An Cosan in Ireland

#techmums went international this week as we flew over to An Cosan college in Tallaght, Dublin to train 6 new kickass #techmums trainers. Liz Waters, principal at An Cosan, had seen me keynote the Future Jobs Forum in Dublin earlier this year and connected with me afterwards to find out more about #techmums and what we were doing.
We were greeted at Dublin airport by a very friendly taxi driver and taken to Maldren Hotel in Tallaght.

Avril from An Cosan kindly took us out for a lovely dinner on the first night. I loved the whole story about how An Cosan college was set up 27 years ago by two women, in their own houses. They wanted to help women in the deprived local area get an education with the view of changing their lives for the better. This really resonated with me as that is what I have done with my own family and with #techmums.

The next morning Avril kindly picked us up and took us to An Cosan. We didn’t have much of an idea what to expect, so were totally overwhelmed when we got there to find everyone so wonderfully kind, friendly and welcoming. After a welcome cup of tea we started off the day in the usual An Cosan way with a poem read by the principal Liz Waters. We were all sat around a large table as Liz read the poem, listening and focusing our eyes on the lovely candle and flowers in the middle.

We all then introduced ourselves around the room. As we went around the room and everyone spoke I became overcome with emotion and started crying. I’ve never before felt so in tune with a whole group of people that I’ve only just met. What a very special place An Cosan is, full of incredible women who have come from hardship to change not only their lives but the lives of many others around them.
When we had finished our introductions and had a break before starting our training I got everyone together for a #selfie 😃

We had a great first day getting to know each other and taking everyone through our #techmums train the trainer program. At the end of the first day Aly, Mary and I were elated and exhausted at the same time.

Along with the wonderful Sinead who is our #techmums champion at An Cosan we got a taxi into Dublin to meet more fabulous women for dinner. Dinner at Peyton and Byrne was delicious; our waitress was French and awesome. She thought that our #techmums tshirts said #technomums and wanted to come out to a techno club with us after dinner 😉

All the women at dinner were fabulous in their own way and all keen to support, champion and encourage women in tech: Ann O’Dea from Silicon Republic, Eithne Harley from Accenture Ireland and Liz Waters principal of An Cosan. It was a great evening of excitement and putting the world to rights.
We went home at the end of the evening feeling excited and hopeful about getting disadvantaged women into tech and changing the world.
The next morning we went into An Cosan again for the second day of our program.

An Cosan must be the friendliest place I’ve ever been to. Every single person there exudes welcome and friendliness, its incredible. Every day at break time Aisling would welcome us with tea, coffee and freshly made scones that were absolutely to die for.

Day 2 had started with Sinead reading us a wonderful poem by Nelson Mandela and playing some music.

I’m so delighted that Sinead is going to be running #techmums at An Cosan. She is a perfect combination of intelligence, humour and caring that I’m sure will enable #techmums at An Cosan to fly producing many kickass savvy #techmums for years to come.

At the end of day 2 of our training we held our graduation ceremony with Sinead, Eithne, Donna, Laingo, Valerie and Angela all graduating, becoming An Cosan’s very own team of kickass, savvy #techmums trainers.

All of them great role models in themselves for the women of Tallaght. I’m proud to have met and spent time with them.
We were very sad to leave An Cosan at the end of the day, but are already looking forward to going back to work on partnership opportunities. Completely like minded people are hard to find, and finding a whole organisation full of them is a life changing experience.

We left after a quick #selfie with Sinead and Aisling, got in our taxi and were off to the airport.

The flight home was quick, arriving at Heathrow as the sun was setting.

Thank you Ann O’Dea for inviting me to speak at the Future Jobs Forum in Dublin earlier this year, thank you Eithne Harley for telling Liz Waters from An Cosan to come and listen to my talk there. Thank you Liz for inviting us to An Cosan, thank you Sinead for being a kickass #techmums ambassador and leader and to all of our new kickass savvy #techmums trainers at An Cosan: Eithne, Donna, Laingo, Valerie and Angela. We are so delighted to have you on board 😃



Which man am I?

When I saw a link on my friend Alison Leary’s Facebook to a BCS quiz called “What computer am I?” I got all excited (yes, I know, very sad) wondering which computer I would turn out to be. I am after all a geek and what geeks love are computers and everything to do with them, right? So I clicked the link and started the quiz…

What computer am I?

What computer am I?

The first screen told me some of the options, ooh which one will I be? I clicked “start test”.

The first question asked me “Where are you most comfortable?” I vacillated between options B and C, decided on B, clicked select and got the next question.

Where are you most comfortable?

Where are you most comfortable?

Who would you most like to be? Hmmmm, a choice of four men. Well I’d rather be Ada Lovelace, Steve Shirley, Dina St Johnston or some other woman in computing thanks very much.

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 00.28.14

So, I’m stuck, if I don’t choose one of the four men on offer I can’t progress through the quiz.

Ah well, I should be tucked up in bed anyway….good night.

#techmums “Educate a woman and you educate a nation”

Open letter to the people and government of the UK

We have a massive opportunity in the UK right now to be leaders in the digital revolution. If we don’t step up as a nation, we will be kicking ourselves in a few years time when we are overtaken by other nations and our standard of living drops. We led during the industrial revolution, let’s not get left behind this time….

We really can make this happen but we need your help and support before it is too late.

I spoke at the UN Broadband conference in New York last week about women and technology and how important technology and education are for the empowerment of women. Neelie Kroes the EU Commissioner spoke there too saying

“Technology can be a game changer for women…..technology is a huge boost for our economies, if we are missing women we are missing out….billion Euros in Europe alone.”


From a personal perspective education and technology changed my, and my children’s lives for the better. You may know that 25 years ago I was a single parent with 3 kids living in poverty. I studied maths at Southwark College, took a computer studies degree and software engineering PhD at London South Bank University and became a computer science academic. I was Head of a computer science Department at the University of Westminster for several years and am now based at UCL.


Getting an education and understanding tech and all its opportunities has dramatically improved not only my, but also my children’s life chances. They have happy, accomplished and successful lives.

We need to give more women the chance to see what opportunities there are in tech. To give them the confidence and understanding that enables them to create a better life for themselves and heir families. This is not only good for them, but also in the long run good for the economy. The more people in the UK that are tech savvy, the better chance we have as a nation of taking part in the digital revolution. Due to our inventiveness and creativity in the UK we led during the industrial revolution, are we leading now? Let’s wake up and take this great opportunity to create a Britain that is leading again. A digital Britain we can all be proud of.

I’ve recently been working on trying to make this happen. #techmums is a 10 hour program of immersive, hands on workshops in app design, web design, online security, social media and Python programming with Raspberry Pi. We take mums who are in their own words “afraid of the keyboard” and help them to become tech savvy. We have had amazing results. E-Skills UK have accredited our #techmums program, Bethnal Green Ventures has supported us, and we are working with Intellect, Mumsnet, RS Components and Apps for Good.


We have run an extremely successful pilot in the UK’s poorest borough: Tower Hamlets, the average female life expectancy there is the lowest in the country at 54. That’s just 3 years older than me.

We have made an obvious difference to our first cohort of #techmums’ lives, Dr Lela Koulouri from Brunel University carried out an investigation throughout the program into the #techmums self esteem, confidence and attitude towards technology. The findings were that not only did the #techmums confidence in and around technology grow, but also their general self esteem.


In the next few months we are planning to run #techmums across secondary schools in Tower Hamlets, then scale it up and roll it out across the UK.

It would be great to have your help and support. There are at least four ways that you can help us:

1. By donating to our Indiegogo campaign Let’s start a #techmums revolution watch the video and see what the mums say about how it has changed them.

2. By signing up as a volunteer, mum or school.

3. By spreading the word to others that you think may be interested in helping us by email, Twitter @SavvyTechmums or liking #techmums on Facebook.

4. By offering us support, advice, contacts and/or advocacy so that we can make sure our campaign is successful. Who could you connect us to?

Please comment here on this post or email me if you would like to discuss.

Changing mums lives changes not only their life for the better, but the lives of those around them. This quote from Dr Kwagyir Aggrey, Ghanaian intellectual, missionary and teacher sums up what we are all about:

“Educate a man and you educate one person, educate a woman and you educate a nation”

Let’s educate *our* nation 🙂

Dr Sue Black

Founder and CEO, Savvify “Engage Enlighten Inspire”

Starting a STEM revolution #BAInnovate

Next Wednesday 12th June 2013 I’m going to be part of “Team Altitude” on a ground breaking flight from San Francisco to London.

The idea is to get 100 top innovators on a plane, set them a challenge when they get on the plane then get them to present their solution to the G8 summit when they arrive in the UK.

Check out the video explanation of the flight

Our challenge is all around the issue of the lack of women in STEM, something I’ve been interested in and campaigned around for the last 20 years. I’m so excited to be part of it. Apart from anything else I get to meet Kimberley Bryant who set up Black Girls Code, an awesome organisation, she has been a great role model for me.

It is so wonderful to finally see that trying to do something about the lack of women in STEM become a problem that everyone cares about rather than “creating a ghetto for women” which is what I was told when I set up BCSWomen, an all female network for women in tech in 2001.

Our latest project at my startup The Foundation is called #techmums and is all about helping women to empower themselves through technology. I think that role models and confidence building are absolutely crucial in this space and the main issues to tackle. If we help women to become more confident they can take control and own their lives.

With initiatives like this #BAInnovate #Ungrounded flight, getting really smart, passionate and innovative people together focused on this problem I can really see my dreams starting to become reality. Technology is creating a better future for all of us. Hallelujah! 🙂