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Why we started TECwomen CIC

Updated: Feb 1, 2023


Hello all. Welcome to TECwomen CIC. We are a community interest company based in Cornwall working hard to support women who work in technology, engineering and creative digital industries (TEC). There is a lot on our website already about us, but we thought we'd share a bit more about why we exist and how we are planning to change the world (or at least Cornwall).


How TECgirls became TECwomen

TECgirls was a project started by Caitlin Gould, Jane Orme, and Emily King while we were working together at Bluefruit Software. We wanted to tackle the lack of participation of girls in tech and engineering education. With support from amazing people like Fiona Campbell-Howes, Dan Goodwin, Jordan Barkway, and the Software Cornwall team; we created a project that met a real need in Cornwall. Before we knew it we were helping 100's of kids (girls and boys) play with micro:bits, make movies, and build skyscrapers. We also ran over 10 community events in 2022 and 6 events in schools across Cornwall.


It was at these events we started hearing interesting feedback from the adult women attending.


"I wish I had had something like this when I was their age. But it's probably too late for me now".

Well if you know our team, you will know we love nothing more than a challenge. What if it wasn't too late? What if we could help the 1000's of talented women across Cornwall who didn't get a chance to study tech or engineering at school? What if we could breakdown the barriers they face to learning and create a community that supports them? What if we could connect them to the 100's of women in Cornwall who do work in these spaces and gave them a place to meet, and talk, and support each other? What if we connect women with the companies that would love more women to apply for their growing lists of well paid jobs?


What if we took everything we learned from TECgirls regarding access, inclusivity, and support; and applied it to TECwomen?


So that is what we did.


What happened next?

Well we got to work. We contacted a team of super awesome female connectors (shout out to Janine, Jess, Chloe, Holly, Kayley, Nikki, Kerri and Shona) and started hosting TECwomen CONNECT events with women coming from across Cornwall to connect, learn and support each other.


These events were very successful and combined with the TECgirls success we decided it was time to get serious and formalise it all. We formed as a formal Community Interest Company in 2022, just in time to deliver a large community project with Tresorys Kernow and the Cornwall Museum Partnership. We also brought on board our first amazing sponsor Watson Marlow (Spirax Sarco Engineering plc) to help expand the TECgirl activity.


While these activities were great, it wasn't doing enough to help more women get into the high demand TEC roles we were seeing going unfilled across Cornwall. So we started working with the wonderful Naomi Johns at Truro and Penwith College on the creation of our first digitalUPLIFT course for women. Together we made a list of all the reason why women were not taking part in digital skills training and then we sat to work to build a course that removed all of those barriers.


Where are we now?

Within our first 6 months as a formal CIC, we've launched the digitalUPLIFT course (fully booked within 1 week!), signed up a number of amazing local companies and are already looking forward to welcoming our first cohort in February.


We also welcomed our first formal employee, our new Head of Delivery Suzanne Manson who is brining an unparallel skill for getting things done and pushing us forward.


We are still running the TECgirls project and plan to reach over 2,000 kids across Cornwall in 2023 through a combination of free school workshops, community events, and online lessons. We also have huge plans for a large muti-year traveling exhibit to celebrate the talent we have in Cornwall and to inspire future generations.


As a team we are continuing to plan, learn, develop and grow. We have more ideas in the pipeline than we can possibly deliver. But we have an amazing team, a fantastically supportive local community and the sheer drive to make things happen. We can't wait to show you what we will do.

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