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New Year, New #WomenEd Tech - Finding a Safe Space for all Women in EdTech

New Year, New WomenEd_Tech - Finding a Safe Space for all Women in EdTech

by Bukky Yusuf @rondelle10_b and Clare Erasmus @cerasmusteach

Who We Are, by Bukky Yusuf

In 2013, when I started my whole school leadership role, enhancing teaching and learning using mobile devices, I looked to connect with other educators that had current #EdTech (Educational Technology) experiences. 

However, I struggled to find women working or leading within #EdTech. 

When I looked beyond the UK, there still wasn't a lot of women within #EdTech, so I was delighted when #WomenEd Strategic Leader, Jules Daulby and I started talking about #EdTech from our differing perspectives and the ways in which we were leading within it. 

What we felt was missing was: 

  • a collective and united voice to champion women within #EdTech.
  • a safe forum that acts as a network for women experiencing #EdTech related experiences unique to them. 

And so the Twitter group @WomenEd_Tech was borne out of the recognition of the growing number of women in tech roles, specifically women leading #EdTech in various ways within schools. We also recognise that some tech women do not aspire to go into leadership roles, yet there needs to be a commitment to being in positions of influence and decision making. @WomenEd_Tech was created to facilitate this and to provide support at a local, national and international basis.

The #WomenEdTech team are five diverse women co-lead by the #WomenEd global strategic leader Jules Daulby and @WomenEdLondon network leader, Bukky Yusuf. Collectively, we have a wealth of educational and technological experiences. 

Our other members are: Clare Erasmus, Dr Neelam Parmar and Ranjeet Kaur.

We held our inaugural online event on Thursday 16th July 2020. Despite technical mishaps during the event (yes, the irony…!), it was well received, provided an opportunity for networking, and the chance for attendees to present at the #WomenEd Global Unconference that year. 

Our Aims

We want to remove the stereotype of what someone working within tech looks like i.e. male and building a computer, coding etc. The field is far more diverse and there are a range of roles we can have.

We also want to widen the perception of what tech is and build more confidence in women to be 10% braver.

We also want to look at career paths to decision making positions. It may not be headship but there are a range of leadership roles we can have to disrupt and influence decisions. We want more women to succeed in a range of different ways.

We also know there is still a need to:

  • increase representation of women in tech leadership roles
  • significantly increase representation of women of ethnic heritage
  • advocate for flexible working
  • be allies to everyone to ensure that intersectionality is kept high in the agenda

We have women leading in schools on tech, yet they are in isolation, so we know there's a need for a forum, a safe space where we can take risks, try out things, practice our skills, somewhere it's OK to make mistakes. It can be very intimidating for some women as the existing communities are mostly male.

And so, we are working to provide that space.... over to Clare...

Providing a Safe Space for Tech Women, by Clare Erasmus

I am an educator who is passionate about finding ways to use Tech where we enable our students to enjoy the magic of learning AND we reduce teacher workload from fusing Tech into our pedagogies and streamlining those never-ending administrative tasks.

I entered teaching from the Film Industry and started with the core subjects and the Arts and, as I have become more fascinated by #EdTech, I have ensured my professional development went down the route of Tech so that I was eventually line managing and teaching the Digital Technology subjects.

I have always been comfortable asking the 'simple' questions because I am self-taught with all things Tech. I guess that is what makes me a good teacher with the kids: I teach from the same vantage point I was once, ignorant and learning but always curious. 

However, I have been able to be my authentic 'ignorant' self, keen to learn because I have been surrounded by a community of women where it's OK to be vulnerable and ask questions without being ridiculed.

This has not always been the case.

A few years ago, I worked with a group of students to produce an App which was nominated for a Bett Award and, as I was leaving school to attend the awards ceremony event in London, a male IT network manager said to me in a derisory, jokey sort of way (you know the way they do):

 'What do you know about Tech?'

That comment shot through me and immediately reduced me to that woman in #EdTech who is made to feel like they are an imposter. 

The comment still sticks with me when I am having wobble days.

That night my school won the Bett Award for 'Biggest Impact to Education'.

The project was managed by myself as I coordinated my students with their designs and Gaia tech who were the App developers/software engineers. 

I learnt so much and now confidently teach App design as an exciting scheme of learning for my year 9 students. 

They love it.

What this anecdote taught me is that it's really important we have a safe place for women to develop and ask questions without being ridiculed. Being made to feel like an imposter will derail so many women who, if they were just nurtured, could bring some exciting talents and ideas to the #EdTech workforce. 

Many women in the world of #EdTech come from diverse professional backgrounds like myself and are rich in knowledge. When these diverse cultural and work backgrounds are fused with Tech it enables an exciting hybrid of ideas from how to navigate schools' teaching and learning using Tech, to design and building for a particular user, to leading on EdTech whole school strategies.

Our plan is to include all women in EdTech by migrating from the (non-private) Twitter handle @WomenEd_Tech to a LinkedIn private group called WomenEdTech, where we will post, blog and interact with each other privately, safely and freely, always giving advice and guidance where we can and, above all, encouraging each other to be 10%Braver.


So please message your LinkedIn address to Bukky or Clare from your Twitter account, if you have one, and we will add you to our new LinkedIn group  WomenEdTech.

If you do not have a Twitter account, please find our LinkedIn group WomenEdTech (or search for WomenEdTech in LinkedIn) and request membership there.

If you do not already have a LinkedIn account, please consider creating one for yourself so that you can take part in our tech discussions in a private and secure way.

Happy Techy 2023 to you all!

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Tuesday, 23 July 2024

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