Recently digital employers from across Leeds meet with 120 young women from 8 schools in the city, at an event designed to raise awareness of careers in digital and technology and break down barriers of perception, prejudice and unconscious bias around the sector.

Taking place at the Asda Merchandising Centre of Excellence and Exhibition Centre, #GirlTechLeeds was delivered by Ahead Partnership and saw 12-14 year-old students meet face-to-face with female role models working at organisations that employ digital talent, including Netcompany, Asda Leeds City Council; Hays; Sulzer; Aire Global; and Lion + Mason.

Throughout the tech and digital careers experience day, the young women had the opportunity to get involved in exciting tech workshops and a networking treasure hunt, as well as attending Q&A panels and speaker sessions from inspiring professionals already succeeding in roles at Strata Homes, Data Shed and Leeds Academic Health Partnership.

After learning about the different roles available to them and the skills required to succeed, 100% of the female students that attended said that they understood what skills they need to get into digital following the event - an increase from just 77% prior to the event. Meanwhile, the number of young women interested in digital careers increased by an impressive 33% as a result of the event.

Stephanie Burras CBE, chief executive of Ahead Partnership, said: “Our #GirlTech events are extremely popular, with volunteers from a diverse range of businesses and organisations keen to get involved, share their experiences and promote the opportunities available to young women beyond school.

“The feedback that we have already received shows that the students found it really informative, and the wide range of organisations that supported the activity demonstrates the real breadth of opportunity available to those hoping to thrive in a digital career. We targeted this activity at young women who will soon choose their GCSE subject options to equip them with the knowledge and confidence to pursue their own paths in this thriving sector, and this experience day is just one of the high impact, hands-on activities that young people in Leeds can take part in from our wider Growing Talent Digital Leeds programme.”

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council, Executive Member for Economy, Culture & Education, Headingley & Hyde Park Ward, also commented: “As an employer of future digital talent, we have a responsibility to ensure that young women know about the different opportunities out there for them and understand the skills that they already have and can develop to pursue their aspirations.

“By working with Ahead Partnership to support employers of digital talent across Leeds through this type of activity, we’re able to make a practical intervention and generate a bigger collective impact, helping to ensure that digital careers are accessible and opened-up to everyone. We need to ensure that young women are aware of the brilliant opportunities that exist in our growing digital sector in Leeds and #GirlTechLeeds is the perfect way for female students from all backgrounds and cultures to see their place in this exciting industry; the digital sector in Yorkshire is the fastest-growing in the UK and Leeds is driving this growth.”

GirlTechLeeds forms part of Growing Talent Digital Leeds, a wider careers initiative being delivered by Ahead Partnership to connect digital employers with young people from underrepresented groups and areas in the city. Through masterclasses, careers panels, festivals and events, the programme aims to help young people understand the importance of digital skills for future roles.

AND Digital; BJSS; Leeds Trinity University; Red Kite Games; Leeds City Council; Leeds City College, Infinity Works; and Netcompany are among sponsors of the wide range of activities taking place throughout the annual programme.