One hundred women across the North and Midlands will have the chance to retrain in the digital sector thanks to a new online programme.

Durham University, together with a group of 15 recruitment companies and industry partners – including Capital One and Experian – has received over £500,000 from the Institute of Coding (IoC) to launch a new programme to retrain women in technology.

Currently, only 17% of the tech workforce is women and, out of the top 16 tech companies in the FTSE 100, there is only one ethnic minority woman who holds a board position. The TechUP programme is addressing this shortage of women, especially those from underrepresented groups.

The programme, led by Durham in partnership with Edge Hill, Nottingham and York universities, is open to women with degrees in any subject area across the North of England and the Midlands who want to retrain for a career in the technology sector.

The driving force from Durham University is Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist and Computer Scientist, Professor Alexandra Cristea. Sue’s own career had an unconventional start after leaving school at 16 and becoming a single mum of three by the age of 25. She returned to education at 26 and graduated with a degree in computing, followed by a PhD leading to her academic career. She has since gone on to be a pioneer of women in technology and founder of #techmums and BCSWomen: the UK’s first online network for women in tech.

Professor Black’s motivation is clear. “Education and technology have changed my life. Thirty years ago, I was living in poverty as a single parent with three small children. Going back into education at the age of 26, ten years after I left school, completely changed all of our lives.”


“Technology is a massive field that offers job opportunities in so many areas. We want to show that it’s a great career for women and kick start a revolution creating awesome female tech role models. In the 1960s, 50 percent of the technology workforce were women and we would love to get back towards this level.”

The programme provides:

  • Flexible learning

This six-month, online programme allows participants to fit studying around current commitments. Level 6 and 7 (bachelors and masters) modules include coding, data science and cyber security as well as public speaking, clear communication and working as a team, combining the hard and soft skills needed in the industry.

  • Study support

Industry mentors provide course participants with support and guidance while they complete the programme. There are four residential weekends where learners can network with course peers and listen to industry-led talks from the partners.

  • Employability

On completion of the programme successful participants are fast-tracked to interview with a partner company for a full-time role and encouraged to become ambassadors for TechUp to ensure sustainability of the programme.

This article first appeared in the 2019 State of the Relationship report published 19 June 2019.


Photo by: Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science, Durham University; (c) Ali Tollervey