Last night Liverpool’s tech community came together at FACT to celebrate an amazing achievement from Northern Voices participant Chelsea Slater and her business partner Jo Morfee.
In the last year alone, Liverpool Girl Geeks has raised over £100,000 in private and public funding, grown a thriving community of individuals and businesses, and engaged with more than 15,000 people across the North West. Building on the success of the organisation’s Girl Geek Academies, it’s now going national under the new brand InnovateHer.
Removing barriers to entry for young people in tech
“We have girls coming from Liverpool, Southport, Warrington and further, so we want to remove that barrier to attending for young people whose parents may not be able to bring them to places like FACT after school,” said Chelsea, regarding their choice to partner with schools on the next leg of their venture.
The pair are fully dedicated to giving girls aged 11 to 17 the skills, self-belief and confidence to pursue a career in technology. Both Chelsea and Jo have left their jobs to run Girl Geeks full time, and they will soon be bringing on more employees to bolster their success.
“When Rebecca [Chelsea’s early co-founder] and I started Liverpool Girl Geeks in 2013, I never pictured it as a business,” she explained. “I was working in a tech company at the time and I was their only female employee. Rebecca was employed at the Studio School and they weren’t getting a lot of applications from girls at the time.”
“We decided to start a Twitter account and grow a community online, where we would interview inspiring women in the industry. Next we grew a community in Liverpool. All the time people would be asking us how they could get in to the industry. So we started our first courses for adults, ‘get your head around code’ which were monthly and they ended up being booked up every month.”
Girl Geek Academy
In the last 12 months the team has run three Girl Geek Academies. These eight-week programmes have reached 45 teenagers, teaching them important digital skills such as web development, as well as areas like music and wearable technology.
The programmes are taught by inspirational local people who already work in digital. This means that the content of their courses can be agile and relevant in a way that school courses can’t keep up with. The parents say these courses have changed their daughters’ lives.
The InnovateHer movement officially launches in January 2018. The first school to sign up is The Belvedere Academy in Toxteth. The programme will have support from partners including Wranx, Co-op Digital, Bafta and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. The InnovateHer academy will work with the school to connect pupils with real-life industry role models, providing them with the opportunity to interact with leading employers and learn new digital skills.
Liverpool Girl Geeks will still continue working on diversity and inclusion within the Liverpool city region, but InnovateHer will be the flagship brand for the team’s national presence.
“We really like this brand because the name can be flexible in the future too – it could be InnovateHer, InnovateUs, InnovateHim, InnovateThem. We’d like the problems that we’re facing now to not be problems in the future.”