Westminster eForum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Women in the tech sector - the impact of COVID-19 and latest thinking on education and skills, and workplace culture, career progression and leadership

Morning, Tuesday, 15th December 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will bring out latest thinking on tackling gender imbalance in the UK’s tech sector.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; DCMS; DfT; the Government Equalities Office; HMPPS; the UK Space Agency and the Welsh Government.

The discussion in detail:

  • education, skills and uptake of STEM subjects - priorities for the development of a diverse talent pipeline - looking at:
    • take-up - what more can be done to improve interest in STEM subjects at an early age
    • careers guidance - priorities and best practice in encouraging the uptake of STEM subjects at GCSE and A-Level
    • the tech sector - what more can be done to develop and foster links, particularly with secondary education
    • higher education - attracting a greater number of women into studying STEM subjects at an advanced level, and developing digital skills - including:
      • utilising professional support networks
      • industry, policy and educational initiatives
      • further work to encourage female STEM graduates to pursue careers in the tech sector
    • female diversity:
      • increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups to enter the digital and tech workforce
      • maximising the impact of the recent introduction of new AI and data science conversion courses, with 1,000 scholarships targeting female, black, and disabled applicants
    • the Lifetime Skills Guarantee scheme - announced by the Government, aiming to make education more accessible for all and to broaden opportunities for career progression 
  • tackling discrimination
    • workplace culture - what more needs to be done to address issues including:
      • attitudes towards flexible working and those with caring responsibilities
      • bullying, harassment, progression bias and wider discrimination towards women
    • gender pay gap - latest thinking on strategies and action for the UK tech sector and technology businesses and organisations:
      • progress - the effectiveness of measures taken up to this point in, including the impact of gender pay gap reporting measures as they are suspended for this year due to the pandemic
      • next steps - what more is needed to improve transparency and make further progress in ensuring gender pay parity
      • Unequal impact? Coronavirus and the gendered economic impact - the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry, looking at factors ranging from pre-existing inequalities between men and women and the overrepresentation of women in certain types of work
    • career progression - latest thinking on strategies to increase and develop opportunities for advancement for women in the tech sector, and their full-career retention
  • women in senior leadership positions - options for policy and industry action to increase gender diversity in senior leadership positions in the UK’s tech sector, including board membership:
    • mentoring programmes - and encouraging more prominent female role models, with the Hampton-Alexander Review finding women still under-represented in top jobs
    • gender diversity and competitive advantage - with research finding significantly higher levels of innovation in companies where men and women are treated most equally
  • COVID-19 - the impact of the pandemic, and the resulting lockdown measures and economic disruption, on women in the UK’s tech sector:
    • unequal job security - with findings that women are more likely to be at laid off than men and to take on a greater childcare burden while continuing to work from home
    • slipping standards - recent research which found that organisations are set to put diversity and inclusion initiatives on hold while they respond to the pandemic
    • policy - assessing progress and effectiveness of established government plans for supporting women and those with caring responsibilities back into employment

The agenda:

  • Closing the gender gap in tech and championing digital skills
  • Improving take up of STEM subjects at an early age, and fostering links between the tech sector and secondary education
  • Attracting more women into studying STEM subjects at an advanced level and pursuing careers in the tech sector
  • The impact of COVID-19 and the economic downturn on women in tech
  • Addressing workplace culture issues - discrimination, bullying and harassment, and attitudes towards flexible working
  • Progression and retention of women, and demonstrating competitive advantage through gender diversity in tech
  • Improving the representation of women in senior leadership in the UK’s tech sector

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS; the Cabinet Office; the DCMS; the Department for Transport; the Government Equalities Office; HMPPS; the UK Space Agency and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from companies across the technology and online services sectors and marketplaces, software development and consumer technology companies, fintech and digital banking, AI and quantum technology, data analytics and processing, high-value manufacturing industries, trade associations and professional bodies, equality and other advocacy groups, academics and commentators, consultants and financial analysts, and legal experts, together with reporters from the national and specialist media

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Margot James

Executive Chair, WMG, University of Warwick and former Minister of State for Digital and Creative Industries

Keynote Speakers

Sophie Chadwick

Marketing and Events Executive, STEM Women

Professor Eileen Harkin-Jones

Bombardier-Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Composites Engineering, Ulster University

Dr Sue Sentance

Chief Learning Officer, Raspberry Pi Foundation; and Visiting Fellow, King's College London

Angela Hobbs

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Wilkinson Hall; and Start Up Business Mentor and Consultant, Oxford University Innovation

Margot James

Executive Chair, WMG, University of Warwick and former Minister of State for Digital and Creative Industries


Chi Onwurah MP

Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Digital

Lord Sheikh

Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths


Professor Deborah Greaves

Head of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics School, University of Plymouth

Ann Cairns

Executive Vice Chair, Mastercard

Michelle Blayney

Ambassador for the South East of England, Lloyds Banking Group

Sean Dempsey

Employment Partner and Co-Head, Technology Sector Group, Lewis Silkin

Dr Helen Meese

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Care Machine and STEM Ambassador, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Emily Clark

Chief Economist, BT

Laura Sandys

Chair, Government’s Energy Data Taskforce

Griselda Togobo

Chief Executive Officer, Forward Ladies