Leeds can blaze a trail for diversity in the digital world

Rose Mountague and Annie Moss-Quate.
Rose Mountague and Annie Moss-Quate.
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Annie Moss-Quate and Rose Mountague write for Digital City about She Does Digital, which they founded in 2016.

There are so many female role models out there doing amazing things in digital, including plenty in Leeds, but women still only make up a small proportion of the industry.

There’s no reason why the industry shouldn’t reflect consumers of digital content, but the reality is that only 26 per cent of the workforce are women.

It’s so important for women in digital to step forward as role models to encourage more of them to get involved, and that’s where we come in.

She Does Digital started life in 2016, making our first public appearance at Leeds Digital Festival.

Today we’re an eight-women strong team supported by both men and women in the industry, and most of all by our key supporters Epiphany.

Epiphany is a search marketing agency based in Leeds employing around 200 staff in the city.

Many of the staff at Epiphany, including managing director Tom Salmon, have been involved in our work, from speaking at our events, mentoring school and university students, writing code for our website plus so much more.

Collaboration is our secret weapon and we believe this is key to making real change in the industry.

We are small and all have busy full-time jobs and families, so we rely on the amazing digital community to help us achieve our objectives.

We have four key objectives:

* Work with schools, colleges and universities to educate and inspire people to get into digital.

* Create and build a resource in our website - shedoesdigital.co.uk - to help people learn more about digital careers and role models.

* Showcase everyday role model stories with our #wheredidyoustart campaign.

* Build a network of digital professionals who can help us with our cause.

We also act as a conduit between education establishments, businesses and students or career changers and a key theme for 2018 is to encourage more graduates to stay in Leeds.

There are over 23,000 digital jobs offering really exciting careers for graduates in Leeds, but there seems to be a lack of awareness of the great opportunity and quality of life available for young professionals.

Leeds is home to huge, innovative companies such as NHS Digital, Rockstar Games (creators of Grand Theft Auto), Sky and Sky Bet who all have tech hubs based in our city.

There are also thousands of amazing small to medium sized digital businesses and startups crying out for talent.

One of our key aims for this year is to collaborate with businesses, schools, colleges and universities to show the 65,000 students why they should stay put.

How are we going to do this? We need collaborators!

We want to run events, share role model stories and even launch a podcast to give anyone with a smartphone a chance to be inspired.

We are currently talking to NHS Digital about working together and hope to share some exciting news soon, but in the meantime we would love to hear from any businesses and educational institutions that would like to collaborate to make real change in this great city.

* Annie and Rose both work at Epiphany, as head of planning and creative director respectively,

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