Tech role model Sue Black believes that small steps in technology can make a huge difference to women running small businesses.
Black left school at 16, was a single mother-of three when she took her first maths course and works in a male-dominated field.
Yet this year the lady with the trademark red hair was awarded an OBE for services to the digital economy.
Black founded the UK’s first online network for women in tech, BCSWomen, was instrumental in saving the historical WWII code-breaking site Bletchley Park and now wants to teach a million mums to code.
She took her own family out of poverty by studying technology and has now devoted her life to helping others do the same through her social enterprise #techmums, which aims to ‘empower women through technology’.
“When I started I wasn’t targeting a particular niche group,” she told BusinessCloud in an interview.
“I just wanted people to understand how important tech was and enable them to see the opportunities out there, from simple things like designing your own website to designing an app.
“It’s basic for some of us but lots of people don’t know how to do it – even teaching people basic skills can change their lives.”
A recent report suggested that getting more women working in cyber security will improve the effectiveness of the sector. Black cites the example of a young mum from the scheme’s first intake.
“She runs a school uniform shop in London’s East End and in the second session I was walking round and she told me that #techmums had changed her life,” says Black.
“I said ‘that’s amazing, but how has it happened so quickly – you’ve only had two hours of classes!’”
She describes how the mum learnt to email pictures of samples to her customers rather than spending evenings hand-delivering them all on the bus with her son.
“It’s such a simple thing that some of us take for granted, but if you don’t know them they can make a massive difference in your life,” says Black.
“I saw her last week and her shop looks completely different – she had three schools when she came on our programme two years ago and now she has over 30.
“It all started from learning to attach to email. Small bits of tech can help people to do amazing things.”