Plea on women in STEM at digital conference
5th September 2016
NEWS: A Plymouth business woman, who created one of the UK’s most successful elearning companies, is urging employers to be open-minded about the skills need to be successful in technology.
Louise Pasterfield, owner of award-winning online learning business, Sponge, will be sharing her personal story of moving from fine art to technology at the Digital Plymouth Conference at Plymouth University on Thursday, September 8.
Louise will be hosting a conference session on Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) as part of the city’s leading gathering of digital professionals, organisations and educators. She said:
“People often think digital technology is only about coding and software development, but it demands a great deal of visual creativity. My tech story is not a conventional one because we don’t account for people who have skills and interests that cross boundaries. I love both art and maths, but in education you often have to choose between them rather than embrace both.”
The entrepreneur grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She studied fine art in Falmouth and the US, before settling in South West England. Louise added:
“In reality, my fine art training has positive benefits for my work in technology because it has taught me the power of observation so I can spot even the smallest errors quickly. I think to create innovative tech businesses we must avoid the silos and recruit staff that thrive in both arts and science.”
After several years running her own marketing and design business, Louise founded Sponge after winning a big elearning contract.
The business has grown eight fold in the past five years and now has a turnover tracking £4m pa.
Thirty-three women and thirty-seven men work at Sponge’s head office at Plymouth Science Park in Derriford. Louise said:
“Women play a big role in driving creativity and innovation at Sponge, but there some departments such as elearning development, where we still struggle to find female candidates. We’re working with organisations like Plymouth University to boost applicant numbers and introducing flexible arrangements like homeworking to help attract more women developers. I’m hoping that raising the issue of women in STEM at the forthcoming Digital Plymouth Conference will encourage more employers to seek a broader range of skills for technology jobs, and also encourage more women to consider a career in this exciting and growing area of Plymouth’s economy.”
Louise’s conference talk takes place from 11.15 to 11.35am in Lecture Theatre 1 of the Roland Levinsky Building.