Empowering Women with Science & Tech - Leeds International Festival

Festival 19


Thursday 03 May
10.00 — 18.00

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Empowering Women with Science & Tech All day conference

Header image credit:
Empowering Women With Tech – L17

Innovation, disruption and creativity are not the preserve of one gender, nor one racial makeup. If science and technology innovations are to integrate into and interact with reality in useful and valuable ways, they need to mirror the concerns of the audience they are aimed at.

The conference aims to inspire the current and next generation of females in STEM by showcasing internationally acclaimed female role models from a diverse range of sectors.

The event will feature speakers and panellists including TV presenter Sarah Beeny, Belinda Parmar OBE, Dr Suze Kundu, Dr Sophie Scott, Linda Liukas, Samantha Payne and Dr Pippa Malmgren.

The event will be hosted by June Sarpong MBE, a TV presenter with twenty years’ experience. In that time she’s interviewed such massive figures as then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and HRH the Prince of Wales, as well as hosted such events as Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday tribute and the MOBOs.

Event partners

Thursday 3 May

10.00 — 18.00
From £30
Leeds Dock

June Sarpong MBE is an established TV Presenter, who has an enjoyed a 20-year career, in which she has become one of the most recognisable faces of British television, as well as being one of the UK’s most intelligent and dynamic hosts; comfortable interviewing politicians, celebrities and members of the public.

June began her career at Kiss 100 and later became a presenter for MTV UK & Ireland, but it was when she started on Channel 4’s ‘T4’ that she became such a household name. She was one of the female faces on the show for 9 years, even interviewing Tony Blair for an exclusive special, ‘When Tony Met June’ in 2005, with unprecedented access to the then British Prime Minister.

June has taken on the world’s most challenging live audiences, hosting 2005’s major Make Poverty History event in London’s Trafalgar Square and presenting at the UK leg of Live Earth in 2007. In 2008 alongside Will Smith she also hosted Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday celebrations in front of 30,000 people in London’s Hyde Park. Not only this, June has interviewed and introduced some of the world’s biggest names including HRH Prince of Wales, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bono, George Clooney and 50 Cent.

June has worked extensively with HRH Prince Charles for ten years as an ambassador for his charity the Prince’s Trust. June was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her services to broadcasting and charity, making her one of the youngest ever people to receive an MBE.

June is the co-founder of the WIE Network (Women: Inspiration & Enterprise). WIE first launched in New York in 2010, and then in the UK 2012. This acclaimed conference has featured leading speakers from a wide range of industries, with previous speakers including Sarah Brown, Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington, Donna Karan, Queen Rania, Nancy Pelosi and Iman.

After living in America for 8 years, June moved back to her hometown of London in 2015, and appeared as a panellist on ITV’s ‘Loose Women’. She is now a regular panellist on Sky News’ new weekly current affairs discussion show, ‘The Pledge’.

In 2016, June was announced as the official ambassador for Superdrug’s Shades of Beauty campaign, to tackle product inequality in high street beauty, with the aim of making it more accessible for black and Asian women to shop affordably on the high street. June was also announced as part of the ‘Grazia Collective’, a line-up of brilliant women ambassadors.

2017 continues to be a busy year for June, she will be co-presenting ‘The Art Show’ with Will Best and Kate Bryan, a new series coming to Sky Arts. ‘The Art Show’ is a beautifully filmed, energetic, entertaining and insightful television series, offering a global perspective on human creativity. This unique 8 x 1 hour TV series aims to expand our understanding of people, places, culture and history. She is also due to release her first book, ‘Diversify: Six Degrees of Integration’, later this year which argues the case for how limited we are by social division while inspiring us to make a change.

Sarah Beeny is a renowned property expert, businesswoman and TV presenter; well-known for fronting Channel 4’s Double Your House for Half the MoneyHow to Live Mortgage FreeHelp! My House is Falling DownRestoration NightmareProperty Ladder and Four Rooms.
In 2005, Sarah launched https://www.mysinglefriend.com/s/. The site is a phenomenal success story and pivotal in changing the UK’s attitude towards online dating.
Sarah has also paved the way in revolutionising the way in which we sell our homes by launching her online estate agency, www.tepilo.com. She has already succeeded in saving customers millions of pounds in fees and is set to change the way we sell our homes, forever.
Sarah has successfully navigated the digital waters and is at the very forefront of revolutionary new digital businesses.

Belinda Parmar OBE is the CEO of The Empathy Business and pioneer of the world’s first empathy index, featured in the Harvard Business Review. Parmar leads a team of empathy geeks that measures and embeds empathy into businesses to make them more profitable.

She is also author of Little Miss Geek and The Empathy Era, founder of the Little Miss Geek campaign and a regular contributor to The Guardian, the World Economic Forum and the Harvard Business Review. In 2014 she was chosen by the World Economic Forum to be a Young Global Leader, and received an OBE for bringing more women into technology.

Parmar focuses on three big areas that are shaping our world: empathy, technology and business. She argues that technology is fuelling the empathy deficit despite its promises of democratisation, and that our biases are becoming embedded in our algorithms and empathy is becoming scarcer. With a new workforce of digital natives, we are witnessing a backlash from society towards big business.

Parmar puts the case for businesses to be more empathetic, drawing on tangible ‘nudges’ that companies can implement to improve their empathy levels to drive profit. She argues that corporate empathy is about understanding your company’s impact on its stakeholders and taking action to transform companies.

Parmar’s empathy programmes aim to increase companies’ financial, emotional and analytical impact. Case studies of implemented empathy measures include increasing the empathy to staff, empathy to women and empathy in the boardroom, among others.

The microscopic world of single cells and molecules can throw up some very strange and exciting chemistry. A Teaching Fellow at the University of Surrey’s Chemical and Process Engineering Department, Nanochemist and science communicator Suze Kundu will take us on an exciting journey through the world of nanoscience, from capturing sunlight to developing the fuels and materials of the future.

Professor Scott is a neuroscientist from University College London, and is Head of the Speech Communications Group at the UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. She will help to explain what makes us laugh, and why. Her explorations will help us to see how neuroscience can explain aspects of human behaviour which seem more intangible and random.

She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2012 and a Fellow of the British Academy in 2016. In December 2017 Sophie delivered the Royal Institution’s annual Christmas Lecture.

Linda is a programmer, storyteller and illustrator from Helsinki, Finland. Her book series Hello Ruby made its debut on Kickstarter, and quickly smashed its $10,000 funding goal after just 3.5 hours. It eventually reached a staggering $380,000, making Hello Ruby the most funded children’s book on Kickstarter. The series introduces kids to the whimsical world of technology, and has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Linda is a central figure in the programming world, working on edutech long before it used that label. She is a founder of Rails Girls, a global, non-profit community that is volunteer-led, introducing women to code, internationally. In a few short years, the project has taught more than 10,000 women the foundations of programming. Linda firmly believes that speaking the basics of code will imminently be a crucial skill, and wants to introduce children to it as early as possible, diversifying the voices behind software so that it speaks more directly to the numerous voices that interact with software day in day out.

Kimberley is Head of Customer Experience for Leeds based, smart home security start-up, Cocoon. She has worked in User Experience Design for over 10 years, with roles ranging from the UX team of one through to leading enterprise level design teams, having managed the UX Design team at Aviva Insurance.

Cocoon first launched on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo and smashed the campaign target in just three days. As Cocoon’s Head of Customer Experience, Kimberley’s user centred design expertise have taken the product from idea, to MVP and to now, where Cocoon is protecting the homes of thousands of customers in over 70 countries around the world. She is a passionate problem solver who relishes in the design process and she’s a broad range of skills in her toolkit – from user research techniques through to creative design.

Kimberley is a familiar face to the North of England meet-up community through her work with NUX – organisers of monthly meet-ups and conferences for UX designers in Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool. She has also run Hackathons, Start-Up Weekends and was responsible for implementing the global innovation events for Aviva colleagues, as part of their digital transformation strategy.

Samantha Payne is the co-founder of Open Bionics, an internationally recognised robotics company developing advanced bionic limbs. Samantha is a WIRED Innovation Fellow and has won multiple accolades for entrepreneurship, picking up awards from Red Magazine, Marie Claire, Forbes, Fast Company, and International Business Times. Her start-up won the James Dyson award for engineering innovation.

Named as one of the Top 100 women working in Technology right now, Natasha Sayce-Zelem is the Head of Technology at Sky across their extensive Digital Trading estate.

Natasha actively campaigns for more women to consider sidestepping into a Science/Technology career using transferrable skills, in 2017 she was awarded the STEM Leader of the Year for Yorkshire, North East and Scotland.

Outside of Sky, Natasha is the Festival Director of the Science/Technology strand at the Leeds International Festival. In 2017, over 67% of her Tech speakers were female, it was the first International Festival to take this inclusion stance over such a large number of Tech events.
She is the founder of the ‘Empowering Women with Science and Tech’ conference and support network. She is also the founder of a Leeds Ladies of Code meetup for budding and established female Software Engineers and on the Industrial Advisory Board for the University of Leeds’ School of Computing.