Image for The leader who wants to inspire more women into tech careers

The leader who wants to inspire more women into tech careers

As part of our United Kingdom of Solutions focus, we meet Sheree Atcheson. An advocate of the Belfast startup scene, Atcheson is passionate about combining tech with social purpose

As part of our United Kingdom of Solutions focus, we meet Sheree Atcheson. An advocate of the Belfast startup scene, Atcheson is passionate about combining tech with social purpose

The city was built on engineering and now Belfast is striking new ground when it comes to tech and science. Cybersecurity, biometric businesses and mobile telecoms rule the startup scene here, boosted by Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. A recent report by Tech Nation, a network for entrepreneurs, placed the city among the top in the UK for tech workers, competing with London, Manchester and Reading.

Among the leading lights are those with a strong social purpose, such as Sheree Atcheson (pictured above), who was raised in County Tyrone.

Good journalism about good things Rebalance your media diet with Positive News, the inspiring current affairs magazine. A carbon neutral publication, featuring stories of social and environmental progress alongside impactful photography and stunning visual design. Subscribe to Positive News magazine

She has inspired thousands as UK expansion director for Women Who Code, a non-profit that helps to tackle the gender gap in STEM fields worldwide. “People from Northern Ireland inspire me,” she says, “because we are unexpectedly brilliant! Belfast has some phenomenal tech accolades to its name, but the people behind them remain humble and enthused to continue to push boundaries.”

Between 2013 and 2017, Atcheson launched and led the UK expansion of Women Who Code, providing free monthly meetups in Belfast, then London, Bristol and Edinburgh. It is now the world’s largest non-profit dedicated to women excelling in tech, with more than 180,000 members, a presence in some 60 cities and giving over $1m (£790,000) of scholarships each year. Atcheson is now a global ambassador for the organisation, and works for Deloitte UK.

Belfast has some phenomenal accolades to its name

So why is it important that more women are encouraged to work in tech? “It’s important because women are 50 per cent of society,” says Atcheson. “Plain and simple. We can’t have the best solutions without teams that are formed of and led by people reflective of society. People of all backgrounds, sexualities, ethnicities and all economic backgrounds inspire me because it can be an emotional task to be the ‘only’ in the room.”

Atcheson is of Sri Lankan origin and was adopted at three weeks by an Irish family. After a journey to find her birth mother, she set up I Am Lanka, an online platform that showcases inspirational Sri Lankan people living around the world.

What progress and solutions do you see where you are in the UK? Share your thoughts via email to newsdesk@positive.news or by messaging us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by mentioning @PositiveNewsUK and #UnitedKingdomofSolutions

The new issue of Positive News magazine is out now. Subscribe here to get your copy

Fed up with negative news? Can you help us?

The negativity bias in the media is holding society back. While it’s important to report problems and hold power to account, we believe there is also a need for rigorous reporting on progress, possibility and solutions. We call this ‘constructive journalism’, and to keep doing it we need your help.

We know you want Positive News to benefit as many people as possible, so we haven’t put up a paywall. We don’t answer to and rely on a wealthy proprietor because, instead, we are owned co-operatively by 1,500 of our readers who joined our crowdfund in 2015. And we’re not beholden to advertisers either, because we know that you only want to hear about companies that have a positive impact.

So, instead, we depend on you. Positive News is more than a magazine, it’s a community of people who see and share the good in the world. We need your support to continue publishing our inspiring journalism and to set the example for other media to follow. It’s quick and easy to contribute and you can support Positive News from just £1. Every contribution makes a vital difference. Thank you for helping us to change the news for good.

Read more: the United Kingdom of Solutions

GET A ROUND-UP OF POSITIVE NEWS STORIES IN YOUR INBOX EVERY WEEKSign up to our newsletter