Chelsea Slater is the CEO and Co-Founder of InnovateHer, which aims to inspire girls aged 13 – 16 to consider careers in STEM through the delivery of innovative educational programmes. Initially establishing the organisation as ‘Liverpool Girl Geeks’ at just 23 years old, Chelsea tells us what motivated her to drive change and greater equality in the technology industry.
“I was in my first job out of university working in technology and realised that I was one of the only women in the company. Even today, the technology workforce is only 19% female and of those, only 3% are from ethnically minoritised backgrounds1. Through Liverpool Girl Geeks, we brought together people in similar situations who could support each other. I realised that to make real change, you have to start inspiring people in schools.
“Knowing how important it is to inspire young people while they’re still in school and to encourage businesses to become more inclusive places to work, I launched InnovateHer with the mission of ‘getting girls ready for the tech industry and the tech industry ready for girls’.”
Chelsea and her team are training the next generation of innovators and inspiring them to pursue careers in tech, through InnovateHer’s E-Learning platform, which hosts a series of courses, including its award-winning “tech for good programme”. Here, learners can solve global problems through the creation of technological concepts.
“One of our most popular and satisfying activities is our ‘Inspiring Assemblies’, where we give an exciting overview of what the STEM sectors look like, introduce some of our friends working in STEM and explore the next steps students can take if they are considering a career within the industry. More than 6,000 people have engaged with us and by the end of this year, 10,000 people from across the UK will have attended or completed some form of InnovateHer activity.”
In 2021, BAE Systems invested £150,000 in InnovateHer to extend its reach and engage young people in the North West of England. Chelsea tells us: “During the last nine months, we’ve identified nearly 20 schools in Lancashire and engaged them through our E-Learning platform and connected young people with industry role models from companies across the North West. This gives students a real insight into what it’s like to work within the sector. Through our work, it’s important for us not to focus on one route into the sector. We showcase apprenticeships, internships and university as options into the STEM workforce, with apprenticeships being a really strong focus for us, raising ambitions for those that might not consider or have the funds for university.”
“We’re so lucky to be able to be working on something that is making a difference to so many people’s lives. I want people to be able to connect with STEM through any subject they like in school, whether that’s becoming a voice-over artist in the gaming industry because they love drama, or becoming an engineer because they love physics – STEM truly is for everyone.”