GECFutures: Women in EDTech

We want to shine a light on what is happening out there and inspire the next generation of #womenintechnology.

We believe we can do this and improve the take-up of digital opportunities for girls and young women in the UK through education and in particular the #edtech sector.

We are an award winning collective of female leaders in edtech - the #EdTechCollective - some in education and some in business, working towards gender equality.

As you will read, all of our leaders are proven experts in their fields and are passionate about closing digital and gender gaps in the UK.

We are approachable, accessible and keen to help you.

If you need a female speaker on edtech, advice on to improve things in your educational setting or business, support in creating training (events, courses or resources) based on either technology or gender equality - we are the team to help you.

Here is our award-winning team. 

Please read our bios, follow the links and watch our videos. Then get in touch or join our online community.  All are welcome!

#collaboratenotcompetition is our motto - and #rebelalliance - as we work towards equality in technology.

Let me introduce you to the gang....

GECFutures: uk leadership panel

Nicole Ponsford -   National Leader (Education)

Nicole Ponsford - National Leader (Education)

Nicole is co-founder of the GEC and a Digital Education Specialist. She is now a Fellow of the RSA due to her work in gender equality. An award-winning Media, Film and New Technologies teacher of 18 years in education, Nicole is recognised as an edtech ‘expert’. She is a Teaching Award winner, one of the first national Advanced Skills Teachers (Media and New Technologies) and is listed in the #EdTech50 for her digital work on gender equality in the UK. She is also the Harvard author of TechnoTeaching: Taking Practice to The Next Level in a Digital World

She works as a freelance digital education specialist for a number of global organisations and charities. She is currently the Digital Education Project Lead for  Achievement for All, a leading not-for-profit educational organisation improving outcomes for all children and young people - where she is leads national eLearning research projects and the author of CPD for their national network of school coaches and educational settings from EYFS to post-16.

Ever practical, Nicole is an Apple Teacher, Microsoft Innovator Educator Expert Trainer and has written online courses for a range of clients including Anti-bullying for FutureLearn, Inclusive Digital Literacy for Microsoft's MEC and a range of digital curriculums and guides for private organisations. She is an External Subject Advisor for Media (OCR) and passionate about all students being both media and digitally literate. 

Her editorial and writing portfolio includes The GuardianThe TES and she is both Agony Aunt and a frequent for both TeachWire (and just been listed Top 15 TeachWire blogs of last year) and Innovate My School. . 

She is delighted to be a Doctorate researcher at Bournemouth University CEOP, exploring closing digital and gender gaps in the UK.

Nic is the mum of three (a Primary aged son and toddler boy/girl twins) and lives with her family by the south coast.

Cat Wildman - National Leader (Business)

Cat Wildman -National Leader (Business)

Product bridges the gap between Technology and all the other business areas and it’s in this collaborative hub position that Cat Wildman is most at home.

Obsessed with data and solving customer problems, Cat’s MO is creating accountable product super-teams consisting of empowered leaders who run products as businesses within a business. She is currently Director of Digital Product for The Telegraph group.

Cat is an award-winning and established leader and a mentor, she loves talking at conferences and schools about Digital Product as well as the issues she is active in: women in STEM and gender equality.

Here is a her recent 'Tech Talks' interview about product 'hygiene' and getting the best out of her team, as well as her path into technology and encouraging more girls to follow in that path.

Cat is also a mum of three in leafy Berkshire. Ensuring that girls and boys have gender equal schools and homes is something she is passionate about. Please read the blog that set all of the GEC off here!

Natalie Nezhati - Edtech Industry Leader

Natalie Nezhati - Edtech Industry Leader

Founder of Edtech Mark, Natalie works to drive growth for technology startup and scale up companies in London and beyond. Natalie is profiled as a 'Top Global 100 Influencer' in the 'State of Edtech 2019 Report' from Edtech Digest, and works with some of the fastest growing organisations in higher education and corporate learning.

Holly Powell-Jones  -  Online Law Leader

Holly Powell-Jones - Online Law Leader

Holly is a social media law and ethics specialist (a job that didn’t exist 10 years ago!) and runs OnlineMediaLawUK.com. She is passionate about educating digital users of all ages about the legal risks of online media and how to avoid them. Her training for schools project reached more than 15,000 young people in 50+ schools in 2016-17, thanks to collaboration with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office for Surrey and Eagle Radio Ltd. 

Alongside her PhD research into youth perceptions of ‘risk’ online, Holly works as a freelancer providing social media training and consultancy for businesses, charities and universities… But working in schools is still her favourite. Her background in media and journalism makes her pretty outspoken, especially on issues such as gender inequality, so she’s delighted to be a part of GEC Futures.

Kristy Hill -   Microsoft Leader

Kristy Hill - Microsoft Leader

Kristy has been a Primary School Teacher for six years, where she had the experience of taking on a Computing Co-Ordinator role for 5 years. Through this she developed the use of 1-1 devices alongside Microsoft technologies. Kristy also delivered supportive CPD to fellow colleagues including NQT’s and Student teachers to ensure they were skilled in the use of innovative technologies. 

Within the classroom Kristy used OneNote, Skype and other Office 365 products in her daily teaching, saving myself time and widening opportunities for independent learning as well as collaboration.  

Through this Kristy developed her passion and love of technology, in particular she loved "how it could ‘switch on’ a child and engage and inspire them in their learning". From there, she went on to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Skype Master Teacher and now, recently, a UK Microsoft Learning Consultant - working across the UK.  

"I felt really lucky to have been selected for this new role with Microsoft, a secondment for a year. Microsoft as a company was already championing the need for more women in digital roles, and as a representative of their partnership I put together a host of inspirational women driven initiatives, already existing at Microsoft, in a specialised page on the Microsoft Educator Community".  

Kristy says, "I suppose like many, prior to my recent role, I was slightly naïve to the influence I could have on young girls to empower them in edtech careers, perhaps stumbling into my own pathway with technology by chance. I hadn’t realised how much I myself was inspired by the passionate women colleagues that I came across both in my school and at Microsoft; therefore I hadn’t appreciated that I too could be an inspiration. So that’s why I want to get behind GECFutures. We are all influencers in edtech; I feel have a duty to ensure that young girls and women believe they can experience a career - a digital career - not just by luck as I first thought I did, but through inspiration, belief in themselves and not allowing anyone to say that they don’t belong!"

Kristy’s blog

Cat Lamin  -  Raspberry Pi Leader

Cat Lamin - Raspberry Pi Leader

Cat is a former primary school teacher with a passion for coding and computer science. She now travels the word igniting a passion for techno-geekery in teachers and young people.

The first computer program was written by a woman and history is littered with influentional women who changed the face of computing and yet, many girls think it's a boys subject.

Cat feels passionately that coding is for everyone and that with the right role models, more young women can become involved and develop a passion for it.

Cat’s website

Rachel Smith -   Apple Leader

Rachel Smith - Apple Leader

Rachel Smith is a modern foreign languages teacher and has been teaching for 20 years.  She has worked in a number of comprehensive schools, principally in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire but Rachel is now now Digital Leader and foreign language teacher at a secondary school in Douglas, on the Isle of Man.  

She recalls thinking, when just 15 years old, having just chosen her subjects for GCSE  that she would never, ever have to use computers at work so there was no need to choose computer science GCSE. How wrong she was.  

In 2012 Rachel was given an iPad to trial in her classroom and the rest, as they say, is history.  In 2015 she was delighted to be selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator. She is now fortunate enough to sit on the Apple Distinguished Educator’s Board for Europe, India, Africa and the Middle East.  

Rachel believes that edtech tends to be a very male dominated area, but there are some amazing women doing incredible things in terms of education technology.  "I think it’s time that we shone a light on these women and in doing so show our students and our daughters that technology isn’t just a male thing and you don’t have to be bullish  to have your ideas heard. I believe GECFutures will aid this. Technology is for everyone, we all have something to bring to the table."

Rachel’s website 

Catherine Jessey -  Online Gender

Catherine Jessey - Online Gender

Catherine has taught science in mainstream secondary schools in the U.K. for 12 years. In 2012, her school introduced iPad 1:1 with students, which she supported as lead digital practitioner, overseeing teaching and learning with 1:1 devices across the school and becoming an Apple Distinguished Educator, class of 2015.

Catherine now works part time as an Assistant Headteacher at a school with limited digital equipment, supporting more effective use of the technology available and a small-scale iPad project in Science. She also works with a local app developer, providing teaching insight, feedback and customer support materials for an iOS classroom workflow app.

Catherine has a keen interest in the role of gender in both school and day-to-day life, following her involvement as lead for her school with the Institute of Physics’ Opening Doors project in 2015. Of particular interest is the role of unconscious bias in the perpetuation of gender stereotypes in schools and society, and what teachers can do to recognise and tackle this.

Jade Parkinson-HIll -   STEAM Leader

Jade Parkinson-HIll - STEAM Leader

Jade Parkinson-Hill is the founder of Steam School. Recently launched in the U.K. Steam School broadcasts interviews with inspirational people from the worlds of science, tech and digital media into schools crossed the U.K. help young people to prepare for careers in the tech sector. 

Jade’s career has spanned both the tech and education world. For more than a decade,  she has worked in the UK education sector launching new schools and delivering entrepreneurship projects to students and communities across the North West of England. In 2015, Jade was named one of the 'top 100 women in games' in recognition of her role in establishing the UK's first 'geek' school in Liverpool. 

Jade has been interviewed on TV, radio and the press, including the BBC, Radio 4 and The Times Education Supplement talking about her passions of tech and entrepreneurship, in particular, motivating and supporting young entrepreneurs.

Pamela Algie -   Early Years leader

Pamela Algie - Early Years leader

Pamela Algie is an Early Years teacher from Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

She has been teaching in Foundation Stage for the past eight years in both mainstream and nurture group classes. In her current role, she is Head of Foundation Stage as well as class teacher for a bunch of lively 4-5 year olds.  In 2017, Pamela was selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator. 

Pamela regularly leads training sessions, participates in TeachMeets and is a very active tweeter. Pamela is passionate about helping young children develop as creative, kind and resilient learners - well able for a future we can’t yet imagine.  

Pamela’s Blog

Kylie Combellack -   Primary Leader

Kylie Combellack - Primary Leader

From the 8 year old girl, who spent hours programming the ZX Spectrum to the young teacher, who was the only one brave enough to teach ICT during an OFsted  inspection, computing has always been a passion and strength.  Kylie was never afraid to give something ago, something she’s very proud to say that her dad encouraged. 

"I have led computing for most of my teaching career, in a variety of settings. More recently in a large primary school in Cornwall where my focus has been to promote technology across our school." 

Becki Bawler -   Secondary Leader

Becki Bawler - Secondary Leader

Becki has been a secondary school teacher for over 15 years in south Wales, initially teaching RE, MFL and Psychology but then moving to teaching ICT and Computer Science after spending two years developing the use of tablets across the curriculum.  Becki currently leads on the Digital Competency Framework in her secondary school, an integral part of the new curriculum coming to Wales.  She also coordinates the ICT learning network for the local consortium, advising and supporting teachers and schools across the five local authorities in the region.  She is developing a digital leading team in her school to develop the use of Google, Microsoft and Apple solutions so that her students really do have choice in terms of the platforms they can use. 

Becki is really excited by the new curriculum being developed in Wales and believes it will have a real impact on future generations, she is always looking at ways to engage with its development. This academic year she has developed a project based approach to learning and is using the ICT lessons to promote ESDGC, PSHE and Curriculum Cymreig priorities to offer her pupils a real life experience of the use of ICT and technology.  She is beginning a EdD this year, with a focus on the role of digital technologies in schools and the impact this has on staff wellbeing.

Having twin girls (now in year 4) has also made her focus much more on gender equality in all fields and making sure that every path is open to her girls in the future. 

Becki’s Blog

Jade Mountain  -  Higher Education Leader

Jade Mountain - Higher Education Leader

Every day as Head of Digital Content Delivery at Pearson College London is completely different.

Currently I’m focussing on enabling staff to use more video to deliver and enhance their teaching which means i’m spending some time ‘behind the scenes’ investigating new storage platforms and video streaming. This also entails researching best blended and video learning practice so I can create resources for staff to show them how and why video can be integrated into their practice.

I also make sure our VLE is working, check for updates, upgrades and potential issues, and communicate with other areas of the business about what is going on so there aren’t any issues for staff or students. I also chair our Learning Technology and IT Committee so need to ensure that any projects are on track and that i’ve carried out my actions. I see my role as a bit like the technical glue that binds The College together – being attached to teaching and learning, Student Services, the library and our IT infrastructure. Sometimes I feel like a Jack of all trades! It’s always evolving and never dull.

I’m lucky to work somewhere that stretches and challenges me on a daily basis.

Michelle Thomason -  Media Education Leader

Michelle Thomason - Media Education Leader

Michelle is a media teacher, writer, school governor and campaigner for flexible working in schools. She has taught for nearly twenty years at post-16, with the majority of that time spent as a curriculum area leader for Media at an inner London sixth form. Passionate about flexible working, she now works part time whilst studying for a doctorate in education. 

Over the last few years, Michelle has written about a variety of topics including gendered language in journalism, motherhood, the gender pay gap and media education. She is a contributor to Media Magazine and has blogged for Pregnant Then Screwed and worked as an online advisor for them for their first ever event for teachers earlier this year. Last year she spoke at the inaugural New Voices education conference on the subject of flexible working in teaching. She is also on the executive board of the Media Education Association.  

The first-hand experience of being a parent of both a boy and a girl has made Michelle even more acutely aware how crucial closing the gap of gender disparities and inequalities is and is committed to addressing this in both her life as a parent and as an educator. 

Caitlin McMillan -  Creative Digital Leader

Caitlin McMillan- Creative Digital Leader

Caitlin is a teaching and learning consultant at London CLC, delivering workshops and professional learning to school pupils and teachers with a particular focus on creative digital. She is a Google certified educator, an Apple teacher and is Google certified in online marketing.

Caitlin is the project manager for TechPathways London, a new programme of free training for educators and careers professionals working with young people aged 11-24. Funded as part of the Mayor of London's Digital Talent programme, its aim is to bridge the digital skills gap between education and the 21st century creative & digital markets.

TechPathways London is committed to addressing the inequalities surrounding careers in technology, and is working closely with GEC futures on some exciting material!

The programme has also developed an unconscious bias toolkit to help educators to notice and mitigate against this bias in their settings.

Caitlin’s path to a digital career has been somewhat unconventional. Following a degree in English Literature, she began her career in music technology before taking a year out to train as a clown (red nose and all).

She is also the voice of several BBC Bitesize animations.

Katie Hall  - GIS Leader

Katie Hall - GIS Leader

Katie Hall is a former secondary school teacher who now works for the Education team at Esri UK, a leading supplier of Geographical Information System (GIS) software. GIS are used across a range of industries, and Esri software has played a critical role in many different projects - from creating an animal city in Disney’s Zootopia through to the recent Tham Luang cave rescue. GIS is also now part of the National Curriculum for Geography, and Esri UK have made their ArcGIS Online software free for all UK schools to help them start. You can find out more about the programme at https://schools.esriuk.com/

Katie runs training in schools for teachers, helping to establish GIS as a tool for delivering great content, and helps to facilitate community GIS. Currently she’s working with the #BePlasticClever campaign, looking to save the planet by reducing single-use plastic pollution (get involved here!).  The Esri UK GeoMentors programme, where professional users of the technology connect with schools to provide practical support and raise awareness of incredible career opportunities in GIS, is also looked after by Katie. 

“I’m very lucky that I get to work with fantastic students and amazing teachers. There’s still a lot to be done, and lots of challenges, but I’m excited to help make classroom GIS a reality for everyone.”

Jodie Lopez - 'Edtech for All' Leader

Jodie Lopez -'Edtech for All' Leader

Jodie is an Edtech Ninja Superhero! (Although shhhh! Her official job title is Edtech Business Consultant) Jodie has a background in customer service and sales before she became a primary school teacher. She won a number of awards for her work in the classroom and beyond, as she used education technology to broaden the horizons of pupils at her inner-city London pupils, and also harnessed tech for the good of communication and administration for all staff members and parents.

Since leaving the classroom in 2012 Jodie has gone on to work for Pearson, launching their Champion Schools Programme across a number of products, then as Head of Education at Classroom Monitor working on customer engagement and retention. She advised hundreds of schools on assessment in the wake of the loss of levels in 2014.

Now Jodie has her own brand - lovEdtech - which supports edtech businesses with everything related to customer engagement - from comms to product management and the spectrum in between and beyond. Jodie is passionate about technology as a means to both inspire and facilitate. She knows that technology can be both bought, managed, and produced on a budget if needed, but values the efficiency which technology provides and ensures school money is well spent.

Jodie fell into edtech by accident as she is blind in one eye which makes her handwriting "pretty atrocious!" She has seen, over the years, how she has become a role model to students she has taught both for being a woman in tech and also someone using tech to overcome disability. 

Kellie Williams  -  Online Safety Leader

Kellie Williams - Online Safety Leader

Kellie is a teacher and Digital Learning Leader at Cornist Park Primary School. Kellie is passionate about enhancing teaching and learning by embedding digital technology in the classroom. She has recently returned to the classroom after a secondment as Regional Digital Leader for North Wales. Kellie has been a part of many panels, spoken at international events, been interviewed on TV, radio and the press talking about her approach to online safety and digital citizenship in her school with learners, staff, parents, governors and within the local community.

Kellie is a Digital Pioneer for Welsh Government and was part of the team who produced the Digital Competence Framework for Wales. She continues to work with Welsh Government to create the new curriculum for Wales. Kellie’s work has been recognized nationally resulting in her being awarded Pearson Teacher of the Year for Wales amongst other national awards for her approach to digital learning and digital citizenship. She is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and was selected to represent the UK at the Microsoft Global Education Exchange (E2) in Singapore. She is also a Google Certified Educator and eCadet Ambassador.

Caroline Keep is a physics teacher at Penketh High School in Warrington. She is the Director of Spark Penketh, the first school makerspace in the UK and is embedding maker education across the curriculum. Winner of the TES New Teacher of the Year in 2018 for her work on STEAM learning and Nexus Education Award for her Stem Vlog series in 2019.

Caroline Keep  -  MakerSpace Leader

Caroline Keep - MakerSpace Leader

Caroline is the co- founder of Liverpool Makefest, a festival to promote science, technology, engineering, art and maths and maker-education for young people. The festival is now in its
fifth year and has been rolled out nationally across all UK libraries. She is also the founder of the Society of School Makerspaces, a founder member of the Guild of Makers and co-founder of the MakerNoise unconference at Edge Hill University on creativity, learning and maker education. She has given numerous talks on maker education and written several academic papers on STEM and STEAM learning to promote creative and hands-on learning through physical computing, digital fabrication and coding.

She has a particular interest in Stem/ Tech for young girls and promoting ways to challenge stereotypes, so is perfect for GECFutures. 

Caroline is passionate about fighting against sexism and promoting gender equality. A proud to be ambassador to the Gender Equality Collective and the work they do to create a more equal education system !