Using digital innovation to build empowerment and economic equality for women

Three women sat at a desk working on laptops

The PONToon Virtual Symposium: Digital Innovation and Women's Empowerment in the 21st Century will feature talks, panel discussions and practical workshops

  • 15 November 2020
  • 2 min read

The University of Portsmouth will host an international online symposium on Tuesday 1 December to help women break into traditionally male-dominated technology jobs.

The event is part of the PONToon project that uses a range of new and developing technologies such as games development, 3D/virtual reality, social media and web/mobile apps to engage, support and up-skill women in order to aid their employment opportunities.

The University is the lead partner in the €5.8 million PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering social and economic inclusion) project, funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Interreg France (Channel) England programme.

The PONToon project is nearing the end of its three and a half years of working with women in southern England and northern France. During this time partners, stakeholders and trainers have been working closely with women to train them in graphic design, filmmaking, creative writing, CV building, social media use and basic IT skills.

Historically the technological sector has been seen as a male-dominated zone of employment. PONToon’s main goal is to create a digital toolkit that will help women to develop skills and be better prepared for employment.

Professor Joan Farrer, PONToon Principal Investigator

PONToon has worked with educational institutions, multicultural groups, creative enterprises, support and rehabilitation services, and charities such as MIND and the Red Cross to deliver dozens of initiatives, which have upskilled and helped 1,462 women into employment.

The PONToon Virtual Symposium: Digital Innovation and Women's Empowerment in the 21st Century will feature talks, panel discussions and practical workshops led by entrepreneurs, academics, activists and creatives. Topics include:

• Creative writing for wellbeing in the age of lockdown and home working;
• How virtual reality (VR) can assist with jobseeking and confidence-building;
• Female community activism enabled by digital tech;
• What the new Covid-19 landscape means for the future of women’s digital art;
• Tech training and entrepreneurship in the Global South;
• Future scoping for the replicability of PONToon and related projects around the world.

Speaking about the symposium, PONToon Principal Investigator and keynote speaker at the symposium, Professor Joan Farrer said: “Historically the technological sector has been seen as a male-dominated zone of employment. PONToon’s main goal is to create a digital toolkit that will help women to develop skills and be better prepared for employment.

“We’re really excited to be hosting the symposium, which we hope will serve as a platform and showcase for PONToon as the project moves into its final stages.”

The event is free and bookable via Eventbrite. For audiences unable to attend the event virtually on the day, all footage of workshops and webinars will be available via the project’s website.

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