What happened next for Rachel Pattinson?

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a TechWomen100 Award.

Now in their fifth year, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in tech – the emerging tech talent and role models for the future.

We spoke with Rachel Pattinson, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2020.

I manage digital research and social innovation programmes at Newcastle University, as part of Open Lab, a world-leading research group in interaction design and ubiquitous computing.

I’m responsible for managing the strategic management and operational delivery of the EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Civics (£4.7million) and the Digital Economy Research Centre (£4million). These programmes are training and supporting researchers to explore how emerging digital technologies can promote civic engagement. From 2020, I will also be managing Newcastle University and Northumbria University’s Centre for Digital Citizens (EPSRC: £3.7million), co-ordinating the programme’s network of over 30 partners.

Outside of my paid employment, I am a director and trustee of award-winning theatre company, Mortal Fools.

I moved into a technology role in 2019. Working on interdisciplinary digital programmes connects with my broader professional interests in education, arts and culture, libraries and information, charities, and working with children and young people. I am interested in exploring how technology is changing the way we live, and how we can change technology.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen100 award?

Surprised, and completely delighted! It was amazing to become a TechWomen100 winner after less than 18 months of working in a digital role. It’s an honour to be part of the TechWomen100 community, which includes so many incredible women working in the technology sector.

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen100 award?

Well, quite a bit!

When I won the TechWomen100 award, I was just starting a Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship and MSc with Newcastle University Business School. I’ve now completed the first year, and I’m on track to complete the programme in late 2022.

I also started managing a new digital programme at Newcastle University: the EPSRC Centre for Digital Citizens, a Next Stage Digital Economy Centre. Since the TechWomen100 awards, I successfully managed the launch of the programme and our initial work with partners – engaging around 70 different organisations.

I definitely think winning the award raised my professional profile. I was featured in blogs and social media posts by my employer, Newcastle University. I’ve been included in coverage by the BBC, Computing, and regional press too.

Winning the award also really made me think about gender equality in tech. I wrote a blog post exploring how we can support women in academic computing roles, and I also chaired a panel at the Dynamo North East conference on whether we need a regional women in tech network.

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

Go for it! I never thought I’d win – but it’s really helped my confidence.

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers? 

Talk to people, take risks, and follow your interests.