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Alumna of the month - October 2012

Dr. Sue Black
BSc (Hons) Computing Studies, 1993

Miriam Kennet

Despite initiatives encouraging women to enter the sector, technology is still a male-dominated industry. And according to LSBU graduate Dr. Sue Black, more needs to be done to encourage woman into the Technology sector: “There are so many opportunities for everyone now in the technology sector and women should be getting out there and taking them up.”

Sue is founder of support groups LondonBCSWomen and BCSWomen that provide networking opportunities for professional women working in IT around the world who are members of the BCS (The Chartered Institute for IT). The group's main objective is to provide support for female IT professionals, as well as mentoring and encouraging girls/women to enter IT as a career.

Dr. Black, currently Senior Research Associate in the Department of Computer Science at University College London, was recently recognised for her efforts to promote Technology careers to women when PepsiCo awarded Dr. Black the PepsiCo Women's Inspiration Network Award.

Sue believes women need to do more to seize the opportunities available to them: “I've found that in general, women tend to be a bit less confident and less likely to put themselves forward than men.”

Speaking from first-hand experience, Sue herself overcame difficult personal circumstances and a lack of knowledge of technology to carve a career within the field: “I left school at sixteen and had several jobs until I got married. I had a baby daughter when I was 21, then twin boys at 23 (one of whom now works at LSBU). My marriage then broke down and I decided that the best chance for me and my children was to get myself an education, otherwise I would probably be on minimum wage whatever job I chose."

At this point Sue enrolled on a computing course at LSBU and although she felt academically behind her classmates, she received enough support and encouragement to overcome these hurdles: “Starting uni at LSBU was very exciting and very hard. I was a 27 year old mother whereas most of my fellow students were 18-20 years old. Hanging out with the other students was great fun and, probably as I'd not had that much fun during my teenage years, I revelled in it. I found some of the studying very hard. Quite a few of the other students had studied computing 'A' level at school and done lots of programming whereas I'd just done a very small amount.”

As she overcame the feeling of being as an outsider as a mature single parent female in a class of mainly younger men, Sue believes her experience at LSBU proved invaluable in developing her self-confidence: “I was unsure of myself and my abilities. I gained confidence during my time there, became a student rep, made lots of great friends, realised that I had a reasonably good brain and graduated a better person.”

The most important piece of advice she can offer current students is to surround themselves with a strong support network: “Surround yourself with people that support you, get out there and chat to people, find people that you admire and ask them to mentor you.

“I'm amazed when I look back at some of the things that I have done since I graduated, a lot of them happened because I had people around me who supported me, and I just kept going and going and going….”

To find out more about Sue’s work, visit