Women’s crucial role in technology will be celebrated at the inaugural Leeds International Festival with high-profile female tech voices making up two-thirds of the speakers.

The festival, which runs from 22-30 April, focuses on three main strands: music, moving image and technology.

Natasha Sayce-Zelem is Sky’s head of technology and curator of the festival tech strand.

“I’m very proud that over 15 events, 67 per cent of our tech speakers are female. We’re the first international festival to take this stance across technology events as there is an overwhelming need for a diversification of voices in the tech field,” she told BusinessCloud.

“Through the curation I wanted to shine a spotlight on how exciting technology is right now for techies and non-techies alike, and open a door into our industry to show how fun and creative it is.”

Headline conference ‘Empowering Women with Tech' will see Sayce-Zelem (pictured below, left) and several other high-profile members of BusinessCloud’s '100 female tech role models' list speak about their experiences in tech.

Natasha Sayce Zelem and Sue Black

They include computer scientist and campaigner Dr Sue Black OBE (above, right), Stemettes co-founder Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and serial entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow OBE.

Multi-award-winning broadcaster Lauren Laverne, international fashion blogger Susie Bubble and Emmy Lovell, digital VP at the Warner Music Group, are also set to appear.

There is also an eye-opening Cyber Hacking and Bio-hacking event with International Ted talk speakers Keren Elazari and Hannes Sjobold, who are flying from Israel and Sweden respectively for the festival.

Elazari said: “I’m excited to visit Leeds for the first time and for the opportunity to bring the ‘CyberPunk Express’ to the Leeds International Festival! My talk will show how hacking has become a new superpower in the 21st century, a power that can positively impact millions, if we learn how to harness it and work with friendly hackers.

“I’d love to see more women inspired to follow in the footsteps of infamous hacker ladies of fiction, like I was, and it’s really cool too that this festival has so many female tech speakers – the tide is turning.”

At the event, brave volunteers can have a NFC microchip embedded into their hand (pictured below), which can then be programmed for a variety of uses including housing your Oyster card or work access fob.

NFC chip

Other event highlights are:

  • TechCrunch editor-in-chief Mike Butcher and Internet of Things expert Alexandra Dechamps-Sonsino discussing the future of technology
  • Oscar-winning VFX artist Andrew Whitehurst discussing how Double Negative completed the award-winning VFX work on Alex Garland’s debut film ExMachina
  • A Digital Art debate with speakers from the V&A Museum and the Lumen Prize
  • Leeds Digital Jobs Fair 3.0 – the largest Digital jobs fair in the North offering plenty of opportunities to help you get into the industry
  • All Day Hey - a one-day conference dedicated to web technologies featuring talks from Jeremy Keith, Patrick Hamann and Ruth John
  • Make Believe, a free kids event getting them to code, make, storytell and invent the tech of their futures
  • The Tech Off – a mashup of Ted Talks vs WWE Wrestling. Coders vs Creatives, who will be the winner?
  • A day of explaining all things Virtual Reality (VR) including a dedicated VR Hackday
  • Tech Comedy night featuring triple Ted Talk Comedian James Veitch and David Trent
  • Cyber Security in Overdrive, discussing how common cyber-attacks were in 2016 and the ever-evolving nature of cyber warfare

The full tech programme can be found here: http://leedsinternationalfestival.com/programme/#filter=.tech