The Shuri Network has been named Network of the Year at the 2020 TechWomen100 awards.
Launched at Digital Health Summer School in July 2019, the Shuri Network is the first of its kind for women of colour in digital health roles.
The 2020 TechWomen100 Awards, hosted by WeAreTechWomen, recognises and promotes the work of women in technology – a group often underrepresented in the sector.
Speaking to Digital Health News following the award, Dr Shera Chok, co-founder of the Shuri Network, said: “The award was a huge surprise. We submitted a nomination a few weeks ago, and only afterwards found out we were up was up against the likes of Barclays and KPMG, so it was a fabulous surprise to win.
“I’m so thrilled about the recognitions for all out members and supporters.”
Dr Chok, a national clinical advisor on system transformation at NHS England, said she was pleased the award had gone to a grassroots NHS network.
The win capped a busy month for the Shuri Network which also announced the recipients of its first bursary scheme with the Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI).
The scheme offers black and minority ethnic (BAME) women a bursary to cover the costs of a year’s membership to the FCI as part of the Shuri Network’s aim to increase visibility of BAME women in NHS technology roles.
Dr Chok said: “We had 31 applications for the FCI bursaries and based on the interest extended the places from 15 to 25.
“They are a very impressive range of talented women from all over the country.”
The Shuri Network has also appointed its first student ambassador, Ghazel Mukhtar, a medical student at Imperial. Mukhtar will help raise awareness of the Network to more students interested in working in digital health roles.
“We are looking at different entry points on the career ladder,” Dr Chok said.
“At the moment we have very few student members and decided we needed to better understand what students are thinking. Are we marketing the NHS as an employer of choice? How do we market careers in digital in the NHS so they are the first choice for bright graduates?”
Mukhtar is no stranger to health technology having previously worked on the development of a tracking app.
“Gazel has only just been appointed but over time we hope she can begin to help us grow our student membership,” Dr Chok added.
“She will help us begin connect to different student groups, nurses, allied health professionals, informaticians and design a survey with them to explore what students want when they offer the jobs market.”
The development of the bursaries and student ambassador were steps identified by the Shuri Networks in an April survey of members, with further initiatives set to follow.
“We asked members what they wanted and what support would make a difference. They said they wanted role models, practical career advice, attachments and early exposure to leadership opportunities,” Dr Chok said.
Since is launch in the summer last year the Shuri Network has continued to grow. Dr Chok launched the network after noticing there were very few BAME women in the audience at health tech events like Summer Schools.
At the time of its launch, the network had about 60 members but word quickly spread and the network has grown to more than 650 members, with nurses forming the largest group.
Speaking to Digital Health News on the networks first birthday, Dr Chok said the network had given women of colour a platform to speak about their contribution to digital innovation and she hoped it would inspire others wanting to work in the sector.
For more information on the Shuri Network, membership and the work its doing visit shurinetwork.com.