Gillian Youngs

Gillian Youngs BA(Hons) MA PhD FWES

Tech has been a lifelong passion for me. My personal and professional networks from my teenage years have included brilliant engineers and digital innovators. I can say right up front that engineering, and innovations associated with it, both fascinate and inspire me in equal measure.

Initially, my journalism focused on civil aviation at a time of Gatwick Airport’s expansion and the development of Image removed.Stansted Airport, as well as the diversification in the airline sector with the game-changing arrival of Virgin Atlantic.

Then, as an independent communications consultant working on internal and external projects, my major clients included Rediffusion Simulation and BAA plc. After my apprenticeship in journalism, I went to university as a mature student, which began a journey into academic life.

I established my international research career at University of Leicester, UK, where I led the development of one of the first MA programmes in the world focused on the Internet, and taught and supervised PhDs on digital economy and sociotechnical change. I also undertook research and activist work focused on women and digital empowerment, including in joint UNESCO and NGO projects.

One of my proudest achievements was co-launching International Feminist Journal of Politics in 1999. The journal has built an expanding global community of women thanks to digital technology. The project simply would not have been possible without the Internet and the collaborative energy of women across the world.

I believe I was the first woman in the UK to be appointed as a Professor of Digital Economy to a national Research Chair supported by the Welsh Government in South Wales. I subsequently held senior leadership positions as a Professor of Digital Economy at the University of Brighton and University of Westminster, and Arts and Humanities Dean and Professor of Digital and Creative Economy at Canterbury Christ Church University.

My main areas of research, teaching and publishing have been globalization and digital economy and have included wide-ranging work on inequality, diversity and inclusion. I have written extensively on contributions of feminist theory and practice to transformation of STEM beyond its traditional masculinist structures, cultures, and priorities.

My research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and my academic publications include two monographs, two sole-edited collections (one of which is now being translated into Arabic), a co-edited collection published in three editions, and more than 50 major journal articles and chapters, in addition to business reports and briefings linked to my applied research.

I have presented my research in keynote and invited speaker engagements in the USA, China, India, South Korea, Tanzania, Kenya, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Turkey. I have also presented research papers in Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, Spain, Ireland, France.

My partnership work has engaged me with Innovate UK, leading SME ecosystem actors such as Wired Sussex (Brighton) and Capital Enterprise (London), and major arts organizations such as Turner Contemporary in Margate. The projects have reflected the new impact agenda, forging effective connections across research and applied imperatives in digital economy. They have focused on innovation and the start-up sector, including in relation to policy agendas, for example, through contributions to the agenda setting for Innovate UK’s Digital Catapult Centre. Their continuity is demonstrated by the subsequent role I played as academic lead for the bid and successful establishment of the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton at Wired Sussex, in partnership with University of Brighton.

I have served as a high-level expert on innovation: in the areas of security and gender to Horizon 2020 processes at the European Commission (2016 - 2020); and through my membership of the BFI Research Fund External Advisory Group (2015 - present). I was also a member of the REF 2014 Sub-panel 36: Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management, and Co-Chair with Lord Richard Inglewood on the Design Commission Digital Revolution Inquiry. The report Designing the Digital Economy was launched at House of Lords May 2014.

I am now moving into a new stage of my professional life where I am focusing more on my innovation work. My interests include developing new models of work opportunities which will support young people into training and jobs.

For further details and examples of my work see: