Women have introduced innovative ideas, that create a better world and inspire women in technology.
The year’s calling for each of us to challenge our own stereotypes and biases when discussing gender. Biases that are rife in many industries, but particularly in tech; a sector that has been historically run and dominated by men. With this in mind, we want to highlight 10 women in technology inspiring young girls, working in the technology industry today, who not only fly their own flag, but fly the flag for equality generally – whether that’s gender equality, racial, age and more.
1. Ophelia Brown – Founder of Blossom Capital:
Ophelia is the founder of Blossom Capital, an early-stage VC fund, set up to bring a fresh approach to investing in tech start-ups and companies, by placing a focus on the founders themselves. Her first fund broke records as the fastest-ever, first time fundraise from a female VC in Europe, from which she was part of own record-breaking Series A investment. She has since then followed this with a second, $185millon fund just a year later.
In 2016, Brown founded ALT (Ambitious Ladies in Tech), a mentor network to help women in technology inspiring young girls, to start-ups achieve their career goals. ALT currently has more than 60 mentees and 120 mentors in its network (from the likes of Google, Facebook, Airbnb) and hosts masterclasses, workshops and events to provide additional skills development, coaching and networking opportunities.
2. DR SUE BLACK OBE – Professor of Computer Science at Durham University:
Dr Black OBE is a figure, well known in many circles from her work, campaigning to save Bletchley Park, but she is also an avid campaigner for women’s rights, social equality and is considered one of the most inspirational and influential women in IT.
Beyond her role as a professor in computer science and at Durham University, Dr Black OBE is founder of BCSWomen, an online network for women in technology inspiring young girls, a social enterprise, that offers mothers free courses to build up their technology skills.
3. ANNE-MARIE IMAFIDON – CEO and co-founder of STEMettes:
Since launching the award-winning STEMettes organisation in 2013, Anne-Marie Imafidon, has dedicated her life to inspiring and building up the pipeline of young women, going into STEM.
Anne-Marie’s mission is to encourage girls aged between five and 22 years old, to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, by showing them how to “approach scientific challenges with confidence.” Since its inception, some 40,000 young people have attended the free events, workshops and Stemette experiences across the UK and Ireland.
4. AMALI DE ALWIS -Managing Director, Microsoft Start-up UK:
There are few women who have done as much for helping the younger generation get into tech in recent years, than Amali de Alwis. Formerly CEO of Code First: Girls – an initiative that has delivered more than £5million’s worth of free tech education to girls and women – de Alwis is now Managing Director at Microsoft, for Start-ups in the UK.
In 2019, she was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for Services to diversity and training in the Tech Industry, and holds board positions at Ada, the National College for Digital Skills; the Diversity Board at the Institute of Coding; and the Founders Academy.
5. PIP JAMIESON – CEO and founder of the Dots:
The Dots network was formed to help people connect with creative professionals as a “No-Collar” challenger, to LinkedIn’s “White-Collar” community. As an advocate for diversity in its many forms – from gender diversity to socio-economic, neurodiversity and more – founder Pip Jamieson, doesn’t just campaign for more balanced and mixed communities, she practices what she preaches.
At The Dots, its community of members is 68% female, 31% BAME and 16% LGBTQ approx. Jamieson herself is “delightfully dyslexic” and couldn’t read until she was 11 years old. She built The Dots, to help people find professionals not based on where they studied, what degree they have or their race/age/gender, but on solely on their ability to do the job.
6. ELIZABETH VARLEY – CEO and co-founder, Tech-Hub:
What initially began as a tech entrepreneur community to help East London-based start-ups, and to boost investment for women in technology inspiring young girls, Tech-Hub has expanded to the likes of Bangalore, Bucharest, Berlin and Riga, all under the guidance and passion of its CEO and co-founder, Elizabeth Varley.
In addition to being a global community for start-ups, Elizabeth’s team works with corporates, to help them with innovation culture and offers free business growth support to underrepresented founders in tech.
7. BETHANY KOBY – CEO and co-founder, Tech Will Save Us:
Bethany Koby co-founded Tech Will Save Us in 2012 as a business, dedicated to building accessible kits and digital tools, to help children “make, play, code and invent using technology”. Inspired by her son, the company is focused on helping to spark the creative imagination of the next generation, by putting kids, and their parents, at the heart of everything it does.
Since she founded the company with Daniel Hirschman, it has grown from their kitchen table to a team of 28 designers, educators, engineers and problems solvers, who have built six different make it yourself kits, and hundreds of digital tools available in 97 countries.
8. ANNE BODEN MB – CEO, Starling Bank:
From what began as one of a handful of challenger banks in 2014, Starling Bank has grown to become the best British bank, and best current account provider at the British Bank Awards for the past two years running.
Starling was formed as a digital-only bank, set up to be as focused on customer experience, as possible by former RBS and Allied Irish Bank’s Anne Boden. Anne has successfully carved out a path in two traditionally male-heavy industries – finance and tech – while also being largely surrounded by rivals headed up by CEOs, in their early 20s. Anne was 52 when the company launched, and was awarded an MBE for services to financial technology in 2018, at the age of 58.
9. SAMANTHA PAYNE – Co-founder and COO of Open Bionics:
Formed by Samantha Payne in 2014, to revolutionise healthcare through the use of 3D scanning and 3D printing, Open Bionics offers an affordable, fashionable and high-tech alternative to standard prosthetics. Payne, whose background is in journalism and digital marketing, made the designs open-source, to help inspire others to develop prosthetics, and to make health tech more inclusive and democratic.
The company, and Samantha, have won multiple awards for engineering and innovation including, the James Dyson Award for Innovative Engineering, two Tech4Good awards, Best Product Innovation at CES, Intuit’s Britain’s Best Start-up Idea, and more. Google and Amazon have both listed her as one of the most influential women in robotics, and the company holds the official licenses for Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm inspired bionic hands.
10. ELIZABETH DENHAM CBE – UK Information Commissioner:
Having previously held the position of Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia and Canada, Elizabeth Denham CBE, was appointed as the UK Information Commissioner in 2016, tasked with holding the women in technology inspiring young girls companies, who access and use our data to account.
Her work played a pivotal role in the launch of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in May 2018 and is responsible for keeping you, and your data safe and respected.