With only a mere 19%
of the UK tech workforce comprising women, there’s still a long way to go in order to make the IT and Digital sector an inclusive space for all. Worldwide, it’s a little under 40%
. With not enough young women taking up STEM subjects in school and a reputation for male dominance in the sector, there’s a huge shortage of smart and capable women looking to enter a career in Tech.
And there are other factors at play too, young women simply don’t want to enter a field which isn’t diverse (8 out of 10
female millennials in the UK actively seek out workplace diversity) and there have been very few women in Tech role models who have been given a great deal of exposure to the masses. In fact, 78%
of UK college and university students could not name a single influential woman in Tech according to a recent study.
With the digital skills shortage making the slanted gender diversity in the industry more apparent than ever, female talent nationally as well as in the world at large is sorely needed. There are plenty of female pioneers, innovative leaders and trailblazers in Tech! Here’s a few of our top picks to read up on:
Radia Perlman is a computer scientist, engineer, and mathematician. Often dubbed as ‘the mother of the internet’, Radia Perlman is responsible for creating what’s known as the Spanning Tree Protocol
STP is a system of schemes and rules for communication transmissions between networks and other digital devices which lead to the layout connecting ethernet networks. In other words, it evolved ethernet from a single-use connection and into a more advanced, multi-use high bandwidth pathway
. She then went on to improve her creation further by designing TRILL (TRansparent Interconnectivity with Lots of Links) which increased stability and efficiency by ensuring optimal bandwidth
capabilities - making it scalable and self-stabilising too.
Her design and algorithms are still currents used for route IP today and led to the Internet Engineering Task Force currenting a new standard based on Perlman's work. She’s gone on to teach at prestigious schools such as MIT, Harvard and the University of Washington. She currently works for Dell EMC.
Whitney Wolfe Herd
Whitney Wolfe Herd is the world's youngest, self-made female billionaire
at 32 years old. She’s an entrepreneur, founder and CEO of dating app Bumble. She also co-founded Tinder and formerly worked as the app’s VP of Marketing.
Herd felt forced into Tinder after experiencing sexual harassment
from CEO Sean Rad and other co-founder Justin Mateen, after which she proceeded to sue the pair and won in a settlement. Afterwards, Herd received an offer from Russian billionaire Andre Andreev who wanted to make her CMO of Badoo, but Herd expressed her desire to start her own app that was focused on empowering women. Andreev backed Herds idea and invested the first $10 million dollars in Bumble and Bumble was born!
She continues to evolve the app by creating innovative new features such as Bumble Bizz for networking and BFF for making friends. Herd has also created the Bumble Fund
, investing money in female-led start-up companies.
Julia Grace is a prominent Product Engineer who has worked in senior positions for Tech giants such as Apple (working as the Engineering Director for Siri), IBM, Slack and created her own company Tindle which she describes as ‘the Etsy of electronics’
Grace is currently VP of Product Engineering at Netflix, leading a team of 325 engineers and ensuring the growth, personalisation and edge
for the consumer. She currently sits on the board of directors for Medcorder
, a mobile app for recording and transcribing doctor appointments.
Grace states that her love for technology sprang from programming, age 12, on a Commodore64 computer
and was inspired to learn more and sought out to make her way into the world of IT. She studied maths and computer science in University at the University of North Carolina.
Paving the way to make Tech an inclusive field, Kimberly Bryant is the founder and executive for Black Girls CODE
, a non-profit that helps black girls and young women learn about technology and computer science.
Bryant created it using her pension money after feeling discouraged when trying to find a computer programming course for her daughter in San Francisco but none of which were particularly diverse: “I didn’t want my daughter to feel culturally isolated in the pursuit of her studies as I had as a young girl. I didn’t want her to give up on her passions
just because she didn’t see anyone else like her in the classroom.”
Black Girls CODE has since expanded from the U.S., opening up chapters in Johannesburg, South Africa. Bryant has stated that she wants to help one million girls to code by the year 2040.
Dr Fei-Fei Li
Artificial Intelligence pioneer Fei-Fei Li is considered among the most influential women in tech today. She’s currently Co-director for Stanford Institute for Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence and a Co-Director of the Stanford Vision and Learning Lab.
She’s a leading voice for STEM and AI who has founded AI4ALL
. It’s an inclusive platform that allows young women and those from non-traditional learning backgrounds to study AI, with opening learning, summer programs and college pathways.
She’s also well known for her work on the ImageNet project - a database storing well over 15 million images. This project enabled the first robot capable of recognising and understanding what's in a picture. Li comments on the importance of this project in her TED Talk: “Little by little, we’re giving sight to the machines
. First, we teach them to see. Then, they help us to see better.”
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