How many famous women in tech can you name? In a recent survey 72% of the British public could not name a famous woman in tech. In Microsoft’s International Women’s Day campaign #makewhatsnext, they asked young women to name famous female inventors. They could name some male inventors with ease, but none of them could name a female inventor:
It seems that the lack of visible role models really impacts adversely on the aspirations and beliefs of the next generation. After all, you can’t be what you can’t see.
We’re on a mission to change this by providing visible role models at every single opportunity we get. So for starters, here’s 6 real life role models we think everybody should know about.
Dr Sue Black, technology evangelist, digital skills expert, consultant, author and BADASS
Surely this lady needs no introduction?! For the benefit of any readers who don’t know, Dr Black is quite simply amazing. She is the author of Saving Bletchley Park, which is where all the code breaking occurred during World War II – mostly by women (and she actually saved the site with her incredible crowdfunding campaign!)
Sue is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Computer Science at University College London and a Senior Research Associate at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She has always been a champion for women in computing, founding BCSWomen – the UK’s first online network for women in tech, and #techmums, a social enterprise which empowers mums and their families through technology. We loved listening to her on BBC Woman’s Hour podcast recently for the women in tech special!
Samantha Payne, Co-Founder of Open Bionics
Samantha Co-Founded Open Bionics, a company which makes prosthetic hands affordable and available to all, through 3D printing. Prior to this intervention only a few amputees could afford prosthetic hands, as the cost was sky-high. Not only that, they are the only company to partner with Marvel and Disney to create the coolest looking prosthetic in the business! It doesn’t get more inspiring than this…
Rachel Frier, fashion label owner & director at Mimu gloves
If you’ve ever dreamt of having a creative job then you would surely admire this incredibly talented woman, who might have the coolest career of all time! Rachel is an artist and designer with a conceptual fashion label specialising in leather and stretch materials.Her work focuses on intricate details and using tactile objects to create narratives.
Rachel is director of Mimu gloves alongside a team of specialist musicians, artists, scientists and technologists including well-known artist Imogen Heap. The mi.mu gloves have captured worldwide attention by showing that there is a better way to make music than with sliders and buttons – through the complex movement of the human body, see if for yourself.
Eileen Burbridge, Chair of Tech City UK and Venture Capitalist
Eileen is a founding partner at Passion Capital, the pre-eminent early-stage technology venture fund based in London.
She brings extensive operational experience to her investment activities gleaned from business and product roles at Yahoo!, Skype, Apple and elsewhere. In addition to Passion Capital, Eileen is the Chair of Tech City UK, Tech Ambassador for the Mayor of London’s office and served on former UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group. Eileen was awarded an MBE for services to Business in June 2015 and holds a BSc Engineering degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Oh she’s also an advisor to the treasury – is there anything she can’t do?
Michelle You, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Songkick
Are you one of those people who always find out that your favourite band is in town AFTER all of the tickets have sold out? Yeah, us too. Life is hectic and scanning music listings isn’t always top of the priority list. Michelle has solved this problem with the awesome Songkick app.
Michelle didn’t take a conventional route into the tech industry, but credits studying English and Philosophy as where she learned to think analytically. She admits that as a founder you will learn by trial and error, saying that you’re always learning on the job and for her that meant reading the blogs of the smartest people she could find (top tip folks!)
Random feminist fact: Michelle’s Master’s dissertation (at Cambridge University) was on Virginia Woolf.
Rikke Rosenlund, Founder of Borrow My Doggy
For full-time working, city-dwellers like us, the dream of having a pet pooch seems light-years and suburbs away. Enter Rikke Rosenlund and her enormously successful tech start-up Borrow My Doggy. Rikke gave up a successful career in financial services to pursue the noble aim of leaving ‘Pawprints of Happiness’ on the lives of dogs and people.
Now half a million members strong, under Rikke’s leadership her tech start-up is going from strength to strength while connecting dogs to dog-lovers from St Ives to Inverness.
Rikke is also a board member of WISE: the campaign for gender balance in science, technology and engineering.
There are so many role models out there, both current and historic. We’ll be back again soon with some more examples. If you are working in the industry and would like to profiled on our blog, drop us a line on: firstname.lastname@example.org.