With a 20% increase in women filling technical roles over the last 5 years, the historically male dominated industry is advancing towards gender equality. Although the disparity between the number of men and women working in the tech world is far from being eradicated, this figure suggests that smart and creative women are slowly but surely finding their rightful place in the technology industry.
As it is International Women’s Day, we thought we’d celebrate some top dogs of the tech world who show that women can be, and should be successful in the technology industry.
Broness Shields’ career in technology is pretty inspirational. From the start of her digital technology career with her joining the National Digital Corporation in 1986, she has helped build and expand companies such as Google, Bebo and Facebook, in each proving her skills, and talent for technology and its future.
Having spent over 25 years displaying her technological prowess, Prime Minister David Cameron asked her to help build the UK’s digital economy. As Chairman of Tech City UK she has assisted the UK in becoming a digital capital of Europe.
This was just the beginning of her place in government, with her role as Digtal Advisor to David Cameron being followed by her leading of the UK Taskforce to combat online abuse and exploitation.
To fulfill that mission, she created WeProtect, a global initiative bringing together government, law enforcement, industry and NGOs from 48 countries to craft technology solutions, national response systems and global cooperation to protect children around the world from sexual abuse and exploitation.
Since May 2014, as Minister for Internet Safety & Security, she aims to promote safe, open access to the internet for everyone and make the internet safer by working to curb online abuse, exploitation and access to harmful content (including terrorist and extremist material).
Her work has rightfully been recognized by the technology industry with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour listing her as one of the most powerful women in the UK IN 2013, and receiving the British Interactive Media Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in July 2013.
She has often been quoted as repeating the wise words of Kevin Spacey that ‘if you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down’. She believes it to be ‘responsibility of women across the globe that have achieved success in the digital and IT sector to give something back. We can capture the imagination of young women and give them the confidence to believe they can create the great tech innovations that will define our future’ and works to ensure that there exists the conditions in which aspiring female tech entrepreneurs can succeed.
Sara Murray is an example of a great technology entrepreneur and business woman. Perhaps best known for her building of Confused.com her development of the wearable technology Buddi is one of her latest ventures and shows great initiative of using technology as a solution to a problem that society faces
After selling Confused.com in 2003, Murray began to research the miniaturisation of GPS.
Murray believed that the development of technology could be channeled into aiding society such as preventing the frantic panic of parents when they lose sight f their child. Dedicated to making a device that could aid vulnerable people, by 2007 she had created a wearable technology to track children.
Buddi, has extended to being used to provide vulnerable people with support, without intrusively taking over their lives. As a tracking device that traces the user’s whereabouts and notifies their next of kin, Buddi can be used in a whole host of situations including for the elderly. Murray hopes it can help elderly people live a more independent life whilst being safe.
Buddi is now working with over 100 UK local authorities and NHS Trusts and has contracts in the US.
Murray is a member of the British Government’s Technology Strategy Board which under Innovate UK accelerates UK economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Similarly, her Seedcamp membership also reflects her dedication to entrepreneurship and the future of the UK’s tech existence as it is a platform aimed at making it easier for startup entrepreneurs to find the most active seed investors relevant to their business.
Rachel is the Managing Director of Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor, the world’s largest online doctor service.
Originally Dr Thom, she set it up with the vision of revolutionising the world of healthcare. She believed that providing care online could contribute to meeting the healthcare needs and demands of our growing populations.
Carrell calls her idea ‘remote healthcare’ meaning any kind of channel that allows the doctor to be close to the patient without the patient physically travelling to health establishments. Rather than physically attending a consultation, patients consult a doctor via the internet and telephone, and receive their medications through the post or in a pharmacy. This saves time and money, while a range of controls ensure safety.
‘We are trying to be to healthcare what Amazon is to books’ she says.
She has founded a way to use technology to provide doctor service to over 600,000 patients across the UK, Ireland, and Australia, and runs what is now the largest online doctors worldwide. Under her leadership the company has launched numerous new products and partnerships. She has rightfully gained various industry awards in recognition of this pioneering work to use technology to solve issues in society such as being named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Holly Tucker is founder of the gift website Notonthehighstreet.com which offers original items from creative small businesses, such as jewellery, persomalised trinkets and bespoke homeware.
Tucker began her working life at advertising agency Publicis. In 1999 she then moved to Brides magazine in 1999 for two years, before starting her own advertising sales consultancy.
In 2003 founded Your Local Fair, holding design-led craft fairs around affluent areas of south-west London. This was the a starting point for Tucker’s success. An experience in Chelsea where rain ruined a fair, showing the current business’ vulnerability to uncontrollable elements (such as the weather!) highlighted that ,whilst there was a growing call for hand crafted design and goods, a different platform was needed for her to create a successful business. She envisioned an online marketplace would be the way forward.
Tucker went on to contact Sophie Cornish, her former boss at Publicis, to ask if she would like to help her launch the online marketplace she envisioned.
‘To sum it all up, it’s just everything that’s not on the high street’ emailed Tucker.
However, at a time when one- basket technology didn’t exist, they had problems creating or having created a platform that enabled consumers to buy from multiple small businesses but pay in just one transaction.
‘It was hugely expensive, creating pioneering technology that not even eBay had at the time, though it is commonplace today’
Despite a rocky financial beginning, with the business having to find partners and investors to aid their growth, in 2014 its sellers made £127m in gross sales through the site, and Tucker is now the sole leader of the business.
Her story shows that vision and perseverance (not gender), to be key to success in the tech world. Tucker could see a market and knew that a new level of technology was going to have to be developed to make it possible. The success of notonthehighstreet.com evinces the potential for creative and talented women to make it in what is still a predominantly male industry.
Here at Foundry, we applaud these women for their success in the tech industry, and hope that they can act as role models and inspiration for the future generations to challenge the male dominance of the tech world. Individuals such as the ladies we have spoken about, prove that the industry can be made stronger with more inclusion of women, and that it needs to become ensured that the gender of a talented entrepreneur comes second to their talent and ability.
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