The most prominent British women in the world of technology
Even though the number of British women working in the technology sector increased to 31% last year, they only make up 10% of tech leadership, according to the Harvey Nash Tech Survey 2021. Given the fact that worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2021, women are misrepresented where the potential to grow and advance in one's career is one of the highest.
“Girls are being held off STEM following stereotypes according to which that’s not something women do. Gladly, there are numerous examples around the world that prove the opposite. We need to talk more about such women to inspire the rest to break through the stereotypes in order to give a shot at STEM and pursue tech careers,” says Laura Tyrell, Head of PR at NordVPN.
Women who made history
In the 19th century, women who studied science in the UK were forced to resign after getting married. One of these women was Ada Lovelace, who is widely recognised as the first computer programmer. She was the first to notice broader applications of general-purpose computers and wrote the first-ever algorithm for them.
Another prominent female figure in the STEM world is Joan Clarke. She was a decoder during the Second World War and helped break the German encryption machine — Enigma. Clarke’s input helped to understand the encrypted messages, shorten the war, and save thousands of lives.
In fact, after the Second World War, computers were kept in secret by the British government for fear that revealing them might compromise Britain’s national security.
“Most of the male operators returned to other jobs in civilian life. Meanwhile, women carried over the civil service in the computer industry. Jobs in computing simply weren’t considered ‘good’ jobs for men,” Laura Tyrell points out.
British women who are shaping the world of technology:
- Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft UK. Previously, she worked in senior roles across the technology and digital industries for companies such as Vodafone, Virgin Media, and Disney’s Interactive Media Group. She was awarded the Order of British Empire for services to UK technology in 2019.
- Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder of Cognition X, a platform that helps to accelerate the adoption of data-driven systems and artificial intelligence. In 2018, she became a chair AI council in the UK government. She is also a member of the board at TechUK — an association that brings together companies, professionals, and organisations to realise the positive outcome that technologies may bring.
- Flavilla Fongang, managing director at 3 Colours Rule, a strategic creative agency working with clients across the tech sector. She is also a founder of TLA Black Women in Tech, an organisation supporting diversity and inclusion in the tech world. In 2019, Fongang became BBC brand advisor and started her podcast — Tech Brains Talk.
- Sarah Wilkinson, CEO of NHS Digital. Before that, Wilkinson worked as CTO at the UK Home Office, where she led critical IT systems supporting UK borders and policing. She is also a non-executive director at King’s College London and NatWest Markets.
- Sarah Burnett, founding partner and head of technology immersion and insights at Emergence Partners. In 2017, she became a founder of BCSWomen AI Accelerator, which aims to make AI more relevant for women and encourage them to seek career opportunities in the IT sector.
“It is inspiring to see women in tech succeeding and fighting for the rights of fellow females in the industry. This brings hope that, one day, the sector will become truly gender-neutral”, says Laura Tyrell from NordVPN.
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