Inspirational quotes: Notable women in technology

Despite the technology industry only being made up of 18% females, there are many notable women who have contributed advancing the tech sector.

Below you will find a selection of inspirational quotes from notable women in technology.

“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”Women in tech awards feature

— Rear Admiral Grace Hopper the US Navy’s oldest active-duty officer at the time of her retirement. She developed the first compiler for a computer programming language and was a developer of UNIVAC I and COBOL. She also coined the terms “computer bug” and “debugging” after she opened her computer to fix it and a moth flew out of it.

“Any girl can be glamorous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.”

— Hedy Lamarr, actress, and co-developer of a frequency-hopping/spread spectrum technology based on a player piano. Described as “the most beautiful woman in Europe,” Lamarr never earned a penny from her patent, however after her patent expired, the tech was picked up by the US Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in guided torpedoes.

"I think it's very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men."

— Karen Spärck Jones, Professor of Computers and Information at Cambridge Computer Laboratory. Jones introduced the concept of inverse document frequency (IDF) used by most search engines.

 “Be First And Be Lonely.” 

Ginni Rometty, Chairwoman and CEO of IBM is an American business executive. She is noted as the first woman to head IBM. Prior to becoming president and CEO in January 2012 she held the positions of Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Sales, Marketing, and Strategy at IBM.

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

 Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! Mayer is an American business executive and computer scientist, currently serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!, a position she has held since July 2012.

“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show.”

— Ada Lovelace was a Mathematician and Computer Scientist. Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She is widely reported as being the first female coder.

Inspirational Woman: Robyn Exton | Founder of HER

Robyn Exton is the founder of HER, a mobile dating app that helps women to meet each other – currently focused on the lesbian, bisexual and queer female market. Robyn has had quite an uphill journey to get where she is today: it is hard enough running a business that is focused on women, with most investors being white middle aged straight men, but HER has launched with a market focus on lesbian, bisexual and queer women, adding an additional layer of complexity. To repeatedly pitch and raise $2.5million in investment has taken determination, resilience and very thick skin - and she is not even 30 yet. By looking at how women use technology, Robyn has opened up an entire new market that finally ditches the ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach most organisations have taken women’s markets in the past to be. Robyn is also shortlisted for the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award 2016.Techies Project - 2016.03.12 - 7620

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I think there was only one time I ever really stopped to think about where my career was going, and it was just before I quit my job. I'd fallen into the marketing industry and after working there for five years I stopped to think about where my career was realistically heading. As I mapped it out I wasn't as excited as I thought I should be and so a few months down the line I found myself setting up my own business.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Honest to God every single day is a challenge. Running a business is incredibly hard, surviving is hard. There are long term pain points that will always be the focus and challenge for CEOs, like hiring and raising investment. Then there's the day-to-day unexpected things like database crashes, leaking windows in the office, things you've never dealt with before and are handling for the first time. I handle things in two main ways, quickly and with help. I lean on investors for help with ongoing challenges and if something unexpected comes up, you want it out the door as quickly as possible.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

I'd always suggest talking to other people that have been there before. Ask them the hardest things about their roles, what they miss, what they're most excited about. Ask people from a range of industries to get a sense of what it could be like when you get there. And then fight for it - there are lots of people trying to be the best in their own field, so be great and make yourself heard in your industry.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

Culture & potential are the biggest defining factors for us for someone joining the team, almost more than qualifications.  Do we want to spend every light hour of the day with the person and then still get beers with them and do we think they're going to grow with the company, how much are they looking for this company to grow as well.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

My day normally starts at 5.30am checking notifications of what's happened in our London/SF teams then heading to the gym. And it ends with a last checkin on Slack and normally writing a piece of content for the app before closing the compter and heading to sleep.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations

Figure out what you care about that is important to your organisation, what you would stand on a stage and wax lyrical about and focus down on that area. Get other people excited about it and create change around it.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I've had informal advice from investors on a regular basis but I've never had coaching or a long term mentor. I guess I'm winging it right now.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker

I think it's really important, but less around the term 'networking' and more around having great friends in your peers and people that excite you in your industry.

  1. Make the effort, it's all a factor of time but you have to be at the party to meet the people.
  2. Use your social media when appropriate - its the best way to maintain relationships in a genuine but light touch way.
  3. Be real - only build relationships when its genuine, no one likes the fake person at the party throwing out business cards.

Sarah Wood, Co-CEO of Unruly, and Cassandra Stavrou, Co-Founder of Propercorn, win at Veuve Clicquot awards

Veuve Clicquot awards, champagne

Sarah Wood, Founder and Co-CEO of Unruly and Cassandra Stavrou, Co-Founder and CEO of Propercorn have been crown winners of the 2016 Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award and New Generation Award.

The Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Awards are regarded as the ‘Oscars’ amongst female entrepreneurs and business leaders. The awards were first launched 43 years ago to celebrate entrepreneurial women who are making significant contributions to business life in the UK.

Sarah Wood, Founder and Co-CEO of Unruly

Wood founded the online video service Unruly in 2006. The business has since expanded to 15 offices worldwide with over 200 people employed. Wood was also central to Unruly’s acquisition by NewsCorp in late 2015 in a deal worth £114m.

Today, Unruly works with 90% of AdAge 100 brands to connect them with consumers and has already notched up two trillion views to date including work with Adidas, Dove, T-Mobile, Evian and Renault.

Wood is a champion for diversity in the workplace, wit over 48% of her workforce being female. In addition 46% of Unruly’s management team are women.

Wood is a London Tech Ambassador and is an associate lecturer at the University of Cambridge, where she teaches an MPhil course in “Mash-Ups, Memes and LOLitics: Online Video Culture and the Screen Media Revolution.

She also co-founded a free pop-up university in London’s Tech City called “City Unrulyversity”. Taught by academics from City University London, it pops up every Wednesday night at Unruly HQ.

On receiving her award Wood, said: “As an entrepreneur I know just how important it is to celebrate success, and as a mum of three amazing children I can see first-hand the significance of role models for the next generation of entrepreneurs and female business leaders.

“So it’s brilliant to see Madame Clicquot continuing to inspire female business leaders to this day, and I’m delighted to be attending the ceremony with three exceptionally talented women who have been instrumental to the continuing growth of Unruly’s phenomenal success - Clem Carlisle, Lucy Greggains and Deana Murfitt, I salute you!"

Cassandra Stavrou, Co-founder and CEO of Propercorn

Stavrou told her mother of her plans to start a healthy popcorn business and she reminded her that the last present her father gave her before he passed away was a vintage popcorn maker.

She decided to quit her job and move back home to make Propercorn a reality. After almost two years of seasoning popcorn in a cement mixer, she was at a point where she could bring her idea to life.

Stavrou launched her business by securing a deal to stock Propercorn at Google HQ. It was also featured as a snack at London Fashion Week.

Today Propercorn has a team of 40 based in offices in North London and is available in 10 countries in Europe. Since first launching in October 2011, Propercorn has over 15,000 stockists including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado and Boots and it has emerged as one of the fastest growing brands in the UK.

She recently launched Propercorn Platform, which is open to budding entrepreneurs aged 16-23. The winning business idea receives funding and mentorship to get their company off the ground.

The Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award was set up to celebrate up and coming female entrepreneurial talent in the UK who show a genuine commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices whilst optimising a gap in today’s market.

Stavrou on receiving her award said: “It’s such an honour to receive the New Generation award and to appear alongside such an impressive group of finalists. The awards are an amazing celebration of entrepreneurs from around the world and it’s been inspiring to learn more about Madame Clicquot’s tenacious spirit and legacy of entrepreneurship”

Julie Nollet, Marketing & Communication Director, Moët Hennessy UK, said: “We are thrilled to celebrate two incredible winners who come from such very different sectors, both are incredibly inspiring in not only their approach to business but what they continue to achieve outside their very busy working lives. Both Sarah and Cassandra exhibit those key attributes that Madame Clicquot had in 1805 when she became the first woman to take over a champagne house; those same characteristics that are still so clearly evident today as we celebrate in our winners in 2016.”

The award’s independent judging panel is comprised of business leaders including; Caroline Michel, CEO Peters, Frasers & Dunlop, Carolyn McCall, CEO, Easyjet, Ruth Rogers, River Café, Stephen Quinn, Publishing Director of Vogue, Luke Johnson, Chairman, Risk Capital Partners, as well as Sian Westerman, MD, Rothschild.

Children lose interest in tech in late teens, finds survey

children learning to use computer with parent
Children lose interest in careers in technology as they reach their late teenage years, according to a survey from Nominet and Parent Zone.

The study found that 77% of children aged 11 to 12 are more likely to be inspired by a career in IT, as opposed to 63% of 17 to 18 year olds.

Children aged 11 to 18 were found to be most interested in development careers, with almost a quarter stating they wanted to be a games developer. 13% said they wanted a career in apps development and 12.6% said they aspired to be a web developer.

Only a quarter of girls claimed they wanted to work in an IT department, compared to 43% of boys. However, 12.3% of girls said they would like a career in games development and 11.5% said they wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of Parent Zone, said children, particularly young women, can be put off of careers in technology if their parents advise them otherwise: “It’s easy for parents to slip into the trap of being negative about technology, but it’s important they try to see it through their children’s eyes and remember that technology is likely to feature in their careers when they leave school.

"There are lots of resources available to parents when it comes to cultivating their children’s interests in IT, so they should know that help is available if they need it.”

The majority of girls aged between 11 and 18 said they wanted a career in fashion design (13%). The top career for boys in this age group was games development (36.5%).

Shotbolt added: “Young women are strongly influenced by their school years, what they learn and the role models they look up to. These influences can clearly make a difference to the choices they make later in life, so it’s paramount we do all we can now to ensure the success of our future IT workforce.”

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, said a collaborated effort between the IT industry and the education sector could help to ensure more young people are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue a technology career.

Haworth said: “We’re putting the future of our digital economy at risk if we recruit from only half of the talent pool and fail to encourage more girls into IT. It appears that sustained collaboration between schools and the IT industry is what’s required to ignite girls’ interest and to develop their skills.”

Nominations open for WISE Awards 2016 | New men’s category

Kayleigh Bateman

Nominations are now open for the WISE Awards 2016, which focuses on showcasing women in the science, technology and engineering sectors.

WISE Awards 2016The nominations are now open and the deadline for submissions is 9:00am on Friday 8 July 2016.

WISE has launched a new “WISE Man of the Year Award”, which is jointly sponsored by McKinsey and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

WISE describe the category as: “Recognising the crucial role men play in championing diversity and recognise their power to change workplace cultures and influence perceptions in order to make a bigger difference.”

Last year Her Royal Highness (HRH) The Princess Royal, Patron of WISE, presented the winners with their trophies. She said: “We want to show every girl in this country and her family that she could have a wonderful future in science and engineering.”

Previous winners include Anna Shaw, Laboratory Analyst Apprentice, GlaxoSmithKline and winner of the WISE Apprentice Award 2014.

She said: “I chose the apprenticeship route because I enjoy having a full time job but wanted to really develop myself technically too. The Award means a lot to me because I was never pushed forward by teachers at school. I want to make it possible for all the younger generation of people who follow to do the same thing.”

The WISE Awards 2016 categories and sponsors are listed below:

WISE Rising Star Award – sponsored by Intel
For a girl or young woman studying or training in science, technology, engineering or mathematics whose achievements and passion have inspired others to follow in her footsteps. (Replaces WISE Girl and WISE Apprentice Awards)

WISE Hero Award – sponsored by Babcock
To celebrate the inspirational story of a woman using science, technology or engineering to make the world a better place.

WISE Health & Safety Award – sponsored by BAM Nuttall
For a woman who has improved health and safety within a science, technology, engineering, manufacturing or construction environment.

WISE Research Award – sponsored by Winton Capital
Celebrating cutting edge research in science, technology, engineering or mathematics - to show the contributions women are making to advances in scientific or other technical fields.

WISE International Open Source Award – sponsored by Bloomberg
This is an international award for female contributors to open source software projects, reflecting the global nature of the open source community and the tech sector at large. Finalists will be asked to commit to an activity that helps get girls and women excited about careers in technology.

WISE Tech Start-Up Award – sponsored by Goldman Sachs
For a woman who has used technology to set up, or helped set up, a successful business.We are looking for innovation in the business model, product or service, business model, or the way in which technology is used in the business.

WISE Employer Award – sponsored by AWE
For an employer who has adopted the Ten Steps or a similar framework and can demonstrate a positive impact on the recruitment, retention and progression of women in their organisation, through their supply chain and/or the wider industry.

WISE Impact Award – sponsored by Thales
For a project, campaign or initiative which has significantly increased the number of girls or women in science, technology, engineering or mathematics in the UK and could be replicated by others. We are looking for evidence of sustained change.

WISE Woman of the Year Award – sponsored by Rolls-Royce PLC
Celebrating the achievements of a woman in a leadership role in a science, technology or engineering industry.

WISE Man of the Year Award – jointly sponsored by McKinsey & The Royal Academy of Engineering
To recognise men who are championing gender diversity, using their influence to drive change in their own organisation and amongst their peers.

Inspirational Woman: Alice Bentinck | Co-Founder of Entrepreneur First and Code First: Girls

Alice Bentinck ef 1Alice Bentinck is the Co-Founder of Entrepreneur First (EF) and Code First: Girls. Entrepreneur First supports Europe's best technical talent to build their own high-growth tech startups. The accelerator mainly takes talented individuals before they have a team or an idea, and spend six months with them to get them to the point where they can take on serious seed funding. CodeFirst: Girls is a UK not-for-profit which was born when the founders of Entrepreneur First notice a lack of girls applying for the accelerator. Alice is shortlisted for the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I never planned my career, but I always like to have something to aim for. When I was younger I would write down ideas of what I wanted to do as a career, but as I was brought up in a very rural area the ideas are somewhat different to what I do now! Having nine goats growing up meant they were more focused around being a vet than a venture capitalist (VC).

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I think anyone founding a company will face challenges. Bringing something new into the world is never easy. The biggest challenge for us when we started out was that our model was very much against the status quo. We wanted to build companies from scratch, working with individuals before they had a company. The status quo was that you only worked with teams who had set ideas. We had a lot of push back on this at the beginning from the eco system, but we found that our customers (the potential founders) were actively seeking ways to build their cofounding team and to evaluate ideas, but there were no easy ways for them to do this.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

One of the things I have learnt is that leadership is a skill and as such, it is something that can be learnt and improved on over time. It's important that you develop your own authentic leadership style that works for you. Often this is an amalgamation of lots of different people's leadership styles. Before and when you move into a leadership position read as much as possible about leadership (especially autobiographies) and watch the leaders around you and learn from what they do. I really like The Power of Many by Meg Whitman and Suffragette by Emmeline Pankhurst. The latter isn't a business book, but can teach you a lot about leadership.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

I've never had this problem! It's important with any candidate that you understand why they want to do the role, what they are expecting from it and how it fits into their wider career goals.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

The day starts with a quick check of my emails and slack (our internal messaging system). I then do a quick workout at home and then cycle to work. I used to try and cram in breakfast meetings at the beginning of the day, but this is usually when the day is quietest and I am at my most focused, so I'm trying to do more desk work at these times. There is no normal end of the day. I'm often at events, or we run a lot of events in our office too. I am a big fan of sleep though and try to make sure I get to bed at a good time.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations

Don't be afraid to talk about the work you have done and to be proud of it. Speak up and share your opinion.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

Yes very much so. Both informally and formally. I recently got a professional coach and it has been transformative. Taking time to think about and invest in your personal development is important and having a professional coach gives this a rhythm.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker

Your network is how you get stuff done and how you learn about new opportunities, so you need to invest in it. Think carefully about how you build your network, you need breadth as well as depth. So yes, a networking event might be useful, but only if you follow up with the people you meet afterwards and create a relationship with them. Networking sounds unpleasant and businessey - it's really just about getting to know people and keeping in touch.

What does the future hold for you?

I can't imagine doing anything other than running EF, so I'm in it for the long haul!

The gender and skills gap: Opportunity knocks

The gender and skills gap are currently very hot topics in the world of cyber/information security.  (I use the word cyber – unashamedly because (arguably) it sounds cool)! The Women’s Security Society, together with the government department of Business Innovation and Skills, tackled the gender and skills gap issue through a roundtable event. 30 professionals came together in 2013 to discuss the gender and skills gap in cyber, from which a white paper was produced, with recorded outcomes and recommended actions.Woman in business wear with technology background

Three years on and the topic of the gender and skills gap is still very prevalent.  Has anything changed? The white paper provides two very pertinent points that stand out over and above other findings, and these are:

  • The lack of standardisation of, or formalisation in career paths and qualifications
  • The need for women working in cyber to share their stories - to be put ‘out there’

So, here is my reflection on the first point: Three years on, I don’t believe we have a single framework, approved and advocated by various professional bodies; a commonly used reference point. On the qualifications piece, whilst I’m an absolute advocate of professional training companies, they do, on occasion publish lists of ‘ISSSSPs, ISMmms, - often unpronounceable certifications’ and align these against a range of cyber roles. This can be helpful but, conversely can sometimes confuse and coerce individuals into paying for professional qualifications that may not be relevant.  I’m inclined to wonder if the dominance of certifications could be causing a bit of laziness in terms of the approach to recruitment. Combined with the absence of a standard career framework, we appear to remain a little stagnant here.  I’d love to see more organisations investing in apprenticeship style, on the job training which actively looks for differenceBAE systems are doing just this and I applaud them.  They are running an apprenticeship scheme for cyber, targeting individuals who have transferrable skills and wish to enter without the traditional qualifications or expertise.

There is an increasing demand for cyber professionals to be more business facing, to translate ‘Cyblah’ into business relatable issues easily understood by the board.  Would the traditional graduate computer science route provide the type of candidate who can meet increased business facing expectations?  Does the traditional graduate route potentially exclude those bright individuals, often from diverse backgrounds who could not afford University and further education?  I have a positive outlook and firmly believe we can look at the current skills (and gender) gap as an opportunity to introduce a more diverse and dynamic angle to the profession – a healthy mix of difference surely means we can enhance and expand cyber roles and capabilities.  An article written by the Financial Times in late 2015 ‘Cyber Security Sector Struggles to Fill the Skills Gap’ nicely summarises the situation, referring to it as “the largest human capital situation in the world”.  The article states that cyber jobs take 14% longer to recruit for than the average for all jobs, making cyber more difficult to recruit for than data science, advanced manufacturing and petroleum engineering.  So, is it time now for the profession to really embrace difference?  I believe so.

On the second point: Representation of women in cyber and women getting themselves ‘out there’. There is some great momentum building, including a book that is being written about women in cyber security by Jane Frankland, which will be published later this year.  There are numerous forums and networking groups emerging and, more importantly collaborating.  We have some fantastic cyber role models visible and available via social media– Dr Neira Jones, Sarah Clarke, Karolina Oseckyte, Eliza May Austin, Marilise de Villiers, Jane Frankland being ones that immediately spring to mind.  There are also a number of male counterparts who actively support and speak on the gender issue.  But we do need more ladies in cyber to become visible and to actively support and advocate those who are starting their careers, those who are looking to move into the profession or who are developing a social media presence. So a few ideas from me, as to how people can provide low effort, but high return support – support can be one of the strongest enablers out there for change!

  • Be available – comment, like, share and support ladies (indeed all individuals) in cyber.  A bit of muddling about with your mobile device on twitter or LinkedIn on the train or whilst cooking dinner isn’t a huge outlay.  The return can be a demonstration of active support for others.  To me, supporting others is incredibly rewarding and will consolidate strength of movement and facilitate change.
  • As I’ve mentioned within a past LinkedIn blog.  Search and locate talent!  Connect with talent (in all its forms) at events, via social media, within your organisations.  Often informal support is far more impactful than formal programs.  Informal support and approaches personalise, it shows you care as a person, as a leader.
  • Arguably one thing I do quite well is catch up with other professionals for a cup of coffee (or wine)! Build bonds and establish your own informal network.  This is a great opportunity to share details of roles, discuss and introduce talent – to knowledge share, to collaborate on a 1:1 level.

I recently reached out and actively supported an individual who, on LinkedIn commented and wrote a great post about his challenges finding a cyber role.  His message to me, after we connected speaks volumes; “I would like to think that in months/years to come I will also be able to offer advice and a helping hand to someone who is going through a situation similar to mine, just as you have”.

Doing and supporting extends a ladder to others and those individuals will recognise the value and apply the same behaviours.  That’s change.

Charlie Timblin is the Associate Director Technology Risk of International Financial Data Services.


WeAreTheCity's Rising Star Shortlist 2016 announcement

Rising Star awards-shortlist 2016-banner

We are extremely proud to announce our shortlist for WeAreTheCity’s Top 100 Rising Star Awards 2016.

The calibre of entries across all categories was extremely high this year and a true testament to the amazing amount of female talent within the pipeline across the UK and Northern Ireland.

On behalf of Barclays and our supporting sponsors, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who nominated their Rising Stars for this year’s awards. We received over 950 nominations spanning 260 companies from across the UK and Northern Ireland, which was treble the amount of entries received last year.

We are very much looking forward to celebrating our shortlisted individuals’ achievements at an event kindly sponsored by Bloomberg on the 17 May 2016.

The shortlist will now be judged by an additional set of expert judges, and the winners of our Rising Star awards for 2016 will be announced on 6 June and celebrated at our winner’s event at Barclays on 30 June.

To view the 2016 shortlist, please visit here

We would like to personally thank our shortlist judges: Paul Sesay, Simone Roche, Jo Gaglani, Mairi McHaffie, Nicola Horlick, Helene Reardon-Bond, Duncan McRae and Yvonne Thompson.  They all gave their valuable time to assemble our shortlist and to help WeAreTheCity to recognise the fantastic achievements of all of our amazing nominees.

Supporters of our nominees are now able to show our shortlisted nominees their support by casting their votes. The vote count does not determine the winners.  Please note there is no public voting for our Champions category.  Votes can be cast via the shortlist pages.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish our shortlisted nominees the very best of luck in the final round of judging.

For more detail about the awards, please visit here

Rising Star awards Shortlist - vote now

Tech Partnership launches My Tech Future campaign to encourage girls into IT industry

The Tech Partnership has launched a campaign to encourage more girls to take up careers in technology, called My Tech Future.

My Tech Future campaign The Tech Partnership is a growing network of employers that are working together to create skills for the digital economy.

The campaign targets girls aged 9-18 and encourages them into the tech industry through employer-led interventions. The campaign is being sponsored by BT, HP Enterprise and TCS.

My Tech Future will launch with a piece of research, surveying young people, parents and teachers. The research aims to shed light on girls’ attitudes, aspirations and concerns, and will also identify and test potential solutions.

The results of the research will be published during Tech Week taking place July 4-8. Tech Week involves employers opening up their offices and workplaces to young people.

BT’s Emer Timmons, who accompanied Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice Caroline Dinenage MP to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women in March, said: “Women need and deserve the opportunity to make the most of their abilities in meaningful and worthwhile work. Through My Tech Future, BT is supporting girls’ aspirations and helping inspire them about the many exciting digital roles that are available to them.”

Jacqui Ferguson, SVP & General Manager at HP Enterprise Services UK&I and MEMA, said: “The digital economy has opened the door to a wide range of career options in what is a rapidly evolving marketplace. Hewlett Packard Enterprise is committed to inspiring more girls to develop their digital skills and consider further education or a career in technology.

“As such, we are delighted to be supporting My Tech Future and see it as a natural supplement to our sponsorship of TechFuture Girls, the after-school clubs for girls between 9-14 years old aiming to enhance learning in IT.”

Yogesh Chauhan, Director of Corporate Sustainability at TCS, said: “A diverse workforce is important to TCS and the tech sector more generally, so we need to get behind initiatives like My Tech Future and ensure that we’re not losing out on a huge untapped resource of female talent. TCS is proud to support this work, alongside our sponsorship of TechFuture Ambassadors, who work directly with schools to inspire students.”

Karen Price, CEO of the Tech Partnership said: “Tech Partnership employers are excited about giving school students, and particularly girls, an opportunity to see first-hand their fascinating work and stimulating environments.

“Other organisations who’d like to join them in inspiring girls about careers in tech by taking part in Tech Week would be more than welcome – it’s a chance to disperse any preconceptions and show kids directly what an adventure the digital world can offer.”

Inspiring girls into STEM: The Power of One

All it takes to inspire a girl into STEM is one life-changing interaction. Student to Stemette seeks to give girls just that.

A keynote address by technical executive Nora Denzel at the 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing spurred Anne-Marie Imafidon to found Stemettes. In 2013, the social enterprise - which inspires girls into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) - was born.Stemettes-feature STEM

Denzel’s talk highlighted the persistent underrepresentation of women in STEM – as illustrated by statistics released by the Office for National Statistics in 2015, which found that only 14.4% of the UK's STEM workforce is female.

Writing for Huffington Post after she attended the conference, Anne-Marie reflected on the impact being around so many other women in STEM had had on her. “I remember feeling so at home amongst women who, like me, had a deep appreciation for all things computer science,” she said. “Above all, I remember the great sense of wanting to pass the feeling on as I got on my plane to leave Baltimore.”

The power of that talk resulted in the creation of an organisation which has now reached over 8000 girls. It demonstrates how lives can be profoundly changed by a single interaction.

When it comes to encouraging girls into STEM, the value of creating opportunities for girls to engage with inspiring women in industry cannot be underestimated. Events such as the recent Women 6.0 Being Tech Role Models event are critical in this regard. Each of these interactions has the potential to be career-changing for the girl concerned.

All of us working to encourage more girls into STEM should seek to provide as many of these opportunities as possible. These “hot” (i.e direct, face-to-face) interactions with key female figures in STEM fields are not only inspiring, but they are proven to have the greatest impact on changing patterns of educational choice, according to a 2012 Kings College London ASPIRES report.

With this in mind, in 2015, the Student to Stemette (STS) programme was officially launched, supported by Deutsche Bank as part of their Born to Be youth engagement programme. STS aims to inspire young women into STEM careers by connecting them with a woman in industry (known as their Sherpa) who actively mentors them over the course of four months. It seeks to provide them with the kind of interactions which have the power to influence their career choice and inspire them into STEM.

Alongside mentoring, all girls selected for the programme (known as Sherpees) can access Stemettes’ flagship app, OtotheB, and work experience placements.

In addition, five Sherpees will have the opportunity to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the event which played a pivotal role in the establishment of Stemettes. The conference takes place in the United States in October. The competition to win an all-expenses paid trip to the conference opened last week, and all current Sherpees are eligible to apply.

Speakers at last year’s Grace Hopper Conference included Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg ("Confidence and leadership are muscles,” she told attendees, “You learn to use them or lose them.”), US Chief Technology Officer and former Google Executive Megan Smith, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who got into hot water for telling the conference that women shouldn’t ask for a raise and should instead put their trust in the system.

Opportunities like the Grace Hopper Conference not only offer girls the chance to engage with inspiring women in STEM. They also present an invaluable opportunity for girls to feel a sense of belonging among thousands of other women who share their passion (15 000 are expected to attend this year’s event). This is a vital source of motivation and support for young women seeking to build a career in what remains a male-dominated field.

In 2014, five girls who aspired to build a career in STEM attended the Grace Hopper Conference as part of a Student to Stemette pilot project.

Of her experience at the Grace Hopper Conference, conference attendee Ellie blogged: “(Through Student to Stemette) I was shown that females can do it too... and I was one of the lucky five who got to attend the Grace Hopper Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s all because of Student to Stemette I got to improve my networking skills whilst learning from inspirational people who were tackling the gender ratio head on.”

The current cohort of Student to Stemette sherpees is fast-approaching their graduation in May, and the next intake will begin the programme in July. The response from the girls thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. “Student to Stemette helped me build my confidence,” said past Sherpee Ellie, “It reassured me that I wasn’t the only girl who liked doing science. It’s a scheme which gave me a helping hand from someone who was just like me.”

Tackling the underrepresentation of women in STEM is complex, but there is a range of simple ways to start. This is problem which needs to be tackled at an individual level. Bringing inspiring women in STEM into girls’ lives, and giving girls access to opportunities to explore the wide range of career options STEM offers, is an excellent place to begin.

For the next generation of women in STEM, the power of one interaction can yield infinite possibilities.

This article was provided by Jo Cruse is Stemettes’ Communications Lead at Stemettes

Student to Stemette took part in the recent Women 6.0 Being Tech Role Models event.

Would your company like to offer work experience to an aspiring woman in STEM? Drop us an email on [email protected]. We’re also looking for Sherpas based in Birmingham – find out more information here.

For more information about Stemettes, take a look at our website, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.