TechWomen100 2019 featured

WeAreTechWomen announces 2019 TechWomen100 shortlist

TechWomen100 2019 

WeAreTechWomen is extremely proud to announce the TechWomen100 2019 shortlist.

Since August 2019, WeAreTechWomen has been searching the UK for the best female tech talent in the country. With the support of headline sponsor J.P. Morgan, WeAreTechWomen has now identified a shortlist of 200.

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and to also recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way for future generations of tech talent. Highlighting the achievements of these women is part of  the WeAreTechWomens campaign to shine a spotlight on 1000 future female leaders in technology by 2025.

The shortlist showcases remarkable women within the technology and STEM sector, including Alice Williams-Alden, Royal Navy, who assesses, designs and embody repairs to aircraft around the world; Coral Movasseli, Founder and Managing Director of Girls in Tech Dublin, which has grown to be the largest organisation of its kind in the country and has trailblazed entry for women, by holding the first Women in Tech hackathon in Ireland earlier this year; Isabel Ashworth, Senior CAE Engineer, Jaguar Land Rover Ltd, who joined the organisation through a sponsorship scheme and now tests future products to meet the requirements of the customer; and Merici Vinton, who started in tech on the Obama New Media team during the 2008 election, and has since co-founded Ada’s List, a forum for women in technology in London and globally.

The full shortlist includes individuals from leading firms such as Deliveroo, Royal Navy, The Alan Turing Institute, Three UK, Microsoft, Fujitsu, John Lewis, Sky and Mastercard alongside founders and entrepreneurs.

Over the nomination period, we received over 700 nominations from across the UK and Northern Ireland. The calibre of entries for these awards was exceptional and all of the judges stated how difficult it was to arrive at the shortlist due to the amazing achievements of our nominees.

Speaking about the awards, Alison Macpherson, Managing Director, Head of Global Technology Workforce Strategy, J.P. Morgan, said, "The most impactful contribution we make as colleagues and leaders is to enable everyone to bring their best authentic selves to the workplace, so that we are diverse in every sense of the word and representative of the communities in which we live and work."

"We see the value in celebrating what makes us unique and are proud to be sponsoring WeAreTechWomen.”

Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director of WeAreTechWomen said, “"At WeAreTechWomen, we have made it our personal mission to shine a spotlight on women working in tech."

"Our strategic aim is to highlight 500 female future leaders in technology by 2022."

"The response to this year’s awards has been fantastic and the calibre of entries has been outstanding."

"I am so proud to see so many women in tech recognised for their achievements and really look forward to seeing who our final winners will be in December.”

Please find the full shortlist in alphabetical order here

The public vote of support is now open for our 200 individual shortlist nominees. Votes can be cast here.

*Please note there is no public vote for champions, companies or networks.

The TechWomen100 Awards is supported by J.P. Morgan, Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Dell Technologies, Informed Solutions, Lloyds Banking Group, Oliver Wyman, OpenFin and Worldpay.

TechWomen100 Award Sponsor Bubble LATEST

We would like to personally thank our judges who all gave up their valuable time to assemble our shortlist and to help WeAreTechWomen recognise the fantastic achievements of all of our amazing nominees.

Congratulations to all of our shortlisted nominees and best of luck in the next round of judging.

The final list will be announced 03 December. Finalists will be invited to attend an award's ceremony in January. Tickets will be available to purchase on 03 December from the WeAreTechWomen site.


encouraging girls in to tech, STEM featured

More than 75% of young women interested in a career in STEM are put off by gender barriers

encouraging girls in to tech, STEM featuredIn light of recent research conducted by RWB, QA and Stemettes have launched a series of free STEM Certification Academies to target gender barriers and give young women the skills and qualifications they need for a career in the tech sector.

The research revealed that 53% of young women wish to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), however unfortunately 78% of them are put off by the gender barriers that currently exist in the sector.

Furthermore, 37% of women believe that they would not have access to the same opportunities as male colleagues, and nearly a third admitted that they do not feel comfortable in a male dominated environment.

To tackle these statistics, QA has joined forces with Stemettes, a social enterprise which exists to encourage girls aged 5-25 to pursue a STEM career. The 'Stemettes Certification Academy'  3-day training course will offer free facilities, technology skills training and certifications to ten young women (aged 16-20) who aspire to work in the technology industry. It will be led by QA's world-class qualified trainers and the successful course completes will gain a globally recognised ICAgile qualification. The initial pilot programme will take place at QA’s flagship training centre in St Katherine’s Dock, starting on 23rdOctober 2019.

Reflecting on the findings of the research, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, CEO & Co-founder, Stemettes, said: “The research shows that there is an aspiration amongst young women to pursue technology and other STEM careers. However, there are still perceived to be real barriers that are limiting UK female potential – one of these is a lack of understanding – which must be addressed. This half-term ‘The Stemettes Certification Academy’ is a first important milestone in us achieving our organisational ambitions, which we’ll be widely publishing next year – to move the dial across the UK for young women and their communities, especially in Agile, Cyber and Coding skills.”

Paul Geddes, CEO, QA has also commented, saying:  “Given the skills gap across the STEM sector, and the dire shortfall of women in UK STEM roles, this is an important partnership with Stemettes, for us to jointly further bridge the technology skills gap. Working with our world-class trainers on ‘The Stemettes Certification Academy’, the women will be sufficiently upskilled in the latest Agile practices, with a view to supporting their technology career aspirations. Together with Stemettes, we are confident that this programme will be the first of many.”

The initial pilot course will comprise of ten aspiring STEM students, with QA and Stemettes in discussions on future technology skills initiatives across Cyber, Agile and Coding in 2020 and beyond.


InnovateHer featured

InnovateHer teams with Sony to launch technology bootcamp for girls across the UK

InnovateHer

InnovateHer has teamed up with Sony to bring its eight week technology programme for teenage girls to more locations across the country.

The Digital Bootcamp programme aims to give girls aged between 12-16 valuable tech and interpersonal skills, whilst encouraging them to consider STEM subjects and careers in tech.

Unfortunately, current statistics show that girls make up only 20% of computer science entries at GCSE, and just 10% at A-level, with nine times more boys than girls gaining an A level in Computer Science this year. InnovateHer, whose mission is “to get girls ready for the tech industry, and the industry ready for girls”, has promised to tackle these figures by working with schools to reach over 1,000 girls by 2020.

The after school programme will teach girls technical skills, build confidence, and highlight local opportunities within the tech and digital industries. The collaboration with PlayStation has allowed InnovateHer to extend the programme to new locations, including Guildford and London.

The bootcamp is set to launch in selected schools in January 2020, and graduates of the programme will have the opportunity to showcase the work they have produced at next year's Develop conference in Brighton.

Chelsea Slater, Co-founder of InnovateHer has spoken ahead of the launch, saying:

“We’re proud to be working with PlayStation again on our tech programme for girls. The issues we see around the gender pay gap and low numbers of women in the tech community are the culmination of the seeds that get sown early in young women’s academic careers. Our mission is to get girls ready for the tech industry, and to get the industry ready for girls, and a huge part of this is challenging the misconception that girls “can’t do” STEM subjects like Computer Science, equally that the STEM industry doesn’t cater for women. That’s why it’s important for us that our programme reaches girls not just locally, but nationally, too, and that it aims to show young women just what opportunities are open to them. Thanks to PlayStation’s support and recognition, we are able to do just that.”

If your school is based in London, Liverpool or Guildford and wishes to take part in the InnovateHer programme, then an expression of interest form can be found here: http://bit.ly/iher2020


gender-equality-featured

Shining a light on the equality problem in STEM this Ada Lovelace Day

gender equality

By Industry Experts

Not only are education institutions seeing a continued low proportion of women opting for STEM subjects and ultimately taking up roles in these fields, but a recent report has revealed more than half of women in the tech industry leave by a mid-point in their career.

This is double the rate of men and due in part to weak management, a lack of perceived opportunities, and a poor work-life balance.

Ada Lovelace Day presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on the personal experiences of women in tech and hear what they think companies must do to encourage greater equality in the workplace.

Natacha Robert, Divisional Finance Director, Civica, explains that studying STEM gives you the best foundation for your future career. “In my current job as Divisional Finance Director, my STEM background and knowledge has no doubt informed many of my leadership decisions, resulting in more scientifically grounded and logical decision-making. I found that having a STEM background has given me a better understanding of my peers’ specialities, related to software development and system architecture. I firmly believe that studying STEM subjects equips you with problem-solving skills and teaches you how to apply knowledge and skills to real-world professional challenges, giving you the ability to maximise results.”

But according to Lindsey Kneuven, Chief Impact Officer at Pluralsight and Executive Director of Pluralsight One, there is still a long way to go. “Despite the increased awareness around STEM’s gender imbalance, the problem is systemic. According to a recent UNESCO report, women represent just 35 per cent of STEM students globally. We must accelerate the pace of change to achieve gender equity and ensure the voices, expertise, power and perspectives of women are included to help shape the future.”

Esther Mahr, Conversational Experience Designer, IPsoft, echoes this. “When I look around at industry gatherings, among a sea of engineers, developers, program managers, business analysts and service delivery heads, I still see too few female faces. And it’s not just a lack of female representation – we are a rather homogeneous industry.

“While one day is a good start to creating awareness, more needs to be done to encourage girls to take up STEM subjects. As technology – and in particular AI – becomes an integral part of our world, we have to equip younger generations with the necessary skills they will need to be successful in their future working lives.”

Barbara Schretter, Team Lead Data Science, Celonis, agrees that, it’s important to encourage more women of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels to explore working in technology. “Hopefully by making them more visible, the next generation of female technology professionals can find role models and become inspired to pursue a career in technology.

“It’s a good idea to involve companies in such projects as there will be more and more people needed in tech in the future,” explains Schretter. “The sooner young people start with coding, the better it will be for their future careers. Even if they don’t programme on their own, to have a basic understanding of coding can’t do any harm. Having companies involved in such projects might also help them get excited about building their own scripts or solving various problems through scripting.”

But, while the number of girls studying STEM subjects has risen, “we need to ensure we continue to highlight more role models and the opportunities technology presents for girls’ and young women’s future careers,” explains Jayne Stone, Chief Marketing Officer, Vuealta

“As business leaders, we need to make an active effort to work in collaboration with schools, colleges, parents and media, to ensure girls can learn about these role models and feel confident and equipped to study STEM subjects and hopefully, a career in STEM. We also need to broaden our role models to make it clear that a career in technology doesn’t mean you’ll be confined to one discipline, and it doesn’t necessarily require qualifications in STEM fields.

“From example, Vuealta enables its customers to transform their business planning and supply chain operations through the use of technology, but you don’t have to necessarily be an expert in IT to work within this industry.”

As explained by Joanne Warner, Head of Customer Service, Natterbox though, there is still a cultural change needed within the workplace as well. “It was only after I had my second child that I felt that my gender was at the heart of an issue at work. Some of my management and colleagues thought that my commitment and motivations within the workplace had changed. But this only made me even more determined to prove that work ethic is not defined by gender or children. Everyone will always come across workplace challenges, but I enjoy sometimes having to prove myself – it’s what keeps us engaged with our work and motivated to push forward.

Warner believes “we need diversity to thrive and evolve, so it’s vital that businesses and education organisations continue to promote all opportunities as equal. Spending time and investment in understanding people’s motivations and strengths can produce the most innovative and loyal employees or students.”

Lori MacVittie, Principal Threat Evangelist, F5 Networks thinks “there is a tendency to dismiss women in technology that aren’t in a hands-on role, but we need to support and promote all women in the technology industry because ultimately not everyone that wants a slice of the tech world wants to sit and code all day.

“Fundamentally, STEM has a brand problem and there is a stereotype of the type of women who work in STEM roles. We might think of introverts and people that wear all black and no heels, but that’s just not the case! Whatever kind of woman you are, what you wear or what personality you have, is irrelevant. There’s a role for you.”

Kneuven concludes, “now is the time for companies to prove they are not merely interested in rhetoric but are committed to achieving lasting change in the STEM industry within our lifetime. We must eliminate the barriers that prevent girls’ participation, radically disrupt our education systems and hiring practices to ensure true inclusion and inspire the next generation of talent to pursue their own promising STEM careers. It’s time for all leaders to evaluate how they can make a difference and move the industry forward with equal representation.”


#MarTechFest featured

Enter the draw: #MarTechFest, the anti-conference, giveaway

#MarTechFest

For one day more jam-packed than your marketing stack, you and a colleague will join 600+ marketers at one of London's most unique venues.

Catch sessions from the godfather of martech, Scott Brinker, plus brands including Gartner, Twitter, Vodafone, The Drum + more. Mingle over delicious street food, pool tables, a few bevvies, lunch and DJ sets with marketers from Pepsi, Sky, Vice, FT, Barclays, and more.

With over 7k+ martech solutions available it's no surprise that 29 per cent of the average marketing budget is being spent on marketing technology. Plus a whopping 45 per cent  of companies lack the skills or the staff to capitalise on their tech. This creates major challenges which #MarTechFest can help you tackle. #MarTechFest - marketing technology made simple.

  • Develop an integrated martech plan and road map wrapped around your business goals and customers. Build a plan that goes beyond platforms.
  • Identify the talent & skills required to power their plans
  • Build a complete marketing stack
  • Implement agile marketing methodologies & more

WeAreTechWomen have ten tickets to giveaway to this year's #MarTechFest for our readers. If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a ticket, then email info@wearethecity.com and tell us why you want to attend. Entries will close on 13th October and winners will be drawn at random and notified on 14th October.

ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED


'Amazon Future Engineer' launches to help children from low-income backgrounds build careers in Computer Science

amazon-logo

'Amazon Future Engineer' launches in the UK to help children and young adults from low-income backgrounds build careers in Computer Science.

The UK needs an additional 38,000 workers with computer science-related skills, including 21,000 computer science graduates, to meet labour demands every year – or the economy could lose out on an estimated £33 billion a year by 2030, according to new research by Capital Economics.

To help close that gap, Amazon is launching Amazon Future Engineer in the UK – a comprehensive childhood-to-career programme to inspire, educate, and enable children and young adults to try computer science. By supporting the recruitment and training of 50 secondary school computer science teachers and over 200 ‘Careers Leaders’, launching robotics workshops for 10,000 children and creating other opportunities to experience computer science, Amazon Future Engineer is set to reach more than one million children and young people across the UK over the next two years.

Through Amazon Future Engineer, ten thousand primary school pupils will have the opportunity to take part in free robotics workshops at Amazon fulfilment centres across the UK over the next two years, learning to program robots which use similar technology to what is used by Amazon to fulfil customer orders. The workshops, created alongside Fire Tech, are designed to give children first-hand experience of how technology works in the real world and have been accredited by the British Science Association. Amazon will also embark on a road trip across the UK, bringing the robotics workshops to primary schools around the country.

Additionally, Amazon has helped create an interactive dance-themed online coding tutorial together with non-profit organisation Code.org, featuring songs from leading artists, with the aim of reaching a million children in the UK. Globally, tens of millions of children and young people have already participated in Hour of Code tutorials since 2013. One hour of learning through Hour of Code is proven to have a positive impact on students, with a significant increase in the number of students saying they like computer science and perform better in computer science tasks.

Speaking about the programme, Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon, said, "Research shows the UK needs 21,000 more computer science graduates on average, every year, to meet the demands of the digital economy."

"By making computer science skills more widely accessible from childhood to career, we hope Amazon Future Engineer will inspire and empower young people, regardless of their background, to take up careers in computer science.”

RT Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, Secretary of State for Education added, "Today’s school pupils will go on to do jobs that don’t even exist yet because the world of technology and computing is progressing so quickly."

"This is why we’re making sure our schools and teachers equip young people with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to be successful in the future by expanding our IoT programme and investing an extra £14bn in schools over the next three years."

"The work of Amazon Future Engineer will support us in just that by harnessing  Amazon’s reach and know-how to make sure that pupils from all backgrounds can access a cutting edge education and I look forward to seeing it in action.”

Amazon Future Engineer is part of the Amazon in the Community programme, which aims to ensure more children and young adults have the resources and skills they need to build their best and brightest futures, especially those from low-income communities in the areas where Amazon has a physical presence.

You can find out about Amazon Future Engineer at http://www.amazonfutureengineer.co.uk, and more about the Amazon in the Community programme at https://www.aboutamazon.co.uk/amazon-in-the-community.


TechWomen100 2019 featured

Nominations are now closed for WeAreTechWomen's 2019 TechWomen100 Awards

TechWomen100 2019

Nominations are now closed for WeAreTechWomen's 2019 TechWomen100 Awards.

A shortlist of 200 women will now be chosen by an esteemed panel of judges and will be published in November.

The shortlist will then be open to a public vote. Judging for the final 100 winners will take place with independent judges across November. The TechWomen100 Award winners will be announced on 10 December and all winners, sponsors and supporters will be invited to attend a prestigious evening reception to celebrate and collect their awards in January 2020.

For the TechWomen100 awards, we are leveraging the extensive experience and industry knowledge of 17 amazing judges. Each judge has been carefully selected for their expertise in a particular field or their breadth of knowledge across the tech landscape.

On behalf of WeAreTechWomen, our sponsors and nominees, we would like to sincerely thank all of our judges for their dedication to the female pipeline and for donating their valuable time to judge the TechWomen100 awards in 2019.

Meet our judges here

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way.

The 2019 awards are kindly powered by J.P. Morgan, and supported by Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Lloyds Banking Group, Oliver Wyman and Worldpay.

Remaining timeline

  • Shortlist announced & public vote opens* – 18 November 2019
  • Voting closes – 29 November 2019
  • Winners announced – 10 December 2019
  • Winner’s celebration event – 23 January 2020

*There is no public vote of support for the Champion, Network and Company categories

If you have any additional questions about the awards, please contact info@wearethecity.com. For further details about the awards, please click here.


Sponsored by

TechWomen100 Awards sponsor bubble


TechWomen100 2019 featured

Just one week left to nominate for our 2019 TechWomen100 Awards

TechWomen100 2019

Just one week left to nominate someone for our 2019 TechWomen100 Awards.

It is no secret that the technology industry lacks female representation at all levels. Women make up just 19 per cent of the industry. There are some fantastic awards for women working in tech, however, most of these focus on senior women.

Whilst we feel it is extremely necessary to highlight senior and influential women, we also believe the pipeline of female technologists need a platform to shine.

This is why the TechWomen100 Awards were created. Our awards focus solely on women working in tech below director level. We hope that by highlighting the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, we can help to create a new generation of female role models for the industry, and a pipeline of future leaders.

Through the awards, we would also like to recognise a number of senior individuals who are championing up-and-coming women, as well as any organisations that have designed and implemented successful initiatives and programmes in order to attract, retain and develop the female tech talent.

Finally, we applaud the often-voluntary efforts of the women in tech networks that operate across the UK, and again would like to formerly recognise these within our awards.

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way.

The 2019 awards are kindly powered by J.P. Morgan, and supported by Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Lloyds Banking Group, Oliver Wyman and Worldpay.

NOMINATE NOW

Nominations

Nominations will close after a seven-week period on 20 September.

A shortlist of 200 women from a range of technology disciplines will be chosen in October by an esteemed panel of judges. There will also be a shortlist of three champions, companies and networks.

The shortlist will then be published in November where we will also open the TechWomen100 individual category for public votes of support.

All winners will be announced in December and celebrated at our prestigious award's ceremony in January. There will be 100 winners of the TechWomen100, a Champion of the Year, a Company of the Year and a Network of the Year.

Who should nominate?

  • Self-nominations are encouraged
  • Organisations looking to recognise their emerging talent pool
  • Organisation wishing to obtain recognition for their initiatives
  • Individuals who would like to recognise their efforts of their champions/role models
  • Individuals/colleagues/friends/clients/mentors/sponsors of the nominee

Awards timeline

  • Nominations open – 01 August 2019
  • Nominations close – 20 September 2019
  • Shortlist announced & public vote opens – 18 November 2019
  • Voting closes – 29 November 2019
  • Winners announced – 10 December 2019
  • Winner's celebration event – January 2020

NOMINATE NOW


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TechWomen100 Awards sponsor bubble


women's body, health, yoga featured

When it comes to understanding the female body, we're stuck in the stone age | Lea Von Bidder

women's body, health, yoga

Article provided by Lea Von Bidder, co-founder and President Ava Science, Inc.

As a woman and the co-founder of a femtech company, I can tell you that one of the biggest challenges and opportunities is the gender data gap. 

We are behind where we should be when it comes to understanding women’s health.

Historically, women haven’t been equally represented in clinical trials. In some cases, even drugs aimed at women are tested on men. (One now-infamous study into the alcohol-related side-effects of “female-viagra,” featured 23 male subjects and only two women.)

This discrepancy has been due to the fear that female subjects might be pregnant, but also because the hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the menstrual cycle have been deemed “too complicated”—a variable that could confound results. It’s an absurd irony because those hormonal shifts are precisely what make us women—you know, the other 50 per cent of the population who would be using the drugs those studies were aimed at.

This bias isn’t just present in drug trials. Most of society’s decision making, from how seatbelts are designed to what we consider ambient room temperature, is determined with men as the primary test case, and women as the unmeasured variant.

On the surface, we don’t question that men and women are different. We have genetic discrepancies, a different hormonal make-up, and different average lifespans—yet research often fails to disaggregate data for sex and analyse it separately.

There’s a burgeoning movement to bring more awareness to women’s health issues, and it centers on breaking taboos around menstruation. In recent years, we’ve finally seen red liquid being poured onto a sanitary pad in advertising (in lieu of the clinical blue), stylish suppliers proudly promoting organic tampons, and a documentary about periods winning an Academy Award. At last, it’s okay to have a period and talk about it.

But that conversation is just the start of what it will take to demystify the female body. To me, menstruation is actually the least interesting part of the menstrual cycle, hormonally speaking. During the rest of the month, women undergo massive shifts in hormone levels with impacts throughout the body. But hardly anyone, from OBGYNs, to women’s health experts, to women themselves, is aware of these changes.

I believe that this knowledge should be fundamental for women and their healthcare providers. Where a woman happens to be in her menstrual cycle impacts her metabolism, sleep, athletic performance, response to certain medications, and, of course, whether she can get pregnant. Information with such broad and profound impacts should not be a mystery. And it doesn’t have to be.

When Pascal, Philipp, Peter and I founded Ava in 2014, it was with the mission to advance women’s reproductive health by bringing together artificial intelligence and clinical research. And I’m proud to share that we’ve just achieved a major milestone: Our clinical research has just been made public in a scientific paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research. 

The paper demonstrates that five physiological signals change throughout the menstrual cycle, and that by tracking these signals, we can identify the fertile window of a woman’s cycle in real time. Our flagship product, the Ava fertility tracker, is the only fertility-tracking method available that measures all five of these signs.

With these published findings, we’ve broadened scientific understanding of the menstrual cycle by shedding light on its most central component: the fertile window. It’s rare for a digital health company to conduct its own clinical research and even rarer to reveal the secret sauce behind its technology. But bottom line is only one of our goals; expanding knowledge is another. There’s so much more uncharted ground to cover—and it spans a woman’s reproductive life, from puberty to menopause. Ava is already putting research efforts into some of those unknowns.

At the same time, we’re working to encourage the public discussion around the gender bias in scientific research, so we can take women’s health out of the shadowy domain of mystery and into the spotlight.


passing on the baton, corporate handover featured

Passing on the baton | Lisa Falco

passing on the baton, corporate handover

Lisa Falco, Director of Data Sience at Ava shares some key moments of the path that led her to where she is today.

I remember when I was 18 and had just gotten into my engineering studies (Engineering Physics, to be precise) and I was at a party talking to some guys I’d just met about it. They just looked at me and said, “We know a guy doing that but he’s like SUPER smart”, clearly insinuating that I did not look like that kind of person. I got a lot of reactions like that in the beginning which scared me at first. Even more than not being smart enough, I didn’t feel that I was the engineering type. I had not spent my youth programming my Amiga (the PC that was popular in the 90’s) and I also didn’t care much about motors and machines and other things that you associated with tech in those days.

I would say that my dad had a significant part to play in my decision to study Engineering Physics. I wanted to become a medical doctor or a journalist, but he told me that engineering studies, especially in physics, was a better option as there were plenty of rewading career opportunities. He also reassured me that “in engineering you can be average and still have a great, well paid job”. Whilst this advice wasn’t motivational as such, something about my dad’s persistency in wanting the best for me and my own curiosity to explore an unconventional path led me to pursue a career in physics.

The first three years of my studies were tough. My days consisted of pure math and physics and I just couldn’t wrap my head around all of the formulas. I began to question myself – what was I going to use all of this knowledge for anyway? Then after the first three years I discovered programming and image processing and things started making sense. Programming entails writing down a step by step solution to a problem, it forces you to decompose all of the necessary steps of the solution into smaller comprehensible parts. I finally started understanding what I was doing and it became more enjoyable. I enjoyed image processing which entails using programming to apply mathematic formulas to images and you can see the images change, you can smooth them, you can sharpen them, you can recognize objects etc. Before smartphones and social media apps like Snapchat even existed, we were developing the kind of software and algotithms that they use now such as filters which enhance faces. It’s exciting to see that these types of functions are now used and enjoyed by millions of people across popular social media. It was like the mathematic formulas that felt so abstract came to live and finally got a meaning.

As I mentioned, I initially wanted to become a doctor so being able to work with medicine from a technical perspective was incredible. During my career I have had the opportunity to work across many different domains within health and the human body which always fascinates me.  Among other things, I have developed methods to analyse brain connectivity, I have tried (and ultimately failed) to develop non-invasive methods to track glucose for diabetics, I’ve also worked on the analysis of bone structure and biomaterials and now in my current role at Ava, developing methods to help women get pregnant faster by measuring the physiological impact of their hormonal changes.

Whilst I had been passionate about many of those things I was never quite passionate about the actual technology itself or the tools that I had been using. I have been using data science and machine learning throughout my whole career, but the methods alone have never been what has fascinated me, for me, it has always been more about what can be done with them – this is what intrigues me.

I believe that we need to stop thinking that you must love the tools or be a geek to get into tech. It’s of course important that there are people who are passionate about the tools themselves, but it’s just as important with people who master the tools but are passionate about their applications. A passion for the application can help you bring in new perspectives and see the problem from angles different than the pure technical part. This is something I believe women do very well which is one of the reasons why we need more women in tech.

With a solid technological background, I also feel that you get a lot of respect in the workplace which has definitely been the case at Ava but also with my previous employers.  It is great to be in an environment where I can combine my technical skills with my passion for womens health. The demand for people with strong technical skills is very high which might also be one of the reasons I have been lucky enough to have had the advantage of being able to dictate things that are important to me on my own terms. This has particularly been helpful in allowing me to have flexibility with my working schedule when I became a mother. By offering flexible working models here at Ava, we have been able to attract some amazing female talent to all teams, but also in the data science team which is normally a rather male dominated field. I believe the combination of a topic that women are very interested in, together with a flexible and friendly working environment has made that possible for me. I can only imagine the endless amount of possiblities and opportunities there are today for the new generation of women that wish to follow a similar path to mine.

By the way, I eventually met that  SUPER smart guy during my studies. Not only did he live up to the expectation of being “super smart” but he was also super nice and when I told him what his friends had told me he just laughed and said: “These guys? Why would you mind them?”.