Inspirational Woman: Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE | Founder, Stemettes; Speaker; Presenter & Author, She's In CTRL

Meet Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Founder, Stemettes; Speaker; Presenter & Author, She's In CTRL

Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon is a keynote speaker, presenter, and co-founder of the award-winning social enterprise, Stemettes. Voted the most influential woman in tech in the UK of 2020 by Computer Weekly and featured among the top 10 BAME leaders in tech by The Financial Times.

A recognised and respected thought-leader in the tech space and trustee at the Institute for the Future of Work, Anne-Marie has spoken across the globe for some of the world’s biggest digital companies and conferences, including Facebook, Amazon, Google, Mercedes Benz, Fujitsu and Mastercard.

Anne-Marie is the temporary Arithmetician on Countdown, the world’s longest running gameshow. She also hosts the highly popular Women Tech Charge podcast for the Evening Standard, and is a sought-after presenter and conference facilitator, conducting live interviews with famous faces from the tech world and beyond, including Jack Dorsey and Sir Lewis Hamilton. Her first book She’s In CTRL is to be published by Transworld in September 2022

Anne-Marie has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Open University, Glasgow Caledonian University, Kent University, Bristol University and Coventry University, and in June of 2017 was made an Honorary Fellow at Keble College, Oxford. She sits on the Board of Durham University’s Computer Science Department, which, in recognition of her work as Head Stemette, offers a scholarship to young women in her name. In 2019 she became a visiting professor for Sunderland University. She is on the board of the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Music and Sport’s Digital Skills Partnership, the British Library Advisory Council, the Research England Council and is a trustee at the Urban Development Music Foundation and the Women of the World Foundation.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I grew up in East London, where I was the eldest of five. I was a child prodigy and always really loved maths and technology.

After studying at Oxford, I went to work in The City and was invited to speak at the largest women in tech conference in the world, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

There were thousands of women there, and I reliased my experience of maths and technology hadn’t just been strange because I’d had it so early, it was strange because I’d been a girl. I set about trying to change that with Stemettes.

Our latest project, the Stemettes Society, is a closed social network for girls, young women and non-binary people under the age of 25 who are interested in STEM.

We want to help them become role models and changemakers who can support eachother.
That could be with advice on making decisions about their GCSE or A-levels, or just having girls at University saying, ‘Hey, ask me anything’.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

For me, it goes in cycles. I’m constantly changing where I think I’m going to end up. I think it has to be like that because technology is constantly changing.

At first I wanted to be a management consultant, then I wanted to work in a bank. Now I honestly don’t know (I’ve got aspirations around broadcasting).

I’m constantly trying to evaluate what I’m best placed to do and what fits my idea of success, which has always been to wake up in the morning and do what I want.

I’d advise having a ‘Plan A’, so you know what direction you’re heading, but also to be open to new information so you can update it and build a new ‘Plan B’.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

My biggest challenge remains the same: having to work with people.

Anything that involves human beings has always been a challenge for me—I’m used to maths algorithms that just work, even when they are difficult.

I’m constantly learning how to manage, how to hire, how to deal with partners. At Stemettes we’re now adding a charity side, so figuring out how to work with donors will be another massively different kind of relationship.

People are messy. You have to understand that you can’t see everything, what’s happening internally. You have to learn how to be okay with uncertainty. But you can always learn from talking to people.

I’ve learned to never assume who a person is or how they will be. You have to expect the unexpected without any kind of prejudgement.

Join Anne-Marie at our Level Up Summit on 06 December!

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Founder, Stemettes & Author of She’s In CTRL, is just one of our amazing speakers at our upcoming summit on 06 December. Anne-Marie will sharing stories from her book, including how she founded the amazing tech organisation Stemettes, why she believes women need to take back tech, the importance of role models and her top tips for for a successful technology career, and much more.

GET YOUR TICKETS

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I usually say Outbox, our tech incubator for teenage girls, but really it has to be all the programs we run at Stemettes because of the impact they have in changing perceptions.

We’re giving girls an opportunity to grow up with a different social norm and giving them a shared experience of what a majority female industry looks like.

That will stay with them forever. It’s a shared bond.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

Ultimately, I’m a problem solver.

I can focus and see a problem as something clearly defined. That means that other people can support and help without too much work or convincing.

When I was a child prodigy I was solving maths problems rather than societal problems but it’s possible it’s the same thing, just more complex.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology? 

Always find your tribe. You don’t have to do it alone.

In the press and media, it’s always Mark Zuckerberg or some other figurehead they bang on about. You don’t see that they have a team, advisors and mentors behind them.

Alexander Bell didn’t invent the telephone on his own.

Your people could be alongside you or ahead of you, and you should work hard to help those behind you because it’s an investment. It pays back multiple times over.

How important is it to see female tech role models in the media?

It’s incredibly important. If you see someone like Yewande Biala (a smart biochemist who went to university early) on Love Island, that helps to normalise women in STEM.

It’s crazy that scientists still just exist just on The Big Bang Theory or The IT Crowd as some kind of sectioned-off programme, never just eating or cooking or kissing someone.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes there are barriers, but if something is worth doing, you will always face barriers.

There’s a sense of purpose for any woman in the industry at the moment, whether you like it or not. Technology is going in a certain direction—and like colonies of ants or bees—we all have a part to play in pulling it back to where it needs to.

That means taking on counterproductive work policies, and the people hiding biases within your workplace who will get in your way.

We have to face those things and change them with our own power and influence through communication and collaboration. It’s a hard fight, but it’s the good fight. And if you hit a wall, you need to make a door.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Be willing to listen. There’s a distinct lack of listening right now.

If a company genuinely wants to change, there will be people facing bias in that organization who are crying out for change. Those people are leaving exit interviews, they are raising issues with affinity networks, they are speaking out loud.

Organisations have to make sure they are listening otherwise they can’t know what action to take.

There is currently on 15% of women working in tech if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry? 

Compulsory shared parental leave.

If someone is part of the making of a baby and they have to stay away from work, there’s a lot of intangible things they will learn. When they come back to the organization, they’re a fresh set of eyes and are able to see the holes they couldn’t before.

If you don’t have an understanding of what it’s like to be at home, you end up making backwards policies that say certain things must happen in the office at certain times. So if you don’t understand about external responsibilities you can’t bring about long-lasting change.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc? 

The second season of my podcast Women Tech Charge is actually coming up in October, so you should tune in to that.

In terms of books, I’d recommend Inferior by Angela Saini  (it’s all about how science has got women wrong). And there’s my kid’s book called How to be a Math Whiz which is due out later in the year.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

BUY YOUR TICKETS

Listen to our latest She Talks Tech podcast on 'What can we do to encourage more young girls into STEM'

She Talks Tech Podcast, Episode 15

Today we hear an incredible panel, facilitated by Sonya Barlow, discussing how individuals and companies can encourage more young girls to pursue careers in STEM.

We will hear from a number of leaders who are running campaigns and initiatives to support schools and young adults with the skills and encouragement they need to prepare them for a career in their chosen field of technology, science, engineering or maths.

Sheridan Ash works in tech innovation and women in technology at PWC. Rav Bumbra is the founder of Cajigo, a dual app that provides mentoring and support to girls and women to accelerate their growth into tech, digital, engineering and leadership careers. Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE is a British computing, mathematics and language child prodigy – and the founder of ‘Stemettes'. Anna Brailsford is the CEO of Code First and was previously the Commercial Director of Lynda.com. Chelsea Slater is the Co-Founder and Director of Innovate – a company getting girls ready for the tech industry, and the industry ready for girls. Sonya Barlow is the Founder of Like Minded Females, a global community dedicated to reducing inequalities and providing a foundation to succeed to women and underrepresented minorities

You can find out more about and connect with the panel on LinkedIn.

LISTEN HERE


‘She Talks Tech’ brings you stories, lessons and tips from some of the most inspirational women (and men!) in tech.

From robotics and drones, to fintech, neurodiversity and coronavirus apps; these incredible speakers are opening up to give us the latest information on tech in 2020.

Vanessa Valleley OBE, founder of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen brings you this latest resource to help you rise to the top of the tech industry. Women in tech make up just 17 per cent of the industry in the UK and we want to inspire that to change.

WeAreTechWomen are delighted to bring this very inspiring first series to wherever you normally listen to podcasts – and the first three episodes are now live!

So subscribe, rate the podcast and give it a 5-star review – and keep listening every Wednesday morning for a new episode of ‘She Talks Tech’.

Produced by Pineapple Audio Production.


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.


Anne-Marie Imafidon, Founder of Stemettes, on being awarded an MBE: "Women in STEM is a wider problem that affects everyone, so I’m pleased it has been recognised"

 

‘Head Stemette’ and Founder of social enterprise Stemettes Anne-Marie Imafidon, was awarded an MBE for services to Young Women and STEM Sectors as part of the 2017 New Years Honours List.

Stemettes is an award-winning social enterprise inspiring the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) roles via a series of events and opportunities. In three years 7,000 girls across the UK, Ireland and Europe have had attended Stemette experiences.

As part of the initiative she has also Co-Founded Outbox Incubator: the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls. She sits on the boards of Redfield Asset Management, Urban Development Music Foundation and Inspirational YOU. She has previously worked at Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers.

WeAreTheCity recently spoke to Imafidon about her award who said: “It’s a pat on the back from the wider society. There has been lots of change in the IT industry, and a lot of companies are looking inwards still.

"But women in STEM is a wider problem that affects everyone so I’m pleased it has been recognised as this has previously not been included on the honours list. STEM has been included before, but not girls in STEM.

“I was so surprised that someone entered a nomination for me. It’s crazy to think that someone thought I deserved it.”

Imafidon added: “It is humbling and overwhelming, because I am much younger than the others on the list and on previous lists. At only 27 to be recognised at this age is insane.

“Even though it’s me who can put the letters after my name now, it’s not just me who done all the work. It’s a thank you to the whole Stemettes team and everyone who has supported us. It’s for everyone.”

Imafidon has always been interested in business, Maths and technology. Her rather unique set of achievements include passing two GCSEs aged ten (Mathematics & ICT), holding the current world record for the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing (aged 11), a Guardian ‘Top 10 women in tech you need to know’ and being one of the youngest to be awarded a Masters’ degree in Mathematics and Computer Science by the University of Oxford, aged 20.

She was also named the UK IT Industry & British Computer Society’s Young IT Professional of the Year in 2013, Red Magazine’s ‘Woman to Watch’ 2014, won a Points of Light award from the UK Prime Minister in October 2014 and was named the 29th Most Influential woman in IT in 2015. Anne-Marie has also been listed as one of Management Today’s 35 Under 35 and was on the Timewise List of 50 Power Part Timers.

Outbox Incubator

On 27 July 2015 Stemettes launched the first ever Outbox Incubator, which invited 45 young entrepreneurial girls, from across Europe, to stay at a large house in South London for six weeks. The house was billed as a cross between Dragons Den, The Apprentice and Big Brother.

The Outbox Incubator programme offered support and funding for girls aged between 11 and 22 who want wanting to launch their own science or technology-based business. In partnership with Wise, whose patron is HRH The Princess Royal, the programme was funded by the Salesforce Foundation.

Throughout February 2017 Stemettes will be screening its Outbox documentary - Eat.Sleep.STEM.Repeat. It will also be launching a network of youth clubs called Stemillions clubs across the world.

Imafidon added: “We will be running an event soon to celebrate the Outbox house one year on, to reach other girls and inspire others to start similar projects. This will include encouraging the girls to start their own youth clubs and to continue to reach more girls in their own communities.

“We aim to reach two million girls by 2025 who can say they have some kind of Stemettes experience.”