15 wonderful women working to change the face of tech

3 Mar 2016

Picture an engineer, software developer or technologist. Did you picture a man?

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It’s not surprising if you did. We’re more accustomed to seeing men in these roles, so that has become the common image. However, that could well be changed by these women who are dedicating ferocious amounts of time and energy to diversifying the default picture we have of those who work in technology through education and advocacy.

1. Mags Amond, EU Code Week

Mags Amond

Mags Amond being interviewed at CESIcon 2016. Image via YouTube

Last December, Mags Amond took over the role of Ireland’s Ambassador for EU Code Week 2016 from Julie Cullen, having already been a tireless campaigner for all things STEM across the country. Most recently, Amond worked double-time to help put together this year’s CESIcon, an event to help teachers learn digital skills that they can then pass on to kids.

2. Isis Anchalee, #ILookLikeAnEngineer

Isis Anchalee

Isis Anchalee, platform engineer, OneLogin. Photo via TechCrunch/Flickr

Software engineer Isis Anchalee became something of an online celebrity last year after she became the catalyst for #ILookLikeAnEngineer, which challenged our gender-biased perceptions of what an engineer looks like. Since then, it has become a global STEM phenomenon that has led to Anchalee being named a key speaker at Inspirefest 2016.

3. Dr Sue Black, Techmums

Sue Black

Dr Sue Black speaking at Inspirefest 2015. Photo via Conor McCabe Photography

A familiar face to Siliconrepublic.com readers, having been a speaker at Inspirefest 2015, Dr Sue Black is the driving force behind Techmums, an organisation helping mothers develop their digital skills. Having also been awarded an OBE for her services to technology, Black has been credited as one of the saviours of Bletchley Park, where Britain’s codebreakers worked during World War II.

4. Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code

Kimberley Bryant

Kimberly Bryant speaking at Inspirefest 2015. Photo via Conor McCabe Photography

As founder of Black Girls Code, Kimberly Bryant spoke at Inspirefest 2015 about her aim of teaching 1m girls coding globally by 2040 to equip them with “the skills to hack human rights”. Bryant founded the organisation in 2011 to help one of the most underrepresented demographics of coders through a series of workshops, hackathons and summer camps.

5. Melinda Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates, co-founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Photo via DFID/Flickr

As co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates has put significant quantities of money towards all sorts of philanthropic ventures, particularly with regard to greater access to technology globally. In the foundation’s annual letter, Gates discussed at length the wealth divide between men and women and the steps women can make to bridge that gap.

6. Anne-Marie Imafidon, Stemettes

Anne Marie Imafidon at Inspirefest 2015. Photo by Robbie Reynolds/Conor McCabe Photography

Anne-Marie Imafidon at Inspirefest 2015. Photo via Conor McCabe Photography

Co-founder of both Stemettes and Outbox Incubator, Anne-Marie Imafidon is a bit of a superhero. She passed maths and ICT GCSEs aged just 10, and completed an A-level in computing a year later. Imafidon told the Inspirefest audience last year how, through Outbox, she wants to build the confidence of young women who have ideas and a passion for STEM.

7. Mary Moloney, CoderDojo Foundation

CoderDojo Foundation CEO Mary Moloney at Inspirefest 2015. Photo by Robbie Reynolds/Conor McCabe Photography

CoderDojo Foundation CEO Mary Moloney at Inspirefest 2015. Photo via Conor McCabe Photography

The CEO of CoderDojo Foundation, Mary Moloney is one of the key drivers in the movement to spread ICT skills among kids around the world. Another speaker at Inspirefest 2015, Moloney’s work in 2016 so far has already seen her run a dojo at Davos during the World Economic Forum.

8. Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America

Jennifer Pahlka, via Wikimedia Commons

Jennifer Pahlka, founder, Code For America. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Founder of Code for America, Jennifer Pahlka’s influence on digital learning has grown to such a degree that she recently served as the US deputy CTO in the White House’s science and technology policy office. Wanting to “reboot government”, Pahlka’s Ted Talk from 2012 still resonates with people.

9. Alaina Percival, Women Who Code


Alaina Percival, CEO, Women Who Code. Photo via Women Who Code

Alaina Percival is CEO of Women Who Code, a global nonprofit that aims to promote technology careers for women. Its global reach is such that it landed in Dublin late last year. An ardent tech advocate, with little history in the area, Percival’s drive is impressive. “I don’t want to think at any point we’re hitting the ceiling,” she recently said.

10. Shelly Porges, global entrepreneurship advocate

Shelly Porges speaking during her Power and Influence keynote. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

Shelly Porges speaking during Inspirefest 2015. Photo via Conor McCabe Photography

A former adviser to Hillary Clinton, Shelly Porges has a long career of advocacy and entrepreneurship, telling the Inspirefest audience last year of the hard work going into “the unfinished business of the 21st Century”: women’s issues. Rather than saying, ‘Some people are born leaders’, Porges instead says “Some leaders are born women”.

11. Anne Ravanona, Global Invest Her

Anne Ravanona

Anne Ravanona, founder and CEO, Global Invest Her

Anne Ravanona is founder and CEO of Global Invest Her, a platform that aims to demystify the funding process and support female entrepreneurs as they seek early seed funding. Ravanona is a vocal proponent of the need for more investment in women, and of the fact that women-led businesses get higher returns on investment.

12. Niambh Scullion, CoderDojo Girls

Niambh Scullion, co-founder of CoderDojo Girls, DCU

Niambh Scullion, far right, pictured with Claire O’Connell, Niamh Scanlon and Noel King. Photo via Conor McCabe Photography

Niambh Scullion is the co-founder – alongside Sarah Doran and Noel King – of CoderDojo Girls in DCU. CoderDojo Girls follows the model of the global CoderDojo, but caters specifically for girls, encouraging and supporting them as they grow in confidence and develop their interest in STEM.

13. Debra Sterling, GoldieBlox

Debra Sterling, founder and CEO of GoldiBlox

Debra Sterling, GoldieBlox CEO, pictured at TEDx Talks. Photo via YouTube

Debra ‘Debbie’ Sterling is the founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, a toy company with one simple aim: creating toys that inspire girls to become engineers. Sterling set up GoldieBlox because of the lack of women on her course, reasoning that introducing girls to engineering at a young age may encourage them to see it as a career.

14. Vicky Twomey-Lee, Coding Grace


Vicky Twomey-Lee, co-founder, Coding Grace. Photo by Luke Maxwell

Vicky Twomey-Lee is a key figure in Dublin’s coding community scene having co-founded Coding Grace as well as PyLadies Dublin and Global GameCraft. A self-confessed ‘Pythonista’ who used to work at Sun Microsystems, she organises events and workshops around coding, and, in particular, Python, all of which are not-for-profit.

15. Malala Yousafzai, The Malala Fund


Malala Yousafzai image via Shutterstock

The youngest-ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Yousafzai has been championing girls’ education since the age of 11, when the Taliban overran her hometown in Pakistan. In 2012, a gunman shot her in the head. Yousafzai underwent surgery in the UK and has become a global figurehead in the fight for girls’ rights to an education.

Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Intel, Open Eir (formerly Eircom Wholesale), Fidelity Investments, Accenture and CoderDojo.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Get your Early Bird tickets now.

Main image of technology and society via Shutterstock

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