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International Women’s Day (IWD): a time to reflect on the progress made towards gender equality, specifically within the realm of women’s rights, and at the same time, celebrate the cultural, social, economic, and political achievements of women from across the globe. The theme of this year - #ChooseToChallenge - aptly encapsulates the mission statement of the annual holiday, as it’s all about calling out and standing up to gender bias and inequality. This sense of activism is especially needed in tech. The IT sector is known for significantly lagging behind the rest of the job market when it comes to even hiring women. Yes, progress has been made since the 1900s, but let’s face it, tech still has a long way to go when it comes to the representation of, and equality and equity for, women.
At EM360, we’re aware of the widespread, overwhelmingly white, male dominance in the tech industry. We strive to challenge the tech status quo and elevate the voices of underrepresented, minority groups, and in honour of IWD 2021, we’re spotlighting the demographic of women who are the least represented in our own neck of the woods: black women. In no particular order, here are the Top 10 black women revolutionising the UK tech space in 2021.
Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE
Regarded as a respected thought-leader in the tech space, Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE is a true inspiration for women and girls looking to thrive in the industry. A child prodigy, Anne-Marie was the youngest girl ever to pass A-level computing at age 11, and received a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Oxford at 20.
Fast forward, Anne-Marie’s CV includes professions such as global keynote speaker, host of the hugely popular Women Tech Charge Podcast, and tech CEO. Apart from MBE, her most renowned title is ‘Head Stemette’. Inspired by her social enterprise, Anne-Marie works to support young UK women into STEM and promote her vision for a more diverse and balanced tech community.
Notably named as one of the Top 100 2020 Tech Changemakers in the UK, Kirsty Devlin could not be more suitable for this list. A TechUp Women graduate, Kirsty sprung onto the tech scene as the CEO, Co-Founder, and Programme Director of Recode, where she invested much of her time and energy into ensuring that minority groups and historically under-represented individuals are given the opportunities they deserve.
Kirsty now pursues the same goal in her new role as Chief Operating Officer at Manchester Codes, an inexpensive coding school that prides itself on providing “education that works around you”. On top of this, Kirsty is also the Founder of Women Who Keynote, highlighting her devotion to increasing diversity in tech.
Developer and deliverer of the UK’s first ‘Social Media for Beginners’ course, Chi-chi Ekweozor is no tech novice. Beginning her career as a social media marketer, Chi-chi has helped organisations such as Manchester Digital Development Agency, Arts Council England, and PUMA to better their strategies.
More recently specialising in software engineering - an interest that was sparked by her undergraduate degree in Electronic and Communication Engineering and encouraged her to create the one and only audience interaction and live polling tool, Chi-chi is a force to be reckoned with. Outside of her job as a CEO, she also runs Manchester’s publicly praised networking group for female founders starting out in tech.
If you’re familiar with Afrotech Fest - London’s largest tech festival by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage, then you will have heard of the innovative designer and Founder Debs Durojaiye. Initially part of the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) team where she worked persistently to increase equity within the organisation itself, Debs is well-versed in systems advocacy within tech.
Fittingly a Tech London Advocate, Debs continues to impact and influence the tech landscape. Due to return in 2021, her festival is all about ensuring black people in Britain are no longer underrepresented in tech conferences and that their voices are included in debates about tech.
Dionne Condor-Farrell is an award-winning Senior Developer at Transport for London (TFL) who has been enhancing and digitally transforming Greater London for over 15 years. A whiz at Android app development and Java and open source technologies, Dionne has profound experience in developing a variety of bespoke services for the nation’s public transport, education, and employment sectors.
A part-time Tech Coach, Dionne also uses her leadership skills to champion diversity in tech outside of her 9-5. She is a member of TFL’s Women in Tech Committee where she raises awareness of tech as a viable career for women and is a Co-founder of UKBlackTech, an innovation group striving to make the UK the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem.
A key contributor to conversations about data bias and the role of people of colour in Artificial Intelligence ethics, Dawn Duhaney is set to keep the tech industry on its toes when it comes to inequality and discrimination. A former Consultant who heavily informed global data policy at the Open Data Institute, and the current Product/Partnerships Manager at Wellcome Trust Data Labs, Dawn’s dedication to further her expertise in data, community building, and policy making is second to none.
Yet, that’s not all she’s passionate about. When she’s not calling for the need for a wider cultural change towards inclusivity in big tech companies, Dawn is collaborating with data scientists and academia to better the way data is used in the health sector.
June Angelides MBE
Awarded an MBE for services to women in technology in October 2020; editor’s choice winner of BAE Systems’ WeAreTechWomen’s 2020 Tech Women 100 Awards; hailed in the Financial Times as one of the most influential BAME women tech leaders in 2018, June Angelides MBE has a long history and an on-going list of accomplishments in tech.
Most recognised for her early-stage tech investor work with Mums in Technology - the UK’s first child-friendly digital coding school for mums, June’s time is, at present, split between being an investor at Samos Investments and a mentor, board advisor, and an honorary fellow for many prestigious tech institutions. Her most noteworthy fellowship is at the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
The perfect example of a ‘non-techies journey to tech success’, Lola Odelola fell into the IT industry and made a very impactful mark. An English Literature and Creative Writing graduate-turned tech enthusiast and, most notably, the mother of the not-for-profit company blackgirl.tech, Lola is a tireless campaigner for diversity and representation in the industry.
In her pursuit to create a safe space for black girls, non-binary people, and women to learn and explore technology through free workshops, scholarships, and internships, Lola created blackgirl.tech. In its five-year operation, it has helped over 300 people. Now a Developer Advocate at Samsung Electronics and the creator of a well-known audio journal about her experiences as a black woman in tech, Lola continues to educate the nation.
Described in her Twitter bio as a ‘busy bee’, Abadesi Osunsade is a multi-talented woman on a mission. As a CEO, content creator, public speaker, author, and VP Global Community & Belonging at Brandwatch, there is no doubt that she likes to have her finger in many pies.
However, the one aspect that ties Abadesi’s diverse professional portfolio together is her objective to make tech more inclusive. From her inclusivity-empowering social enterprise, Hustle Crew, to her career advice book Dream Big. Hustle Hard. A Millenial Woman’s Guide to Success in Tech and her co-host position on a podcast about the intersection of tech and culture, Abadesi is challenging the tech status-quo by fighting against bias and inequality at every level.
Known for her ongoing commitment to boosting the number of black women developers in the UK, Charlene Hunter has definitely made a name for herself as a tech pioneer. Her acclaimed non-profit organisation, Coding Black Females, seeks to support and provide opportunities for black women coders who have been in the industry for five minutes or five years through the help of educational events, programmes, and bootcamps.
Creating her first line of code at the age of 10; studying Computer Science at a higher academic level; Charlene has extensive knowledge in tech, namely in developing. Currently the Lead Software Engineer at Made Tech, Charlene looks after the company’s ‘kickstart your career in software’ programme.
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