Inspiring Fifty UK 2018: 50 inspiring women trailblazers transforming tech against the odds

  • 50 winners selected from over 300 nominations by a panel of 12 industry leading judges

  • Inspiring Fifty UK 2018 is an initiative to highlight the women driving UK tech and to provide more visibility and recognition to these extraordinary role models... because seeing is believing

  • Inspiring Fifty UK is a partnership between Inspiring Fifty and accelerateHER with support from Google, firstminute capital and Founders Keepers

London, 27TH  November 2018: Today the inaugural Inspiring Fifty United Kingdom was announced to recognise the 50 technology trailblazers, innovators and executives that are smashing perceptions of what women can and do achieve in the sector.

Inspiring Fifty UK is a partnership between Netherlands-based Inspiring Fifty and London-based accelerateHER. The awards breakfast hosted at Google brought together leaders and influencers across the technology field that champion women and value the positive impact increased diversity has on all aspects of business including revenue growth, innovation and culture.

A 2017 PwC study of 2,000 students in the UK found that only 22% could name a famous woman working in technology. Whereas two thirds could name a famous man in the sector. In addition, over 25% of female students said they were put off a career in technology as it is “too male dominated”.

This data reiterates the importance of role models for encouraging more girls and women into the STEM field. The 2018 winners are directly shaping the future of the UK technology sector. It is critical to acknowledge their work and provide them with a platform so that more of these women become household names, inspiring future leaders and entrepreneurs to follow in their footsteps.

The Inspiring Fifty UK 2018 are:

In addition to recognising the winners, the morning offered a programme of speakers including, Dr Hayaatun Sillem, the first female CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, in conversation with Tracy Chou, software engineer, diversity advocate, and co-founder of Project Include, British physicist Dr Jess Wade, and Sharmadean Reid MBE, Founder of Beautystack, WAH Nails and FutureGirlCorp.

The Inspiring Fifty initiative was established by Janneke Niessen and Joelle Frijters to spotlight the incredible women excelling in tech careers, first in the Netherlands and increasingly around the world, and prove this is an industry in which women can and do succeed. 2018 marks the first year that the UK has a dedicated programme in addition to the wider European initiative, an acknowledgement of the wealth of tech talent in the UK against unfavourable odds. 

Commenting on today’s announcement, entrepreneur and co-Founder of Inspiring Fifty, Janneke Niessen, said:

“Today we’re celebrating 50 women that have made major contributions to the UK technology industry. Their courage to push forward against the status quo and hard-fought success that makes them inspiring role models. It’s important that the industry, government, the wider business community and the public understand that the example the Inspiring Fifty sets will help transform the industry’s workforce, improving the sustainability of the UK economy.” 

accelerateHER, a Founders Forum organisation, is addressing the under-representation of women in the technology industry by working with a network of technology leaders to accelerate change through best practice and to realise the value of gender parity.

Laura Stebbing and Poppy Gaye, accelerateHER’s co-CEOs, added:

“Underappreciating the value of gender diversity for fostering innovation and driving economic growth is a major, yet avoidable, risk for technology businesses. The industry must become more inclusive. We have set up the Inspiring Fifty UK initiative to highlight just how many women are behind top UK tech businesses today. Seeing is believing: we want everyone to know about these incredible women that are driving change.”

Judges for this year’s programme include:

  • Amrit Dhir, Head of Campus London & Senior Global Operations Lead, Google for Startups

  • Arek Wylegalski, Venture Partner, firstminute capital

  • Elliot O’Connor, Investor, firstminute capital

  • Hanadi Jabado, Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre, University of Cambridge

  • Harry Gaskell, CIO, EY UK & Ireland

  • Jacqueline de Rojas, President, techUK

  • Jenny Halpern Prince, Founder & CEO, Halpern and Founder, Joint Chairman and Trustee, Access Aspiration

  • June Sarpong, TV Broadcaster, Sky and Diversity advocate

  • Maithreyi Seetharaman, Co-Chair, Fortune Most Powerful Women International

  • Sherry Coutu, Founder & Chair, Founders4Schools

  • Sonali de Rycker, General Partner, Accel Partners

  • Yonca Dervisoglu, Chief Marketing Officer EMEA, Google

Inspiring Fifty UK 2018 also appreciates support from Google, firstminute capital and Founders Keepers.

Janneke Niessen