Posted on December 15, 2016 by staff

Women blazing a trail in tech: From Sayce-Zelem to Zoella


Everyone acknowledges that the lack of women working in technology is a problem – but coming up with solution is far from clear-cut.

According to Deloitte Global, by the end of 2016 fewer than 25 per cent of IT jobs in developed countries will be held by women.
Research in the US found that women in IT are 45 per cent more likely than men to leave in their first year.

However, according to a 2014 study among UK firms, half of all companies hiring IT workers said that only one in 20 job applicants were women.

The media has a huge part to play in tackling the problem – which is why we tasked Katherine Lofthouse with putting together an inaugural ‘100 Women Role Models of Tech’ list.

She sifted through more than 200 names before settling on the final list.

“The key criteria was women who hold roles in technology and have been actively in getting other women into tech,” she explained.

“Tech is such a broad description we’ve included everyone from tech entrepreneurs to women involved in the traditional field of STEM (Science, technology, engineering, maths).”

Lofthouse invited a pool of respected names in tech to nominate people for the list and researched each nominee, contacting a number directly.

“We’ve listing them in alphabetical order rather than in importance because it’s very subjective,” she said.

“Although these are our 100 women role models of tech, there are others who haven’t been included. The list celebrates the enormous contribution that women make to the tech sector.”

Today we run through those with names from S to Z.

Sayce-Zelem, Natasha.

Natasha Sayce-Zelem is the head of technology at Sky’s Digital Trading estate at the new Leeds Dock campus. She formerly oversaw digital delivery on BBC Sport and BBC Live. An active champion of women in tech initiatives both within Sky and externally at national level, she runs coding meetups and encourages women to consider sidestepping into the industry.

Shah, Shilpa.

Shilpa Shah joined Deloitte as a software developer in 1997 and nearly 20 years later is the programme director for Deloitte Delivery. She also heads up Deloitte Women in Technology and in that time has developed a best practice leading network.

Shields, Joanna, OBE.

Joanne Shields took up the mantle of Minister for Internet Safety and Security, Home Office and DCMS, following the 2015 general election. Her extensive background in tech includes household names Facebook and Google.

Shirley, Dame Stephanie.

For much of her 82 years, Stephanie “Steve” Shirley has been on a mission to support the tech community; from her early work offering part-time employment to professional women with dependants at an IT company.

Sinclair, Emma MBE.

Emma Sinclair is co-founder of innovative application provider EnterpriseJungle and the youngest person to have floated a company on the London Stock Exchange at 29. Emma was also UNICEF’s first business mentor, and writes a business column in the Telegraph’s Wonder Women section.

Sinclair, Louise.

Louise Sinclair is managing director for digital health communications agency Redder Marketing and the head of the UK network for HealthTech Women UK. She is also co-founder of Straight Talkers, a not-for-project health communications agency.

Sohoni, Reshma.

Having worked across B2B Software and internet services businesses in the US and India, Reshma Sohoni is also a partner and co-founder at early-stage investor Seedcamp.

St James, Tiffany.

After 12 years of running her own digital consultancy and advising large businesses and government, Tiffany St James co-founded digital agency, Transmute. She is now the executive director of the British Interactive Media Association and was the first head of social media for the government.

Sutcliffe, Clare, MBE.

Clare Sutcliffe is co-founder and ex-CEO of Code Club, which offers free after-school coding clubs to children aged 9-11. Her work with the club earned her an MBE for services to technology in the 2015 New Year’s Honours List.

Tennison, Jeni.

As the technical director at the Open Data Institute. Jeni Tennison has a key role in demonstrating the commercial value of open data. The ODI work closely with the public and private sectors as well as academia to exploit open data.

Tabori, Timea. 

Timea Tabori is an engine programmer at video games company Rockstar North and the Chair of IGDA Scotland. She is a STEM and Video Game Ambassador and CoderDojo mentor working to highlight career opportunities in digital tech to young people, especially women.

Unsworth, Kate.

Kate Unsworth is a creative technologist, mathematician and designer. Her company VINAYA creates designer wearable technology that aims to help people stay connected while also becoming less distracted by tech.

Vallely, Vanessa.

Named one of the ‘100 most connected women’ by GQ and Editorial Intelligence in 2014, Vanessa Vallely is founder and MD of professional women’s portal and job board, She is also an advisory member of the Government Digital Services committee.

Van’T Hoff, Maggie.

Maggie Van’T Hoff is general manager of retail IT for Shell, having spent much of the last three decades in IT. She has worked in a range of technology-based roles for the company and is also president of the Shell Women’s Network in the UK and a mentor.

Varley, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Varley is the founder and CEO of TechHub, a global community for technology start-ups and entrepreneurs. During the course of her career as a serial entrepreneur she became a founding steering committee member of the women in technology organisation DigitalEve.

Vincent, Alison.

With 25 years’ experience in international leadership of software projects, Alison Vincent now holds the position of CTO at Cisco UK and Ireland. She has also held senior positions at IBM and Micro Focus Ltd and is an ambassador for Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Science Technology Engineering and Maths at STEMnet.

Vyvyan, Claire.

Having held a range of positions at Dell, Claire Vyvan is now vice president for the company’s Enterprise Solutions Group. Before re-joining Dell in April 2011, she was responsible for Microsoft’s global business relationship with BT. She also worked for Compaq for eight years up to 2002, performing account and sales management roles.

Wilkinson, Sarah.

Sarah Wilkinson is CIO at the Home Office, and has 23 years’ experience managing large IT divisions within the finance industry and government.?She has also worked for major financial institutions such as Credit Suisse, HSBC and Deutsche Bank.

Williams, Liz.

As director of Tech Literacy and Education Programmes at BT, Liz Williams plays a major role in getting more young people into jobs, particularly within tech. She also established the external panel of disability and inclusion experts that now guides BT’s customer strategies.

Wood, Sarah, OBE.

Sarah Wood is co-founder and CEO of Unruly, which tracks video ads across social media. She is also a member of Tech City’s Entrepreneur Advisory Panel, a technology ambassador for London and an associate lecturer at the University of Cambridge.

Woodward, Sue, OBE.

Ex-journalist Sue Woodward has spent the last six years advising Manchester on growth potential through her work founding the Sharp and Space Projects and, later, the Outer Space project. She was also creative director for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture bid in 2008.

Wosskow, Debbie, OBE.

After starting her first business at 25, Debbie Wosskow is now at the helm of her second as CEO of Love Home Swap; a start-up that enables people to travel the world by swapping homes. She is also the founding chairwoman of trade body Sharing Economy and regularly advises and invests in start-ups.

Zoella (aka Zoe Elizabeth Sugg).

You may not recognise the name Zoe Elizabeth Sugg, but chances are you’ve heard about fashion and beauty vlogger (video blogger) ‘Zoella’, who rose to fame in 2009 when she was only 21. By early 2016 she had 10 million subscribers and the first of her two books had?the highest first-week sales for a novelist?since records began.