TechGirl: Building Tomorrow’s Female Leaders
“Open young people's eyes because then we'll get more people, more young girls into technology in the future.”
Watch HotTopics and NTT Data's TechGirl Competition winners delight in their success and share their award-winning ideas, as our mentors share what is needed to bring these winners, and future girls in technology, up to leadership positions later in their lives.
Questions included: Although all entries within this cohort were excellent, do you have a favourite TechGirl idea and why? What do young people need in order to prepare themselves for leadership in this age—and how does that inform the role of today’s leaders? What should the industry watch out for—bias or otherwise—that may be hindering future leaders and their path to success?
Empowering girls in tech: meet the panellists
With Bridgid Nzekwu moderating this roundtable debate, the speakers included:
- Georgina Lonergan, TechGirl Winner
- Ruby Breadmore, TechGirl Winner
- Elizabeth Akorita, Group Deputy Director, Digital Delivery, DSIT
- Jacqui Lipiniski, CIO and Director of Digital and Technical Services, Royal College of Art
- Georgina Owens, CTO, William Hill
- Charlotte Baldwin, CDIO, Costa Coffee
- Miriam Murphy, CEO Europe, NTT Data
Watch the roundtable highlights for TechGirl: Building Tomorrow's Female Leaders Part 1
The TechGirl mentors: today’s female leaders
Kicking off the debate, moderator Bridgid Nzekwu asked the panellists what it means to them to be a TechGirl mentor.
“Being a mentor is foundationally about helping people to achieve their potential by encouraging… some of their strengths and weaknesses, areas that they want to work on.” NTT Data’s CEO Europe, Miriam Murphy, is a big believer in paying it forward.
Throughout her career Miriam acknowledged her great position of privilege and the support she has received from colleagues and managers in the industry, helping her achieve her full potential.
While growing up, the Royal College of Art’s CIO Jacqui Lipinski said that she “didn't realise that [she] could have a role in technology,” leaving her with a very different experience.
Being mentored by both male and female mentors made a difference for Jacqui throughout her career. She commented that when looking at the next generation, there are not enough girls in technology.
“It’s really important to open young people's eyes because then we'll get more people, more young girls into technology in the future.”
With only 0.7 percent of the technology workforce made up of black women, Elizabeth Akorita commented how she was 15 years into her career before she encountered women of colour in senior technology positions.
“I didn't have any role models who looked like me when I was younger. So it's important to me to just step forward and be that role model or mentor to someone now.”
Costa Coffee’s CIO, Charlotte Baldwin, said that being a TechGirl mentor “gives us a really interesting opportunity to connect with the future leaders of tomorrow.”
Not only this, but it also allows technology leaders to navigate the “diversity challenge” across the technology industry.
“The pipeline is just dreadful”, commented William Hill’s CTO, Georgina Owens. She argued that her position as a TechGirl mentor can help girls who feel as though they are part of the “minority” can spread the word and encourage others to pursue a career in technology.
Watch the roundtable highlights for TechGirl: Building Tomorrow's Female Leaders Part 2
The TechGirl winners: empowering future girls in technology
Introducing Georgina Lonergan and Ruby Breadmore, Bridgid asked the winners why they applied to the TechGirl competition, along with a runthrough of their ideas.
Pushed by her secondary school physics teacher to apply to the competition, Georgina told the panellists that she submitted her project titled “Bridging Gaps, Tech Driven Inclusion in STEM Education.”
While working as a studio manager at a coding club, Georgina noticed children from all backgrounds, including a “surprising number” of neurodivergent students, lacking social skills and self-confidence.
She explained her aims: “I wanted to explore the implications of virtual reality, augmented reality and sensory-friendly technologies on helping neurodivergent students excel in school both socially and academically.”
“From kids with autism to ADHD, everyone can apply themselves to technology and it's just such a fantastic way that we need to really emphasise the importance of neurodiversity in STEM because the applications of that are limitless.”
Using her winning idea, Georgina explained that she hopes to install sensory-friendly technologies in the classroom – one of which includes adding dimmer light switches which would calm students down and create a more tailored learning environment.
Being the only girl in her school’s A-level computer science class, Ruby Breadmore’s journey to becoming a TechGirl started out differently.
After being informed of the competition by her computer science teacher, Ruby said: “My computer science teacher is a woman and she told me about this competition, and she thought it would be really good for me to do it.
“I'm also her only female student so I was the only one she could really recommend it to.”
Ruby’s idea involved the application of quantum AI in order to create personalised learning curriculums.
By running complex programs and using AI to store data about student strengths and weaknesses, teachers will be able to create a tailored learning curriculum that allows students “to have a personalised plan that helps them to study more efficiently and more effectively.”
Commenting on their ideas, Miriam said: “What I think is just amazing about both of these winning projects is that at their entire heart and soul they're about diversity, equity and inclusion.”
She explained that the main reason why NTT Data is supporting HotTopics’ TechGirl competition is because they are addressing the issues at hand while providing those in the “diverse category” with more inclusion.
This roundtable discussion was sponsored by NTT Data.
Join the community
To join the HotTopics Community and gain access to our exclusive content, events and networking opportunities simply fill in the form below.