“It is clear that the European tech scene is not only thriving, but is home to incredibly talented women,” said Joelle Frijters, co-founder of the ‘Inspiring Fifty‘ programme.
One can’t help but agree. And UK women seem to dominate the list. An amazing 17 Brits appear on the list, which makes the UK the top country in Europe to have supplied the most inspiring females in tech. France trailed behind with nine women.
Among them were:
- Sherry Coutu – Entrepreneur,NED, investor and advisor
- Dr Sue Black – Founder of Savvify and Google campus mentor
- Judith Clegg – Founder of Takeout Consulting and The Glasshouse
- Belinda Parmar – Founder of Little Miss Geek and Lady Geek
- Laura Jordan Bambach – Co-founder of Mr President and SheSays
- Sarah Wood – Co-founder of Unruly
- Avid Larizadeh – General partner at Google Ventures and UK lead at Hour ofCode
- Nicola Mendelsohn – VP EMEA of Facebook
- Karen Hanton – Investor and founder of Top Table
- Natalie Massenet – Founder of Net-a-Porter
- Kathryn Parsons – Co-founder of Decoded
But has it been difficult to breach the tech glass ceiling in the UK? These six women believe that more can be done to encourage women into the tech space:
12. Wendy Tan White
Moonfruit, a design-led DIY website builder, was the brainchild of Wendy Tan White, who previously worked at Arthur Andersen and internet bank Egg. It was founded in 1999, but suffered heavy losses during the dot come crash.
She admitted that the company “grew too fast” at the beginning. In the end, White filed for insolvency and even fired her husband to keep the company going. This led her onto a two-year period of bootstrapping. But the company started to see rapid growth in 2001 once more.
The company received $2.25m from US-based Stephens in 2009, as well as funding from Silicon Valley. White is now a 500 Startups mentor, an advisor at Astia and helped start the first UK internet bank.
In a previous Real Business interview, White suggested that “technology has a bit of an image problem; it’s changing, but slowly”. And she believed that “it raises interesting questions for debate – why are women more reticent taking the leap compared to men? Is it rooted in education and awareness from a younger age?
“The key to solving this problem is encouraging men and women to work in partnership more closely, because at the minute, they’re not,” she said. “The UK is missing out on the valuable experience and representation of women and men are missing out on this input too.
“Education has a big role to play in helping to shift perceptions. Technology, so often seen as geeky, allows you to share, collaborate and create. Young people recognise this, but we need to work harder to dissolve old stereotypes about the industry.”
13. Nancy Cruickshank
Founding a company is nothing new to Cruickshank. She launched her first company, property site Smove (Asserta Home), alongside her husband. In 2000, she created Handbag.com, which became the number one fashion and beauty site in the UK. And in 2012 she founded MyShowcase, an online store dedicated to making beauty product shopping easier for the customer. She also runs a program called Women in Business.
Before that, she consulted the UK’s three largest mobile network operators, led the Telegraph’s M&A activities, was a commercial director at Conde Nast and worked with various start-ups.
According to some of the research MyShowcase did “around women in the UK [it was] found that each year, there are around 100,000 businesses conceived by women that never get off the ground.”
This seems to be due to “all the stereotypical reasons. We are juggling kids and it’s hard to start up a new business. As woman, we’re less likely to come up through a financial background, so we tend to have less confidence in putting together a business plan.”
She added: “But women have a few traits. We are really good at collaboration which is an essential thing, and we are able to create something from scratch. On the other hand, men feel more confident around financial agenda and frameworks.
“But here’s the major issue; it’s not a level playing field and women are bearing the brunt on many levels. Women need and thrive with enhanced flexibility, facts substantiated by a large number of management studies concluding that women are better at collaborating, taking the initiative, self-development, driving for results, solving problems, developing others and building relationships. To put it bluntly, women in the workplace are often more wholly human than their male counterparts. Strong leaders despite greater demands in their lives.”
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