Top 5 most inspiring women in the European technology industry
In September 2014, an event held at the United Nations HQ that promoted the UN Women’s organisation ‘HeforShe’ campaign got the whole world talking. Like a modern day suffragette, star of the Harry Potter movie franchise and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, delivered a heart-warming speech which aimed to get men and boys to pledge to join the feminist fight for gender equality.
There is no denying that Miss Watson’s efforts helped to spread global awareness of the gender imbalance but there is some way to go before women can hang up their boxing gloves...
The underrepresentation of women in the technology industry has gained a vast amount of media attention. You only have to browse news sites and social media feeds to learn that, “at Apple, women hold just 20 percent of technical jobs, 35 percent of non-technical roles and 28 percent of leadership jobs”(www.cnet.com).
In a male dominated profession, many women feel that they’re undervalued, disregarded for promotion and seen as less capable than their male colleagues. Shockingly, women in senior positions are on a lower wage and are managing higher-paid male co-workers, in some cases. In a poll created by The Guardian, out of 600 people working in the tech industry, “52 percent say women are paid less than men for the same job”.
In a bid to combat the issues surrounding gender balance in the workplace, California’s Silicon Valley have invented ‘the Dave rule' - an insider joke which suggests that to assure proper gender diversity you must have at least as many women on your team as men named Dave. Ironically, this rule can be seen as a “testosterone-infused take on gender balance in the workplace” (Joe DeSanta, Tinder Runs Afoul of the “Dave Rule” Culture).
As experienced entrepreneurs and founders of multiple high-growth companies, Janneke Niessen and Joelle Frijters are fully aware of how rare it is to find women in technology leadership positions. Janneke and Joelle launched Inspiring Fifty, a pan-European programme that “identifies, encourages, develops and showcases women in leadership positions within the technology sector” (www.inspiringfifty.com).
Many women in the tech industry seek female role models who can help change the perception of women in technology. That’s why both Janneke and Joelle have picked fifty of the most inspiring women in the tech industry to support their programme. Here’s our top 5...
1. Stephanie Czerney – Germany
In 2005, Stephanie Czerney co-created one of the most substantial meetings of the high-tech scene outside of the US – the DLD conference. The conference has had high-profile figures in the tech industry deliver speeches including Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chairman of X Prize Foundation, Peter Diamandis and Yahoo! CEO and president, Marissa Mayer.
In 2010, Stephanie was identified as one of Germany’s 25 most influential businesswomen by Financial Times Germany for her success in bringing the international digital elite together at DLD.
2) Corinne Vigreux – The Netherlands
Corinne is the co-founder of TomTom and Managing Director of its Consumer business and she is a driving force in the European consumer technology industry.
Corinne is the “champion of European innovation” as she is the leader of one of the few consumer tech companies to come out of Europe. She is also engaged in organisations that are committed to helping women get into senior positions and social mobility.
Corinne is co-chair of the Dutch Chapter of Women Corporate Directors and sits on the advisory board of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet.
3) Gabriele Zedlmayer – Switzerland
Gabriele Zedlmayer drives social innovation programs aligned with HP’s business strategy. Zedlmayer has overseen many projects for HP, including: the mothers2mother and HP Life. In addition, Zedlmayer co-leads HP’s Global Citizenship Council and serves as a member of the board of directors of Junior Achievement Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the EU Commission e-skills leadership board, the Computer Science Advisory Board of the University of People, and the board of directors of Hewlett-Packard GmbH, Germany. She also is a member of the Executive Diversity Forum for HP in EMEA and of the Women’s Council of HypoVereinsbank UNICREDIT.
In 2011, she was honoured by Newsweek and the Daily Beast as one of 150 “women who shake the world”. In 2012, she was named by FastCompany as a member of the League of Extraordinary Women and was awarded with the DLDWomen Impact Award.
4) Dr Sue Black – UK
Sue is mostly known for her success in online and offline activism and campaigning around digital social inclusion and women in technology. She is the founder and CEO of Savvify, a for-profit socially responsible organisation which helps distinct demographic groups to become empowered through greater understanding and engagement with technology.
Sue is also a mentor at Google Campus for Mums, which allowed over 150 parents in London, Krakow, Madrid and Tel Aviv to acts on their ideas and attend workshops and inspirational talks from the city’s top founders and investors.
Sue is also active in the ACM-W project by the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM). The project “supports, celebrates, and advocates internationally for the full engagement of women in all aspects of the computing field, providing a wide range of programs and services to ACM members and working in the larger community to advance the contributions of technical women.”
In 2013, The Guardian named Sue as one of the Top Ten Women in Tech and in 2012 she was chosen as one of the most influential women in UK IT in a survey run by Computer Weekly.
5) Neelie Kroes – The Netherlands
In 2010, Neelie became Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe. This portfolio includes the information and communications technology (ICT) and telecommunications sectors. For example: ensuring trust and security for the Internet and new technologies; ensuring competitive communications, such as in the mobile roaming market; building world-class European research and innovation in this sector; and above all getting every European Digital, with access to fast broadband, making the most out of the Internet to support our economy and society.
In December 2014, she was appointed Special Envoy for start-ups in the Netherlands, tasked with strengthening the international position of start-ups in the Netherlands and persuade innovative foreign start-ups to establish their businesses there.