The Pandemic hit all of us hard, but women had to take on more than their usual share of work. With kids at home, home schooling and trying to keep the family fed, healthy and educated has fallen mostly on Mum’s head.
Working on a small laptop, curled on the sofa, women carried on home working, often squeezed away from the big living room table which has been taken over by the male of the species who needs not just one but two large screens and a double webcam for extra geek kudos
The Lady of the house might well be part of a home working team in marketing, services, or tech and even leading the charge and snatching time in between being home -tutor, food hunter (not easy in pandemic) and the glue that keeps the family together.
In some cases women are mixing a Covid domestic workload with inventing platforms and pushing technology and building new tech products, a good reason to pause and reflect on these super humans !
My list of Wonder Tech Women for 2021 is very long indeed,. too long to mention all my heroes here. In the spirit of musketeers “One for All and All for One”, today is the time to pay tribute to my top 5 women in tech, knowing that they represent us all, hundreds, thousands of women on the tech barricades.
May your office air be clean and your working space be well managed
Hardware is an area where sightings of women are even more rare than on GitHub, with only 3% of contributors being female, so it is a real joy to celebrate the eponymous Yodit Stanton, co-founder of OpenSensors.com. OpenSensors management software help to keep offices free of Covid in the air and helps to use office space better, showing which desks are not used and so removed or re-managed.
Yodit helps to optimise the management of big office buildings in the City, not least to minimise their previously huge Carbon Footprint. I met Yodit back in 2015 when I organised my first events on Smart or Not So Smart Cities for Cybersalon.org. She is a real force of nature who is leading the charge on bringing us back to work safely post-Covid.
You can see Yodit in this video from 2015 laying her vision of Earth-Friendly and efficient buildings, courtesy of smart sensors (from 59min)
Don’t shit where you eat
I met Priya Prakash back in 2014 when mobile apps were still used mainly for wasting hours on time-killing phone games. She took a look at the mobile phone, and immediately clicked that this is how we are going to utilise the power of the neigbourhood to fix our streets. Literally.
She founded Changify app, a mobile phone tool to let your council know if there is a water leak, a pavement hole or damage to the road. Priya was one of the pioneers of Nokia, having worked on the mobile Internet since WAP (remember that !) arrived and realised that mobile apps could be useful as well as fun. Apps on your phone that are not just gaming tools for the long overground rides but also a way to self-organise ourselves in order to make our environment safer and more Gaia-friendly.
She is also part of the mobile phone-based “Tsunami alerting system” for South East Asia. Now also deeply ensconced in the project to create an alternative to Google Maps, she still has an eye on Design For Social Change (D4SC.org) where she works on post-Covid recovery projects and tools to make sure we don’t leave the Earth in a worse state than when we showed up.
Every cloud has a silver lining
Mid life crisis and your body doing somewhat unpredictable things to your health once you hit your mid 40’s is not something that immediately screams a start-up opportunity. However, Juliet Warkentin is looking to cater for a new tribe of women that will enter menopause just as unprepared as our mothers have been.
After her glamorous career in Marie Claire, Topshop and Amazon Fashion, Juliet is on a mission to help women to negotiate the tricky path thru the challenges of menopause. Her new app, MPoweredWomen.net is doing a roaring trade in age-specific sex toys, pelvic exercise aids and hot-flush absorbing t-shirts as well as proving good cheer and advise for those tricky years. 40 is the new 30 but with a few aids in tow to keep you supple, nurtured and roaring to conquer the world. Juliet, we salute you!
Augumenting Society through chatbots
When the first chat bots came to being, we all nodded sagely seeing this great piece of tech destined to end up on porn sites. We were not far from wrong but luckily Zoe Camper intervened and gave poor chatbots a new lease of life. Zoe, one of Cyberia Café’s early Web pioneers, has done some serious data wrangling and created the first bot driven by IBM Watson, to help 10 mln victims of arthritis in the UK.
Developed jointly with Arthritis Research UK and IBM, the chat bot is powering signposting for people who need help, advice and guidance through the available resources. Zoe is now based in Las Vegas, working with Watson and also leading a Royal Society of Arts project on Augmenting Society -using tech to make us more human!
Strength in numbers
The Pandemic brought us long Covid complications and the realisation that the NHS /UK health service is just not set up to deal with health issues of a complex or chronic nature. Drupal pioneer and online accessibility expert Lucy Wills decided to take up the challenge and used an Open Source platform to design GlobeFox – a personal health dashboard that caters to those with multi-syndrome illnesses.
GPs can help you much more if you bring your data with you, and Lucy’s app cuts down the time spent on pre-diagnosis by providing critical health data. Lucy follows in the footsteps of her great-aunt who discovered haemophilia and pioneered the treatment of blood disorders, saving many lives.
Lucy was named after her great aunt and her own new medical app development offers a glimmer of hope for those of us with complex diseases and those who need help to negotiate the Byzantian maze of NHS resources. A pioneer of early Internet Zines and eco-raves, Lucy is also credited with introducing face painting to nightclubs like Megatropolis in the raving 90ties! True Renaissance tech woman!
When women and tech get together, good things happen. We may be a small group in this bro-led industry, but it is quality not quantity that matters. I am incredibly proud to be a friend, investor and co-worker with the above Wonder Women.
Go for it gals and Happy International Women’s Day to all women in tech!