When I signed up to the pledge to write something about women in technology for the first Ada Lovelace Day, it seemed simple enough: to write about a woman in tech that I admire.
When my mother left school after a secondary modern education, she had little choice other than being a cook at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and then an assistant in Rackhams. Women of my generation had more offered to them, although girls in my sixth-form doing sciences were considered a little weird and going on to do an engineering degree was rare and remarkable. I’m very glad to say that my daughter doesn’t see such barriers. As she approaches 16, I believe she really could do anything she chose to do.
It’s been a lovely exercise, if only because it’s reminded me of how many talented women I know. I’m glad that there are so many to choose from although, as I said when I did the panel in Berlin with Suw, Steph & Janet, I’m not altogether convinced that women are invisible in tech, I understand that that’s how they feel. I also believe that the future in tech is even closer to gender equality. We’re moving into a period where archetypical feminine assets: creativity, nurturing, conversation are dominant in the most exciting areas of technological development.
The person I’d like to draw attention to is Helen Keegan – a friend for longer than she’d thank me for pointing out, she’s a marketer primarily, but it’s the combination of understanding how people buy stuff, how mobile technology is used and the cultural issues around technological progress that I think make her most admirable.
She is also determined, clear about her own opinions and unafraid to express sometimes unconventional or unpopular angles on her subject. Only today I observed her speaking at Wealth of Networks II and dealing persuasively with someone who held a very different view to hers about shoppers at Lakeside. Helen has also been my most honest and motivating supporter in the work that I’ve done on the Tuttle Club.
When I was first experimenting with podcast conversations, Helen was a natural choice. Here’s a podcast I made with her in 2005 (sitting in Grosvenor Square of all places!) which displays some of that knowledge and determination.
PS I have to mention one to watch for ADL2010 – Hermione Way from Techfluff TV – trying new stuff, learning quickly, producing quality content and building a solid business while having lots of fun.
Photo: by-nc-sa Bowbrick