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Meet the TEC women who inspire the TECgirls team

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day for celebrating the achievements of women in the historically male-dominated worlds of science, technology, engineering and maths.

For Ada Lovelace Day 2020, we asked TECgirls founders, contributors and volunteers to tell us about a woman in our domains of Technology, Engineering and Digital Creativity who they find inspirational.

Here’s what they told us:

TECgirls co-founder Caitlin Gould nominates:

Dr Susan Graham, CEO of Dendra Systems

Dr Susan Graham

What’s her TEC area of specialism?

Tech and engineering

What does she do?

She’s co-founder and CEO of Dendra Systems, based in Oxford. They seek to restore the world’s forests using drones and AI to first explore areas at risk. Then they use specially built drones to seed the land moving faster and in more remote locations that possible for people to do on their own.

What do you find inspiring about her?

I think it’s amazing how she took her knowledge as a biochemical engineer and her passion for the environment to create a company that can help to change the world.

Engineers are known for being wonderful problem solvers and replanting the world’s forests is one of the biggest problems in the world at the moment. I think it’s wonderful how she pulled together different types of technology, like AI and drones, to create a unique solution to the problem.

See Susan in action

In this five-minute talk from the ECO 2019 conference in Berlin, Susan explains why the job of restoring the world’s forests needs the help of technology.

Follow Susan on Twitter: @drsusanmgraham

TECgirls research lead Dan Goodwin nominates:

Sophie Dennis, user-centred digital service designer working for NHS Digital

Sophie Dennis

What’s her TEC area of specialism?


What does she do?

Sophie is a user-centred service designer working at the highest levels in organisations, helping them to define strategy. She builds and leads teams of user researchers and user-centred designers working in large public sector organisations to deliver high quality services at pace.

What do you find inspiring about her?

I first met Sophie 15-odd years ago when she’d recently moved to the south-west. She was busy powering up the South West peninsula’s nascent tech scene by organising networking events and a high quality local grass roots conference, DigPen.

I was slowly transitioning from developer to UX designer. Sophie was doing something similar but was moving much quicker than I was! Her ability to land incredible contracts and build teams with the smartest and best in the industry is testament to her abilities and her teaching, coaching, and leadership skills.

There’s no question that I admire and look up to her. And yet she remains one of the most friendly and down to earth people I know. It’s always a delight when we end up at the same event (it’s rare because sadly she’s relocated away from the South West now ☹), because I know we’ll have some amazing conversations.

See Sophie in action

In this 30-minute talk from Future Sync 2020 virtual conference, Sophie explains how to create a user-centred digital strategy that actually moves the needle for your organisation.

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiedennis

TECgirls co-founder Emily King nominates…

Rhianna Pratchett, video games writer and journalist

Rhianna Pratchett

What’s her TEC area of specialism?

Digital creativity

What does she do?

Starting as a videogames journalist, writing for Minx, PC Zone, The Guardian and other titles, today Rhianna is best known as a videogames writer.

Over the past 16 years, Rhianna has worked as a writer across a host of games, including Mirror’s Edge and Thief. It was Rhianna who, working as lead writer, helped to re-imagine Lara Croft in the 2013 Tomb Raider game, a reboot that updated an iconic character and franchise that had debuted on the original Sony PlayStation in 1996.

Outside of games, she also writes comics and books.

Why do you find her inspiring?

Rhianna is the daughter of acclaimed fantasy author Terry Pratchett, and she is a creative force to be reckoned with in her own right.

Making the jump from writing about videogames to writing for them is tricky in an area of the industry that does not have the same formal career progression paths as game developers or designers. Recognising this disparity, Rhianna readily advocates for games writing.

See Rhianna in action

Rhianna talks to the Guardian about how she re-imagined Lara Croft, and what it’s like to be a writer in video games.

Follow Rhianna on Twitter @rhipratchett

TECgirls editor Fiona Campbell-Howes nominates…

Kara Swisher, tech journalist and podcaster

Kara Swisher

What’s her TEC area of specialism?

Tech, digital creativity

What does she do?

Kara is one of the top technology journalists in the US, regularly interviewing some of the biggest names in tech, including Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Elon Musk.

She writes for the New York Times and New York Magazine among others, and presents the podcasts Pivot (about the power dynamics of the tech industry) and Sway (about who holds power in the US).

She also appeared twice as herself in one of my favourite TV comedies, Silicon Valley.

Why do you find her inspiring?

She’s achieved what few journalists do: the ability to get access to super-powerful people and then skewer them with tough questions.

One of the uglier aspects of the tech industry is that vast amounts of wealth and power have accrued to a few people at the very top, and it’s hard to make those people answerable for their actions.

Kara manages to do it: I recently heard her challenge Elon Musk on his decision to keep Tesla employees coming to the office during Covid. He snapped and nearly walked out, but somehow she brought him back around! All the same, it was quite revealing.

I also really admire her work ethic, her interviewing style, and her commitment to diversity in her choice of podcast guests.

See Kara in action

Kara and her Pivot co-host Scott Galloway discuss whether American innovation is dead.

Follow Kara on Twitter @karaswisher

TECgirls mentor lead Jordan Barkway nominates…

Talia Mar, twitch streamer and singer

Talia Mar

What’s her TEC area of specialism?

Digital creativity

What does she do?

Talia Mar is a young creative who focuses on her digital presence on apps such as Instagram, YouTube and twitch. She streams on daily and entertains 245,000 followers and nearly 4,000 paying twitch subscribers.

Why do you find her inspiring?

She’s managed to grow her own presence after being in the shadow of Miniminter (Simon Minter) who has 8.86 million subscribers on YouTube, along with being friends with KSI (JJ Olatunji) who has a following of 21.9 million subscribers. Talia herself has 720,000 subscribers and nearly 70 million views on her channel.

She’s had to learn to create and make content on her own and has estimated yearly earnings of £50k! I think this is amazing as this growth has happened in only four years. She has also started working on her music career which brings her 56,000 monthly listeners on Spotify!

See Talia in action

Talia plays Simon at Crash Bandicoot 4.

Follow Talia on Instagram @taliamar

TECgirls volunteer Katie Dumont nominates…

Dr Lucy Rogers, inventor, maker, podcaster and author

Dr Lucy Rogers

What’s her TEC area of specialism?

Engineering and digital creativity

What does she do?

Lucy is an inventor and maker. She was a judge on Robot Wars, and is a presenter on the DesignSpark podcast. She's been a hacker of robotic dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight, and is the author of It’s Only Rocket Science (a guide in plain English). She also contributes regularly to HackSpace magazine.

Why do you find her inspiring?

She's a normal, very down to earth lady, who just wants to make stuff! She’s very easy to relate to, and makes things that are relatable to others, as they’re things people can understand and take inspiration from for their own projects. A really helpful and interesting lady to have a chat with.

See Lucy in action

Lucy talks about the problem of space junk, and about what it’s like to be a ‘space junk terminator’.

Follow Lucy on Twitter @DrLucyRogers

TECgirls contributing writer Rachel Picken nominates…

Dr Claire Bloomfield

What’s her TEC area of specialism?


What does she do?

Claire is CEO of NCIMI (pronounced En-Cee-Mee), a collective of medical science companies, doctors and radiographers, plus charities and patient groups. They’re collaborating across the UK to look at how medical imaging and artificial intelligence can be used to find out more about diseases.

If doctors can spot medical problems more easily, they can treat patients more quickly. NCIMI does that using AI and machine learning to look at large sets of patient data, and sharing findings with hospitals across the UK.

Why do you find her inspiring?

Claire leads an amazing team of people who together are making a difference to how diseases and less understood medical conditions are diagnosed and treated. The work is very complex but she makes it fun and easy to understand.

Her programme has recently funded five different projects that are investigating the longer-term impact of Covid-19 on patients. Claire also champions other women who work in medical tech through NCIMI’s website and podcast.

She works incredibly hard and is a super mum to her very own TECgirl – 10 year old Ava.

Hear Claire in action

Listen to the NCIMI Voices podcast, where Claire and guests explore the opportunities for artificial intelligence in healthcare.

Follow Claire on Twitter @cl_bloom

Special thanks to Suw Charman-Anderson

Thanks to all those who participated, and special thanks to Suw Charman-Anderson, FRSA, the founder of Ada Lovelace Day and instigator of what's now a global movement to celebrate women in STEM.

Thanks Suw for all that you do - we know how hard you work to make this happen, not just on ALD but all year round. It's noble work and much appreciated by all of us at TECgirls.

About Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Founded in 2009, it aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.

Find out more at and follow Suw on Twitter @Suw


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