I had the pleasure of attending the Cisco everywoman in Technology Awards today, which Computer Weekly is a media sponsor for. Now in its second year the awards celebrate the most inspirational women working in technology.
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In association with womenintechnology.co.uk, the awards were opened by Everywoman co-founders Maxine Benson MBE and Karen Gill MBE. Benson said the awards are about inspiring the next generation of girls to look and say ‘That’s what I want to do.’
The awards, which took place at the Savoy Hotel this afternoon, was filled with inspiring females from a variety of backgrounds and a whole range of ages. My table alone sported motivating females from the BBC, Digital UK and finalist Pat Ryan, CEO of Information Technology for Children in Hospital.
Showing his support for the younger generation of females entering into non-stereotypical roles was Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP who said: “Gender equality needs to be judged on talent and not on political correctness.”
Hosted by ‘gadget goddess’ Suzi Perry, from the Gadget Show the winners were as follows:
· Entrepreneur of the year: Olga Kubassova, founder and CEO, Image Analysis Ltd
· Innovator of the year: Mandy Chessell, IBM distinguished engineer, master inventor, chief architect for InfoSphere Solutions, IBM
· Inspiration of the year: Gillian Arnold, director, Tectre
· Rising star of the year: Laura Earle, Executive communication manager, services, EMEAR, Cisco
· Team leader of the year: Kirstin Duffield, CEO, morning Data Limited
· Leader of the year: Sheila Flavell, chief operating officer, FDM Group
· 2012 Woman of the year: Vin Murria, chief executive officer, Advanced Computer Software Group plc
Vin Murria, who won 2012 woman of the year, gave a sincere acceptance speech where she encouraged women not to let the glass ceiling get in their way: “Break it, burn it, drive your car through it, just get through it and get on. If the glass ceiling doesn’t want to be broken go another way around. Just don’t sit below it.”
Murria explained her ‘mentor’ which she met when starting out in the industry told her that there were three things wrong with her – she was young, Asian and female. “This meant that there was always going to be someone telling me, that there was something I couldn’t do. There isn’t anything you can’t do; you just have to believe that you have the right to be there.”
Annemie Ress, global head of people innovation, at eBay presented the Inspiration of the year award (which eBay sponsored) and summed up why women are perfect for working in technology by saying “Women are motivated by the ability to inspire and to be inspired.”
Sheila Flavell said at FDM the team are 80% ladies “And without you ladies we wouldn’t be experiencing the success we are,” she added.
Despite being at an awards which celebrated the success of women, two ladies who didn’t forget to thank their male partners were Gillian Arnold who thanked “My fella for always being there” and Kirstin Duffield who said she is lucky to have a house-husband to support her: “I’m sure you would all agree that we couldn’t do it without the support of those behind us.”
Tim Skinner, director UK enterprise, at Cisco let the audience know how important women are in the technology arena and that he had found the event incredibly useful as he had learnt what ‘spanks’ are.
More coverage of the winners and their inspiring stories to follow.