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Most Influential Women in UK IT 2018: Entrants to the Hall of Fame

Each year Computer Weekly recognises several great women from the IT industry and their lifetime achievements in its Most Influential Women in UK Tech Hall of Fame

Computer Weekly is pleased to announce the 2018 additions to its Most Influential Women in UK IT Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame was introduced in 2015 to showcase the lifetime efforts and achievements of some of the women who have been nominated for Computer Weekly’s annual list of the most influential women in the UK technology sector.

As well as shine a light on the women who appear in the most influential list every year, the Hall of Fame aims to honour the commitment of these women to encouraging more diverse candidates into the tech industry.  

The Hall of Fame offers the judges the opportunity to introduce entrants to the top 50 list as emerging role models. Previous winners of the Most Influential Women in UK IT list also earn a place in the Hall of Fame.

We are proud to recognise the lifelong achievements of the four additions to the Hall of Fame:

Chi Onwurah, shadow industrial strategy minister, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central

Chinyelu Onwurah is shadow minister for industrial strategy, science and innovation, who led Labour’s pre-2015 election review of digital government policy. She was first elected at the 2010 general election as member of Parliament (MP) for Newcastle upon Tyne Central. 

A chartered engineer and former head of telecoms technology at UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, Onwurah is co-chair of the Parliamentary ICT Forum (Pictfor) and former board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Post). She is an advocate for digital skills and digital enablement.

Hannah Dee, senior lecturer at Aberystwyth University and founder of the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium

Hannah Dee set up the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium, the UK’s main conference for female undergraduates, in 2008, and ran it for the first 10 years. She's now deputy chair of the Colloquium, which welcomed over 200 attendees in Sheffield in 2018. She was also instrumental in BCSWomen's "Appathon" world record attempt, writing the materials and training the trainers so that over 1000 people in over 30 locations learned how to build Android apps at the same time, with every session led by a woman trainer. In 2018 she helped run the first Women in Tech Cymru summer conference, managing the local organisation and tech stream. 

She now works at Aberystwyth University as a senior lecturer, teaching computer vision and databases, and researching in computer vision. As well as being an active researcher, she has five teaching awards and is a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  Hannah also works hard to enthuse younger people about computing, particularly as a creative subject, helping to run the award-winning Aberystwyth Robotics Club, working with local schools through the Playful Coding initiative, and contributing to sessions for women students from local secondary schools. 

She has been on the committee of BCSWomen for more than a decade, and is deputy chair of BCS Mid Wales.

Sarah Wood, co-founder and CEO, Unruly Media

Wood is the co-founder and CEO of data-centric media promotion company Unruly Media, which was acquired by News Corp in 2015. Unruly uses emotional audience data and user-friendly video formats to massively increase viewer engagement, brand performance and publisher revenues across the web.

Previously a lecturer in American studies at the University of Sussex, Wood is now an associate lecturer and course convenor for the University of Cambridge, focusing on devising and delivering the Creation, Consumption, Revolution: Online Video Culture module as part of the Screen Cultures MPhil course.

Sherry Coutu, angel investor, founder of ScaleUp Institute, founder of Founders4Schools

The 2017 winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK IT Award, Sherry Coutu is one of Britain’s most successful angel investors, working and investing with entrepreneurs to use digital to develop marketplaces as well as working with students and teachers in education technology.

She advises and serves on the boards of companies, charities and institutions such as the London Stock Exchange, Cambridge University, Raspberry Pi and Zoopla.

As an angel investor, she has made direct angel investments in more than 50 companies and holds investments in three venture capital firms. She founded and chairs the not-for-profit, and co-founded Silicon Valley Comes to the UK.

Coutu told Computer Weekly that providing people with accessible and visible role models is the best way of addressing the diversity imbalance across the technology industry, something she tries to achieve through Founders4schools.

Existing members of the Hall of Fame

The previous entrants into the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK IT Hall of Fame are:

Gillian Arnold

Previous chair of BCSWomen, the specialist group in the BCS that supports women in the IT industry, Gillian Arnold has been in the tech sector for more than 30 years.

Now a non-executive director of the BCS, Arnold has spent time as chair of the European Women in IT taskforce aimed at developing best practices and Europe-wide activities to increase the number of women in the tech industry.

Before beginning her consultancy business Tectre in 2010, Arnold spent 22 years at IBM. In her career, she has undertaken customer-facing, technical, sales, business development, strategic marketing and consultancy roles.

During her time in the industry, she has managed and established teams for new products, and built teams with cross-industry and cross-platform experience across Europe and the UK.

As well as having chaired a forum for IT trade body Intellect (now TechUK), Arnold is a board member at Wise, which supports women in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem).

Her continual efforts to increase diversity in the technology industry have led to her winning several awards, including the Everywoman in tech Inspiration of the Year award 2012.

Arnold has been a regular on Computer Weekly’s list of the Most Influential Women in UK IT for the past five years.

Maggie Philbin

The 2016 winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK IT award, Maggie Philbin has worked in radio and television for more than 30 years on a wide range of science, medical and technology programmes.

She is co-founder and CEO of TeenTech, an award-winning organisation helping young people, their parents and teachers to understand more about the real opportunities in science and technology.

Reporting on science and technology for the BBC’s Bang goes the theory, providing analysis and comment on technology for BBC WebWise and a regular reporter on BBC 1’s Inside out, Philbin has a unique resonance with audiences, having grown up with them on much-loved shows such as Swap shop and Tomorrow’s world.

Philbin is a strong believer in focusing on encouraging diversity in tech rather than just gender, and began the TeenTech Awards to encourage children from all backgrounds to consider Stem careers.

Jacqueline De Rojas

Until March 2016, Jacqueline De Rojas spent a year as the UK and Ireland managing director of Sage before becoming a business mentor at Bird & Co.

In 2015, De Rojas, president of TechUK and former area vice-president of Citrix, was voted as the most influential woman in UK IT after appearing on the list in 2014 and 2013.

De Rojas was chosen in 2015 due to her constant work promoting women in IT. She said she was “surprised” to have won, and promised to use the title as a platform to encourage other women to enter the tech sector.

De Rojas went from deputy president to president of industry body TechUK in 2015, where she acts as a champion for women in the IT industry.

She has a long history of working for software companies, including roles as vice-president and UK and Ireland general manager for CA Technologies, vice-president of UK and Ireland for McAfee, and executive consultant for Novell.

Held up as a leader and influencer, De Rojas has led many transformation projects among the teams she has worked in. She promotes women in the IT industry by acting in roles such as non-executive director for the Home Retail Group, advisor to the board of Digital Leaders, and is an Everywoman Club member.  

De Rojas has also appeared in Computer Weekly’s UKTech50 list of the Most Influential People in UK IT.

Joanna Shields

Joanna Shields appeared on the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK IT list every year since its launch, and won the title in 2013.

In May 2015, Shields was appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) due to her background advising startups and promoting digital adoption, and until early 2018 acted as the UK minister for internet safety and security.

From December 2016, Shields acted as the prime minister’s special representative on internet crime and harms to drive a more international approach to internet safety and security.

Formerly the CEO of accelerator programme Tech City, Shields founded not-for-profit in 2013 to wipe out online child abuse and exploitation.

She is currently the Group CEO of artificial intelligence company BenevolentAI, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Formerly European chief of Facebook, Shields has worked in several roles as an advisor on digital. She believes the UK must properly address digital transformation if it is to stay as a leader in digital development.

Jane Moran

Jane Moran, global CIO at Unilever, was the first winner of the Computer Weekly Most Influential Woman in UK IT list when it was launched in 2012.

At the time, Moran was the CIO for Thomson Reuters, where she actively participated in the Thomson Reuters Women’s Network, Women in Technology International and the National Center for Women in Technology.

Alongside her duties as CIO of Unilever, Moran participates in the Anita Borg Institute and Brown University’s Advisory Committee for Computer Science and IT.

Moran also sits on the CIO council for, Workday and SAP, is a non-executive director for J.P Morgan Securities and Institutional Cash Distributors, actively participating in the IT community, and is an advocate for leadership skills and ensuring more women consider a technology career.

In 2014, Moran placed first on the annual Computer Weekly UKTech50 list, a showcase of the top movers and shakers in the UK IT industry.  

Martha Lane Fox

Co-founder of, serial entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox continues to promote the cause of women and diversity in the IT industry.

Lane Fox also works for digital skills parity and believes more should be done to ensure the 12 million adults who cannot use the internet can achieve even the most basic tasks involved in a digital future.

She intends for her Doteveryone project – which she launched during her speech at the 2015 Dimbleby Lecture – to act as a platform to fuel the discussion around startups, governments, gender and skills.

A firm believer that the internet should be used as an enabler for change, Lane Fox has used her position as chancellor for the Open University, a member of the board of advisors for the Government Digital Service (GDS), and crossbench peer in the House of Lords, to speak out about the need for diversity and digital enablement.

Lane Fox, who is now a director at Twitter, joined the firm’s board in 2016 and was also appointed a distinguished fellow by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT alongside Wendy Hall.

Stephanie Shirley

Stephanie “Steve” Shirley took it upon herself to challenge the male-focused world of business in the 1960s, when she began signing her name as Steve to overcome male preconceptions of women when starting her software development firm FI Group.

Shirley paved the way for flexible working after offering flexibility and job sharing for her female IT professionals in the 1960s, and started her business with a cohort of 300 programmers, only three of which were male.

Shirley told Computer Weekly that entrepreneurs do not necessarily do well straight away, but instead learn from their mistakes. She now takes a wider focus on diversity in the IT industry, focusing on those with disabilities, as well as gender and age diversity in the sector.

Sue Black

Sue Black hit the ground running in 2016, as her book Saving Bletchley Park reached the shelves. The book details not only her campaign to stop the historic Bletchley Park from falling into disrepair, but also acts as a guide on how to fully utilise social media.

In 2015, Black was awarded an OBE for her services to technology, and is an outspoken advocate for ensuring more women and girls take an interest in technology.

Black currently acts at the founder and chief evangelist of the TechMums initiative, which aims to encourage more children into technology by ensuring mothers gain confidence and skills in using IT.

Black also acts as a mentor for startups at Google Campus for Mums, and is part of the Foreign Secretary’s Advisory Group on Freedom of Expression.

Acting as an advisor for GDS, and as honorary professor in computer science for University College London, Black uses her knowledge of technology and digital to assist organisations where needed.

Black is outspoken about the need for more people, especially women, to show an interest in technology and is a frequent writer and public speaker on the subject.

Wendy Hall

Wendy Hall was initially added to the Hall of Fame due to her lifelong commitment to promoting the women in technology agenda. Hall topped the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK IT list in 2014, after encouraging women into the IT industry for more than 30 years.

As a professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, Hall was the first female professor of engineering at the university after being appointed in 1994.

Having cowritten the paper Where have all the girls gone? at Southampton University in 1987, Hall has always been an advocate for women in IT. She went on to launch the Institute of Web Science, a major research initiative to understand the effect the web has on society, culture and the economy.

Hall was invited to join the Global Commission on Internet Governance in 2014 to determine how to ensure the internet stays free and open to everyone.

She has appeared repeatedly on the Computer Weekly list of the Most Influential Women in UK IT, and featured regularly on the Computer Weekly UKTech50 list of the Most Influential People in UK IT.

In early 2016, Hall was made a distinguished fellow by the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and took up a three-month residency at the John W. Kluge Center at the US Library of Congress as the Kluge Chair in Technology and Society.

Selecting the most influential women in IT

This year, Computer Weekly is working in partnership with Mortimer Spinks to deliver an event focused on diversity in tech where attendees will discuss how building an inclusive environment in the workplace can help to promote diversity in the technology industry and retain diverse candidates.

During the event, which is due to take place on 26 September, the 2018 winner of the Most Influential Women in UK IT title will be announced. 

Thank you to our judges

The judges for the 2018 Most Influential Women in UK IT award, who selected this year’s entrants to the Hall of Fame, are:

  • Maggie Berry, founder of Women in Technology.
  • Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates.
  • Robin Beattie, director at Mortimer Spinks.
  • Andrea Palmer, business change manager in IT and services at BP and treasurer of BCSWomen.
  • Antony Walker, deputy CEO of TechUK.
  • Cheryl Martin, partner of cyber security at Ernst and Young (EY).
  • Clare McDonald, business editor of Computer Weekly.
  • Bryan Glick, editor-in-chief of Computer Weekly.

Thank you to our sponsors EY.

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