Computer Weekly’s 2021 women in tech Rising Stars

Despite a lack of women in the technology sector, new champions of diversity, inclusion and technology are always surfacing – so who is likely to appear in Computer Weekly’s top 50 list in the future?

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Computer Weekly: The Most Influential Women in UK Technology 2021

Each year, as Computer Weekly compiles its list of the 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech, it also searches for people who are starting to make an impact on the technology sector and are likely to feature in the top 50 in the near future.

These Rising Stars, suggested by Computer Weekly’s judges, are cited as being the next generation of influential women in the UK’s technology sector and are already making a notable difference to the industry.

The Rising Star category was introduced in 2014 as a way to increase the number of women showcased as industry role models.

Launched in 2012, this is the 10th year Computer Weekly has run its list of the 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech. To mark this milestone, there are 10 additions to the list of Rising Stars.

This year’s Risings Stars are:

Beth Probert

Originally an astrophysicist, Probert is now a software engineer at Capgemini Engineering’s High Integrity Software Expertise Centre. She is also the vice-chair of the WISE Young Professional’s Board.

She is actively involved in trying to encourage more young women to consider technology careers and, in 2020, was a finalist in the IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year awards.

Emma Sinclair

A serial entrepreneur, Sinclair is the co-founder of software company EnterpriseAlumni, and is the youngest person in the world to have floated a company on the London Stock Exchange.

In 2016, she was awarded an MBE for services to entrepreneurship, and as well as acting as a business mentor for Unicef, helping the charity to launch its first crowdfund in 2017, Sinclair is a columnist for The Telegraph and an advisory council member for G7.

Erika Brodnock

Erika Brodnock is a serial entrepreneur, founding two education-focused software companies, Karisma Kidz and Kami.

She is also an advisory board member for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Entrepreneurship, a non-executive director of the Good Play Guide, and has won multiple awards.

Helen Boothman

Boothman is managing director of renewable heating firm Evergreen Energy, which recently acquired smart thermostat firm Homely Energy.

Her previous roles have been focused mainly on software-as-a-service (SaaS) products and product management at firms such as Elexon and TMA Data Management.

Jackie Bell

A senior teaching fellow in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, Dr Jackie Bell is also an advocate for diversity, equality and inclusion in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sectors.

She actively tries to encourage people from under-represented backgrounds into STEM careers. Bell was recently named one of the WISE 20.

Maria Axente

Maria Axente is the artificial intelligence (AI) and AI for Good lead at PwC where she is responsible for advising clients on responsible use of AI, and ensuring ethical development of PwC AI operations, products and services.

She is also an advisory board member for the APPG for AI, a vice-chair for the data, analytics and AI leadership committee at TechUK, and advisor for the PHI for Augmented Intelligence.

Nicola Martin

Currently the head of quality at Adarga, Martin has a history of working as a test consultant at firms such as Barclays, Sony, the UK Home Office, Shazam and Sky.

She is currently a committee member and inclusion officer for the BCS Special Interest Group in Software Testing.

Olga Kravchenko

Olga Kravchenko is the CEO of virtual reality (VR) learning platform Musemio which allows people to use technology to explore museum collections.

She is an advocate for making arts, culture and history more accessible for young people, and was recently named a Forbes 30 under 30 in art and culture.

Sandra Wachter

Sandra Wachter is an associate professor and senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford focused on researching the legal and ethical applications of AI and robotics.

She is also a Turing research fellow in data ethics at the Alan Turing Institute where she considers the legal and ethical implications of data science. Wachter is also a fellow of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Values, Ethics and Innovation, and a member of the Law Committee of the IEEE.

Wai Foong Ng

Well known in the startup scene, Ng founded tech for good startup Matchable in 2019 to help companies find and match with volunteering projects, not-for-profits and startups.

She’s a member and pledger of entrepreneur community Founders Pledge, and a co-programme lead for the 2021 cohort of the Startup Leadership Programme London.

Hall of Fame

Each year, a number of women are also selected to join Computer Weekly’s women in tech Hall of Fame, reserved for women who have made a lifetime contribution to the technology sector.

The current members of the Hall of Fame are:

  • Anne-Marie Imafidon
  • Carrie Anne Philbin
  • Cindy Rose
  • Elizabeth Denham
  • Helen Milner
  • Jo Twist
  • Rebecca George
  • Sarah Burnett
  • Sue Daley
  • Trudy Norris-Grey
  • Amali de Alwis
  • Chi Onwurah
  • Debbie Forster
  • Eileen Burbidge
  • Gillian Arnold
  • Hannah Dee
  • Jacqueline De Rojas
  • Jane Moran
  • Joanna Shields
  • Kate Russell
  • Kathryn Parsons
  • Maggie Berry
  • Maggie Philbin
  • Margaret Ross
  • Martha Lane Fox
  • Max Benson and Karen Gill
  • Nicola Mendelsohn
  • Sarah Wood
  • Sheila Flavell
  • Sherry Coutu
  • Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley
  • Sue Black
  • Wendy Hall

Many role models in the tech sector are so far along in their careers it can be hard for others to see the path they have taken into the industry – by shining a light on these Rising Stars, Computer Weekly hopes it can increase the number of accessible and relatable role models in the technology sector to encourage others from under-represented groups in the UK to pursue a career in technology and better understand what benefits a tech career has to offer.


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