Anne-Marie Imafidon, most influential woman in UK tech 2020 - winner’s speech

In this video from Computer Weekly’s annual diversity event, in partnership with Spinks, Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO of Stemettes, gives her acceptance speech as the 2020 Most Influential Woman in UK Tech.

With technology becoming increasingly important during the coronavirus outbreak, and the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, it’s becoming more and more clear that the sector is lacking equity and belonging for those in under-represented groups.

Research from BCS recently found women make up around 17% of the UK’s tech sector, while those from a black, African, Caribbean or black British background make up around 2%.

There has been support from many in reaction to both the BLM campaign and the coronavirus pandemic, including statements of support for BLM and encouragement for those struggling during the pandemic. 

But as pointed out by speakers at this year’s event, as well as this year’s Most Influential Woman in UK tech Anne-Marie Imafidon, talk is no good without action.

In this video, Imafidon states we should all be aware of and embrace our differences rather than try to change who we are to fit the mould of what a person in tech is typically thought to be like.

While there has been a huge focus on gaining diversity and inclusion in the tech sector, Imafidon says what people are looking for is “equitable practice” and “belonging”.

To those who are “scared to act” and start pushing for equitable practice, Imafidon says “the fear of the unknown can be banished by research and practice” something technologists experience during their day-to-day working lives.

Quoting Dame Stephanie Shirley, Imafidon says: “We waste too much time being afraid when what we should really fear is wasting time.”

During her work with Stemettes, Imafidon has met young women and non-binary people who she says will be the future of the tech industry.

Claiming she has realised she’s “not that unique”, Imafidon says there are many more Anne-Maries out there, in and outside the technology sector.

She says: “I want to start off by giving a message to the Anne-Maries out there whether you’re listening or whether you’re able to pass this on to any Anne-Maries you know.”

Her advice for those like her in the sector is:

  1. You belong in the tech industry
  2. You have influence
  3. You are brilliant

On the topic of influence, Imafidon claims being a person of influence in the sector is something she’s “still grappling with” but she encourages those in the tech sector to “say what you know needs to be said” in order to drive forward positive change.

She also warns those unwilling to push forward to diversity, inclusion and equity in tech agenda: “To the people who have closed doors, and continue to close doors for the Anne-Maries, I want to say good luck. By closing doors on Anne-Maries and people like me you’re only holding up your own success and getting in the way. And I’m not the only one, and there will be many more, and it will probably get tiring after a while closing doors on people continually.”

She likens the future of the tech sector to each of those in it building something, describing all those in the industry as a brick.

She finishes by asking: “Which bricks are you laying, and what kind of brick are you?”

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