Inspirational Women in Tech

Painted portrait of Ada Lovelace

It was International Women’s day on Tuesday so we thought we would round up some of the most inspiring women working at the forefront of the tech revolution in Scotland, the UK and beyond. And these are just the tip of the iceberg…

Katy Lynch Ulliott

Former CEO of Techweek, America’s largest travelling technology festival

Katy was born in Edinburgh and lived there until she was 12. She is now based in Chicago and was CEO of Techweek until announcing this week that she’ll be starting her own company in the growing EdTech sector. Prior to Techweek, Katy was the president and founder of SocialKaty, Inc (now Manifest), Chicago’s largest social media marketing agency. Founded in 2010, SocialKaty exploded, offering a rich set of services to a diverse portfolio of over 60 full-time clients, including AAA, Spartan Race, Beanie Babies, O-Cedar, ServiceMaster and Firestone Tires. In July of 2014, Katy announced the merge between SocialKaty, Inc and Manifest, a Chicago-based experience design agency. This combination created one of the largest social and content marketing teams in the US.

Morna Simpson

Founder of Girl Geek Scotland

Morna-SimpsonMorna founded Girl Geek Scotland (GGS) back in 2008, a community for women working with computing, creativity and enterprise in Scotland. GGS was established in 2008 and is part of the Girl Geek Dinners network. GGS held its first Girl Geek Dinner in Dundee in February 2009. A group in Edinburgh was established shortly after and GGS has now grown to include groups in Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Mari Smith

Facebook Marketing Expert

Mari is an expert in social media marketing, particularly Facebook (and Facebook advertising) strategy for brands. Often referred to as ‘the Queen of Facebook’, Mari Smith is one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media marketing.

Mari was born in Ontario and spent her childhood in Canada then lived in Scotland for two decades before moving to San Diego, California in 1999. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer (currently number 4 of 100), author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.

Ada Lovelace

Victorian computing pioneer

Ada Lovelace (born Augusta Ada Byron in 1815) was the daughter of Annabella Milbanke and the poet Lord Byron. Byron referred to Ada’s mum, Lady Byron as his ‘Princess of Parallelograms’ as she had mathematical training (unusual for the time, when women were regularly denied an education), and insisted that his daughter study maths too. Among Ada’s many tutors was the Scottish astronomer, mathematician and scientific pioneer, Mary Somerville, who helped discover the planet Neptune.

Ada is now thought of as the first ever computer programmer, after working with Charles Babbage on his early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She wrote in 1843, “the Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.” Her understanding of the Engine’s capabilities were visionary, and she was the first to point out, “that the Engine ‘might act upon other things besides number . . . the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent”.

The notes she made on the engine contain what is widely thought of as the first algorithm.

Sally Dyson

Head of Digital Participation, SCVO

SCVOSally is based in Edinburgh and was named as one of Holyrood Magazine’s current Tech 100. Her job involves helping people develop basic digital skills and get online, and helping organisations in the third sector understand the real benefits that using digital technologies can bring. Recently Sally helped co-create the #OneDigital programme across the UK, a new initiative to create hundreds of ‘digital champions’ who will help more than 9,500 people develop basic digital skills. This ‘consortium’ will benefit people with disabilities and accessibility needs, young adults seeking work, over 65s, and charities and the people they support, so they are able to access essential online services, search and apply for jobs and stay in touch with friends and family.

Liz McGettigan

Director of digital library and cultural experiences, SOLUS, a digital communications company

Liz helped develop the first UK public libraries app, which is now available in 70 local authorities across the UK. She works for SOLUS, a digital communications company based in East Kilbride and is a specialist in digital libraries and information. Liz works in the transformation of library and cultural services through strategic use of innovative digital technology, and says she “loves digital disruption”. Liz was named as one of Holyrood Magazine’s current Tech 100.

Alice Bentick

Co-founder of Code First: Girls

Code First: Girls is a social enterprise that was set up in 2012 to offer free web programming courses for women in university and help increase the number of women working in tech, something that Alice is passionate about. She has gone on to co-found Entrepreneur First, which helps ‘the best technical people from Europe build tech startups in London’. Alice was named one of the Fifty Most Inspiring Women in European Tech by the Inspiring Fifty organisation in 2015, and was included in The Drum’s ‘30 Under 30 Women in Digital’ list.

Kathryn Parsons

Co-founder and co-CEO of Decoded

Kathryn co-founded Decoded in 2011 to help increase digital literacy. Decoded run a one-day course which teaches students without any background in computers to ‘code in a day’. They also offer courses such as ‘social data in a day’, ‘cyber security in a day’ or ‘digital production in a day’, and open-source their materials online for use by UK schoolteachers. The Guardian Media Group bought a 15 percent stake in Decoded two years ago.


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