I had a fabulous time last night at the gorgeous home of Priya Guha, UK San Francisco Consul General. I was there for a reunion of the British Airways #ungrounded 130 innovators.
Last June I was selected to be one of 130 innovators on a plane, for a hackathon in the sky. We all flew from San Francisco to London, our team had the challenge “Fostering women in STEM”. We won our group with our concept AdvisHer: Advise, Advocate, Accelerate.
Another great project to come out of #ungrounded was Beacons in a backpack. A great idea to connect backpackers with remote communities providing wifi connection and STEM information at the same time.
It was so great to catch up with everyone last night. From my team mates @Whurley and @6gems to all the other really cool and interesting people on the flight. I look forward to more reunions and to helping decide what should happen on the next #ungrounded flight. Thank you British Airways and UKTI in San Francisco for a great experience and my wonderful friends Whurley, Gina Bianchini and Arthine Cossey van Duyne for making my trip possible. Love you guys.
On my last full day in San Francisco I had to visit the Exploratorium. I met up with Ellen Spertus from Google who wanted to talk to me about Blockly, a great project, I’m really glad that we managed to hook up.
I was first in touch with Ellen several years ago when I asked her if she would be our keynote speaker for an event we held at London South Bank University on women and Software Engineering/Formal Methods for the SEFM conference 2006. Unfortunately she couldn’t come, which was our loss.
I finally met Ellen at the ACM Turing 100 conference last year in San Francisco, and it was great to catch up with her again on this trip.
After a great chat we explored the Exploratorium together. There are so many great hands on exhibits there. What a wonderful place. I need to come back with The Cheekster, she will absolutely love it 😃
After Ellen left I had lunch and a chat with a great woman who told me about her career spanning more than 50 years. She was taking photos of the catamarans sailing across the bay, she had won prizes for sailing back in the day. She wouldn’t say how long ago but she did say that she was over 70. She had also been a programmer back in the 1950s, she said she had hit her head on the glass ceiling so many times it made her dizzy. Just think how many women have had the same experience, far too many.
Tomorrow I’m flying back to London on the #BAInnovate #Ungrounded flight. A hackathon in the sky focused on making a step change on the situation for women in STEM. We owe it to ourselves, our children and all the women that have been made dizzy by the glass ceiling to make sure we come up with a good solution.
Next Wednesday 12th June 2013 I’m going to be part of “Team Altitude” on a ground breaking flight from San Francisco to London.
The idea is to get 100 top innovators on a plane, set them a challenge when they get on the plane then get them to present their solution to the G8 summit when they arrive in the UK.
Check out the video explanation of the flight
Our challenge is all around the issue of the lack of women in STEM, something I’ve been interested in and campaigned around for the last 20 years. I’m so excited to be part of it. Apart from anything else I get to meet Kimberley Bryant who set up Black Girls Code, an awesome organisation, she has been a great role model for me.
It is so wonderful to finally see that trying to do something about the lack of women in STEM become a problem that everyone cares about rather than “creating a ghetto for women” which is what I was told when I set up BCSWomen, an all female network for women in tech in 2001.
Our latest project at my startup The Foundation is called #techmums and is all about helping women to empower themselves through technology. I think that role models and confidence building are absolutely crucial in this space and the main issues to tackle. If we help women to become more confident they can take control and own their lives.
With initiatives like this #BAInnovate #Ungrounded flight, getting really smart, passionate and innovative people together focused on this problem I can really see my dreams starting to become reality. Technology is creating a better future for all of us. Hallelujah! 🙂