By The Nation
Now in its second year, the awards recognise women across the global technology scene who are trailblazing new paths, creating innovative products and experiences, positively impacting communities and inspiring future generations. At a gala ceremony held in London, UK recently, eight prizes were given out including seven individual category awards, one employer award, and the overall 2019 Technology Playmaker of the Year award.
The winners include a Mexican entrepreneur who has created a detection system to locate survivors following an earthquake; the founder of an NGO aiming to lift Nigerian girls and women out of poverty through technology education and empowering teachers as change agents; the creator of a device that allows women to test for cervical cancer at home; and the leader of a global movement to teach girls coding, AI and robotics. Each category winner received a 5,000-euro (Bt180,000) prize, and the Technology Playmaker of the Year, who was selected from among the individual winners, received an additional 10,000 euro. The seven categories recognised the tech contributions of women in areas ranging from positive business impact, innovative use of digital tools and emerging technologies, community impact and sustainable practices, rising tech talent, and an organisation that is demonstrating a commitment to achieving gender diversity in IT and technology.
Linda Liukas, Finland-based founder of Rails Girls, was named the 2019 Booking.com Technology Playmaker of the Year. This award is given to the individual category winner who judges felt has made the most impactful contribution to innovation in technology and driven social change at a global level. In addition to founding Rails Girls, a global movement that is teaching young women to program in over more than 300 cities worldwide, Liukas is the author and illustrator of “Hello Ruby”, a children’s picture book series translated into 25 languages about the world of computer science.
The 2019 Booking.com Technology Playmaker Award winners include Community Impact award for Martha Omoekpen Alade (Nigeria), founder of Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN), an NGO using technology to drive socio-economic empowerment in Nigeria in order to help 20,000 women and girls out of poverty by 2022.
The Business Leader award goes to Beena Ammanath (US), Global VP of AI, Data & Innovation at HPE and Founder and CEO of Humans for AI, a non-profit focused on increasing diversity in tech through the use of artificial intelligence.
The Young Technologist award goes to Betelhem Dessie (Ethiopia), founder and CEO of Anyone Can Code (ACC) in collaboration with iCog Labs, empowering children and young adults to innovate via coding, AI and robotics with the aim to solve society’s problems through technology
The Tech Innovator award goes to Sophie Hombert (France), founder of Aglae, the first luminescent plant company of its kind, developing a biodegradable nutritive serum that gives plants a luminescent effect
The Digital Leader award winner is Jill Zeret Jimenez Rodriguez (Mexico), founder of Zytreon Tecnologia Infinita, a technology firm that launched a detection system to locate survivors following an earthquake. The Employer Award is given to 1 Million Women to Tech (US), a global online technology education program dedicated to reaching one million women with free coding education by January 2020.
“We received an exceptionally high calibre of nominations from every corner of the world, and it is my pleasure to congratulate all of our inspiring finalists and winners. Their stories highlight the breadth and scale of achievements that women at all stages of their tech careers are making every day,” said Gillian Tans, chief executive of Booking.com. “We recognise the need to shine a light on role models in the tech industry, and set out to create a forum that brings together leading female technologists from different backgrounds to exchange ideas and perspectives and build connections with the aim to inspire future generations and achieve equal gender representation for women in tech.”
“I’m completely blown away to receive both the Role Model and overall Technology Playmaker of the Year 2019 Award. Initiatives like this help women feel seen and more widely recognised in general, as well as help to forge important and lasting relationships among like-minded, brilliant, world-changing women who work in the tech industry,” said Linda Liukas, winner of the 2019 Booking.com Technology Playmaker of the Year award. “Technology for me is about self-expression, creativity and joy. Women have so much to offer to the tech world and often make the mistake of trying to fit in too much. The moment I decided to step into my own possibility and curiosity, I started to build a career that looks like me."
This year, the awards were open to global nominations, building on a European focus last year, and drew hundreds of entries from over 60 countries.
The judging panel was chaired by Tans and included leaders from global tech companies, academia and start-ups including Skyscanner, WeTransfer, Amazon Web Services, Spelman College, Delft University of Technology, NeuralBay, Wormhole and All Turtles, as well as representatives from the European Parliament and the Financial Times.
For more information about the winners, go to http://techplaymakerawards.com/this-years-winners.