Inspiring Fifty SA 2018 Gains Momentum

Inspiring Fifty SA has appointed the panel of women who will judge this year’s competition and determine the 50 most inspiring women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Inspiring Fifty is a Dutch-born NGO that showcases inspiring female role models in the STEM industry. This is the second year it has been in SA, but the organisation itself was established in 2013 in the Netherlands by two founders, Janneke Niessen and Joelle Frijters.

The idea arose out of their first-hand experience of how uncommon it is to find women in leadership positions in technology, and how pervasive gender bias and negative perceptions can be at all levels.

In order to qualify for Inspiring Fifty SA, women need to have a technology company, hold a C-level position in a tech organisation, or be an influencer, academic or politician in the technology or innovation space.

Last year’s winners include Ellen Fischat, former managing director of Silicon Cape; Adriana Marais, head of innovation at SAP Africa, who will this year be one of the judges; and Lethabo Motswaledi, co-founder and CEO of Motsoaledi and West.

This year’s panel of judges includes:

* Carol Bouwer, founder of Carol Bouwer and UNICEF SA’s special advocate for women and children.

* Irene Ochem, founder and CEO of the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum.

* Nokuthula Ndlovu, founder of Limit Breakers Global Foundation, a Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation mentor, an associate of the Department of Education’s Techno Girls , mentor on Absa Bank’s Girls-in-Tech programme and ambassador for numerous technology empowerment initiatives.

* Dr Adriana Marais, theoretical physicist, head of Innovation at SAP Africa and aspiring extra-terrestrial.

* Abbas Jamie, director for innovation and transformation at Aurecon Africa who also serves as the community liaison, Africa, for the World Design Organisation.

* Thabile Ngwato, primetime and current affairs news anchor at the SABC.

* Frederik Gerner co-founder of FORWARD.one.

* Dr Mmaki Jantjies, head of the information systems department at the University of the Western Cape.

* Naadiya Moosajee, co-founder of WomHub and WomEng; independent board director at the MMI Foundation at Pegasys, emeritus director for the International Youth Foundation, and Global Future council member with the World Economic Forum: Gender, Education and the Future of Work.

* Baratang Miya, founder and CEO of Women In Tech Academy, regional coordinator and mentor for Mozilla, and award-winning speaker, facilitator, coder, blogger and tech education activist.

“The Inspiring Fifty organisation was introduced to challenge the perception people have of working in technology and to expand knowledge about what technology is,” says Miya, who is also founder and CEO of NGO GirlHype.

“We want to inspire girls and women to give technology a chance and for people to discover all the exciting career opportunities technology brings.

“Who doesn’t want to work in a sector that is actively changing the world? It’s vibrant, fast-paced and optimistic. Surprisingly, only a few women work in the sector, with even fewer in leadership positions. The lack of gender diversity in technology is more than surprising considering the availability of job opportunities in tech.

“For a woman to even make it to executive level at this point in our life is really an achievement. So Inspiring Fifty celebrates the achievements of these women, and at the same time, creates a pool of women that can inspire our girls.”

“The most inspiring people are those who constantly seek to do good and be good, not those whose only quest is to inspire,” says fellow judge Bouwer.

Inspiring Fifty SA is sponsored by #CocreateSA, an organisation that serves as a for South African and Dutch counterparts to exchange innovations.

Nominations are open until 9 July, with winners announced on 9 August in honour of Women’s Day.