Booking.com celebrates women in tech with annual awards

Travel booking site Booking.com announced the winners of its 2020 Technology Playmaker Awards, designed to shine a light on women and diversity in the technology sector.

Celebrating these winners during the coronavirus pandemic, especially since they represent many women globally who are aiming to make a difference to people’s lives, has “special significance”, according to the company, which has chosen 10 winners across five continents.

Gillian Tans, chairwoman at Booking.com, said: “While we are unable to celebrate the winners in person this year as we had planned in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, at this time of such great global uncertainty, it remains more important than ever to recognise those who are making such lasting and impactful contributions in technology, as well as inspiring each other.” 

Representation of women in the technology sector is currently lacking, with the number of women in IT professional roles remaining stagnant at around 16% for the past 10 years.

One of the reasons often cited for this is a lack of role models in the sector who others can aspire towards, with many young women wanting more encouragement from senior females to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem).

Booking.com launched the Technology Playmaker Awards in 2017, partly to make female role models more visible at all levels of the technology industry to encourage others to pursue a career in tech.

The winners of the Technology Playmaker Awards were selected from 45 finalists, picked from over 800 nominations by a panel of judges.

Each of the category winners was then assessed to find the Booking.com Technology Playmaker of the Year 2020 based on a demonstration of leadership, tech innovation and impact, as well as acting as a role model for others.

The winners of the Booking.com Technology Playmaker Awards 2020 are:

  • Champion of Change and Technology Playmaker of the Year 2020: Leanne Robers, co-Founder and co-CEO of accelerator programme She Loves Tech 
  • Rising Technologist: Hannah Blair, senior front-end developer at software building website Defty, and co-founder of virtual reality (VR) firm vrcalm
  • Role Model: Ada Nduka Oyom, founder of skills and mentorship organisation She Code Africa, and co-Founder of Open Source Community Africa
  • Entrepreneur: Seema Khinda Johnson, co-founder and chief operating officer of blockchain platform Nuggets
  • Academic Achievement: Reina Camacho Toro, a particle physicist at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
  • Employer: UK training and consultancy Sparta Global, for investment in female technology professionals and a focus on diversity and inclusion
  • Social Impact: ElsaMarie DSilva, founder and CEO of Red Dot Foundation and Sheila Harkatz, founder of financial education platform Mujeres En Carrera
  • Business Leader: Tania Boler, founder and CEO of female smart health technology company Elvie
  • Technology Innovator: Funmi Adeumni, co-founder and CEO of internet service provider Bright Technologies

Tans said she is pleased diversity in technology is becoming an increasing matter of importance, despite the fact that “under-representation and under-recognition of women in tech” is still an ongoing issue.

“We launched the awards three years ago as a platform for women to be celebrated for the important and far-reaching work they do across the tech industry every day,” she said.

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