Celebrating women in STEM: International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, 8th March 2019, we take a look at some of the women who are pioneering or shaping the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics: and celebrate a few of our own.

The under-representation of women in STEM fields remains a challenge worldwide. Women make up 47% of the overall workforce, but just 28% of the science and engineering workforce.

Delve a little deeper, and it’s an even worse story for women coming from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, those working in the most technical positions, and the further you progress up the ladder – from primary education through to board level – the greater the gap.

However. This International Women’s Day, we don’t want to dwell on the negatives.

As research shows multiple reasons for the continued gender gap – including unconscious bias, gender stereotyping in primary education, a lack of female role models, cost of childcare, insufficient parental leave and more – it pays to share to stories of those who may be able to inspire others.

So, we’re going to join the campaign to raise awareness and celebrate some of those who have stepped up and achieved astounding, unique, or exceptional things in the world of STEM; or those who are simply overcoming those traditional barriers or challenges to excel in their roles. This includes looking to role models at the top of their field, as well as celebrating those among us here at Interact.

Here, we bring you stories from both the ordinary, and the extraordinary.  

Chantelle Bell
Cofounder, Syrona Bell

British entrepreneur and graduate of the Bioscience Enterprise post-grad course at The University of Cambridge, Chantelle Bell is creating waves in the industry in her bid to empower women to monitor their health.

Cofounding ‘Syrona Women’ alongside fellow founder Anya Roy, the duo has developed a pregnancy-test like device which allows women to test themselves for cervical cancer at home. In 2018, Bell was named as one of the Forbes World’s Top 50 women in Tech.

Victoria Hamblin

Head of Technical Support, Interact

Our very own Victoria joined Interact in October 2018, and now heads up our Technical Support team. Having spent the majority of her career in customer-focused roles within the technology industry, Victoria has a passion for managing and motivating teams to deliver the best possible customer experience and service.

“Having worked in largely male-dominated teams throughout my whole career in technology, I love how well women are represented across the business in Interact, and especially in the technical roles and on our senior management team.

“In particular, I’m really proud of the girls who work in my team, and how they push themselves to be the best they can in a traditionally male industry.

What woman has inspired you and why?

“My female icon is Sheryl Sandberg. Her book ‘Lean In’ is an inspiring must-read for every woman. She’s had a fascinating career where she’s had to work doubly hard to get noticed in a very male-dominated and young tech industry.

“The bit that hit home the most was her describing how women generally have less self-confidence than men, and tend to only apply for roles if they have ALL the qualifications or requirements. By contrast, males were more likely to apply if they just had some. I realized, ‘that’s me!’ and started to put myself forward more, and not be so fearful of rejection.”   

Jennifer Doudna
Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Jennifer Doudna is celebrated as a lead figure in the “CRISPR revolution,” and the co-inventor of the ability to edit DNA in all organisms using the CRISPR-Cas9 protein. With incredible potential in fields including agriculture and in curing serious human diseases such as cancer, it is considered one of the most significant discoveries in the history of biology.

With the great potential and power of this discovery comes great responsibility; a challenge Doudna is addressing vocally by calling for responsible use and a moratorium on using CRISPR technology to make permanent genetic changes to human eggs, sperm or embryos. In 2018 she joined fellow leaders in the field to express horror at a Chinese scientist’s claim to have created twin ‘designer babies’ in an experiment flawed in both ethics and science.

Venkata Saripella

Software Test Analyst, Interact

Never feel like there is any intelligence or capability lacking in us as women.

Originally from India, Venkata has lived in the UK for 4 years and works as an automation tester for the Interact mobile team. Having joined as a manual tester, Venkata’s love for coding moved her to step into automation, a challenging role that matches her desire to grow and advance in her profession.  

What advice would you give a younger woman considering a career in tech?

“Never feel like there is any intelligence or capability lacking in us as women. Believe in your abilities, be confident in your skills and take up the challenges.”

What woman has inspired you and why?

“My icon is actually my mother. Coming from a small village in India, a male dominated country which in those days neglected the education of women, she took it as a challenge. She went on to get a degree from a reputed university and is very successful both professionally and personally now.”

Magali Vaissiere
Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, European Space Agency (ESA)

After studying telecommunications in Paris before earning a Masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Stanford, Magali Vaissiere entered the European Centre for Space in 2005. In 2008, she was made Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications: the first woman to be appointed head of a technical department at ESA, and the only to hold a Directorship.

In 2013, she was appointed Head of the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT), an organization dedicated to developing space and satellite technologies and applications. Magali Vaissiere has also served as part of the high counsel of science and technology: an icon for women aspiring to leadership in the fields of science, engineering and technology.

Lynsey Buckley-Ratcliffe

Intranet Designer, Interact

Having originally studied Audio Visual design with the original intention of going into TV or film working behind the camera, Lynsey graduated into the World Wide Web revolution and got swept away with the excitement of a new era in design.

With twenty years’ experience as a Web Designer/Developer, Lynsey has continually improved her skills by getting to work on some amazing projects ranging from web to print as well as making use of her knowledge in HTML and CSS, working for a range of marketing and web design companies. Seven years ago Lynsey landed (back) at Interact as an Intranet Designer, where she now works with some of the largest customers in the world.

With each woman that takes up a position in the tech industry we can change perceptions and attitudes.

What advice would you give a younger woman considering a career in tech?

Don’t be held back by stereotypes.

If it’s something you really want to do, then go for it. Don’t focus on being a woman, but rather focus on being the best person you can be. It won’t be easy, and you may get overlooked sometimes; but with each woman that takes up a position in the tech industry we can change perceptions and attitudes. Most of all, you have to believe in yourself!

What woman has inspired you and why?

Carrie Fisher, without a doubt is the woman that’s inspired me the most in my life.

As the character Leia in Star Wars she was unlike other Princesses: she showed what a female hero should be. Leia was brave, smart, and generally a real badass woman. In real life, Carrie was no less courageous and outspoken! She spoke out against Hollywood sexism and spoke candidly about her experience filming the Star Wars films. She wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion. She stood for equal rights, not just for women, but for all. Her sharp wit, and funny analysis of the world we live in always made me smile.

Charity Wanjiku
COO and cofounder, Strauss Energy

Registered architect Charity Wanjiku holds an MSc Project Management in Construction and Bachelor of Architecture, and holds 10 years experience in her field.

When an abundance of sun and drought crippled hydropower, Charity and broke Tony Nyagah were inspired to cofound Strauss Energy: an organization committed to annihilating extreme energy poverty by converting freely available clean energy into passive income. They provide renewable and cost-effective energy through BIPV technology, a revolutionary solar-powered roofing tile designed and made in Kenya.

Wanjiku is working to integrate energy generating technology into basic building materials as an integrated part of construction.

Heather Lomas

Senior Product Trainer, Interact

Michelle Obama in my inspiration. She really believes we are all equal.

Joining Interact straight from Manchester Metropolitan University, where she graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Information and Communications, Heather took up a role in our Customer Service team in 2016.  Since then, Heather has progressed to join the Professional Services team as a Product Trainer. Her passion for helping people and solving problems in a customer-facing capacity saw her recently promoted to a senior role.

“Working at interact is a wonderful and friendly environment. With at least 3 women in each department it really gives a sense of positivity for women working in technology.”

“Michelle Obama in my inspiration. She really believes we are all equal, and her views on the power and potential of women in this day and age are absolutely brilliant.”

Tammarrian Rogers
Director of Engineering, SnapChat

With over 25 years of experience in the tech industry, Tammarrian Rogers has a passion for creating outstanding software and challenging the status-quo. Having spent her early career as a Hardware Engineer at Apple, Tammarrian progressed to hold a 20-year career at Microsoft leading teams in the Office, Online Services, and Window Divisions before taking up the role of Director of Engineering at Snap.

Rogers is one of the key Snap engineering leaders, while also holding the position of CTO at OPTYVA, a consultancy and digital media group specializing in sustainability, business transformation, design and development, communications, and community development.

Rachel (COO), Amy (Head of Talent), Bianca (VP of Marketing): the female representatives on our Senior Leadership Team

Just 22% of senior leadership roles in the UK are held by women; a figure that falls even lower for tech organizations. That makes Interact pretty unique in having an equal gender split at senior leadership level.

As an organization, we believe in recognizing the individual on their own merits: this has translated into a diverse and dynamic culture, where we strive for inclusion and equality of opportunity at every level. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BalanceForBetter: and we believe that balance makes for better business. Here’s a few words from our women at the top:

Bianca (VP of Marketing):

“Whether you’re a woman or a man, it makes no difference to the opportunities available to Interact. We have as many women in senior roles as we do men. You’re recognised for your skill and ability, not gender.

“My advice to other women is simply to keep working hard, always go above and beyond, and make the most of every opportunity. Don’t expect opportunities to come to you –  create your own.”


“I feel proud to work for such a successful software company with the brilliant and talented people who work here.

“In my role, I focus on hiring the best talent in tech and in cultivating a diverse, innovative and happy workplace. Working in tech is fast-paced, challenging and hugely rewarding!”