In recognition of International Women’s Day and its 2022 theme “Break the Bias,” throughout March, WorkFusion is spotlighting influential women worldwide who are making significant contributions to technological advancement (directly or through developing the talent pipeline) and who are also dedicated to empowering other women to succeed in technology roles.
We chose one representative for each country in which WorkFusion currently has major operational hubs: U.S., Ireland, India and Poland.
These incredible role models are not at all affiliated with our company, but we sincerely admire their accomplishments and commitment, and appreciate their persevering, positive example — especially in these challenging times.
U.S.: Tarika Barrett, Ph.D, CEO, Girls Who Code
We salute Dr. Tarika Barrett, who has actively dedicated her career to empowering marginalized populations. Currently, she helms Girls Who Code, an international nonprofit committed to closing the gender gap in education and in terms of entry-level tech jobs, with programs that already have served ~450,000 students around the world. The organization’s specific mission is to create space for girls and women in the computer science and coding field, and to make sure that girls can see themselves reflected in the tech sector. More broadly, Dr. Barrett speaks frequently about the importance of diversity and equity in professional environments, and the need for companies to be truly inclusive and supportive of women and minorities. In this time of knowledge-worker labor shortages and the so-called “Great Resignation,” we think there can be no more timely message.
Before joining Girls Who Code, Dr. Barrett was encouraging and empowering young people through the mentorship-building organization iMentor, the NYC Department of Education, and other public schooling organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brooklyn College, a master’s degree in deaf education from Columbia Teachers college, and her doctorate in teaching and learning was granted by New York University.
Ireland: Martina Fitzgerald, CEO, Scale Ireland
Scale Ireland is an independent not-for-profit organization which calls itself “the representative body for Irish tech start-ups and scale-ups.” Martina Fitzgerald, CEO, has two decades of well-respected communications experience, having worked as a senior national journalist, historian, author, instructor, global corporate speaker, and visiting fellow at Columbia University in New York.
One of WorkFusion’s core values is “Innovation Everywhere.” Likewise, Scale Ireland’s stated vision is to make the country a leading location for entrepreneurship and innovation, and the excitement on the ground among the tech scene there is noted and growing.
In a conversation with ThinkBusiness, Fitzgerald spoke more about this optimism:
“The best advertisement for this sector — the start-ups, the founders — are those with the vision to take the risks, who are growing their companies and are solving problems in areas like logistics, enterprise, medtech, cleantech, agritech.”
In regard to helping women access the same resources and opportunities as male counterparts, Fitzgerald says Scale Ireland makes a point of it. “We proactively make sure they are visible in all our events, that part and parcel, female founders get recognition and become role models.” But as she also pointedly understates: “There is work to be done.”
India: Apurva Madiraju, vice president, Swiss Re Global Business Solutions India
Apurva Madiraju is a vice president at Swiss Re Global Business Solutions India in Bengaluru, a leader in insurance, reinsurance and other forms of insurance risk transfers. As a senior member of the audit function’s data analytics and data science team, she’s responsible for building machine learning and text analytics solutions to mitigate audit compliance risk. She has developed multiple AI and ML-driven solutions, such as ticket volume forecasting models, turn-around prediction solutions and more.
Recognized at the highest levels of the company for contributions to operational excellence for the business, she has created, developed and deployed many AI and ML-based solutions for enterprises. Madiraju’s career has included over 14 years’ experience across data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data engineering. Previous companies include powerhouses Cognizant, Intel and Deloitte. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad and multiple additional certifications.
Poland: Bianka Siwinska, Ph.D, CEO, Perspektywy Education Foundation
A passionate activist, Perspektywy Education Foundation CEO Dr. Bianka Siwinska leads international education efforts, research projects, and awareness campaigns actively promoting women’s participation in STEM fields. Specifically pursuing gender equality in tech, the think tank has organized the Perspektywy Women in Tech Summit, one of the largest gatherings of female tech and IT professionals in Europe. She is also the creator and coordinator for numerous Polish national engagement campaigns including “Girls as Engineers!”, “Girls to STEM!”, “IT for SHE”, and “Lean in STEM!”
Together with Intel, Perspektywy runs the only scholarship program in Poland expressly for women seeking tech education.
In an insightful and engaging English-language conversation with the leader of Women in Technology at Sabre Poland, she is optimistic about the future for women in STEM and other fields:
“Women right now, for the first time in history, can really realize their potential. … This phenomenon can be observed not only in STEM but business and politics. We can see women leading countries, women responsible for cybersecurity in the EU, we can see women as deans and directors at the best tech universities in the world.” In fact, she can envision herself needing to find a new job: “I see a future in which my organization will not be necessary anymore, that our mission will be fulfilled.”
We certainly appreciate this positive energy, and all of Siwinska’s leadership, but we anticipate we’ll still need dedicated advocates like her to stay with the good fight for a few years yet to come.
We thank artist, illustrator and educator Melanie Reim for creating these original portraits expressly for this project. Learn more about her award-winning work and her commendable career on Instagram and LinkedIn.