This national app competition is funded by the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, won by UCL Professor Rachel McKendry. The Award, supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), is made to support the promotion of women in STEM and is in memory of the British biophysicist Rosalind Franklin who pioneered research into DNA, viruses, coal and graphite.
Empowering women to become leaders in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine) is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do and will make the UK more creative, competitive and prosperous. But cultural and institutional barriers mean women are all too often under-represented at the highest levels despite no apparent shortage of talent.
We invited teams and individuals from all backgrounds to take advantage of the telecommunications revolution to reach out to a global audience through apps, empower and recognise a new generation of women leaders, and change public perceptions of women in the digital space.
Our competition was split into two challenges:
Challenge 1: To develop new mobile phone apps to empower women in STEMM. The competition was open to both women and men, from complete novices with a good idea, established women in STEM groups looking to improve networking among their members and seasoned app developers. We welcomed early stage ideas and finalists worked with mentors at IDEALondon to help develop their ideas into apps that make a difference.
Challenge 2: To recognise leading women in STEMM who have pioneered new apps for research, societal good and enterprise. We had lots of nominations for apps that address a range of social, cultural and economic challenges, helping us identify and support the female role models who are making a difference through digital innovation.
Finalists and delegates joined us for our Prize and Tech Day on 23rd February 2016 at Wayra, London. This free event included some short talks from our judges, UCL Provost Professor Michael Arthur and a very special guest talk from Rosalind Franklin's sister, author and historian Jenifer Glynn. We then heard pitches from the app finalists and winners were announced by a fantastic panel of judges, including Baroness Martha Lane Fox (Founder of Lastminute.com), Andrew Eland (Director of Social Impact Engineering, Google) and Professor Dame Athene Donald (Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge).
Winners were awarded funding and support towards app development. The priceless prize will be the strong networks forged by this event and the impact of the apps themselves. By changing cultural stereotypes and raising the aspirations of women to become leaders we hope to create a better and more equitable society for future generations - a fitting memorial to Rosalind Franklin.