Sexism scandals rocked Uber last year, yet today the unicorn’s tech workforce is still overwhelmingly male (82%). “Too often girls don’t feel empowered to make technical choices or pursue technical fields,” says Anne-Marie Imafidon, the co-founder of Stemettes—a social enterprise that supports girls into STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers.
“We don’t just want to have more women building Uber, we want them to build their own Ubers, with tech that’s better than Uber.”
It’s with this passion that Imafidon started Stemettes in 2013, and to date the founder has helped 40,000 girls realize their STEM potential through hundreds of events across Europe.
In 2016 Imafidon launched her own Stemettes STEM resources app, which is used by thousands of “Stemillion” school club members. The organization also regularly partners with leading technology companies (in recent weeks teenagers have learned how to build websites at London’s Accenture and benefitted from one-to-one mentorship from staff at Salesforce and Deutsche Bank).
Now Imafidon plans to launch one of the organization’s most inspiring programs, a six-figure funded “YCombinator for teens,” and is working with media companies like the BBC and 20th Century Fox to put more tech role models on screen.
Anne-Marie Imafidon cofounder and CEO at Stemett
YCombinator for teens
Stemettes first ran Outbox, its startup incubator for girls and young women aged 11 to 21, in 2015.
This saw 115 girls unite in south London for entrepreneurship sessions around subjects like product development, finance and business legalities.
With £30,000 worth of funding behind it, the program saw the launch of 29 ideas, some of which are still going today.
Edel Brown created Free Feet, a health tech wearable which is now in clinical trials, says Imafidon. Ellora Kirk launched an app to gamify walking in Scotland, while Niamh Scanlon created a live map of the availability of electric-car charging points and went on to speak for TED.
Imafidon is now in the process of securing partners to relaunch Outbox in 2018. “We want to show the world what happens when technical girls get together,” she told Forbes.
Techie role models on TV
This year Imafidon also hopes to get more techie women in film and television through collaborations with production companies who pitch to British TV channels.
One Stemettes script has already been commissioned by the BBC and last year the social enterprise even partnered with the producers of hit film Hidden Figures for its U.K. launch.
“My dream is to get a technical character on Eastenders,” says Imafidon. “We want to do what Scrubs did for hospitals, creating something to counter Big Bang Theory and The IT Crowd and normalize girls in tech for everyone.”
In the same vein, the Stemettes team is rewriting history with a nonfiction book that identifies past and present STEM role models (due for publication this year).
“Technical women have been written out of history, often intentionally, so we want to help write them back in and tell their stories,” Imafidon adds.
What lies ahead?
Contrary to many founders, Imafidon looks towards a day where her company no longer exists. “The big dream is to become redundant because we’re not needed anymore,” she explains.
You only have to look at how early seatbelts killed women and children, and how Apple’s Health kit initially completely overlooked period tracking to see how crucial diversity is to build the best products, explains the founder.
It’s with this diverse workforce that Imafidon hopes to change the world—and the future Ubers—for the better:
“We want to change the course of history for the better by changing who is building it.”
Read more on Forbes.com.