The Voices In The Shadow Vol. 2, a new book supported by Accenture, showcases talent from under-represented groups.
According to research by the National Centre for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women make up just 25% of the UK’s entire tech workforce, with Black women accounting for a paltry 3%. This stark under-representation, coupled with an overall lack of essential digital skills, is the motivation behind The Voices In The Shadow, a book launched by TLA & GTA Black Women in Tech that showcases 51 Black women who are at the top of the tech game.
Vol. 1 was published in 2021 and this follow-up was made because there are just so many inspiring stories of Black women doing amazing things in tech. It’s about giving young women of colour something to aspire to and bringing real role models from the industry into the classroom. There’s a real emphasis on identity in the book as well—it’s very fresh and colourful with photography and artwork that really captures who these women are.
I was born in Benin City in southern Nigeria, and moved to Ireland aged 11 to live with my mother. Being Black and unfamiliar with the new world I found myself in was difficult. But I was still a bright, determined, and very curious child. I studied four STEM subjects in school, but I was told to do business by my guidance counsellor. There was no sense back then of what a woman in tech could do. I wish I had had someone to speak to and connect with at a young age.
Technology is a constantly changing landscape and there are so many different jobs available now. But careers in tech are not reserved for men. We need to educate people better and create a dialogue between women who are already working in tech and the next generation. One of the aims of The Voices In The Shadow is to encourage young women, regardless of their skin colour but especially those from minority groups, to pick up the book and be inspired to start their own career in tech.
I joined Accenture in 2019, and today my knowledge of data visualisation technologies helps me to drive efficiency in my role. At Accenture, we’re always looking for ways to improve Inclusion & Diversity, and through the Accenture African Caribbean Network (AACN) we’re continually supporting and celebrating our Black talent.
For this year’s Black History Month, we’re starting off by sharing some of the stories of Accenture people as featured in The Voices In The Shadow. By amplifying the voices of these women, we can start to have wider conversations about the barriers facing Black women in tech and help them to navigate what is still a very white male-dominated industry.
Voices In The Shadow – Launch Event
Tamarisk Scholtz, Security Delivery Associate Manager at Accenture
“I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, to multi-racial parents. Having grown up in the apartheid regime, my parents did not have many opportunities to have a good education or a successful career for themselves. Therefore, from a very early age, they raised me to focus on putting my education first.
“Since then, I have always been a hard worker achieving top results in school. Having finished my school education with distinctions in STEM subjects, I was awarded a bursary to study a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree at university. At this time, Computer Science and Information Technology courses were becoming an in-demand degree.
“Additionally, I noticed the lack of females, particularly non-white females, in this field and for these reasons, I decided that pursuing a Computer Science degree, would be the best steppingstone and allow me to follow a career in tech. Although at this point, I was not sure what direction my career in tech would take.
“After graduating with Honours in Computer Science, I started at a telecommunications organisation in South Africa, working my way towards becoming a Business Analyst in IT Security. Over the next 10 years, I developed a passion for IT and cyber security. Through working hard, I was promoted several times to a senior level. This journey was not without its challenges, especially for a soft-spoken female in the corporate industry, however I believed if I worked hard, I would get recognised for my contributions.
“My dedication paid off and my world expanded, from South Africa to international opportunities, when I was nominated for an international exchange programme and sent to work in Germany for two years. This was a life changing experience and steep learning curve, which forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to engage with people of all cultures. After this experience, I recognised the need to develop my management and leadership skills further.
“I returned to South Africa and was promoted into management, which allowed me to hire new Black female graduates into my team and mentor them based on my career journey. I continued to pursue an interest in education and completed a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) part-time and continue to improve my leadership skills. I aspire to be a leader that values people by creating strong connections and seeing people realise their potential. I am a big supporter of STEM education for females. I am grateful to have met other strong successful Black women in tech along the road, who inspired me to remain motivated.
“I recently relocated to Ireland, due to an opportunity to develop further into the cyber security field. I value different cultures and enjoy working internationally. I hope that my journey can inspire young Black girls to pursue a STEM educational background, know that they have no boundaries and that there is a world of opportunities open to all.”
Tamarisk is currently pursuing the role of Security Delivery Associate Manager at Accenture Ireland, focusing in the Cyber Security domain. In her most recent role at Accenture, she led a team that provides guidance to clients, ensuring that they achieve their audit and governance requirements. Prior to that, she worked with Vodafone South Africa Group leading a team specialising in delivering Identity & Access Management (IAM) solutions.
Yetunde Animashaun, IX Tech Delivery Specialist at Accenture
“My story begins at 7 years old when I heard the words "I wouldn’t like her, she’s UGLY!” This is one of my earliest memories as a child. I found myself being called ugly in places where I thought I was safe like home and school, and it haunted me and became my identity.
“Growing up my parents were always hard workers, they were Nigerian immigrants who worked multiple jobs to sustain our household, their jobs ranged from cleaning schools, and hospitals, to social care work. They instilled a strong work ethic in me, sometimes my siblings and I would follow our parents to work to help clean. They didn't just teach me the importance of work, but values too. Like my mum taught me the importance of caring for others, whereas my dad taught me how to be consistent. They wanted a better future for us, I mean raising four kids in a council estate in London was tough, and my parents were keen for us to prioritise education and make the most of the opportunities they didn’t have. I recall some weekends when my father would make my siblings and me do spelling quizzes, whoever failed that day, it'd be a problem!
Like typical Nigerian parents, they had dreams of one of us being a lawyer, but it wasn’t my dream!
“My dream was to help others in some other way and use my skills for good, but I wasn’t sure how. Growing up, I was naturally skilled at sports; this was my thing! I loved and relished it! It gave this ‘ugly’ girl a chance to feel empowered. I always wanted to win in every sport, but that desire died when I realised, I couldn’t win everything. I’ve learnt a lot by not winning the things I thought I wanted. I’ve come to realise that things happen for a reason, I remember wanting top grades at A level to get into a particular university. I studied hard! I didn’t get the grades, but it was such a valuable life lesson, that I wouldn’t trade. It was simply a redirection and if you try your best in every situation – you’ve already won.
“After university, I completed a Master's in Behavioural Economics. I knew I was passionate about people, behaviour, and research so this program was perfect for me. It's also beneficial for what I do now, my role is in Tech, specifically User Research and Design. I try to understand a user’s problem and their needs for a product or service. I gather this information to try and make their experiences better.
“Outside of work, I advocate for justice and socioeconomic and environmental equality. I’d often question how atrocities like Grenfell, could happen and personally impact people I know and love. I aspire to one day make a positive impact on our society.”
Yetunde is a Tech Delivery Specialist at Accenture with a background in User Research, Content Design and Business Analysis. She formerly co-led the Technology Analyst Group African and Caribbean Network (TAG AACN) which constantly challenges the business to be more inclusive and make positive changes. She’s driven many charity initiatives and collaborated with Coding Black Females and the Parity Project.
Accenture is a proud diamond sponsor of the Voices in the Shadow festival which is taking place on October 27th at Merchant Taylors, London.
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