Happy International Women’s Day: The Inspirational Welsh Women in STEM
As a Welsh tech business, on International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate Welsh women in STEM – here is our list of some inspirational leaders:
Frances Elizabeth Hoggan
The first British and Welsh woman to receive a European Medical Doctorate.
Frances Elizabeth Hoggan was born in Brecon and was brought up and educated in Cowbridge in Glamorgan. She completed her medical course at the University of Zurich in three years. Later, she obtained her medical doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1870, completing the six-year course in three, becoming the first British and Welsh woman to obtain a European Medical Doctorate.
After her graduation, Frances worked in top medical schools in Vienna, Prague and Paris before returning to Britain. She spent several years working as a medical practitioner at the New Hospital for Women in London. She obtained her licence to practice in the UK in 1877.
She also co-founded the National Health Society with Elizabeth Blackwell in 1871. The purpose of the society was to ‘promote health amongst all classes of the population’. In her later life, she became a campaigner and social reformer and toured in the US lecturing. She had a particular interest in racial issues and was a speaker at the Universal Race Congress in London in 1911.
Dr Florence Gwendolen Rees
The first Welsh woman to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Florence Gwendolen Rees was born in Abercynon in 1906. After school she attended University College Cardiff (now Cardiff University) with three scholarships, where she earned her honours in Zoology. Rees completed her doctorate in 18 months, after studying the trematode parasites in different species of snails from 90 different locations across Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.
She worked as a professor at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and then later became the School of Biological Studies’ Head of Department. During her career, she supervised 215 honours students and 25 post graduate students. In 1971, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society, the first Welsh woman to be elected. In the same year she was also elected as Fellow of the Institute of Biology. In 1990, she received the Linnean Medal, which is the highest available award of the Linnean Society.
By the time she was 80 years old, she had published 68 papers. Her work has been internationally recognised as significant in explaining the relationship of parasites with their non-vertebrate intermediate hosts.
Anne Elizabeth Boden MBE
CEO and founder of Starling Bank.
Anne Elizabeth Boden was born in January 1960 in Bon-y-maen, Swansea. After school, she attended Swansea University and graduated with a degree in Chemistry and Computer Sciences. Soon after, she was hired as a graduate trainee at Lloyds Banking Group where her career began. She went on to work at many different banks, taking up positions in Head of Global Transaction Banking and Chief Information Officer. In 2012, she joined Allied Irish Banks as Chief Operating Officer to help turn around the company after the financial crash of 2008.
During her career, Boden saw the potential for digital technology to revolutionise the way people and businesses do their banking. In June 2014, she materialised her vision and built from scratch a mobile-only banking app, with the purpose of helping customers better manage their finances in real time. The original name of the company was Possible Financial Services but in 2016 they rebranded to Starling Bank.
In 2018, Anne Boden was an awarded an MBE for her services to financial technology. Since then, Starling Bank has opened an office in Cardiff, alongside their London and Southampton offices. This has created 400 new jobs and is contributing to rapidly growing FinTech hub in Cardiff, but also to the overall Welsh economy.
FinTech entrepreneur and founder of GoCompare.
Hayley Parsons was born in Cwmbran in 1973. She attended school until she was aged 16, and then left to begin working in the insurance sector in south Wales. In 1992, she started working at Admiral in Cardiff, during her time there she launched the price comparison site Confused.com.
In 2006, she left Confused.com and founded her own insurance comparison website from her kitchen table in Newport, which was called GoCompare. GoCompare was the first comparison site to focus on the features of insurance products, rather than just listing prices. Alongside her career she has also been a part of the Entrepreneurship Panel for Wales and became a member of the Inspire Growth Wales investment consortium, which invests in and mentors technology start-ups and businesses in Wales.
Hayley Parsons has been recognised for her economic and innovative contributions to Wales. She has won many awards including the Western Mail’s ‘Welsh Woman in Innovation ‘and the South Wales Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, ‘Woman in Business’. As well as her economic contributions to Wales, she has also spent her career encouraging and inspiring other Welsh citizens and communities to do the same. For this reason, Hayley Parsons was awarded an OBE in 2012.
Dr Elin Haf Davies
First Welsh woman to row the Atlantic Ocean. CEO and founder of Aparito.
Elin Haf Davies was born in 1983 and was raised on a farm in Parc, a small village near Bala. At the age of 18, she won a place at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London and began training to become a nurse. She worked with children in hospitals for eighteen years, and during that time, she did some incredible fundraising for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and other charities.
Davies, and another nurse, decided to raise money by rowing the Atlantic from La Gomera to Antigua. They rowed 2552 miles in 77 days 7 hours and 37 minutes. Not only did she raise £190,000 for metabolic research, she also became the first Welsh woman to row the Atlantic Ocean. Less than a year later, her crew became the first all-woman team to row the Indian Ocean, raising £26,000 for Breast Cancer Care. Since then, she has completed a few more ocean adventures and the total amount she has raised for charity is close to £300,000.
Throughout her career, and all her fundraising, Davies felt that she still hadn’t seen enough in remote patient monitoring, so she began to create a solution. She founded Aparito – which focuses on capturing patient generated data outside a hospital setting.