BBC 100 Women Challenge 2017: Silicon based #TeamLead reveal solution

We have shown that with brilliance, expertise and teamwork, a small group of committed women and men can do anythingLori Mackenzie, #TeamLead
Date: 10.10.2017     Last updated: 10.10.2017 at 15.38
The BBC has revealed the results of the first 100 Women Challenge, taking place in Silicon Valley. #TeamLead has created two unique products aimed at supporting women’s success in the workplace.

This release follows a week-long collaboration by an all-female team of experts in Silicon Valley, crowdsourcing ideas and suggestions from the global BBC audience for ways to tackle the challenges women face at work. #TeamLead was led by Lori Mackenzie, a specialist in gender diversity; product designer Roya Ramezani; artificial intelligence specialist Rumman Chowdury; and software engineer Natalia Margolis.

Other women have travelled to Silicon Valley to join the team in the course of the week, including social psychologist and body language expert Amy Cuddy and wearable tech specialist Betsy Fore with others offering advice via video conferences.

The team has today revealed the results of their work:

  • An app called (pronounced “ally”) to encourage speaking up in meetings. It recognises the user’s voice and will track their participation and how frequently they speak in a meeting. Users can set expectations within the app beforehand, and then use it as a live tool to help to fulfil those during their meeting. The app will also monitor the language used.
  • A piece of wearable tech jewellery, called Collective Sisters, which uses signals from the body to help the wearer overcome the physical manifestations of nervousness and accept supportive messages from 'allies' via a connected app
  • An augmented reality app which uses hot spots in an office to allow women to leave empowering messages for each other around a workplace
  • An art installation called #me too, subtitled 'What Does Sexism Sound Like', which uses audio testimonials of everyday sexism, crowdsourced by the BBC‘s outlets around the world, and 'flips' the gender of the speaker to confound the expectations of the viewers.

Discussing the challenge and what they developed, Lori Mackenzie says: “Breaking the glass ceiling was a tough challenge, a huge challenge. It’s bigger than any one team can tackle. Yet, we have shown that with brilliance, expertise and teamwork, a small group of committed women and men can do anything. I feel confident that at least some cracks were made in the glass ceiling.”

Natalia Margolis adds: “Anyone who doesn't fit the typical Silicon Valley mould takes on a constant stream of emotional labour. We didn't want to build something to police an individual's behaviour to fit in better with the dominant culture, since it is hard enough already. Instead, we wanted to focus on allyship and empowerment to change the culture itself.”

Explaining the thinking behind the used of wearable tech Roya Ramezani commented: “We’re working on wearable tech and augmented reality tech that will help women in the workplace and empower them to feel that they’re part of this community and they’re not alone.”

And looking beyond the challenge Rumman Chowdury said: “We are thinking long term, so it’s not just about what we could produce by Friday. But what can be the value added in the long term?”

Also being announced today are the names of 10 additional women for the BBC 100 Women List. These women have all inspired or assisted directly in helping #Teamlead develop solutions to tackle the glass ceiling.

They include the originator of the term 'glass ceiling', author and diversity advocate Marilyn Loden; US-based Elaine Welteroth Editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue; Chilean Astronomer Maria Teresa Ruiz; and Founder and CEO of Hope Co-ops Agnes Atim Apea from Uganda who join the existing women announced last month.

You can see the list so far at and the remaining 30 places will be filed as the challenges progress.

New for 2017, the BBC 100 Women Challenge is a unique celebration of female talent which sees four teams of women tasked with finding solutions to everyday problems currently blighting female lives across the globe. Following on from #Teamlead’s success this week in the US, the Delhi team - #Teamread - are looking at female illiteracy from October 9th -13th; from October 16th -20th safety on public transport will be the focus for the London and Nairobi #Teamgo; and finally from October 23rd -27th women in Rio, #Teamplay will consider sexism in sport.

Notes to Editors
BBC 100 Women was established in 2013 as an annual series focused on a list of 100 inspirational women. The list was supported by news, features, investigations and interviews highlighting the work of these women, targeting female audiences. In 2016 the 100 Women site generated 30 million hits over three weeks and was awarded an Alliance for Women in Media Gracie award. The project was also a finalist for the US Peabody Awards 2017 and scooped many other accolades.
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