Anastasia Emmanuel, director of UK technology and design, Indiegogo

Having written about start-ups, launched her own and supported countless more through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, Anastasia Emmanuel is a passionate advocate for women in technology.

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"As a woman talking about hardware, it is often me on stage talking to 500 middle-aged white men. I’m often the only woman on the panel, but I know I need to do it," she explains.

In fact, the energetic Emmanuel’s biggest piece of advice to women seeking to make their mark is to say yes to opportu­nities – even when they feel uncomfortable.

Being nice is very underrated; women feel they need to adopt male characteristics, but that’s not the way to get ahead

Having taken the stage as a keynote speaker at technology conferences across the globe, she contends that success comes from pushing yourself to do things outside your comfort zone.

"The best thing is when women say to me afterwards how great it is to see a woman talking about hardware – it’s a real ‘win’ moment.

Even though it’s intimidating and [there’s a] feeling you need to prove yourself, you should always say yes," she adds.

As a former journalist – Emmanuel was a presenter on Tech City News – she has a unique perspective on the vibrant start-up scene. "I quickly fell in love with technology; entrepreneurs are very passionate and inspiring about their work and there is a real sense of community."

As director of UK technology and design at Indiegogo, she is at the very heart of this community. The crowdfunding site, which launched in 2008, is now the biggest in the UK and a hub of innovation.

Having co-founded her own start-up, the social-sharing site Publicate, Emmanuel also appreciates the very real pressures of start-up life – such as trying to live in London on £50 a week.

It’s a career journey that has taught her many lessons; particularly the importance of confidence and negotiation. The Equal Pay Act is poised to force companies to address their gender bias, but Emmanuel says women also need to negotiate harder.

"When I started out I didn’t realise that women were being paid so much less than men. We need to address this."

Overarching issues such as childcare and maternity leave must be part of the drive to achieve this balance.

When I started out I didn’t realise that women were being paid so much less than men. We need to address this.

"Until these issues are addressed it will be very difficult, and huge policy changes are required," argues Emmanuel. Nonetheless, she believes that education – and engaging both men and women in the conversation – can help empower women in the sector.

Crucially, this empowerment is not about women pretending to be something they are not, but, rather, embracing the fact that being a woman and open and empathetic is a good thing for business.

"Being nice is very underrated; women feel they need to adopt male characteristics, but that’s not the way to get ahead," she says.

"People do pay it forward and they will open their networks to you if you are generous." It is this generosity that has been just as important as ambition in propelling Emmanuel to the cutting edge of the UK technology scene.

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