Tech4Good AbilityNet Special Award: “Diverse, inclusive tech teams create more amazing products,” says TV presenter Maggie Philbin

The presenter of top TV programmes Bang Goes the Theory and Tomorrow's World, Maggie Philbin, has praised those that make a point of using diverse tech teams to create truly inclusive products and services.

Accepting the AbilityNet Tech4Good Special Award for services to technology innovation, the presenter said: “These awards are important because they're really shining a torch on diversity. What they do really well is showcase the range of organisations working in this sphere.

Designing tech for everyone

She said that people often think of gender diversity when diversity is mentioned in tech, rather than appreciating the word in a wider sense of also including differing abilities: “I think it's really important that technology isn't made by or developed by just a certain group of people, cause sometimes that happens - someone comes up with an amazing idea and it's great but it's only good {useable} for a certain number of people.

“It's just that the kind of technology that's going to be developed is going to be better for everybody {when use work with a diverse team}. If you are completely inclusive in the way you are encouraging people to work within technology, you will get very, very different ideas. If you get diverse teams they will think about the kind of tech they're developing in different ways.”

Inspiring tomorrow's world of young tech stars

Philbin set up her charity TeenTech 10 years ago realising that tech companies were having trouble finding talent and young people felt bored with how science and tech was being presented to them.

The charity works to show young people the breadth of opportunities and entry points into the tech space to inspire excitement and create a new generation of talent. 


“We started with the aim of running a one-off event to get teenagers interested, but we saw how we could really help not just young people, but their parents and teachers also, to see what the world of tomorrow really needed. We show them the way young people could play a very active part and most importantly, that they'd really enjoy it.”

The young people the charity works with are often in mixed groups including, for example, able-bodied students, students with physical difficulties and students with learning disabilities and this is important, explains the award-winner.

“The students were brainstorming some different ideas about the future of transport recently and the ideas they were coming up with and shaping were amazing because they were fully inclusive, and we need to encourage more people to think in this way and to genuinely value diverse teams.”

The future of ideas

Speaking in an interview with fellow TV presenter Craig Doyle at the BT Tower, London, accepting the awards supported by BT, she stressed that good teams and collaboration were essential for great innovations, not just a good idea.

“TeenTech are not alone in helping young people finding their feet in this world. I think it's really important to know and understand who else is working in this space because collaboration is the way we'll really shift the dial. It's not good enough these days to work in a silo. Partner because this way you'll get more done and there's more of you and I think that's what the {AbilityNet} awards do, they bring people together so that these conversations can take place.”

See the full list of AbilityNet Tech4Good Award winners here.