As a rule, women are dramatically underrepresented in tech. According to the National Center for Women in Information Technology, women hold only 25% of professional computing technology jobs in the United States, despite being nearly 57% of the nation’s professional workforce. And yet, despite the odds, some women are able to overcome tech’s traditional barriers to entry and create lasting, impactful careers.
This diverse group has a variety of career foci: they are corporate leaders and startup entrepreneurs, leading-edge innovators and advocates for more industry inclusivity. Whatever the shape of their tech career, these #sHeroes are pioneers - carving out professional space for themselves, providing a path for future women to follow, and pushing tech forward in new and exciting ways.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube
Time Magazine once called Susan Wojcicki “the most powerful woman on the internet” and it’s not hard to see why. During her tenure as CEO, YouTube announced more than 1.5 billion logged-in users a month, and more than a billion hours watched a day. She’s put a priority on limiting the extremist content that had, in previous years, proliferated on the site, and launched the YouTube subscription service, YouTube Red among other successful initiatives.
Wojcicki’s leadership hasn’t just been good for Google and Youtube, it’s also been good for women in tech. She’s talked publicly about the need for paid maternity leave, and gone on-record to push the importance of balancing family and career. Under her guidance, Youtube’s percentage of female employees has risen 6% in just four years.
Amy Chang, SVP, Collaboration Technology Group, Cisco
Data analytics pioneer Amy Chang is the former Founder and CEO of Accompany, an artificial intelligence-fueled startup that builds databases of business leaders and their networks so executives have more context for the peers with whom they connect. Chang came to Accompany from Google, where she served as the head of product development for ad measurement and reporting. Under her leadership, Accompany was acquired by Cisco for $270 million dollars. As a part of the deal, she resigned from her position and now serves as the Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group.
As one of only four women on Cisco’s Board of Directors, Chang is doing her part to diversify the notoriously male-driven leadership ranks of Silicon Valley. Her presence within the power center of the tech industry helps lead to broader systemic changes that will make it easier for more women to join the field - and the boardroom.
Kimberly Bryant, Founder, Black Girls CODE
After a career in biotechnology, engineer Kimberly Bryant founded Black Girls CODE to help close the diversity gap in the tech industry by teaching young black girls the basics of programming. Today, African American women make up only 3% of the nation’s recipients of bachelors degrees in computer science, but Bryant and her team aim to increase that percentage by providing STEM classes in programming and computer technology to young students in underserved and underrepresented communities.
Since its founding in 2011, Black Girls CODE has prepared 3,000 students in seven states for future careers in the tech industry. For her efforts, Bryant has been listed by Business Insider as one of the “26 Most Powerful Female Engineers” and was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion in 2013.
Rachel Andrew, Web Developer, Author, and Founder of edgeofmyseat.com
As a highly visible female coder who speaks about business and technology, Andrews disrupts popular stereotypes about programmers. In a recent interview, she said that “there's obviously no reason, in this world, why women shouldn't be more represented” in technology, and although she’s “a bit of a tomboy,” she’s conscious never to give the impression that women “into clothes and fashion and looking fantastic” can’t also be brilliant with code.
Angelica Ross, Founder and CEO, TransTech Social Enterprises
Angelica Ross is a transgender rights advocate who serves as the Founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, a nonprofit creative design firm that trains and employs transgender people in the digital economy. In addition to her work as a business and technology entrepreneur, she also works as an actress, with roles in the FX series’ Transparent and Pose, and speaks regularly as an advocate for transgender rights in Silicon Valley and beyond.
In 2015, Ross was a featured speaker at the White House’s LGBTQ+ Tech and Innovation Summit. In an appearance on The Daily Show the following year, she said that she’s “always been tech” and that she founded TransTech Social Enterprises to “create a safe space” for Transgender people to “access the internet and computer and trainings and build their skills for better employment.”
Susan Kare, Product Design Lead, Pinterest
Pixel art pioneer Susan Kare is the graphic designer responsible for the design behind many of the icons and other elements that have come to dominate our experiences with tech interfaces today. An original member of the Apple design team, and later a Creative Director for Apple Creative Services, she designed many of the original Macintosh icons like the Lasso, Grabber, and Paint Bucket, and typefaces like the Chicago and Geneva. In later roles at Microsoft and IBM, she created the icons for Notepad, the card deck for the Windows’ Game Solitaire, among others.
Now a Product Design Lead for Pinterest, Kare also heads up a digital design studio in California. Her early sketches have been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and she was honored with an American Institute of Graphic Arts award in Spring 2018. As an early tech professional, she has made an indelible mark on the history of computing and opened the door for other female graphic designers to follow in her footsteps.
Are you inspired by a particular woman in tech? Tell us why in the comments below!