When people think of the tech industry, it’s often names of men that come to mind. This is a shame because there’s a large number of outstanding women in tech who should be just as well known. In fact, there are far too many innovative and influential women in tech to fit into one list — this is just a selection of some of the most noteworthy.
1. Reshma Saujani
Having studied law at Harvard University and Yale Law School, Reshma Saujani intended to be a lawyer and politician. Unfortunately, she lost her primary running for Congress in 2010 — but this ended up taking her in a new and important direction.
In 2012, Saujani founded the nonprofit Girls Who Code. The organization offers support for young women who want to enter the computer science field by helping them to acquire the necessary skills. Ultimately, the goal of Girls Who Code is to close the gender achievement gap in tech and change society’s ideas about what a programmer looks like.
2. Katie Haun
Another lawyer turned tech pioneer is Katie Haun. She actually started her tech career after receiving an assignment from the U.S. federal attorney to investigate bitcoin — with the aim of shutting the cryptocurrency down. After realizing the impossibility of the task, Haun went in the complete opposite direction and became a cryptocurrency expert. Plus, she used the understanding of blockchain she gained to prosecute cases of extortion and white-collar crime.
Now, Haun is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz and co-heads the cryptocurrency team. The firm currently has two funds invested in crypto companies and protocols, which together are valued at $865 million.
3. Susan Wojcicki
Today the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki has been working at Google since 1999. She was the company’s first marketing manager and only its sixteenth employee. After becoming senior vice president of advertising and commerce (which involved managing Google’s video service), Wojcicki suggested the company acquire YouTube in 2006.
YouTube was only the first of Wojcicki’s acquisitions — she also handled the purchase of DoubleClick a year later. She then transitioned to CEO of YouTube in 2014. These numerous achievements led to Wojcicki being named the most important person in advertising by AdWeek in 2013 and her appearing in Time magazine’s 2015 list of the 100 most influential people.
4. Yulia Ovchinnikova
With her master’s degree in computer science and applied mathematics followed by a PhD in economics, Yulia Ovchinnikova was the recognized Internet influencer and Digital Divide expert in Russia. She initiated Russian Internet Governance Forum and Internet Awareness program for the youth creating an open discussion on how to make the Internet open and affordable for all. This initiative was one of the key stepping stones toward affordable Internet in Russia - the average plan is $10/month for high-speed broadband to the home.
She discovered Digital Divide being even worse in the US. She believes Internet connectivity is essential for economic development and Digital skills / Tech skills are crucial for professional growth and economic development. Looking for her tech tribe she became a passionate tech leader and advocate for a technology-driven approach.
In 2016 she launched OpenHub for rapid workforce reskilling in technology. She believes Combining Technology with Entrepreneurship, and Education with Real Projects built through Collaboration, can elevate people’s lives and brains. OpenHub offers IT support professional certificate, Web Development and Data Analytics boot camps. These programs can be offered as an organic continuation for after school youth and continuing-education adults. The programs do not require any college degree while providing real-life skills needed for junior tech jobs encouraging people to collaborate on specific projects and challenges for professional and business growth.
In 2019 she launched the first-ever Hudson Valley Tech Festival to showcase technology, talent, and capability within the Hudson Valley region. It is proven OpenHub and HVTechFest bring people together around technology and entrepreneurship through collaboration - creating conditions for personal and regional growth. As a matchmaker in tech, she works on creating awareness about tech and equipping people with tech skills toward a better future.
5. Angela Siefer
Angela Siefer is the Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. Angela has been working in the field we now call digital inclusion since 1997. From physically set up computer labs in underserved areas and managing local digital inclusion programs to assisting with the Department of Commerce’s Broadband Adoption Toolkit and testifying before a U.S. Senate Sub-Committee, Angela develops national strategies and solutions from the ground up.
In 2015, Angela helped found the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, a unified voice for home broadband access, public broadband access, personal devices and local technology training and support programs. Government Technology Magazine named Angela one of their Top 25 Doers, Dreams, and Drivers of 2019.
6. Karla Monterroso
Another top woman in tech fighting for greater diversity is Karla Monterroso. Being both black and Latina, Monterroso has first-hand knowledge of the ethnicity opportunity gap. She is currently CEO of Code2040 — an organization committed to achieving racial equity in tech by breaking down barriers.
When Monterroso found out about Code2040, she knew almost immediately that it was something she wanted to be part of. In the seven years, she has been at the organization, Code2040 has increased from serving 25 students to 4,000 and has launched a number of new programs.
7. Kimberly Bryant
The Bay Area may be the go-to place for tech, but Kimberly Bryant was unable to find any computer programming courses suitable for her daughter there. The vast majority of students were boys and few courses had any black girls at all. An electrical engineer herself, Bryant didn’t want her daughter to relive her own negative experiences in a STEM field.
Bryant decided to take matters into her own hands. With only her 401(k) for investment capital, she founded the nonprofit Black Girls Code. The organization teaches African American girls basic programming to encourage them to stay in STEM. By 2040, her goal is to bring training to one million girls and increase representation for black women in the tech industry.
8. Danah Boyd
In addition to being a principal research at Microsoft Research, Danah Boyd is the founder of Data & Society. An independent research institute, Data & Society looks at the wider implications for a range of tech issues. Through their original research, the institute examines everything from AI and disinformation to the effects of technology on health.
Some of Boyd’s most important research to date has been on the impact of daily social media usage on young people. She has written one book by herself and co-authored two more on the topic.
With movements like Girls Who Code, Hackathons, and other initiatives encouraging more girls to enter tech, we can expect many more names to join the ranks of women in tech in the near future. Plus, these girls have women like those above to inspire them and to show them anything is possible.