Did you know that while 57% of the US workforce are women, women only hold 26% of computing jobs, and just 13% of American CTOs are female? *
Why is that the case?
It could be because of the pretty significant pay gap. In the tech industry women are reported to earn up to 28% less than a man in the same role, and on average women’s bonuses are 43% lower than men’s. *
These are probably all contributing factors, but I think there’s another thing we need to consider.
A couple of days ago, I was asked if I could name five influential women who currently work in tech, and I couldn’t. Aside from the realization that I’m not regularly exposed to names of women who crush the tech industry, it also made me realize, that I don’t have a role model or an idol in the tech space that I can use to mirror myself.
Now, I already work in tech, but I think the same thing is true for a lot of young girls who may currently be considering a career path in the technology industry.
I remember hearing that a woman was critical to the first manned space flight, but I didn’t know her name (it was Katherine Johnson). * I had heard the name Ada Lovelace, but I didn’t really know the story (Ada Lovelace is often attributed as being the first computer programmer in history). *
What really struck me, though, was that I couldn’t name any current influential women in tech. So, I decided to remedy that.
With Google as my trusted ally (you’ll find out why that’s ironic in a bit), I set out to make a list of five influential women in tech.
It wasn’t even hard.
So, if you, like me, have been stumped trying to name influential women in tech, I suggest you look at the list below. I picked out five women who I found inspiring.
They are not arranged in any order, and I do suggest you snoop around Google to add more to your own catalogue of women in tech you know the story behind.
When we talk about Meta and Facebook most of us usually think of Mark Zuckerberg (CEO) and Steve Wozniak (Co-Founder), but I think many of us skip Sheryl Sandberg, and I think that’s a big mistake – not just because she’s a woman.
Sandberg is the COO of Meta, which puts her second in command of one of the world’s biggest social media platforms. Not only that, but she was also the first woman to be elected a member of the Facebook board of directors back in 2012.
Her tenure at Facebook isn’t her first big position in a tech company either. Before joining Meta, Sandberg was the Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, and in 2012 Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. *
We can’t talk about influential women in tech without mentioning Susan Wojcicki, who has been in the tech industry since 1999.
Just like Sandberg, Wojcicki spent time at Google. A lot of time. In fact, Wojcicki was involved in the founding of Google, and in 1999 she became the search engine’s first marketing manager.
She spearheaded the company’s advertising business and Google Video. Further, she was the person to suggest that the search engine acquire YouTube, which happened in 2006. Since 2014 Wojcicki has served as CEO of what is likely the world’s second most important search engine. *
In 2017 Wolfe Herd was named one of Forbes’s “30 under 30” and in 2021 she became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. *
Whitney Wolfe Herd was part of the development team for the popular dating app Tinder, where she held the position of vice president of marketing. She has even been credited with naming the app.
In 2014 she left Tinder and later filed a lawsuit against them for sexual harassment in the workplace. Following online hate and an out of court settlement Wolfe Herd began sketching a female only social network centered around compliments. This would later turn into the dating app Bumble, where she is currently the CEO.
In 2007 Mette Lykke co-founded the Danish social fitness network Endomondo, and she served as the company CEO until 2015 when it was acquired by Under Armour for no less than $85 million. *
Leaving Endomondo didn’t mean leaving the world of tech, however. She currently holds the position of CEO at Too Good To Go, an app that connects users with restaurants and stores that are looking to get rid of surplus food in a way that doesn’t add to their food waste.
Having worked at notable companies such as Yahoo (back in the early millennium), Myspace (in 2006) and LinkedIn (2009-2018) Emilie Choi was no stranger to the field when she joined the cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase.
Within the first three months of being hired, Choi led the acquisition of three companies: Cipher Browser, Earn.com and Paradex.
Today Choi holds the position of President and COO at Coinbase Global Inc.
This isn’t solely about women as a broad category. 26% of computing occupations in the US are held by women, which is low. But only 7% are held by Asian women, 3% by African American women and 2% by Hispanic or Latina women. *
Is shining a light on the influential women in tech going to make a big difference in those numbers?
I’m not sure.
But what I do know, is that representation matters.
Just like we need little girls to be able to imagine themselves as superheroes, they need to be able to imagine themselves as innovators, programmers, entrepreneurs, developers, CTOs, CEOs, and founders.