The tech industry has grown significantly over the past several years and is only expected to continue to grow in the future. In many cases, this growth is driven by women who work in tech. We hope to highlight 5 women who are changing the face of tech in order to inspire other women to step up to the plate and take and ensure that women’s contributions don’t go unacknowledged.
We know that women, and particularly women of color, are underrepresented in the tech industry. This lack of diversity can lead to a narrower range of perspectives, biases in product development, and missed opportunities for innovation. That said, listening to women in tech has never been more important, and there are many women helping to greatly advance the field.
Supporting Women in Tech
Of course there is still much work to be done to address issues of gender bias and inequality in the industry. Nonetheless, recognizing and celebrating the contributions of women in the tech industry is one of many ways that companies can create more inclusive workplaces.
That said, we want to recognize 5 women who are changing the face of tech. It is important to know about these women because they are trailblazers in the tech industry and their work is helping to pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive tech sector.
Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code
Reshma Saujani is a trailblazing entrepreneur and advocate who has dedicated her career to empowering women and girls in tech. Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization that works to close the gender gap in technology by creating safer spaces to support women advancing their careers, learning how to code, and building a network of women from which they can support each other and navigate what is otherwise a male-dominated sector.
Saujani was born in Illinois and grew up in an Indian-American family. She earned a degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended Yale Law School. After law school, Saujani worked as an attorney and took up an interest in politics. In 2010, she ran for Congress in New York's 14th Congressional District, becoming the first Indian-American woman to run for Congress. Despite losing the election, the experience had ignited something else in her and she decided to launch Girls Who Code.
Since its founding in 2012, Girls Who Code has become a leading voice in the movement to close the gender gap in technology. The organization provides girls from underserved communities with free coding education and exposure to technology careers. Girls Who Code has reached over 500 million people through its programs and initiatives and has helped to inspire a new generation of women in technology.
Saujani's leadership has been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education and the New York Times Best Seller List. She continues to be a powerful voice for women in technology and a champion for gender equality in and beyond the tech sector.
Fei-Fei Li, Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence
Fei-Fei Li is a pioneering computer science professor at Stanford University and the co-director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). Li is perhaps best known for her work on ImageNet, which is used to train machine learning algorithms. Beyond her contributions to the field, Li has been a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.
Li was born in China and moved to the United States as a teen with the goal of pursuing her education. She earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Princeton University and a PhD in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.
After completing her PhD, Li joined the faculty of Princeton University as an assistant professor of electrical engineering where she conducted research on computer vision and machine learning. In 2009, she moved to Stanford University, where she founded the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and continued her groundbreaking work.
In addition to her research, Li has worked hard to disrupt the gender gap in tech and particularly in relation to women of color in the field. She is a co-founder of AI4ALL, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase diversity and inclusion in the field of artificial intelligence through offering education and mentorship opportunities to women and folks historically marginalized from the industry.
Tracy Chou, Project Include
Tracy Chou is a software engineer and diversity advocate who has made significant contributions to the tech industry. She is best known as the founder of Project Include, a nonprofit organization that works to increase diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.
Chou was born in California and grew up in a Taiwanese-American family of engineers. She developed a passion for programming at a young age and later earned a degree in computer science from Stanford University. Following her studies, Chou went on to work for a number of tech companies, including Pinterest, Quora, and the US Digital Service.
In 2013, Chou wrote a blog post calling attention to the lack of diversity in the tech industry and the need for companies to take concrete steps in addressing this issue. The post went viral and led to the foundation of Project Include in 2016. Project Include provides resources and guidance to tech companies on how to create more inclusive workplaces. The organization has made huge gains in expanding opportunities for folks historically marginalized in the field of tech.
Chou’s important work has been widely recognized. In 2014, Chou was honored as a “rising-star software engineer” on Forbes’ "30 Under 30" list and in 2015 was named one of the "Most Powerful Women Engineers" by Business Insider. She continues to be a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry and an inspiration to women and folks underrepresented in the field.
Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code
Kimberly Bryant is a social entrepreneur, software engineer, and founder of Black Girls Code, a non-profit organization that empowers girls of color to pursue careers in tech and computer science. Bryant grew up in Memphis, Tennessee where she developed an interest in science and technology at a young age. This led to her pursuing a degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University.
Bryant started her career working for companies such as DuPont, Pfizer, and Genentech, yet, she quickly took note of the few women and even fewer people of color in technical roles in her workplace. The lack of diversity that she encountered inspired her to create Black Girls Code in 2011. The organization aims to provide access and exposure to technology and computer science to girls from underrepresented communities.
Under Bryant's guidance, Black Girls Code has grown significantly, with 14 chapters located in cities around the United States and one chapter in South Africa. The organization offers a range of programs, from after-school and summer camps to hackathons and mentorship opportunities, that introduce girls of color to coding, robotics, game design, and other STEM fields.
Bryant's work has received numerous accolades including being named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business and one of Ebony magazine's Power 100. Through her advocacy and leadership, Bryant is making a significant impact on the diversity and inclusion of the tech industry.
Shafi Goldwasser, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Shafi Goldwasser is a renowned computer scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), celebrated for her groundbreaking work in the field of cryptography. Goldwasser's contributions to the development of modern encryption algorithms have revolutionized the field of computer security, making communication networks more secure across the internet.
Beyond that, Goldwasser is a co-director of the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines at MIT where she conducts research on the theoretical foundations of computer science and its applications to various fields including neuroscience and artificial intelligence.
Goldwasser earned various awards and honors for her contributions to the field of computer science. Most notably, she received the prestigious Turing Award in 2012 alongside her collaborator Silvio Micali.
In addition to her huge contributions to the field, Goldwasser has been an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech sector. She has been vocal about the need to create more opportunities for women and other minority populations in computer science and STEM at large.
From honoring achievements to creating a more inclusive future for tech
Despite being underrepresented in the industry, women’s contributions have been crucial to the growth of the tech sector and have aided big advancements in science and technology. We hope that by highlighting the work of women like Reshma Saujani, Fei-Fei Li, Tracy Chou, Kimberly Bryant, and Shafi Goldwasser, we can inspire more women to pursue careers in tech and showcase the diverse range of contributions that women are making to the industry.
One simple action that we can all take to support women in tech is to acknowledge the achievements of women who have worked tirelessly to advance and transform the field. We hope that through learning about these incredible women and their work can help promote a more equitable and inclusive future for tech.