It all started on the playground.
“You’re a girl! You can’t do [math/science/tech/insert subject here].”
And so from there, both boys and girls – and then men and women – bought into the idea that there were areas where women weren’t allowed to play and explore. Tech, naturally, was one of them. Still, many women are fighting against the myth that the tech space has to be a Boys Only Club.
Given that numbers are still pretty bleak when it comes to women owning the tech industry – women made up 35 percent of the computing industry in 1990, and now just 26 percent – let’s look at five women who act as beacons of light in this gender-unbalanced spaces
Debbie Sterling Has Plans to Disrupt the Pink Aisle
Not only is Debbie Sterling among the elite few female engineers in the world (currently just 14 percent of all engineers globally are women), but she’s also trying to recruit girls to join her. She’s the founder of GoldieBlox, a company that makes construction sets and engineering-related toys. And no, they’re not pink.
Her idea has clearly resonated with girls, parents, and investors alike. More than 5,000 investors on Kickstarter helped her raise $285,000 to get the company off the ground.
Sterling speaks globally about getting girls – and women – involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and is passionate about cultivating the next generation of young engineers.
Susan Wojcicki: One of the Women Who Powers Google
While Larry Page and Sergey Brin tend to get all the press when it comes to Google, they weren’t alone when they founded the company. In fact, the company was born in the garage of Susan Wojcicki, who now serves as CEO of YouTube.
By this point, Wojcicki wasn’t a stranger to technology. Her father taught physics, and she spent a great deal of time on the Stanford campus, where she was introduced to technology. While Wojcicki began her education in history and literature (graduating from Harvard University), she changed her course after taking a computer science course her senior year.
Wojcicki is known for – well, best known for, since she stays pretty low profile – creating AdSense, Google’s #2 most revenue-driving product. She’s worked in various areas of Google, and took over as CEO of YouTube in 2014. She’s made Forbes’ List of Power Women several years in a row and her Twitter stream is filled with photos of her with the who’s who in the tech scene…who are, of course, male.
Kimberly Bryant Wants to Teach Black Girls to Code
Kimberly Bryant is another woman on a mission to foster an interest in technology in girls from an early age. She founded Black Girls Code in 2011 in an effort to not only get girls involved, but specifically expose African American girls to technology (in 2012, African Americans made up only 3 percent of the tech space).
The inspiration for the nonprofit came from her daughter’s experience at computer science summer camp. Not only were there very few girls there, but there were also no other African Americans. And the boys in the camp seemed to get more of the counselors’ attention. Bryant saw the same underrepresentation in the startup world in San Francisco, and drew the connection.
Now Black Girls Code has seven chapters in several states in the U.S. They’ve also expanded to Africa, and globally serve more than 2,000 girls, aged 7 to 17.
Ginni Rometty Shows That Girls Can Play in the Board Room
Even if IBM has struggled a bit to keep up with today’s fast-paced technological changes, its hiring policy, at least, is cutting edge. In 2012, the company moved long-time employee Ginni Rometty to the helm. This marks the first time a female has served as CEO of IBM.
Rometty has been credited with nudging IBM into cloud computing and analytics, and has been honored on influencer lists like Forbes’ List of Powerful People (as well as its Powerful Women List) and Fortune Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Powerful People.
Arianna Huffington Changed the Face of Media
It wasn’t that long ago that “media” meant print newspapers and magazines. But with the rise in popularity of blogs, the media landscape is forever changed. Still, traditional publishing brands have been reticent to embrace the inevitable changes. Arianna Huffington, who founded Huffington Post in 2005 and then sold it to AOL in 2011, has proven to those stodgy publishing houses that if they want to compete, they’ve got to join the technological revolution.
While Huffington’s TED talks, podcasts and interviews don’t center around technology (she’s passionate about politics and history), she has effectively lassoed it to help not only her own personal brand but to give a voice to the dozens of bloggers who publish on the Pulitzer Prize-winning website. She has been named to Time magazine’s 100 list, as well as Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women.
These are just a few of the women who are breaking the mold and stereotype about where women belong. They’re also inspiration that, in the next generation, we won’t have the same imbalance among genders in the technology space. Are you a woman in the tech world? If so, who do you most admire and why? Tell us in the comment section below.