As we learned firsthand what it means to be a feminist, the 2017 Word of the Year was even declared “feminism” by Merriam-Webster dictionary.
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day in Canada is #MyFeminism. Feminism is about providing equal opportunities to both women and men. Unfortunately, women are still vastly underrepresented in fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and while steps are being taken by the government, schools, and non-profit groups to improve this, it’s going to take time and effort from everyone before we start seeing change.
This International Women’s Day 2018, let’s celebrate 8 Kickass Women in Tech who are not only forging exceptional paths for themselves but also being role models for the next generation of women.
1. Parisa Tabriz (Google)
Raised by two computer illiterate parents, Parisa Tabriz didn’t use a computer until her first year of university. She went on to complete a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Computer Science and joined Google a few months after graduating after impressing them with her hacking skills.
Parisa Tabriz is an Iranian-Polish-American security expert and Google’s information security manager.
As Google’s security expert, she’s in charge of protecting more than a billion Chrome web browser users from hacking and security flaws. She prefers to call herself the “Security Princess” and she’s held the title for over 11 years. She oversees around 200 engineers in Google’s Zurich, Tokyo, Sydney, and Munich offices.
In regards to the gender imbalance in Silicon Valley, Tabriz says she is working on adding more females to her team: “I don’t know how many women I have in my teams overall, which is maybe a good thing if I’ve lost track.”
2. Whitney Wolfe Herd (Bumble)
What do you do when you no longer feel welcome at a successful company you built? You create an even better one. That’s what Whitney Wolfe Herd did.
Whitney Wolfe Herd is an American entrepreneur and CEO and founder of the empowering dating app Bumble, which allows women to make the first move. The app has more than 22 million active users and the company is valued at over 1 billion.
Wolfe Heard studied International Studies at university and founded her first business at 19 years old—a bamboo tote bag company which benefited those affected by the BP oil spill.
She went on to co-found the dating app Tinder, where she served as its VP of Marketing. She left the company in 2014 after tensions with the CEO and she later filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit against the company.
With the overwhelming success of Bumble—it’s the fourth most popular dating app and the fastest growing dating app in the US—it’s safe to say that Wolfe Heard’s expertise didn’t go unwasted and that she turned things around despite the challenges she faced at Tinder.
3. Lauren Behrens Wu (Shippo)
Lauren Behrens Wu moved around a lot as a kid between Germany, China, Ecuador, and Cairo. What puzzled her the most was what a production it was to ship to different countries. Behrens Wu created Shippo to deal with this predicament, a company that powers shipping for eCommerce where she is the founder and CEO.
Shippo was provided with $20 million in Series B funding from investors who believe that Behrens Wu has figured out a solution to the tediousness that is shipping. The company has been a blessing to small and medium-sized businesses who want to track and order shipments.
Behrens Wu first working at the startup LendUp, a company that does socially responsible payday loans. She enjoyed the fast-paced culture so much that she dropped out of her graduate studies in Switzerland.
She wants to create equal opportunities for the next generation of women: “we can make a difference by starting companies and building company cultures that women enjoy working at. We can make a difference by being role models for the next generation of female entrepreneurs,” Behrens Wu said in a recent video.
4. Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest)
Sallie Krawcheck was as a powerful Wall Street Executive where she worked as CEO, CFO and then CEO again at Citigroup, a major global bank.
She went on to oversee the wealth management unit at the Bank of America after it acquired Merril Lynch in 2009. Her position was eliminated as part of a restructuring plan in 2011.
Despite thriving and leaving two different major banking companies, Krawcheck bounced back and founded Ellevest, a digital financial advisor company focused on meeting the needs of female investors from business coaching to financial planning to child support. Investors gave Ellevest $10 million, followed by another $34.6 million.
In a recent interview, she said that she came to see that “women are motivated differently from men, and that the industry is focused far more on the way men view investing.” Her company Ellevest is giving women a chance to invest in their own way.
5. Kimberly Bryant (Black Girls Code)
In 2011 she founded Black Girls Code after her daughter expressed an interest in learning how to code and none of the courses in their area were suited for her, instead catering to boys and rarely featuring African American girls.
As the founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, Bryant began working in 2011 to increase the number of women of colour in STEM fields. Black Girls Code is a training course that teaches basic programming concepts to girls of colour who are underrepresented in the technology field. Through exposure to computer science and technology at a young age, she’s educating and empowering young girls of colour.
6. Grace Francisko
Francisko starting working in tech in the 90s. She’s worked six different positions during her time at Microsoft and even founded the group “Women at Microsoft” in Silicon Valley.
She now works as the Vice President of Developer Relations at Roblox where she aims to engage and empower children who are interested in learning how to create video games, or “emerging developers” as she calls them. Roblox is the largest user-generated platform with over 29 million video games created by users
Francisko is passionate about gender-related diversity issues and the way women are represented in video games. She said in a recent interview: “I feel strongly about the need to not just advocate for women in tech, but there’s this broader segment of underrepresented diversity groups that also need a voice.”
7. Julia Hartz (Eventbrite)
Julia Hartz is the co-founder and president of Eventbrite, the world’s largest event technology platform.
She began as a television executive but left the industry to start Eventbrite. She built the company from the ground up, secured $200 million in funding, and the company now boasts over 500 employees. Eventbrite sells tickets to a variety of shows and has sold over 200 million tickets and generated $3 billion in ticket sales.
She’s a relentless advocate for women in tech and she proudly shares that Eventbrite is 50-50 male-female and that this number has been accomplished organically. She says she always keep diversity and metrics in mind when hiring.
8. Debbie Sterling (Goldieblox)
Debbie Sterling graduated from Stanford with an engineering degree. Ironically enough, she said up until her senior year in high school she had no idea what an engineer was.
As the founder and CEO of Goldieblox, she wanted to create more building toys for girls to play with. Goldieblox helps girls with spatial reasoning skills and knowledge of mechanics to excite them about engineering, as well as make math and science easier at school.
She first tried to gain support for Goldieblox at a New York toy fair but her toys were met with doubt that that girls would find interest in them. Sterling decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign instead where she raised almost $300,000.
Sterling is a leading spokesperson for the movement to inspire and empower girls’ interest in engineering and technology.
And there we have it. 8 kickass women working in tech, but there are so many more. Who would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below.