From Bill Gates to Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg to the late Steve Jobs – there is no shortage of famous men in science and technology. As in any other sector, men appear to dominate the tech industry. According to statistics, only 26.5% of executive and senior-level positions in S&P 500 companies belong to women. Given these disheartening percentages, it is time to direct the spotlight on famous and powerful women in technology today.
Across major tech companies such as Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, female tech employees are anywhere between 20% (Microsoft) and 23% (Apple, Google, Facebook). While there are pioneering women in tech history, such as Ada Lovelace, that have changed the world, women today are still vastly underrepresented in the tech sector. However, that is slowly but surely changing for the better as more girls who code and have mastered computer languages become a part of women’s history.
Here is a list of ten famous and influential women in tech whose career paths in computer programming, information technology, programming languages, digital transformation, and emerging technologies inspire us.
- Rediet Abebe
Rediet is a computer scientist hailing from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her educational background is nothing short of impressive: Rediet earned a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a Master’s degree in applied mathematics at Harvard University. She is the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science in the history of Cornell University.
Even though Rediet dedicates her time to algorithms and artificial intelligence, she has found a way to utilize emerging technologies to make the world a better place. Rediet co-founded Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG), an initiative that fights inequality. It uses machine learning algorithms to offer better access to opportunities to historically disadvantaged communities.
Given everything Rediet had achieved by the time she turned 30 years old, many more great things are expected of this remarkable scientist.
- Kamelia Aryafar
The current Chief Algorithms and Analytics Officer at Google is Kamelia Aryafar, one of the top women in tech today. Her focus is on building Google Cloud AI solutions for different industries by leveraging her expertise in machine learning. Alongside this position, Kamelia also serves on several boards, such as for Overstock.com, Persian Women in Tech, and Initiative of Analytics and Data Science Standards (IADSS).
Through the power of data analytics and artificially intelligent code, Kamelia helps personalize the search experience for Google users. Her team drives the most relevant products, services, and information to customers while inspiring their wants at the same time.
- Safra Catz
One of Forbes’ most powerful women in business in 2009, Safra Catz, is one of the two CEOs of the Oracle Corporation. Oracle is a ubiquitous name in computing, a tech company specializing in database software, cloud software engineering systems, and software applications for enterprises. In 2019, Oracle was declared the second-largest software company in the world according to its revenue and market share. (The first being Microsoft.)
Thanks to her infallible business expertise, Safra is one of the highest-paid female CEOs of any company in the United States. She is also on the board of directors at The Walt Disney Company.
- Roshni Nadar Malhotra
Roshni Nadar goes down in tech history as the first woman to lead a listed information technology company in India. The technology company is HCL Technologies, which deals with software services. It is a global organization with offices in 44 countries, and its customers include 250 of the Fortune 500 companies.
Roshni studied in the United States, where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and later an MBA. In 2019, she was included in the Forbes list of 100 Most Powerful Women. Despite her doubtlessly busy schedule as a CEO of a global corporation, Roshni still does charity work. She is dedicated to helping India’s economically underprivileged and preserving India’s indigenous species and natural habitats.
- Zhou Qunfei
Chinese entrepreneur and founder of Lens Technology, Zhou Qunfei, is the richest woman in China, with a net worth of over $10 billion. Zhou didn’t have an easy life, and at 16, she had to drop out of school and become a migrant worker to support her family. In later years, she attended courses at Shenzhen University part-time. There, she acquired knowledge in computer programming, accounting, customs processing, and a lot more.
Her company, Lens Technology, is a touchscreen manufacturer. It produces everything from touch panel covers to touch sensor modules, and it is continually developing new and better solutions. Her story of becoming a self-made billionaire is an inspiration to women in computing all across the world.
- Maria Raga
You might have heard of Depop, a fashion app that enables its users to sell second-hand clothes (or, as the app calls them, “pre-loved” clothes). It is super trendy, with over 140,000 items on sale every day! Defined as “a fashion marketplace for the next generation,” with its colorful, graphical user interface, Depop mostly draws in Gen Z users. The CEO that pulls strings behind this super-app is none other than Maria Raga.
Maria allows the users on Depop to create their unique style and voice, and some of them even turn selling on Depop into a full-time job. She understands that fast fashion is all but dead. Users, especially the younger generations, want sustainable, long-lasting fashion. They want clothes that can be given a new life and not discarded in perfectly good conditions. Maria Raga and Depop have found a perfect way to provide that.
- Ginni Rometty
Arguably one of the most famous and influential women in technology today, Ginni Rometty is the former CEO of IBM. She still serves on the board of this global technology company responsible for the invention of the hard drive, floppy disk, SQL programming language, UPC barcode, and dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), and more.
During her time as IBM’s CEO, Ginni focused the company on cloud computing, analytics, and cognitive computing systems. When she joined IBM, she was a mere systems engineer, but through her hard work and perseverance, she worked her way up to the very top, earning notable awards along the way.
- Gwynne Shotwell
Another one in a group of female mathematicians on our list, Gwynne Shotwell, is the President and COO (Chief Operating Officer) of SpaceX. SpaceX is a famous American space transportation company, founded and owned by Elon Musk. Gwynne’s Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, respectively.
At SpaceX, Gwynne started out as the vice president of business development, and now she’s responsible for day-to-day operations. Her duties include managing all customer relations and developing strategies for the company’s growth. Her heart is also devoted to creating more diverse spaces in science and technology and including women in computer science as a prerequisite for society’s advancement.
- Susan Wojcicki
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, has a long and fruitful tech career behind her. Back in the 1990s, Susan was involved in the founding of Google, and in 1999, she became the first marketing manager of Google.
At YouTube, she oversees the development of new apps and experiences for those interested in family, music, and gaming content. The company created new ways of monetization for YouTube creators, and under Susan’s leadership, YouTube’s premium service was launched.
Susan’s sister, Anne Wojcicki, is another powerful woman in tech, as she is the CEO of 23andMe, a personal genomics company.
- Jacky Wright
Of course, this list would be incomplete without the Chief Digital Officer and Corporate Vice President of Microsoft US, Jacky Wright. In 2018, Jacky was among the black women topping the list of the most influential black people in the UK, even though her career is located in the US.
Aside from having a high-powered job position, Jacky also advocates for women and diversity in the workplace and aims to improve the status of women in science and technology careers in general. She was a board member of Year Up, an organization that provides opportunities for young adults to build skills they could use later in life.
Even though Silicon Valley is seen mainly as a men’s playground, famous women in technology aren’t few or far between. This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to women in technology who have achieved great success and wealth through their knowledge and experience.
Jacky Wright, Susan Wojcicki, Gwynne Shotwell, Ginni Rometty, Maria Raga, Zhou Qunfei, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Safra Catz, Kamelia Aryafar, and Rediet Adebe are just a few of the names helping develop technological innovations and leading the digital transformation of startups and tech giants.
If you’d like to know more about famous women in technology, female computer programmers, women pioneers in computing, the history of women in the tech industry, reach out to MyComputerCareer.