I love to hear about women doing big things in technology. For the longest time, I was always the ONLY *girl* in my office. We would go to group lunches and I would be on a “date” with 8 guys. Which was fun at times. 🙂 I have been in IT for over 13 years. Even though it was not that long ago, back then (man that makes me sound old), there just were not that many women in the technology field. Or if there were, we did not hear much about them. Times are quickly changing. Just a quick browse around the net and you can find quite a few Ladies of Tech.
When you consider the field of technology, and specifically who the big names are, you’re not likely to have any women on the list. Bill Gates? Check. Steve Jobs? Check. Tim Berners-Lee? Check and check (he probably deserves two for launching the worldwide web and then making it open source). If you ask most people, they probably couldn’t come up with a single lady who’s working (and succeeding) in technology (Olivia Munn doesn’t count). However, that doesn’t mean there’s some kind of feminine famine in the market. In fact, there are plenty of women making advances in technology, starting their own businesses, and ultimately making life easier for all of us. Here are just a few names you might want to add to your list of tech giants.
- Jill Tarter – Director of SETI. You may not know the name, but if you saw the movie Contact, you have an inkling of what her life is like (Jodi Foster’s character was loosely based on her). A 2009 winner of the TED award (Technology, Entertainment, Design – a conference that urges these three fields to collaborate), in which she was expected to make “one wish to change the world”, she stated, “I wish that you would empower Earthlings to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.” She continues to take on that challenge daily by asking others to help her in her quest to create algorithms that will seek more and more complex signals from the cosmos. If she gets her wish, first contact may not be far off.
- Alexis Ringwald – Cofounder of Valence Energy Corp. After testing solar-powered cars on a massive road trip across India, this green-tech dynamo turned her attention to decentralizing power grids. She has since helped large corporations (like Cisco) to implement green building solutions in order to create more effective and efficient energy management.
- Melissa Hathaway – Cybersecurity Expert. President Obama may have given her the title of “Cybersecurity Czar”, but people in the know already knew who she was. Probably due to her tenure with the Bush administration (overseeing a five-year, $30 billion cybersecurity plan), she opted out of working for the current head of state, but she continues to implement practical solutions in the private sector through her company, Hathaway Global Strategies, as well as offering her services as a senior advisor on Project MINERVA (Mapping the Internet Electronic Resources Virtual Archive).
- Fernanda Viégas – Cofounder of Flowing Media. Seemingly disparate interests in technology and creative design led this multi-talented Brazilian to the field of online infographics, which analyzes data about chat rooms, newsgroups, and email and turns it into a pictographic representation, generally in the form a colorful (and complex) graph. In 2007, she collaborated on Many Eyes, a program that allows people to upload data and see in with different tools, and of late she has turned her attention to Congress with the program Many Bills, which allows users to more easily sift through current legislation.
- Amber Case – Consultant, Cyborg Anthropologist. This interestingly titled young woman has found a way to mix her love of math and science with her general lack of understanding about how and why people act the way they do. Specifically, she studies and speaks about the link between people and their technology and how it has (and continues to) evolve. Dubbed a “digital philosopher”, she uses her rare understanding of human-tech interaction to help clients build a web presence or market their products, as well as giving lectures about virtual reality, modern communication, and the compression of time and space as it relates to people and technology.