Women working in technical fields are nothing new, starting with Margaret Hamilton, the software engineer who wrote the code for Apollo 11in 1969, to Katie Bouman, the woman who helped create the first image of a black hole in 2019. Women have made their presence felt in tech fields since time immemorial. In 2018, 20% of all tech jobs were held by women (source: “small business trends”, also founded by a woman, Anita Campbell).
There is an unprecedented influx of women in tech or STEM fields in general. This leads to the next question – who does the world look up to when it comes to top women in tech? Here’s a look at those at the pinnacle.
Top women in tech: a brief profile
Zoe Adamovicz, the 41-year-old serial entrepreneur is the co-founder and CEO of Neufund, a blockchain company situated in Berlin. She sits on the board advising the Minister of Digitalization in Germany. When Adamovicz started out in Berlin years ago, her observation was that there were far too few women in the tech industry and even fewer female CEOs. But at the time she was hopeful that this disparity could also be overcome by more girls taking up science subjects in universities. Times have changed and the Berlin tech scene now has a lot of women power.
Manal Al-Sharif, the revolutionary woman from Saudi Arabia, was monumental in kicking off a movement that led the Saudi government to revise its laws that allowed women to drive in the country. Manal is not only a change maker but also an accomplished computer scientist. She broke all norms by being the only woman working as an IT security specialist in her home country. She is also the founder of the Women2Hack Academy, a program that aims to nurture more women in the field of information security. “The rain starts with a single drop,” is a statement that Manal firmly believes in.
Top women in tech: “Tech industry is female-friendly”
Eileen Burbidge from London has a massive record of making 70 tech investments worth $134 million with the venture capital firm she helped co-found, Passion Capital,since its launch in 2011. Featured in Forbes top women in tech and Europe’s top 50 women in tech, Eileen is a computer science graduate and has worked with huge corporations like Apple, Yahoo, Skype, etc. She was also awarded the MBE (most excellent order for the British Empire) for her services in the UK for business. “I do not believe that our tech industry is inherently more discriminatory against women than others. I’ve always believed and personally benefited from the fact that tech as a whole is a much more female-friendly industry than most others (consider investment banking, finance, law, construction, academia, commercial aviation, etc.),so I’m proud of what our industry does to continually improve – but we certainly do have a long way to go,”said Eileen for an interview she gave to Forbes magazine.
Sue Black, a professor, is the founder of #techmums,a charity organization that empowers mothers by doing online and offline classes covering the basics of technology. In an interview with itpro.uk she said, “Unfortunately the percentage of women working in technology hasn’t really changed [since I started], it’s stayed around 15 or 20 per cent all the time I’ve been involved, which I could find depressing but actually there are lots of initiatives around already that have grown over the last 20 years targeting different groups and ages.” Sue Black also founded BSCWomen, the first online network for women in tech in the UK. She’s a computer scientist and a professor who is now a government advisor. She was honored with OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 2001. Sue Black is one of the associates of the all-female tech consultancy DSRPTN and also a mentor for many moms at the Google campus.
Top women in tech: youngsters like Chantelle keep the game going
At only 25 years old, Chantelle Bell has been featured on Forbes top women in tech. The young Londoner co-founded Syrona Women while studying bioscience at the University of Cambridge. She developed a device that women could use at home to test for cervical cancer by themselves. She won many awards for this work from various international bodies across the world.
Watch Dr. Sue Black talk about women and tech here: