5 Women in Technology Who Are Changing the World
Without the contributions of women in technology, the world would be a much more difficult place in which to live. Women have radically changed the way we interact with technology, as well as the way that technology itself is designed. As our reliance on technology increases and its power in our lives becomes more profound, it is important to understand how women have helped shape technology and why it matters.
The tech industry, like many other industries, is male-dominated. In fact, women occupy only 26 percent of all technology-related jobs. As of 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that only 18.6 percent of computer programmers were women. These numbers are disappointing, and they haven’t improved much in the five ensuing years.
There are numerous causes for this — from the lack of women entering the technology field in the first place to the fact that women who do enter the field are often getting pushed out. For a woman, breaking into the world of technology can be a huge challenge. They’re often met with a culture that’s male-dominated and male-focused. It’s a hot topic that’s been in the news recently due to many high-profile women coming forward with stories of their mistreatment.
But there are many women who are leveraging their technical skills to change the world — not only for women but for everyone. And in the following article, we’ll be looking at five of the most influential.
1. Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson is an experimental artist and is known for her performance art, film, and music. She combines performance with technology. She was a member of the New York No Wave music scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Laurie Anderson’s voice has been described as “piercing” and “operatic.” She’s been singing since she was a child and says she’s always loved the sound of her own voice.
However, she doesn’t think of herself as a singer, but as a storyteller. Laurie Anderson has been one of the most influential and important artists of the past 40 years. She’s been a huge influence on pop culture, she’s been a huge influence on artists and other musicians, and she’s changed with the times. She’s always reinventing herself and has remained relevant all this time. Laurie’s ability to be an artist first, but one who uses technology to her advantage makes her a must-mention when sorting out the most influential women in technology.
2. Jane McGonigal
Jane McGonigal, a researcher at the Institute for the Future, sees the value of games in the classroom. They can be used to teach everything from math and science to history and literature. The game that she made with her husband, SuperBetter, is designed to help people with depression and anxiety. She’s also created a game called Re-Mission, which is designed to help cancer patients and others with chronic illnesses manage their symptoms. She even used them to treat her own concussion.
McGonigal is of the opinion that games are not inherently good or bad. Games are a tool. What matters is how you use them. You can use them to improve your quality-of-life, or you can use them to waste your time and reduce your quality-of-life. It’s up to you.
3. Anita Borg
Borg was one of the first women to have a high-level position at a major technology company. After attending Stanford University, she worked at a number of technology companies and founded the Institute for Women and Technology and the Anita Borg Institute. Borg was also an advocate for mentoring women in technology.
“The tech industry is male-dominated and I’ve received a lot of pushback for being a woman in this industry,” she once stated. “I’m often asked what advice I give to other women when they’re considering entering a male-dominated field and my answer is simple: just do it. Don’t let fear stop you.”
Borg won several awards throughout her career, including the prestigious Effie Award for Best Brand Experience for her work on Dove. Her years of experience and expertise in the industry made her a sought-after industry speaker, and she lectured at universities and corporations around the world before her death in 2003 at the age of 52 from a brain tumor. Though she may be gone, her legacy continues to change the world for women looking to get into a largely male-dominated industry.
4. Susan Wojcicki
Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube and previously the SVP of Advertising and Commerce at Google. When Google was founded in 1998, Wojcicki was responsible for creating and managing the advertising department. She led the team that created AdWords, an online advertising service that combines Google search technology with advertisers’ content.
Susan has been very active in the community in addition to founding and running a major tech company. She’s served on the board of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, and she’s also been a trustee of the X Prize Foundation and a trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
In 2003, Wojcicki was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune magazine. In 2009, she was named to the Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
5. Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO at Facebook. Sandberg is an author and a major advocate for women in technology and leadership roles. She is the founder of Leanin.org, a nonprofit that encourages and supports women in leadership positions. Sandberg has a book called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which was published in 2013. Sandberg has a pretty impressive resume, having worked at the US Treasury Department, the World Bank, and Google before becoming the COO of Facebook. She was even named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine in both 2012 and 2013.
She’s also not afraid to take a stand when it comes to the tech industry. Recently, she’s been vocal about the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. “It’s a big problem in tech and in all the other industries,” she said. She was responsible for Facebook’s IPO in 2012, and now the company has over two billion users worldwide.
These Women in Technology Have Big Shoes to Fill
However, one thing they would all agree on is that there are plenty of women in technology out there to fill them. They just need to be welcomed into the industry. Through their ongoing efforts, they seem to be doing just that. Which woman do you think has influenced our technological development the most? Sound off in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]