21 Women Disrupting Tech

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21 Women Disrupting Tech

Happy International Women’s Day. This year, the theme is “Pledge For Parity,” meaning committing to achieving equality around status and pay. Last year, the World Economic Forum predicted that it would take until 2133 to achieve worldwide gender parity. Meanwhile, many tech companies are still dominated by men. In honor of this day, we’d like to highlight some amazing women — some well-known and some not as well-known — doing notable work in the tech industry.


Megan Smith, White House CTO

In 2014, Megan Smith was appointed the first-ever chief technology office at the White House under President Barack Obama. Smith is the former VP of Google X, VP of business development at Google and general manager of Google.org.


Sarah Tavel, partner at Greylock

Sarah Tavel’s been in the tech industry for several years, having spent time as partner at Bessemer Ventures and product lead at Pinterest. Today, she’s partner at Greylock Partners, where she focuses on products, platforms, networks and marketplaces.


Payal Kadakia, CEO at ClassPass

ClassPass, the fitness startup that charges you $125 for unlimited fitness classes from a plethora of gyms, has been on a tear this year. In April, ClassPass acquired a competitor called FitMob and in November, ClassPass raised a $30 million Series C round led by Google Ventures.

ClassPass started as Classivity, a search engine for fitness classes, but didn’t do very well. Under Kadakia’s leadership, the company pivoted to ClassPass and has since raised $84 million.


Freada Kapor Klein, partner at Kapor Capital

Through her work at the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Freada Kapor Klein has advocated for entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds through her words and her money.

In August, Kapor Klein and her husband Mitch Kapor committed to spending $40 million over the next three years to help make Silicon Valley a more diverse and inclusive place.


Erica Baker, build and release engineer at Slack

A powerhouse in the tech industry, Erica Baker has held engineering roles at top tech companies like Google and now at unicorn startup Slack. Having spent nearly 10 years at Google, Baker worked in IT support, managed the hardware trial program for Google TV and later worked as a corporate operations engineer. When she’s not coding, you might find her blowing the whistle on pay inequality at Google or speaking out about diversity efforts in Silicon Valley.

Earlier this month, Baker received an award from the Level Playing Field Institute for her work around advocating for diversity in the tech industry.


Angela Ahrendts, SVP of Retail and Online Stores at Apple

Angela Ahrendts joined Apple from Burberry, where she was CEO, in 2014. Under her leadership, Apple has begun preparations for opening its first retail store in Southeast Asia, located in Singapore. As the first-ever SVP of retail and online stores at Apple, she’s been tasked with developing Apple’s strategic direction, expansion and operation.


Angelica Ross, CEO at TransTech Social

Angelica Ross, who taught herself how to code and build websites, has an admirable goal: to connect the global trans community. Through TransTech Social, Ross aims to create and grow employment pipelines for trans people. Members of TransTech Social have access to training around things like typing, data entry, Google Docs and web programming.

This year, Ross joined U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith to kick off the second White House LGBTQ Tech and Innovation Summit.


Amber Lucas, Senior Technical Manager at Tesla Motors

Amber Lucas leads the Tesla Motors team responsible for designing, engineering and innovating electric vehicle drive units. Prior to joining Tesla Motors, Amber Lucas was principal engineer for urban design at Specialized Bicycles.


Joelle Emerson, CEO at Paradigm

As the head of Paradigm, Joelle Emerson is tasked with helping tech companies like Slack, Airbnb, Pinterest and Asana develop diversity strategies and initiatives.

Before Emerson started Paradigm, she practiced law around gender equality at Equal Rights Advocates, a non-profit organization for women’s rights.

Down the road for Paradigm, the aim is to scale the business and work with more clients. In fact, Paradigm wants to work with every company in Silicon Valley, and in tech more broadly, that cares about diversity and inclusion, but doesn’t have its strategies nailed down just yet.


Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Famous for her annual Internet trends report, Mary Meeker is arguably one of the most important investors and analysts in the tech industry. Meeker, who has been a partner at KPCB since 2010, invests in high-growth companies and helps lead the firm’s Digital Growth Funds. She’s on the boards of Square, Lending Club and DocuSign.


Laura I. Gómez, founder at Atipica

Before founding Atipica, Laura I. Gómez spent time at tech companies like YouTube, Jawbone and Twitter. At Twitter, Gómez was a founding member of the international team and lead Twitter’s product expansion into 50 languages and several countries. At Atipica, her goal is to use big data and machine learning to mitigate bias in applicant tracking systems.

In November, Atipica received a $25,000 investment from Kapor Capital.


Nicole Sanchez, VP of Social Impact at GitHub

Nicole Sanchez joined GitHub last year to serve as the company’s first-ever head of social impact. In this role, Sanchez is tasked with tackling projects like ConnectHome, an initiative to provide high-speed Internet access to low-income homes.

Before joining GitHub as VP of social impact, Sanchez ran her own diversity consulting company, Vaya Consulting. Prior to that, she worked as a managing partner and chief operating officer at the Kapor Center for Social Impact.


Kimberly Bryant, CEO at Black Girls Code

Kimberly Bryant runs Black Girls Code, the non-profit organization that aims to increase the number of women of color in technology and computer science. Now in its third year, Black Girls Code has reached over 3,000 girls. Through Black Girls Code, Bryant hopes to teach 1 million girls across the world how to code by the year 2040.


Anne Wojcicki, CEO at 23andMe

Anne Wojcicki is the mastermind behind geneology startup 23andMe. Although the company hit some road bumps with the FDA a couple of years ago, 23andMe became totally authorized to provide carrier status information around 36 diseases last October.


Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO at Blendoor

As founder of Blendoor, Stephanie Lampkin is on a mission to mitigate bias from the recruiting and hiring process. Earlier this year, Blendoor won first place at the second annual Lesbians Who Tech Summit’s startup competition. In November, Blendoor landed a $25,000 investment from Kapor Capital as part of the social impact firm’s “People Operations Reinvented” pitch competition.

Prior to founding Blendoor, Lampkin worked as a technical account manager at Microsoft. She has an engineering degree from Stanford and an MBA from MIT Sloan.


Tracy Chou, software engineer at Pinterest

Tracy Chou, an engineer at Pinterest, was one of the first people to advocate for and release numbers around diversity in the workforce. In 2013, she set up a database to help quantify gender diversity in the tech industry. Since then, Chou has become a well-known advocate for diversity in tech.

Prior to Pinterest, Chou worked at Quora, and interned at Google and Facebook.


Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook

I’m pretty much obligated to include Sheryl Sandberg on this list. She’s an all-around boss, being the chief operating officer at Facebook and author of the best-selling book Lean In. Oh, and she’s worth $1.17 billion. She also sits on the boards for companies like SurveyMonkey.


Tiffani Ashley Bell, co-founder and executive director at Detroit Water Project

As co-founder of the Detroit Water Project, Tiffani Ashley Bell has helped more than 950 families pay their water bills, ensuring that they are able to access running water. Detroit Water Project was the first non-profit organization to participate in the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program in Silicon Valley. Before Detroit Water Project, Bell was a fellow at Code for America.


Padmasree Warrior, U.S. CEO at NextEv

This all-around badass has a strong background in tech, having spent seven years as chief technology and strategy officer at Cisco, and over four years as CTO at Motorola. In December, Padmasree Warrior joined NextEv, a Chinese electric car company that could potentially take on Tesla and Faraday Future.


Susan Wojcicki, CEO at YouTube

Susan Wojcicki was Google’s first-ever marketing manager, having joined the company in 1998 as its 16th employee. She later became SVP of Adwords and Adsense.

Today, Wojcicki is CEO at YouTube and serves on Salesforce’s board of directors.


Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO at SpaceX

SpaceX, known for building rockets and spaceships, is undoubtedly one of the coolest companies in tech. Shotwell, who joined the company way back in 2002, is in charge of day-to-day operations at the space exploration company. Earlier this month, SpaceX successfully launched the SES-9 communications satellite into Geostationary orbit.


BONUS: Laura Weidman Powers, CEO at CODE2040

CODE2040, led by Laura Weidman Powers, had a year full of partnerships and money coming in. In January, Google gave CODE2040 $775,000 in grant money and in March, Google backed a CODE2040 pilot program to support minority entrepreneurs with a one-year stipend and free office space in Chicago, Austin and Durham, N.C. Back in August, Apple partnered with the organization to offer three-month paid internships to 10 of the 80 fellows in CODE2040’s 2016 class.

Last year, CODE2040 received a $1.2 million grant from the Knight Foundation to double the size of its diversity in tech programs. Since launching its pilot program in 2012, CODE2040 has helped thousands of black and Latino students get involved in technology through its flagship CODE2040 Fellows Program.