The subject of women in technology is on the minds of many leaders, observers and enthusiasts within the technology industry. That’s because for a very long time, the stereotype of a technology professional has been that of a young, socially awkward white male.
While progress has been made in recent years, current employment trends in IT don’t engender too much enthusiasm. According to recent data from the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, women hold only about 25 percent of the current computer and mathematics jobs.
Disappointing statistics like this are the reason for awareness campaigns like International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every year, on March 8. As part of its mission, the organizers behind IWD strive to place more women in senior leadership positions. In honor of that goal, we’ve decided to highlight a few women who are currently leading major changes in the IT industry.
While co-founder Bill Gates is still strongly associated with the legendary tech company behind the Windows operating system, Julie Larson-Green has consistently left her mark on Microsoft’s products. First, there was her time spent on the Office team, reimagining the user experience from top to the bottom. More recently, when Steve Sinofsky left the Windows team in late 2012, Larson-Green stepped up to lead all Windows hardware and software engineering.
Since Marissa Mayer parachuted into the role of CEO after several executives unsuccessfully attempted to steer the iconic Internet company back in the right direction, she has generated plenty of headlines. Whether it was her bold decision to scale back on teleworking at Yahoo, her eye-popping decision to acquire Tumblr for $1 billion or her most recent idea to snag David Pogue from The New York Times for Yahoo’s brand-new technology channel, it’s clear Mayer isn’t afraid to go big or go home.
It’s true — the PC era is over. With the rise of mobile devices, the days of the desktop ruling the computing world are unlikely to return. If a computer manufacturer like HP wants to stay relevant, things need to change soon, and fast. As CEO of HP, Meg Whitman hasn’t been idle. She’s doubled down on the server side of the business, including the company’s groundbreaking Moonshot servers, which are powering major sites, like Bing.
Although AT&T is, without a doubt, a leading name in telecommunications, the company also has a rich history as an incubator for breakthrough ideas in technology. Marian R. Croak, senior vice president of applications and services infrastructure for AT&T Labs, is continuing in that forward-thinking tradition as she oversees more than 2,000 developers, engineers and program managers across the division. For her profound achievements, she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame in 2013.
Credit: Antonio Albir/Feature Photo Service for IBM
As the first Goliath to rise up in the IT industry, IBM’s name carries serious weight. Virginia Rometty made history in 2011, when she became the company’s first woman CEO. Since stepping into the role, Rometty has consistently pushed the company to experiment and redefine its world. She recently invited developers to build apps for IBM’s artificial-intelligence prototype Watson and continues to drive the conversation about Big Data and business intelligence.
Apple often gets credit for making the graphical user interface a staple in computing, but the GUI was actually born in a research facility owned and housed by Xerox. The company is best known for its photocopying legacy, but with Ursual Burns at the helm, Xerox is becoming a “a business process automation company.”
Padmasree Warrior has won over many fans in technology with her smarts and charisma. She’s also been instrumental in leading several high-level acquisitions for Cisco recently, including the purchase of Meraki, which has been an innovator in cloud-based networking.
As right-hand woman to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg could very well be considered a female matador, since the social networking company has repeatedly taken the bull by the horns and emerged victorious. Aside from her duties at Facebook, Sandberg has been making waves in pop culture with her book Lean In, which encourages women to stop putting their careers on the back burner.
If you think IT is a boys’ club, think about the NFL. Michelle McKenna-Doyle was named CIO of the men’s professional football league back in 2012. She admits that her dad “had always figured his kid would be in the NFL, but he didn’t figure it [would] be his Auburn girl rather than his Alabama boy” in an article from Dothan Eagle. But many are happy to see a woman take a high level in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. According to another report from the Dothan Eagle, Chicago Bears owner Virginia McCaskey approached McKenna-Doyle at an event after she’d joined the NFL as CIO and said, “It’s about darn time we got a woman in this position.”
Credit: Kimberly Bryant
Getting more women to participate in technology has been a challenge, but getting black women to participate has been doubly difficult. Kimberly Bryant founded Black Girls Code in 2011 to encourage young black girls to pick up programming and help lead the STEM revolution the country so desperately needs. For her efforts, Bryant was among 11 people honored by the White House as Champions of Change for Tech Inclusion last year.