The field of technology is no longer dominated by men. In fact, it never was. Did you know that the world’s first computer programmer was a woman? Yes, it was Ada Lovelace, the countess of Lovelace, who in the 1840s, developed the first algorithm to be processed by a machine. It’s only a misconception that women aren’t as good as men in technology. And today’s women executives, who are at the helm of several tech companies, have affirmed this trend all over again.
Here are ten women in technology who have made a huge impact through their novel strategies, innovative ideas and work styles.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most prominent women executives of her generation. She’s ranked no. 5 on the Forbes 2011 list of the most powerful women. As the social networking giant Facebook’s COO, she runs a business that registered revenue of $3.7 billion in 2011. In the hierarchy of Facebook, she is second only to the company’s CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Sheryl has played an important role in Facebook’s overall success. She wants women to set high goals for themselves and succeed personally as well as professionally. As is evident from her speech at the World Economic Forum, where she said:
“We reward men for being leaders, for being assertive, for taking risks, for being competitive, (but) we teach women as young as 4 (years old) to lay back, be communal. We need our girls to be ambitious to achieve in the workforce.”
Susan Wojcicki, SVP, advertising, Google
San Jose Mercury News truly called Susan Wojcicki as “the most important Googler you’ve never heard of”, for her behind-the-scenes contributions to product development and managing AdWords and AdSense – the company’s advertising tools. It was Susan’s idea to expand ads beyond Google’s own search pages and incorporate them on other web pages. She was instrumental in Google’s acquisitions of YouTube and DoubleClick.
Presently, Susan is also looking at Google’s mobile advertising business that has witnessed tremendous growth. What very few people know that in 1998, she rented her garage to Google co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, for $1,700 a month. It was from this garage that the world’s most popular search engine was started. Susan was Google’s 16 hire and today she is one of the top-ranked executives at Google.
Cher Wang, co-founder and chairperson, HTC
Around thirty years ago, Cher Wang began her career by selling motherboards. At that time, she thought how mobile devices could make lives easier for people. Eventually she started her own mobile phone manufacturing company, HTC, in Taiwan in 1997. Within a short span, HTC became one of the largest smart phone makers; now HTC is the developer of more than one out of every 5 smart phones that are sold.
Cher Wang’s net worth along with her husband Wen Chi Chen is estimated to be around $6.8 billion, making her the richest person in Taiwan.
Ursula Burns, CEO, Xerox
In 1980, Burns joined Xerox as a mechanical engineering summer intern. Slowly but surely, she progressed up the corporate ladder and became the president of Xerox in April 2007. After she was named president of Xerox, Ursula Burns told a reporter, “My perspective comes in part from being a New York black lady, in part from being an engineer. I know I’m smart and have opinions worth being heard.” Ursula was named the company’s CEO in July 2009 and is the first African-American woman to run a Fortune 500 company.
At the Rochester Institute of Technology’s commencement address in May 2009, Ursula said that there’s this quote that hangs on the wall of her office, “Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your Mom proud!” Ursula told the student gathering that her mother was not anymore, but she has always been her source of encouragement.
Ellen Kullman, CEO, DuPont
Ellen J. Kullman joined DuPont in 1988 as marketing manager. In 2000, she was named Group Vice President and General Manager of several businesses and new business development. On October 1, 2008, Kullman became the company’s President and was named CEO on January 1, 2009. During a chat session held at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Kullman spoke about her personal life and career. She said that “I have a no-regrets policy on life. Move forward, not back”.
That’s perhaps one of the reasons there’s been no looking back for Kullman and she’s regarded as one of the most powerful women in the field of technology.
Safra Catz, President, Oracle
Safra Catz was employed as the Chief Financial Officer of Oracle from November 2005 to September 2008. Before this, she served as Executive Vice President of the company from November 1999 to January 2004. She has been President of Oracle since January 2004 and a member of the Board of Directors since October 2001. Initially, Safra wanted to be a corporate lawyer but eventually decided to join the software industry.
She has a word of advice for women aspiring to make a mark for themselves. In an interview with the “Time” magazine, Safra said “The best advice I can give to women is to go out and start something, ideally their own businesses. If you can’t see a path for leadership within your own company, go blaze a trail of your own”.
Marissa Mayer, VP, Location and Local Services, Google
Marissa Mayer, who is a VP at Google, heads the company’s local and location-based products including Google Maps, Google Maps for Mobile, Local Search, Google Earth, etc.
She joined Google in 1999 as the company’s first female engineer. She was the youngest ever to appear on the Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women’s list. Marissa has several awards to her credit, which include the Matrix Award from the New York Women in Communications, and the title of a Young Global Leader.
Speaking as part of a panel at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Marissa Mayer expressed her concern about the lack of women in technology. She said, “Right now, it’s a really great time to be a woman in technology – but there aren’t enough women in technology”.
Katie Jacobs Stanton, head of International Strategy, Twitter
Ranked number 56 on the Forbes 2011 list of the most powerful women, Katie Jacobs Stanton is responsible for the global strategies and expansion plans of the micro-blogging service Twitter.
Before joining Twitter, Katie served as the Special Adviser to the Office of Innovation at the U.S. Department of State from January to July 2010.
Her business ideas seem to have had a big impact on the company as now more than 70% of Twitter’s traffic comes from outside the U.S.
Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, CEO and president, IBM
As the CEO and president of IBM, she’s the first woman to head the U.S.-based multinational technology and consulting company. Before becoming the firm’s CEO and president, Rometty served as Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Sales. She has played an important role in the growth of several divisions of IBM and a shift in the company’s focus on products with high profit margins. On the Forbes 2011 list of the most powerful women, Rometty was ranked at the 82nd position.
Rometty has been associated with IBM since more than years. In the commencement speech at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2010, Rometty said that “What has always made IBM a fascinating and compelling place for me, is the passion of the company, and its people, to apply technology and scientific thinking to major societal issues.”
Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP
Whitman, who joined HP as its CEO, in September 2011, faces the challenge of turning around the fortunes of the company. According to her, it would take some time for HP to recover from the recent revenue losses.
Whitman has loads of experience as previously she has worked in companies such as eBay, Walt Disney, Procter & Gamble, Hasbro, etc.
In February 2009, Whitman announced her candidacy for California’s Governor, but couldn’t make it as she lost in the elections. As of September 2011, Whitman’s net worth stood at $1.3 billion and is regarded as one of the most powerful women in technology.
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About Mohit Gupta
Legend has it that no deadline ever managed to slip by Mohit without being slashed to bits first (with time still remaining). When we writers are done with our writing business, Mohit takes out his surgical gloves and dissects the pieces for language inconsistency. His red lines make us roll, cringe and revolt. But on and off, he writes this occasional brilliant piece which makes us brood in envious silence.