Nine to Know: Women Tech Innovators Changing the Future
Silicon Valley is known as the launching pad for —and home to— many tech empires. It’s also known for its deep-rooted sexism.
Of course, gender bias is not limited to that region. With ‘Tech-Bros’ often dominating the scene, it can seem nearly impossible for women to make headway. Only about 10 percent of the executive roles in tech are held by women.
Fortunately, there are women who are successfully carving out their own leadership roles in spite of this pervasive culture. Tech companies may be embracing the valuable contributions of women. Google is one example, with women accounting for over 25% of leaders.
Here are nine great women leaders in tech who inspire action. Of course, there are many, many more.
Alissa J. Abdullah, Chief Information Security Officer, Xerox
Alissa J. Abdullah, also known as Dr. Jay, is the CISO at Xerox and former Deputy CIO for the White House. She is well-respected in IT circles and viewed as one of the premiere leaders in her field. She is tasked with protecting intellectual property and other assets at Xerox.
Abdullah is known for her proactive approach to cybersecurity. That’s important as a company like Xerox is subject to attack from both foreign countries and competitors.
Sue Black, Founder, #TechMums
Sue Black founded #TechMums to help ensure that mothers across the UK had the confidence and competencies required to understand and use technologies to their advantage. #TechMums offers empowering courses to mothers where they can learn about social media, web design, internet security, programming, and more.
Eileen Burbridge, Founder, Passion Capital
Eileen Burbridge is a founding partner of Passion Capital, an early-stage VC firm that has made over $134 million in investments since its founding. Prior to that, Burbridge worked for companies including Yahoo, Skype, Sun, and Apple. She is also a board member of Tech City UK. Passion Capital has a unique approach to investing. While her firm is willing to invest in any business they believe meets their criteria, Burbridge is invested in assisting businesses that are owned by women.
Cindy Cohn, Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Cindy Cohn is ranked as one of the top 50 women in technology. She’s also been called one of the most influential lawyers in America. She started as an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She was later invited to join the staff there. Today she is the executive director. Michelle Smith is an IT staff member at Grab My Essay and writes, “Cohn’s work has largely involved protecting the rights of individuals and entities when it comes to invasive government policies and behaviors related to the use of data. She continues that important work through the EFF a non-profit dedicated to supporting free speech, innovation, and privacy online.”
Arlan Hamilton, CEO, Backstage Capital
Arlan Hamilton founded Backstage Capital with a team of investors and other supporters to fund startups helmed by people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. Many of these are tech companies such as Akash Systems, an innovative satellite communications firm. Hamilton doesn’t just provide cash funding to deserving businesses. Backstage Capital is also home to several resources, including a startup accelerator. Even if they don’t qualify for financing, entrepreneurs can still attend events and workshops and receive other assistance in getting their startups launched. This includes the use of workspace.
Sandra Lopez, Vice President, Intel Sports
Sandra Lopez took a winding path to her position at Intel Sports. She started in the fashion industry. Later, she moved into marketing technology. She worked her way into leadership positions at several companies. Finally, she partnered with Intel to become the VP of Intel Sports. There, her job is to provide immersive media experiences for sports fans. Lopez highly values her leadership role and says it is her responsibility to act as a mentor to others. She advises mentees to develop good written communication skills by using tools such as, Grammarly, Trust My Paper, Hemingway, BestEssay.Education.
Licenia Rojas, Senior Vice President & Unit CIO, Technology Amex
Licenia Rojas is a long-time staffer at Amex. She has held several positions of leadership there. Currently, she is Senior VP and Unit CIO at Technology Amex. This means she is charged with providing both customers and Amex staff great experiences by way of technology. Prior to that, she led several other teams at Amex including digital marketing, brand management, and information management. Rojas works with Year Up, an organization that helps young adults by helping to close the opportunity gap.
Megan Smith, Former United States Chief Technology Officer
Megan Smith served as Chief Technology Officer under President Obama. Prior to that, she was a GM at Google. Ms. Smith also sits on the boards at MIT and Vital Voices. She is a co-founder of the Malala Fund. She works to promote diversity in the tech industry through the Tech Jobs Tour. Smith is a big supporter of STEM initiatives and asserts that people with in-demand tech skills should be encouraged to use them in service to the public.
Sara Sperling, Co-Founder, Oxegen Consulting
Sara Sperling helped to found Oxegen Consulting, a coaching and training company, that serves companies in the Silicon Valley. The company’s role is to help their clients with team building and leadership development. Before launching Oxegen, Sperling was the mind behind Facebook’s diversity and inclusion efforts. She also led their new employee onboarding process. Sperling has also worked closely with other tech firms, including SnapChat. She also works with brands to create and improve programs that relate to company culture, onboarding, immigration, employee relations, onboarding, and more.
The women on this list aren’t just doing amazing things with their careers. They are using their power, passion, and intelligence to support others and create positive change.