From Coding To Rocket Science; These Women Are Blazing The Trail For Women In Tech
Women are increasingly coming to the fore in tech with their growing clout and far-reaching global presence. From every corner of the world, they are increasingly flexing their entrepreneur muscles like never before. These women tech leaders continue to be the face of success in a tech culture that has gained a notorious reputation for being unwelcoming and biased against women.
With that in mind, here are the top most influential women who are changing face of technology and blazing the trail for future generations of women.
Kathryn Parsons, Co-founder of Decoded, UK
Karthyn Parsons is living proof that even without a technical degree in computer science you can still be a leader in the tech industry. With a BA in Classics from Downing College in Cambridge, UK, Parson’s translates her avaricious appetite for languages, literature and linguistics toward becoming an expert in the coding world. To her, code is just another language, one used by billions.
She has since made a name for herself in the world of technology as the co-founder and CEO of the tech startup, Decoded. Out to demystify the tech world, the company’s signature course aims to teach students without any background in computers all the basics of coding in just a single day and has since expanded to include the day courses on data, innovation, cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence. The big tech juggernauts Google, Ebay and Microsoft are among its massive client base sending scores of employees to take their courses.
Her expertise and accomplishments have hardly gone unnoticed, having been appointed Chairwoman of the UK Government Institute of Coding and receiving an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2016. Furthermore this year, Parsons also joined the London Mayor’s Business Advisory Board, the UK Government Cyber Security Skills Advisory Board as well as the non-executive board of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX, U.S
If there’s anyone that is going to take you to Mars, it’s most likely going to be Gwynne Shotwell. The president and COO of the relaunchable rocket manufacturing company revolutionising space technology, SpaceX, is leading the team on to its next destination: Mars. Its Falcon Heavy rocket will have its first unmanned launch in late 2017, with plans to send a crew to the International Space Station with the Falcon 9 rocket in 2018. Thereafter, SpaceX will focus on launching its Big Falcon Rocket, a massive vehicle—part rocket, part shuttle with capacity for 100 persons—meant to transport citizens and supplies to create a sustainable colony of 1 million people on Mars.
Her pivotal role in the company’s success is attested to by Musk himself, "SpaceX is lucky to have Gwynne and I am honored to work with her," he says. "Our company would not be where it is today without her outstanding contribution over 15 years."
With Shotwell manning the SpaceX ship, travel to another planet might just become a reality in this lifetime.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook, US
The first and only woman to ever serve on the board of Facebook has been a massive reason for the company’s success today. Sandberg whom previously held senior positions at Google, the US Treasury and the World Bank, helped lead an astounding rebound after Facebook its paltry results in their 2012 IPO. Sandberg and her team rallied, leading a $1.3 billion turnaround that triggered a 19 percent jump in Facebook’s stock — adding $12 billion in value overnight after its most recent earnings call.
In her recent book, Lean In, she extols the importance of women taking a stronger and more confident stance at the workplace. According to Sandberg, women often lack confidence, don't speak up enough compared to their male counterparts at work and hardly demand that their partners do their fair share. "[Women] are pulling back when they ought to be leaning in."
As a strong feminist and champion for women in tech, Sandberg advocates is that "we can reignite the revolution by internalising the revolution".
Over the years, she has consecutively been featured in Fortune Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women In Business, climbing up the ranks to reach the 6th place in 2016.
Zhou Qunfei, Chair, Lens Technology, Hong Kong
In March, the former factory worker turned founder of Lens Technology, a manufacturer of glass screens for Apple and Samsung phones, Zhou Qunfei, topped the Forbes’ list of richest self-made women. Zhou Qunfei’s admirable perseverance and grit is a truly inspiring story for any woman to break away from the traditional gender norms. Growing up in a small village in central China and having her mother die when she was five, she didn’t have the luxury of attending secondary school and was left with the only option of getting married as a teenager and spending her whole life in the village.
Fearlessly going against the grain, “I chose to go into business and make a living on my own and I never regretted it” says Zhou. Later on, after three years of working at a factory making watch lenses for about $1 a day, she ventured out once again on her own with a meagre $3,000 in her pocket to start a workshop making watch lenses for customers before making the switch to making glass screens for mobile phones that skyrocketed her to success today.
Pocket Sun, SoGal Ventures, Singapore
If there ever was a role model for young women aspiring to enter the male dominated startup industry, it's Pocket Sun. Debunking the notion that age and inexperience is a prohibitive factor in success, at 25, she became the founding partner of the first female-led millennial venture capital firm, SoGal Ventures, and rose to become the only woman featured on the cover of Forbes Asia magazine. The venture capital firm helps female entrepreneurs link up with investors and gain a foothold in the highly-competitive tech industry.