Women have been part of the technology industry since the 1800s when Ada Lovelace wrote the first computing algorithms. A lot has happened since then, with technologies evolving much quicker and with far greater reach. This trend has launched a platform for creativity and start-up opportunities that have created many multi-million dollar businesses and has a direct impact on people around the world.
Facebook, Eventbrite and Bumble are some of the many companies whose success has been attributed to female leaders, who have not only been an inspiration to the business, but have gone the extra mile by being strong supporters of gender equality.
Whitney Wolfe – Co-Founder of Tinder, CEO of Bumble
Image copyright – Nan Palmero
Have a dream, chase it down, jump over every single hurdle, and run through fire and ice to get there.
Whitney Wolfe was studying International Business at university when she developed her first entrepreneurial idea at age 19 – a non-profit organisation called “Help Us Project”, selling bamboo tote bags to benefit areas affected by the BP oil spill.
Wolfe was one of the original co-founders of Tinder, the dating app currently valuated at $3bn. After leaving Tinder in 2014, she created a dating app which better empowered women. Bumble has been a success due to its unique approach to matches where conversations can only be started by women, enabling them to make the first move and giving them more control on who they interact with. Bumble has been valued by Forbes at $1bn and Wolfe has been named by Business Insider as one of the Most Important Women Under 30 in Tech and has featured on the covers of Forbes, Fast Company and Wired UK. Last year, she was also listed in the TIME 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Bumble has recently expanded into other markets through the launch of a professional network called BumbleBizz and an app to find friends called BumbleBFF.
Julia Hartz – Co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite
Julia Hartz is an entrepreneur and investor who started her career as a development executive at MTV. In 2006, Hartz co-founded Eventbrite with two associates. Eventbrite is the now world’s largest event technology platform, a multi-million dollar business of global ticketing technology which allows event organizers to promote events and sell tickets online. The company has now more than 700 employees across 12 countries.
Hartz is one of the most recognised female leaders in technology, known for empowering women in the industry. She has been listed by Fortune Magazine as one of the 40 under 40 Business Leaders and as one of the Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. With her outstanding leadership, Hartz has created an award-winning business, with a great company culture and workplace performance results. Eventbrite is in Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces in the U.S. and Glassdoor’s Employee Choice Best Places to Work. She is also part of the board of directors at the Four Seasons Hotel and part of the Board of overseers at the University of California.
Megan Smith – CEO and Founder of shift7
Image copyright – Jo Ito
I love to use technology to help people have better lives and to reduce our impact on the planet.
Megan Smith graduated in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She worked in a variety of companies including Apple in Tokyo and General Magic where she was product design lead in smartphone technologies.
Smith worked in Google for over ten years, becoming Google’s vice-president and leading business development. During her time there, she started Google’s “Women Techmakers” diversity initiative which supports women in technology. In 2013 she left to become Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the President at the White House under Barack Obama’s administration, becoming the first female in that role. After leaving that position, she helped launch the Tech Jobs Tour, which promotes diversity in the technological sector.
Smith co-founded the Malala fund and serves on the Boards of MIT and Vital Voices. In 2018, she founded shift7, a tech-forward collaboration that applies sustainable models for investing resources, talent, tech and capital, especially across under-resourced spaces whilst ensuring inclusion and diversity.
Ruzwana Bashir – Co-founder and CEO of Peek.com
Ruzwana Bashir graduated from Oxford University and then completed an MBA at the Harvard Business School. In 2012, she founded Peek.com, a website where both travellers and locals can book activities in famous destinations. Peek.com has been named one of the World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Travel by Fast Company and 50 Top Websites by TIME Magazine. She has been listed in Forbes 30 under 30 in Technology and in Fast Company’s Most Creative People. Forbes magazine has named her one of the Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs, as well as one of the Most Powerful Women alongside Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer.
Bashir is known for speaking up against sexual abuse – an experience she went through when she was younger and which she disclosed in an article in The Guardian in 2014. Bashir encourages communities to give victims the support they need to come forward and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook
Image copyright – Jolanda Flubacher
I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.
The graduate from Harvard Business School, and once Chief of Staff to the Treasury Secretary in Bill Clinton’s government, featured on Forbes’ list of the Most Powerful Women on the Planet and is one of the Most Influential People in the World according to Time magazine.
Worth over $1.6bn, Sandberg used to be the vice-president of global online sales and operations in Google.org and has been the COO of Facebook since 2008, overseeing operations that went from a $56m loss to $40bn in revenue. Sheryl’s strategy was to position Facebook as a platform for small businesses advertising, which helped increased the revenue by 57%.
Sandberg is the author of the bestseller Lean in, directed to professional women to help them with self-belief and achieve their career goals and to men who want to contribute to a more equitable society. Sheryl is also an activist, part of the board of Women for Women International, the Center for Global Development and V-Day.