Women in Tech: 6 Technology Evolutions to Thank Them For
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re showcasing female leaders who have persevered to overcome obstacles, forge their own paths and create a world where it’s possible for others like them do the same. Technology trends today have been influenced by women in every facet of the industry.
Currently, women take up less than 1 in 4 technical roles and are even more underrepresented in engineering (14%) and computer (25%) fields. However, during the next decade of game-changing technological advancements, more women will lead the way than ever before. There is a 66% increase in ROI at Fortune 500 companies where at least three women are in leading positions, and companies are noticing the success in diversity. Here are just a few female innovators, past and present, who we can thank for their noticeable leadership, impact and transformation in the world of tech.
Making Machine Learning Inclusive
Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League and bona fide “poet of code”, works to make technology inclusive and accessible to all. Joy’s initiative began when she realized a facial-recognition system did not account for a wide range of skin tones based on the way the algorithm was coded. Recognizing a bias in machine learning, she launched the Algorithmic Justice League, whose mission is to raise public awareness about the impacts of AI. Joy is a voice for diversity in machine learning and has since been recognized on Forbes Magazine’s list of 40 Under 40. [Joy’s TED talk: How I'm fighting bias in algorithms]
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Engineering the Moon Landing
Margaret Hamilton, known for bringing the term “software engineering” mainstream, created the software responsible for landing Apollo 11 on the moon in 1969. With a love for mathematics from an early age, Margaret pursued an education in abstract math with the goal of joining the U.S. space program. With perseverance and drive, Margaret was soon appointed to run her own team at MIT tasked with writing the on-board flight software for Apollo 11, which identified and recovered mission-critical errors. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, honoring her work for “The American Spirit of Discovery”.
Enhancing the Speed to Find Cures
Noor Shaker is the co-founder and CEO of GTN LTD. Her company tackles an issue that has become a top priority in our current climate: creating new medicines as fast as possible. Noor developed a technology combining machine learning and quantum physics to test the functionality of different chemical compounds through data algorithms. The capabilities of these algorithms go as far as being able to extract new molecules identified by the data that can behave similarly to current drugs. Noor has been recognized as a top innovator in her field and is a regular on the machine learning speaker circuit.
Making Lives Better with Artificial Intelligence
Fei-Fei Li is co-director of Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. The group aims to understand how we can further expand and leverage AI to help people and make lives better. Fei-Fei’s curiosity on the subject started at an early age and grew into questions around biological and human intelligence. Specifically, her work touches on the importance of diversity in machine learning and encourages more women to pursue STEM subjects early on. Her fundamental belief is that diversity in algorithmic creation will inevitably lead to more inclusive technologies.
Paving the Way for Diversity in Tech
Megan Smith is the first female to be appointed as Chief Technology Officer for the White House. Prior to this role, Smith served as a Vice President at Google. After groundbreaking careers at both organizations, she now spends her days paving the way for more diversity in technology through the Tech Jobs Tour, hosting career-focused education and workshops in all 50 states. Stops on the tour include areas of the country where inclusivity in technology is lacking, but where resources are available to expedite diverse hiring and enact change within the industry.
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Creating the Internet
During Radia Perlman’s Sophomore year at MIT, she was asked to be involved in a teaching assistant’s programming project. She didn’t know how to program at the time, but agreed, knowing the experience would help her learn a skill she was always interested in developing. Fast forward years later, where Radia has played a fundamental role in contributing to the underlying structure of the Internet. As an early leader in the field of computer science, Radia is best known for developing the algorithm for Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), a fundamental component of the Internet as we know it today.
Aside from these inspiring female leaders, women in tech are continuing to innovate, even while being paid 83% on average what men are. Creating a culture of appreciation and recognition, including an inclusive and diverse workplace for all genders, will help women in STEM continue to grow their numbers-and combat the tech talent shortage employers are facing.
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