As of 2019, the tech industry remains predominantly male-dominated. However, there are highly qualified women poised to take on leadership roles in technology. These women are a global force, and their contributions to the tech field promise to create lasting, positive impacts. Here’s a glimpse of four remarkable women in tech to keep an eye on this year:
Manal al-Sharif gained prominence in 2011 when she courageously shared a video of herself driving, even though it was not technically illegal for women to do so in Saudi Arabia. Her act of defiance led to her spending nine days in jail but, more importantly, inspired a movement that ultimately granted Saudi women the right to drive. She has also become a prominent figure in the Women’s Rights movement in the Middle East. Manal al-Sharif’s tech journey began when she was the only woman working as an IT security specialist at Saudi Aramco, a state-owned oil producer. Recently, she founded the Women2Hack Academy, a mentorship program based in Australia, dedicated to nurturing future female leaders in cybersecurity.
Kimberly Bryant is the visionary behind Black Girls Code, a program designed to provide girls of color with opportunities to learn technology and computer programming. Initially established in San Francisco, the program has since expanded across the United States and into South Africa. Bryant, an electrical engineer and Tennessee native, earned her degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University and has worked for major biotech firms like Merck and Novartis. Her dedication to empowering young girls in technology led to honors such as being named a “Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion” at the White House in 2013 and receiving the Smithsonian Magazine’s American Ingenuity Award for Social Progress in 2014.
Yasmine Mustafa, a social entrepreneur, is the co-founder and CEO of ROAR for Good. She moved to the United States from Kuwait as a refugee during the Persian Gulf War when she was eight years old. In 2009, she founded her first company, 123Linkit, a Philadelphia-based blog advertising agency. Her biggest challenge was working in the tech industry without a tech background. In response, she launched the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It, an organization offering affordable web development classes for women. Mustafa also serves on the board of Coded by Kids, a nonprofit providing free tech education to inner-city children. Her company, ROAR for Good, is a certified B-corporation focused on reducing assaults against women through smart safety wearables and empathy education. She co-created the “Athena” device, a small wearable gadget designed to summon help with the press of a button.
Michelle Zatlyn co-founded Cloudflare, a web performance and security company that started in 2009 and is currently valued at around $3.5 billion, employing over 700 people. The company’s mission is to “help build a better Internet.” Cloudflare’s initial function was to locate the source of spam emails, but it has since evolved to protect websites from cyberattacks and optimize performance. In an interview with Marie Claire, Zatlyn advised aspiring female entrepreneurs to focus on solving significant problems and building a company that attracts top talent. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from McGill University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
These women, challenging gender disparities in the tech industry, inspire admiration for their innovation, resilience, compassion, and intelligence. As trailblazers, they pave the way for future generations of young women to boldly enter the tech sector, contribute to startups, and drive technological advancements.