Three Female Leaders Changing the US Tech Industry
As part of our Women in Tech campaign, we’d like to highlight the female leaders in the industry who are changing the game and also the world. You will find three mentions coming from our US office in this article, but feel free to head over to our UK, Australian and Swedish editions to read more stories about women making waves across the global tech industry!
When you hear about SpaceX, its founder Elon Musk might immediately spring to mind for most of us. However, SpaceX is also under the lead of Gwynne Shotwell, the President and COO. In fact, in 2021, Gwynne was selected by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 40 most powerful women in the world.
With a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, Gwynne began her career at The Aerospace Corporation in space systems engineering and project management. Her experience here, as well as being director of the space systems division at Microcosm Inc, all led to her becoming the President and COO of SpaceX. Gwynne is not only in charge of SpaceX’s day-to-day operations, but also governs the strategic relations and customer management to add fuel to company growth.
“I think it’s really important to try to do the thing that you think you want to do, to make sure you do want to do it. In addition, it motivates you to take the classes that help you to be better.” – giving advice to young people about careers in space with SSPI, 2018.
Having worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA, Gwynne’s achievements also include a landmark study on commercial space transportation and an analysis of space policy. To add to this, she also has a seat on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council in regards to space security. Gwynne continues to be a role model for space-fanatics everywhere, but especially girls. Her continued success goes to show the growing space for women and girls to aim for highly respected leadership roles.
Aicha Evans is the CEO and Director of Zoox, Amazon’s subsidiary that develops self-driving vehicles to provide Mobility-as-a-Service operations. Before this, she worked at Intel as the Chief Strategy Officer, but worked her way up over 12 years, through positions such as: Corporate VP, General Manager of Communication & Devices, Head of Mobile Chip Business and General Manager of Platform Engineering Group.
“I truly truly believe that the next generation of scientists and technologists in Silicon Valley, in Paris, in Senegal West Africa and all over the world, will be exposed to computer vision applied broadly.” – TED Talk, 2022
Joining Zoox, Aicha became the first ever CEO-level Senegalese-American female at an autonomous vehicle technology company. She stood firm on patent coverage in the mobility space and led the company to the acquisition by Amazon after catching the conglomerate’s eyes. Although Zoox has been acquired by Amazon, Aicha maintains her leadership at the company, managing the business independently.
Outside of her work, Evans serves as a trustee for the AnitaB.org – a global nonprofit organisation that was founded in 1997 by computer scientists Anita Borg and Telle Whitney. Its mission is to increase the impact of women on all aspects of technology, encouraging and platforming the voices of those who have struggled to be taken seriously in their industry.
Whitney Wolfe Herd
Named two years in a row as one of the Forbes 30 Under 30, Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder and CEO of Bumble, a dating platform where users look for potential dates and friends. Whitney successfully took her company public at the age of 31, setting the new record as the youngest woman to ever accomplish this.
Many would compare Bumble with its competitor Tinder. In fact, Whitney is a co-founder of Tinder, but resigned in April 2014 due to growing tensions with other company executives. Later that year, she created Bumble. Bumble’s ‘we’re not playing the field, we’re levelling it’ campaigns made a triumphant launch, attracting 100,000 downloads in the first month. The app saw 80 million matches after only a year. The company’s huge success and IPO pushed Whitney to the world’s youngest-ever self-made female billionaire.
“I think if we would start prioritising women, even if it’s at the workplace or in the investment arm, it’s just amazing what women businesses can do for the world. And we’re seeing that right now.” – speaking to Goldman Sachs, 2021
Since its beginning, Bumble has suffered from several misogynistic online attacks. However, Whitney remains unintimidated and calls for a community where users can enjoy a kind and hate-free environment. Whitney envisions Bumble becoming the place in which equal and healthy connections can be made, whether it be in business, friendships or romance. All of this actually led to the creation of Bumble BFF in 2016. This continued approach of centering women within her technology shows just how dedicated Wolfe Herd is in the ongoing process of making technology a safer, more comfortable place for women and girls.
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