Women in tech & what inspires their work
There are an infinite number of reasons for people choosing to work in the jobs and industries that they do. We’ve put together a list of women who work in the technical industry to explain what inspires & motivates them in their careers. Their answers may surprise you!
Solving a problem:
Danae Ringelmann , Co-Founder – Indiegogo
Career background: Worked in Finance in connection with independent artists who were looking for investors to fund their ideas. Realising there was real struggle for these people Ringelmann decided to return to education in order to find a solution.
Job description: Co-Founder of a crowdfunding site that makes fundraising tools available to artists & entrepreneurs from all sectors.
Inspiration: Noticing a problem and finding a solution, Ringelmann now loves what she does, pointing out that doing good and making money don’t have to be opposing goals. “Everybody wants to make the world better”. (www.elle.com – Meet Elle’s Women In Tech)
Grace Woo, Founder – Pixels.IO
Career background: Woo is an engineering graduate from MIT.
Job description: Founder of Pixels.IO, Woo is a tech entrepreneur who developed a technology called a video response code. This technology can be embedded into any digital surface & turns a screen into an online interactive interface, allowing an exchange of information merely by pointing two screens at each other, and can be done even when offline.
Inspiration: Noticing that QR codes are not particularly useful due to the requirement of so many steps Woo decided to resolve this problem and develop the technology.
Prioritising the consumer/customer:
Genevieve Bell, Vice President of User Experience Research – Intel Labs
Career background: An anthropologist at Stanford for 10 years
Job description: Bell leads 100 researchers who study how real people use technology & try to predict what they want next. Recognising that there is a need for senior decision makers to connect with people who use the products they are involved in working with, Bell fills that role, she’s an important conduit.
Inspiration: Bell acknowledges that the real power lies with consumers, she makes it her job to explain to the technologists what it is that buyers want.
Alison Pincus & Susan Feldman, Co-Founders of One Kings Lane
Career background: Feldman has had years of experience in apparel sales. Alison Pincus is a digital- marketing whiz.
Job description: Having hit it off instantly they decided to create the curated flash-sales site One Kings Lane, now synonymous with home décor & focusing on home goods & Pinterest-like curated collections.
Inspiration: Pincus places her focus on the consumer, and sometimes even conducts market research at the hairdressers “It’s super important that you’re always talking to your shoppers”. (www.elle.com – Meet Elle’s Women In Tech)
Caring about people:
Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer – CISCO
Career background: Starting off working at Motorola simply because she was waiting around for a friend at a career fair & decided to fill in a form & apply for a job. Warrior then climbed the ranks at Motorola to CTO then moved across to CISCO in 2008.
Job description: Warrior’s job is to identify companies the tech giant should acquire and technologies it should invest in—she’s the reason Cisco was at the forefront of cloud computing.
Inspiration: Warrior explains that she’s not just purely analytical and that it’s because she cares about people that she’s better equipped to handle her role as someone who identifies companies that CISCO should acquire and invest in.
Danika Laszuk, Vice President of Marketing – Jawbone
Career background: Laszuk worked on the original marketing campaigns for iPhone.
Job description: In 2011 she left Apple to become the vice president of marketing at Jawbone, which makes smart gadgets.
Inspiration: Laszuk is currently focusing work on the UP24 wristband to help people reach big goals by making little changes.
Jessica Livingston, Co-Founder & Partner – Y Combinator
Career background: Having studied English at University Livingston decided to take the plunge into starting a tech company based on the realisation that funding people as a group is really powerful.
Job description: Co-Founder & Partner of a company that provides seed money to start-ups and helps whip them into shape. It has helped more than 600 start-ups get off the ground, among them Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit.
Inspiration: “Power is about the ability to have an effect on people in the future”. (www.elle.com – Meet Elle’s Women In Tech)
Helping women in tech:
Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer – SpaceX
Career background: Having studied maths and engineering at university, Shotwell gained employment at the rocket making start-up Chrysler and the Aerospace Corporation. Her job, as the Chief of Sales, was to be in charge of keeping SpaceX funded. Six years later she was promoted to President of the company.
Job description: Gwynne spends her days shaping the future of space flight.
Inspiration: Shotwell has been vocal in urging girls to study science and technology, “I’m working on taking the scariness out of being a technologist.” (www.elle.com – Meet Elle’s Women In Tech)
Sarah Friar, Chief Financial Officer and Operations Lead, Square
Career background: Born & raised in Northern Ireland, Sarah chose to study engineering at Oxford during which time she also interned at a gold mine in Ghana. From the hands-dirty environment of the mine, Friar made her way back over to the UK to McKinsey & Co, then later on as an analyst to Goldman Sachs.
Job description: Sarah Friar is revamping the way we do business by enabling smartphones to be used as credit-card readers.
Inspiration: Finding a huge advantage of being a woman outnumbered by men in her industry, Sarah realises that the female voice will stand out. “In a room of 10 men and me, people tend to remember, ‘That was Sarah’s voice.’ ” (www.elle.com – Meet Elle’s Women In Tech)
Excitement of entrepreneurship:
Kara Swisher, Co-Executive Editor – Re/Code
Career background: Swisher was born in Philadelphia then moved & grew up in New York. It was during the mid-1990s whilst working as a business reporter for the Washington Post she realised the future would be digital and thus, together with fellow journalist Walt Mossberg, created All Things D, a popular tech conference and blog.
Job description: Swisher & Mossberg launched Re/code, a tech-news site, with funding from NBCUniversal. It’s already a must-read for tech insiders and interested outsiders.
Inspiration: “If you have an entrepreneuring nature and you’re around entrepreneuring people, you start to feel like that”. (www.elle.com – Meet Elle’s Women In Tech)
Caterina Fake, Founder & CEO – Findery; Co-Founder – Flickr and Hunch
Career background: It was 1994, Caterina was an unemployed painter about to embark on a trek across the Himalayas, when instead the trip was delayed and she had to get a job. A neighbour taught her basic coding skills, enough for her to get work in a web design company. She then went on to cofound Flickr and the social search engine Hunch.
Job description: Fake is chairman of the board of Etsy and at work on a start-up called Findery, which lets users leave each other digital notes tagged to specific analogue locations.
Inspiration: “I had an indirect route into the tech industry, which is common among women,….You kind of know when you’ve built something awesome” (www.elle.com – Meet Elle’s Women In Tech)