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3 Women Making a Big Difference in Tech for Future Generations


Studies show that women in tech are vastly underrepresented, but that’s not stopping these three tech-savvy ladies from making a huge difference for future generations of techies. See how these women are using their know-how to pave a new path for a brighter and more balanced future in technology.

women in tech

(Image Credit: Chris Monk/Flickr)

1. Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America, which is “like a Peace Corps for geeks,” as she claims in her TED Talk. What does that mean, exactly? Code for America connects tech-savvy citizens (who can write apps) with their city governments to help facilitate growth and encourage community through technology.

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For example, one of the program’s teams in Boston noticed that sidewalks were being shoveled and cleared of snow, but the fire hydrants right next to these sidewalks were being left buried in snow. So, one member of the team in Boston decided to write an app where if you adopt a fire hydrant, and shovel it out when it snows, you get to name it. The idea caught on and an employee in the IT department at the City of Hawaii decided to adapt this idea for tsunami sirens, because apparently people steal batteries out of these things.

As Pahlka sums it up in her TED Talk, “We can’t do without government, but we do need it to be more effective. The good news is that technology is making it possible to fundamentally reframe the function of government in a way that can actually scale by strengthening civil society.”

2. Kathryn Finney is one to be reckoned with. She graduated with honors from Yale University and Rutgers University, and she’s the founder and Managing Director of digitalundivided (DID), “a social enterprise that develops programs that increase the active participation of urban communities, especially women, in the digital space,” according to her bio. On top of all that, Finney runs a 16-week entrepreneurship program, FOCUS Fellow, for African-American women who are founders/co-founders of tech companies; she’s served as the Editor-at-Large at BlogHer; she’s a keynote speaker at conferences like SXSW, and is currently the CEO of TBF Group, LLC, “parent company of the highly influential The Budget Fashionista Brand, which reached a global audience of 13 million+ unique visitors a year,” according to Finney’s site. Suffice it to say, Kathryn Finney is rocking it in the tech world, and she’s doing it for women of all colors, too.

Finney’s journey to “close the gap” for women in tech, especially women of color, started unexpectedly while she was approached by a venture-capitalist who admitted that “he didn’t understand black women, so he wasn’t interested in what [she] was doing,” according to Women 2.0. Instead of this incident angering Finney, it got her thinking, “Is the industry losing the next Mark Zuckerberg just because the person isn’t white and male?” This is how digitalundivided (DID) was created.

3. Jen Myers is the founder of Code and Cupcakes, which is an amazing program that teaches mother-daughter teams the basics of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS … and they serve cupcakes, y’all! Myers is not only cultivating a breed of much-needed female coders, she’s rewarding them with treats, too. Genius!

Myers also opened an Ohio-based chapter called Girl Develop It, which is a “nonprofit organization that exists to provide affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn web and software development through mentorship and hands-on instruction,” according to the organization’s site. Myers practices what she preaches to her 9-year-old daughter who’s been learning to code for two years now. If you’re in the Chicago area and would like to attend a Code and Cupcake workshops, register here. Girl Develop It (GDI) spans a wider geographical area, so check for GDI classes in your area, here.

Women like Pahlka, Myer, and Finney are paving the way for future generations to be the change we all want to see in this world.

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What other noteworthy women in tech do you think should be added to the list? Share your thoughts with our community on Twitter.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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