During the mid-20th century, women began to make their presence known in the software and technology space. While the tech world tends to have an emphasis on male leadership and navigation, we want to highlight key female figures who pioneered the space for other women to follow in their footsteps. At 24 Seven, we take pride in the strong female leaders within our organization and want to continue to highlight female trailblazers in the industries we serve. We’ve curated a list of notable female figures that helped ensure women had a place in the STEM space.
Mary Lou Jepsen
Consumer technology, CEO and founder of Openwater
As a child, Mary Lou Jepsen had a keen interest in the world of Star Wars and the emphasis it had within science fiction, leading her to pursue a career in the technology space. Focusing on this passion, Mary went on to lead engineering teams at IBM, Google, and Facebook while creating the notable non-profit organization, One Laptop Per Child.
Later in her career, Mary Lou founded the Openwater startup, which focused on providing portable, noninvasive imaging devices at an affordable price after a personal battle with an aggressive brain tumor. While she predicted that the imagining device would cause a grand disruption in the MRI industry, it would ultimately bring lifesaving technology to communities around the globe. Interested in learning more? Watch Jepsen’s Ted Talk, “How We Can Use Light to See Inside the Bodies and Brains” for more information.
Innovator in AI with a focus on facial recognition software and its biases
Joy Buolamwini is a gifted Computer Scientist and Activist at the MIT Media Lab, and an expert in the field of artificial intelligence. As a Black female leader in the AI space, Joy founded the Algorithmic Justice League, whose main priority is to eliminate bias in AI, particularly within the facial recognition software. Through the Algorithmic Justice League, Joy has partnered with companies around the world with the mission to make facial recognition more accurate and ethical in the process.
Buolamwini dedicated a great deal of time as a graduate student to enhancing facial recognition software to eliminate bias and work more accurately and efficiently to recognize faces of color, not just light-skinned male classmates. She discovered that when machines are fed images of primarily white male faces during development, they will lack the ability to differentiate faces with darker skin tones and hues. This discovery, which is spoken about at length in Buolamwini’s New York Times op-ed piece, “When the Robot Doesn’t See Dark Skin”, spurred lawmakers to investigate potential risks when adopting this software into their own practice.
Director of Engineering, Google, Advocate
Sarah Clatterbuck is the Director of Engineering at Google and a leader in the inclusive software space. As a female principal in the field of Technology, she ensures that her platform is used to not only help people but to advocate and build products for individuals with both physical and cognitive challenges.
In her role at Google, Sarah paved the way for advancements in Alternative Monetization, with the primary goal to make creating content on YouTube a rewarding and sustainable business opportunity for those involved. Additionally, she serves as an active board member for the Girl Scouts of Northern California with an emphasis on strategic STEM initiatives to involve and promote participation for young girls in the computer science space.
President, Harvey Mudd College, Warrior for women in technology
Maria Klawe is a renowned computer scientist and scholar, and the first female President of the Harvey Mudd College. She is extremely well known for making diversity her top priority upon joining the Harvey Mudd College, which saw an uptick of nearly 50% for the enrollment of women in Computer Science, Physics, and Engineering programs. While creating diversity in the student body, Klawe has also ensured that women also have a seat at the table across all academic boards, filling six out of seven seats with female leaders.
While remaining heavily involved in the field of academia, she continues to present up to date research on topics including computer science, human computer interaction, and gender information technology. As a champion in the diversity space, Klawe stated, “if you make sure that all of your students feel engaged and supported then it’s really not hard to attract underrepresented groups and it’s not hard to retain them either”, a strong message that resonates widely in today’s social climate.
As a female-founded and led organization, 24 Seven is dedicated to supporting, empowering, and motivating like-minded women throughout their careers. Through our Leading Ladies content series, we aim to provide those in our community with strong examples of female leadership and empowerment to help charge the next generation of job seekers and leaders alike. Looking for your next Tech role? Search open roles here!