International Women's Day is a time to celebrate the achievements of women who motivate and inspire you, whether that's your mom, best friend, or a public figure. In tech,
an industry grappling with a lack of gender diversity, women play an increasingly important role for other women: They serve as role models to girls who are just beginning their STEM education, mentors to up-and-coming female employees, and, for those in the upper ranks, sounding boards to their peers.
Ahead, we asked 20 top women in tech to name a woman whom they admire and want to shout out today. Click through to see who Melinda Gates, Bozoma Saint John, Tracy Chou, Katrina Lake, and more have chosen.
It's important to note that every woman included had trouble picking just
one person to highlight. With so many phenomenal women working in tech, this was no easy task, and there are plenty more names that are worth honoring today and every day.
In honor of International Women’s Day, Refinery29 is asking women to pay-it-forward by endorsing a female colleague or expert in their field. Head
here to discover inspiring women across all of the categories R29 covers.
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair & Trustee,
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation SHOUTING OUT: Stacy Brown-Philpot
"When I was a teenager, this would have been an easy question. I really only knew one woman in tech: an engineer who worked with my dad. She will always have my gratitude for showing me that careers in tech were open to people like me.
"Today, I’m thankful that this question is a lot harder to answer. But one woman I think deserves special recognition is
, the CEO of TaskRabbit. She’s a champion for women in tech. In the wake of #MeToo, she’s challenging men to be part of the solution. And she’s a role model for women and girls who imagine themselves as future leaders in the industry.
"I admire Stacy’s conviction that technology should be used to help us live better, more meaningful lives. Stacy grew up in a single-parent household with a mother who sacrificed her own dreams of going back to school to balance the competing demands of work and family. So, with women like her mom in mind, Stacy is scaling an app designed to help users not only add more hours to their days but new dimensions to their lives. Her vision for tech is empowering — and one we need a lot more of in Silicon Valley."
Younghee Lee, Chief Marketing Officer,
; Head of Global Marketing, Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business
SHOUTING OUT: Sheryl Sandberg
, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
“Powerful. Strong. Resilient. To me,
embodies these words. And this is the reason why I respect Sheryl — she is working hard to shift the gender paradigm.
"I admire the way Sheryl boldly encourages women to 'lean in.' It is much more than a book title — it truly is a rallying cry, a movement. As a woman, wife, and mother, her message empowers me, and is one that must resonate with all of us. In order for gender equality to become actualized, we all must recognize the current challenges and become part of the solution.
"That’s where my role as an executive at Samsung comes into play. Being female sets me apart from other senior executives at the company. Since I joined in 2007, we’ve seen an increased amount of female executives. I certainly can’t take all the credit, but I will keep pushing to help find more roles for women and give them a voice. Our industry still has a way to go, but I am hopeful. I stand with Sheryl, and thank her for inspiring me and countless women — and men — around the world.”
THE TECHIE: Bozoma Saint John
, Chief Brand Officer,
Uber SHOUTING OUT: Whitney Wolfe Herd
, Founder & CEO,
"I love the fact that
Whitney Wolfe Herd
created a product that puts women squarely in the decision-making seat. Traditionally, when it comes to dating men, women have been conditioned to 'wait to be asked.' This leads to 'waiting to be asked' for promotions, salary increases and a whole host of other connected behaviors. I believe breaking that taboo in dating will lead to the breakdown of the 'waiting' concept in many other aspects of women’s lives, too!"
Lilian Rincon, Product Management Director,
Google Assistant SHOUTING OUT: Lili Cheng
, Corporate Vice President & Distinguished Engineer, Microsoft
in 2007, about two years into my career at Microsoft. She was a General Manager for Research at the time, and immediately struck me as incredibly intelligent, very accomplished, and also quirky. She marched to the beat of her own drum.
"Lili has the most positive, charismatic energy, which made me a fan from the first day I met her. Lili is now Vice President of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research division, responsible for the AI developer platform. As my mentor and friend, she's taught me how to use humor and positivity to get things done at work. Lili advises me on how to navigate situations where I might be the only woman in the room and has helped me be assertive when I need to be while remaining true to my values and personality. Finally, Lili taught me to trust my instincts, and I hope I inspire my peers to do the same."
Tracy Chou, Software Engineer & Founding Team Member,
Project Include SHOUTING OUT: Ellen Pao
, Founder & CEO,
"I'm sure you'll get lots of women recommending
. I'll join that squad to say that I really think she is phenomenal. She is of course highly competent and rational and thoughtful, but what makes her a really standout human being is her bravery, character, and passion in fighting for justice and positive change on top of all of that. My favorite thing about Ellen is how much she lifts other people up."
THE TECHIE: Nola Weinstein,
Global Head of Culture & Experiential, Twitter
SHOUTING OUT: Karla Ballard Williams
, Co-founder & CEO,
"I am grateful to know countless phenomenal female forces in tech, who I can point to and say
. One of my favorites is
Karla Ballard Williams
, the co-founder and CEO of
, a peer-to-peer transaction platform that enables people to share their time and talents with their friends, family, and neighborhoods. It's not just her professional pursuits that make her inspiring — Karla is dedicated to a variety of worthwhile causes aimed at promoting tolerance, equality, and community. She's the kind of woman that pulls up a chair and invites others to grab a seat. At her table, it's never too crowded."
Miriam Daniel, Head of Product Management for
SHOUTING OUT: Aicha Evans
, Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer,
"My favorite woman in tech is
, SVP at Intel, who leads from her heart. Her personal journey is one that portrays grit, tenacity, tough choices, and audacious goals but she manages to find time to laugh at herself and be human. As a technologist she has incubated innovative teams and changed the world of communications. As a woman leader she pushes herself to think bigger and never hesitates to take on a big challenge. As a role-model for other women in tech, she inspires each one of us to stand up, speak up, and chart our own individual journeys.
Dona Sarkar, Head of the
Windows Insider Program
SHOUTING OUT: Alice Steinglass
"My woman in tech role model is
, the president of
. Her vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra. Under her watch, Code.org has reached tens of millions of people (553,416,688 served; 49% female) in 180 countries.
"Alice is a hard-core engineer whose had an amazing career leading teams in XBox and HoloLens at Microsoft and is committed to making sure every kid has the opportunities she has had. What I love about Alice is that despite having a
busy and impressive job and three kids of her own, she is
too busy to get together with a friend. Every time we meet, she gives me incredible life and career advice and has been both my friend and role model for almost a decade. I can only hope to be like Alice one day."
THE TECHIE: Dayna Isom Johnson
, Trend Expert,
Etsy SHOUTING OUT: Kimberly Bryant
Black Girls Code
"Kimberly Bryant is an incredible inspiration to me. One of my greatest passions is mentorship, and her program,
Black Girls Code
, not only provides young Black girls with new opportunities within technology but also shines a light on successful Black women whom they can emulate and learn other life experiences from.
"Not being a coder myself, I’ve learned how to better work with my technology-minded colleagues because of these programs and have encouraged my nieces and members of my community to get involved. She is truly a phenomenal woman."
THE TECHIE: Yasmin Green
, Director of Research & Development,
Jigsaw SHOUTING OUT: Fei-Fei Li
Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab
Stanford Vision Lab
"If artificial intelligence is the great frontier of technology,
is our modern Magellan. As the head of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, Fei-Fei explores some of the most fascinating and important questions in science: How can we teach computers to see and think? How does the human brain really work?
"As if her credentials and achievements weren't enough, she carries her expertise with grace, humility, and a sense of humor. I remain in awe of her."
THE TECHIE: Sarah Tolman
, Data Science Manager,
Instagram SHOUTING OUT: Erica Lockheimer
, Head of Engineering, LinkedIn
is a woman in tech that I greatly admire. I had the pleasure of getting to know her when I worked at LinkedIn. Her strong engineering leadership and devotion to helping other women advance in their careers has always inspired me. Her welcoming and encouraging attitude has helped me gain confidence in my own career, especially as I work toward becoming a leader myself."
THE TECHIE: Linda Kozlowski
, Chief Operating Officer, Etsy
SHOUTING OUT: Julia Hartz
, Co-founder & CEO,
"I am lucky to call
a friend. What I admire most is her ability to balance an amazing amount of empathy while quickly making smart, thoughtful, and strategic decisions. As a woman in tech, she is a reliable supporter and a connector who makes a huge impact on her business and the industry because everything she does is done with great intention."
Kasey Krape, Business Development,
Tesla SHOUTING OUT: Jennifer Justice
, President of Corporate Development,
"One woman I admire in the tech space is
. As my dear friend and industry colleague, I admire Jennifer for a number of reasons — her ability to fearlessly create her own career path, bring out the best in others, and make meaningful connections amongst her friend squad and professional network, just to name a few.
"'JJ', as she likes to go by, used to be the executive vice president at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. She’s taken her music industry background and applied that knowledge to new arenas: music festivals and large scale event experiences. JJ has the capacity to always think bigger than what you see in front of you.
"JJ is an amazing leader who keeps up with trends and what’s happening in the marketplace. It’s her job to lead corporate development and interact with clients from across industries including tech. Although Superfly is based in New York, JJ has helped the company maintain a strong reputation and presence in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, and can effectively bring together people from tech and entertainment, which is not always easy to do."
Vivian Chu, Co-founder & CTO,
Diligent Robotics SHOUTING OUT: Dr. Katherine Kuchenbecker
, Director, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
"I've had the privilege of working with many amazing women (including my co-founder
Dr. Andrea Thomaz
), but I will forever remain grateful to
Dr. Katherine Kuchenbecker
, who was my advisor for my master's degree at the University of Pennsylvania.
"She taught me how to do world-class research and took a chance on me as a no-name graduate student, handing over a large DARPA-funded project. She introduced me to the field of robot sensing, which I apply in my daily work, and she has always been a great mentor, someone I go to when I have hard questions about life.
"Katherine paved the way for me to pursue my PhD in Robotics, and I will always think of her fondly for that. As they say, you never forget your first."
THE TECHIE: Joy Howard
, Chief Marketing Officer,
Sonos SHOUTING OUT: Kara Swisher
, Executive Editor, Recode
"When it comes to journalists in tech,
is the very best. Period. I heard her speak at CES, where we were both working to rectify the absence of women leaders in tech. I admire how she works, which she sums up as: 'Stab them in the front.'
"How much time and energy do we all waste trying to not be threatening or intimidating so that men won’t run scared? For her the answer is zero. Not only are the men and women she interviews better for it, we all are."
THE TECHIE: Sowmya Subramanian
, Engineering Director, YouTube
SHOUTING OUT: Maria Klawe
, President, Harvey Mudd College
"My favorite women in tech is
, the president of Harvey Mudd College, and the work she has done at Harvey Mudd to make computer science more accessible to all entering undergraduate students. By doing this, she has completely changed the ratio of men to women graduating with computer science degrees. The work she has done to decode why fewer women typically end up in computer science, and how she has bridged this, is inspiring, and something all of us in the tech industry should learn from."
THE TECHIE: Katrina Lake
, Founder & CEO, Stitch Fix
SHOUTING OUT: Emily Weiss
, Founder & CEO,
"I am a huge
fan girl, and she's a great inspiration and also a friend. At
, she's built a movement — not just a company — by really, truly investing and engaging with her community in a way that's refreshing, relevant, and an authentic extension of herself. She's an innovator, a creator, a brand builder, and she's relentlessly building and launching, all in service of the incredible community she's built."
THE TECHIE: Naomi Gleit
, Vice President of Social Good, Facebook
Priscilla Chan, Co-founder,
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
"I first met Priscilla Chan when I joined Facebook in 2005. Even then, it was clear to everyone around her that she was a force for good in the world. At that time, Priscilla was preparing to go into teaching — one big step in her life-long dedication to helping children.
"After working as an elementary school teacher, Priscilla went on to medical school to become a pediatrician and serve families most in need at San Francisco's safety-net hospital. She later opened The Primary School, a community partnership school dedicated to improving health and educational outcomes for underserved children. And in 2015, she started the
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
with Mark [Zuckerberg], a philanthropy that seeks to engineer change at scale in science, education, and issues related to justice and opportunity. Their goals include accelerating scientific research with the help of world-class engineering to help cure, prevent, and manage all diseases in our children’s lifetime.
"I am so grateful for Priscilla as a friend and inspiration. Priscilla and Mark make a great team, and they both share the same vision to make the world a better place. It is that desire and drive that has inspired me to keep doing the work that I do."
Rosette Pambakian, Head of Brand, Tinder
Claire Schmidt, Founder,
"There are so many inspiring women in tech right now, but for me, Claire Schmidt, the founder of
, is someone I really look up to. As the founder and CEO, she has created an anonymous platform for anyone to report instances of harassment, discrimination, or bias directly to their CEO and company board, creating a safer and more fair workplace for everyone. It was a breakthrough year for voices to be heard in tech, and Claire is using technology to change the landscape of tech for all people moving forward. It's always inspiring to see a woman take on an issue that is currently affecting so many women around the world."
THE TECHIE: Johanna Wright
, Vice President of Product Management, YouTube
SHOUTING OUT: Marissa Mayer
, former CEO, Yahoo;
Linda Fayne Levinson
, Advisor, Capital Partners;
, Co-Founder, Evite; and
, CEO, YouTube
"I find picking a favorite woman in tech — and superlatives — challenging, so I’ll share a story from one of my first weeks working as programmer more than 20 years ago. I was starting out at a small company and met one of the top engineering managers there. She explained to me that she had gone into software engineering because it is such a great career for a young mother of six children. Whoa! I just googled her, Kira Sirote, yesterday and she still seems to be a software engineer today.
"Some other women who have had a big impact on me along the way are Marissa Mayer, my first manager at Google and a mentor who has hired and mentored so many of the female (and male) leaders in the Valley today;
Linda Fayne Levinson
, the first woman partner at McKinsey, an investor at Overture, and more, has given great and pointed coaching when I needed it;
the co-founder of Evite, hired me when the economy was crappy in 2003; and, of course, I can’t go on without mentioning the the amazing woman who runs YouTube today, Susan Wojcicki."