Today is International Women’s Day. It’s a day during which we can take a moment to celebrate women for their political, economic and social achievements. As a digital marketing agency, we depend on the latest technological developments and innovations for success, so it’s fitting that we pay tribute to some of the most inspirational women in digital who have helped the industry become what it has, and continue to do so. There are too many to list in one post, but we tried to pick out those whose advancements are exceptional, not only for the time they were created, but the challenges these women had to overcome.
To take it right back to the beginnings of tech, it is important to pay tribute to Ada Lovelace. A woman who, in 1840, is credited with writing the first computer program. Ada worked alongside Charles Babbage, and his general purpose Analytic Machine. It was Ada, however who first realised the potential of the machine to undertake calculations of complexity beyond what was commonly possible at the time. She hence wrote the first algorithm that would enable the machine to carry out these calculations. Unfortunately, her notes were not published until almost half a century later in 1953, and only then did her algorithm receive the credit it deserved as an early model for computing.
Another woman of exceptional note is Dorothy Vaughn. This name may be familiar to those of you who have recently visited the cinema, as she is a key character in the award winning film Hidden Figures. Dorothy was a woman of confidence and drive in an unforgiving time to African American women. She worked alongside the infamous Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson at NASA in the 1960s. Dorothy worked as a human computer, and then advanced herself and her team through self-taught FORTRAN to become a front running programmer for the Analysis and Computation Division at Langley. Her achievements helped the US to overtake Russia in the race for space in addition to propelling and empowering women of the era into computer programming as a career. She continued her work in this department as the first woman supervisor and only retired from NASA at the age of 60.
Returning to the present day, Sheryl Sandberg is undoubtedly a pioneer in the tech sphere. Named the most influential woman in tech for 5 years in a row by Forbes, Sheryl’s role as COO at Facebook, the world’s fifth most valuable brand, makes her uniquely placed to demonstrate female empowerment. In recognising the influence she exerts, Sheryl has used her position to advocate equality not only on a personal level, but on a societal level; writing and speaking widely in support of equal rights in the workplace, as well as shared responsibilities at home. Sheryl’s determination to address inequality saw her publish Lean In in 2013, as well as founding LeanIn.org, a non-profit organisation which aims to empower and support women by means of community, education and peer groups.
Catherine Fake is next on our list, as she is not only innovative in tech, as a co-creator of flickr, she demonstrated amazing business initiative by leading Yahoo’s technology development group. She currently continues to embody a female leadership role by serving on the board of Creative Commons. To top it all off, she is also involved in a new innovative idea called Hutch, which promises to develop methods of making decisions based on multiple data inputs. Nothing deters Catherine, and she is truly an inspiration to all women in the digital and tech industry.
And finally, we can’t write about influential women in tech without mentioning Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. Anyone who knows Google will know Wojcicki. Having been involved from the offset, lending her garage to founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to set up office, she is a key player in the Google story. Subsequently, she was involved with key Google initiatives including Google doodles, Google images and Google Books. Her career with the digital giant has been exceptionally successful, seeing her rise to the position of Senior Vice President of Advertising & Commerce, as well as leading the way in advertising Adwords, AdSense, DoubleClick and Google Analytics. Indeed, she helped to develop AdSense itself, which is credited with being Google’s second largest source of income. Susan was instrumental in Google’s acquisition of YouTube, from proposing the purchase of YouTube to Google’s board, to overseeing the acquisition in 2007. Wojcicki has been given the title of “the most powerful woman on the internet” and was named #1 on the Adweek 50 list in 2013, as well as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2015. Truly an inspiration in digital marketing for all women, Wojcicki continues to be outstanding in breaking glass ceilings and driving innovation forward for all in tech.
We couldn’t possibly mention all the inspirational women out there in the industry, and there are many more of mention that you can read about here.
Whether you’re freshly graduated, or simply fancy pivoting your career, it’s clear that the tech industry is an exciting, vibrant environment to be a part of as a woman. Croud’s Business Development manager, Emma Hunt, offers her take on women in digital and how it is for all types of women, no matter their skill set.
“Women in digital is a great thing. There are so many opportunities across the industry, from account management to creative to development. Whether you’re someone who prefers to be engrossed in spreadsheets or are an outgoing person, the industry has roles that cater for you.”