Updated September 9, 2022 • 6 Min Read

Profiles and Advice from Successful Women Working in Computer Tech

Today's computer science grads have opportunities to work in a variety of different roles and industries after graduation. But the field of computer technology is still lacking a key component: the unique perspectives, ideas and perceptions of women. Even though a low percentage of computer science grads are female , sharing success stories of women working across the computer industry is vital to encouraging more girls to pursue computer technology in the future .

We've highlighted 34 exciting role models for the next generation of girls in computer tech, working everywhere from the oil industry to Google. Their stories and advice are different, but their goal is the same: inspiring more girls to follow in their footsteps! Meet them below:

Real Life Role Models: Meet the Women Working in Computer Tech

Amy Cliett National Outreach Manager, Techgirlz.org

Amy has an extensive background in operations management, which paved the way for her work in streamlining innovative processes for large organizations and startups. In 2014, Amy made the bold choice to pursue a career in tech, teaching herself how to code and becoming a freelance web developer. As the National Outreach Director at TechGirlz, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers, Amy is a passionate hacktivist in the tech inclusion and diversity in STEM fields movement. Advice for Girls: Always challenge and push yourself to go further than you think you can manage. Those moments you'll want to give up are right around the corner from your greatness."

Christine Cunniff Programmer, ROAR For Good

Christine Cunniff graduated from the University of Maryland in 2009 with a degree in Women's Studies and no idea what to do with her life. Today, she is a touring musician/dog-walker turned iOS developer turned UX designer. She transitioned into tech with a lot of hard work and by the grace and patience of a community who wanted to see her succeed. She is currently working at ROAR For Good, a personal safety start-up that aims to reduce assaults and empower women. Advice for Girls: Always trust your gut - your feelings are real and valid! Also, know that whatever challenges you're facing, someone else has probably been through it and is willing to talk about it, so don't hesitate to reach out to your networks for support."

Mahashweta Das Machine Learning Scientist and Engineer, Visa Research

Dr. Mahashweta Das is a Senior Research Scientist at Visa Research. She has also held research positions at Hewlett Packard Labs and interned with IBM Research Labs, Yahoo! Research Labs, and Technicolor Research Labs. She was born in India, where she spent the first twenty-three years of her life before moving to the U.S. She went to a school where female to male ratio was 1:4. She went to a college where female to male ratio was 1:5. She went to a math school where she was the only girl in a class of 30 students. She was made to quit her graduate degree program at one point, but she eventually completed her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2013. All these hurdles did not deter her from pursuing her dreams. Her Ph.D. dissertation received Honorable Mention at ACM SIGKDD 2014 Doctoral Dissertation Award, and she was a finalist for the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship: USA. She always wanted to become a computer scientist. And today, she is one. Advice for Girls: Two pieces of advice that helped me sail through my journey are: (1) Follow your heart and the rest will follow, and (2) Don't give up until you are proud."

Margaret Burnett Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, University of Oregon

Margaret Burnett is a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at Oregon State University. She broke her first glass ceiling when she became the first woman software developer at Procter & Gamble Ivorydale. After returning to academia, Burnett began mentoring underrepresented students in computer science, and her mentoring successes eventually received national recognition. She then co-led the development of national resources for mentoring underrepresented students. She has spoken about this work at diversity events around the world. In recognition of her achievements, in 2016 Burnett became the first woman in Computer Science to become an OSU Distinguished Professor. Burnett is also a pioneer in investigating gender biases in “gender-neutral” software from spreadsheets to programming environments. Her work led to the GenderMag method, which enables software builders to pinpoint gender biases in the software they create. GenderMag has been used by more than 20 technology companies, including technology giants like Microsoft. Together, these efforts demonstrate her almost 50-year leadership in diversity and inclusion in the computing industry. She has impacted software products used by millions of people, and has individually and systemically passed on her successes to diverse members of younger generations. Advice for Girls: Pass it on. Sometimes, someone reaches out a hand in a way that helps you. They nominate you for an award you never expected to win, or thank you for work you never thought had made an impact. Find a way to offer helpful gestures like these to younger colleagues. Sometimes even a tiny gesture can change lives."

Xyla Foxlin Founder, Parihug

Xyla studies mechatronics engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. She is the CEO and Founder of Parihug, the Host and Producer of Beauty and the Bolt, and was recently crowned Miss Greater Cleveland. Through Beauty and the Bolt, she creates free STEM education content, and works to promote the idea that Brilliant is Beautiful- femininity and engineering are not mutually exclusive. Her startup, Parihug, makes internet connected stuffed animals that let loved ones hug from anywhere in the world. Advice for Girls: I used to say, “don't let your failures define you”, but I take that back. LET your failures define you, and your resilience, and your ability to pick yourself up and keep going. My anti-resume is at least four times the size of my resume, but I only have accomplishments because I didn't stop trying the first few times when I failed."

Alice Lee M&A Technical Integration Program Manager, Google

Alice grew up in Columbus, OH but went out west to study biology at Stanford University. After college, she worked at a couple startups in the Bay Area (Peek, Shop it To Me) before landing a job at Google. At Google, Alice has worked on social media strategy and Doubleclick ads support, and now manages vendor integration for Google mergers & acquisitions (M&A). She lives in San Francisco with her fiancé Tom and loves all that California brings!

Advice for Girls:

Don't feel like you're the only girl in the room - even if you are. Know that there is a huge network of women in CS around the world that can be your mentor, sponsor, advisor or friend. If you feel alone, just reach out!"

Amy Yin Software Engineer, Coinbase

Amy is an engineer at Coinbase, where she has been building Coinbase Commerce and products working towards Coinbase's mission of an open and free financial system. From early on, she has been passionate about closing the gender gap, starting with founding Harvard Women in Computer Science and continuing her diversity efforts at Coinbase and outside of work with MightyWomen and Team Block Society. She has personally coached and mentored hundreds of women in career because she envisions a world where women do not let fear guide them and where everyone can achieve their highest, brightest desires.

Advice for Girls:

Unleash your power to lead! You are a natural born leader. Every single one of you. Your life journey is about tapping into your own energy, developing your voice and brand and then owning your power for the greater good. We need YOU to make this world a better place so take risks and be excited to fail. If you do not think you are close to failure, then you are not pushing yourself hard enough. Learning to sit with discomfort and the unknown is one of the great skills you can learn, as a leader, friend, mother, co-worker, partner and powerful woman."

Ariana Flewelling Staff Development Specialist & Education Consultant, Riverside Unified School District - California

Ari is a Staff Development Specialist for the Department Innovation & Learner Engagement at Riverside Unified School District & supports 42 schools with educational technology integration. She earned a Master's of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University. She's also a Google Certified Educator, Trainer & Innovator . Ariana is also a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator , and Breakout EDU Authorized Trainer . In addition, Ari was recently honored by the Inland Area chapter of the National Center for Women & Information Technology with the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award . When in the classroom Ariana taught English classes for grades 9 to 12.

Advice for Girls:

Despite what the examples in society show, the only person you need to compete with is yourself. We worry about the opinions of others far too much and it clouds our judgment when we're going after our goals. Make a plan, be prepared for it to go wrong, and keep moving forward. You won't let yourself down"

Cristina Alonso Software Engineer, Florida International University Coding Clubs

Born and raised in Miami, Florida with two older sisters, Cristina never thought a career in Computer Science was in her future. Growing up she was interested in dance and music and focused on performing well academically, but it wasn't until her college years that she began to learn about the computing field. She committed to the Computer Science track at Florida International University after completing an introductory programming class with an inspirational professor, and currently works for FIU Coding Clubs, teaching and inspiring young girls about coding and recently accepted a technology internship with Capital One.

Advice for Girls:

Never let what you do not know intimidate you. Always ask questions and be curious!"

Donna French Adjunct Professor, University of Texas-Austin

French currently serves an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas Austin teaching Computer Science. She spent 22 years as a professional programmer and has a Master's of Library Science degree.

Advice for Girls:

Follow your interests and don't be dissuaded by anyone who does not have your best interests in mind. Your interests are just as valid as anyone else and you have the right to explore them."

Gauri Manglik Co-Founder & CEO, Instrumentl

Gauri started her first company, Fondu , at age 21. After its acquisition by Airbnb , she championed the value of personalization and discovery at Airbnb and led their mobile and special projects teams. Gauri has a degree in Computer Science from New York University.

Advice for Girls:

Studying Computer Science is one of the best decisions you'll make because it's valuable in so many industries/areas of work- so kudos! I also encourage all girls in CS to spend some time building a community of fellow girls in CS. Often this community is lacking in traditional school environments which can be discouraging for many girls. So, if you find yourself in that situation, do invest time in building that community either in-person or online."

Ira Kemelmacher Assistant Professor, University of Washington's Allan School of Computer Science

Kemelmacher is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington's Allen School of Computer Science and Research Scientist at Facebook Seattle . She also serves as Co-Director of the UW Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL) and Director of Research and Education at UW's virtual and augmented Reality Lab . In 2016, the personalized image search engine she founded, Dreambit, was acquired by Facebook. She also received GeekWire's 2016 Innovator of the Year award for her role advising a UW graduate student in 3D facial recognition technology.

Advice for Girls:

Make a bet on a project you're passionate about, decide on a timeline, and do everything you can to compete it. There is nothing better than a deadline. If you feel very passionate about something it's most probably worth pursuing and convincing others."

J.J. DiGeronimo President, Author & Keynote Speaker, Tech Savvy Women

JJ DiGeronimo, is the president of Tech Savvy Women, an international organization of experienced women in tech careers and organizations. SHe works to empower professional women and consults senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology. Her expertise has been used by Amazon, Ingram Micro, RIT, Sears Holding Company, Clemson University, Symantec, VMware, Grace Hopper, KeyBank and Cisco, along with many other organizations. She has published two books, "Accelerate Your Impact: Action-based Strategies to Pave Your Professional Path" (Published by Smart Business Books) and "The Working Woman's GPS" . JJ is featured in many publications and TV shows including Forbes, Fox Business, ITWorld, Career-Intelligence and Rescue a CEO, and is recognized as a thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM.

Advice for Girls:

Although these STEM degrees and careers look intimidating from the outside, I am certain you can not only land these roles but excel in them. STEM careers are a fantastic professional path for women! We need you, and your level of detail, expertise and knowledge is required to meet the next generation of solutions. You can do it!"

Jamila Parham “The Tech Unicorn”, STEM Advocate & Diversity and Inclusion Champion

Jamila Parham is an IT Project Manager in the Department of Innovation and Technology at the City of Chicago . She leads application development, innovative and operational improvement efforts. Affectionately known as The Tech Unicorn, Jamila is an IT Leader, STEM advocate, and a champion for diversity and inclusion. She has dedicated much of her life to giving back to her community as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. , the Events and Volunteer Lead for the Black Girls Code Chicago Chapter and various other organizations. She was recently recognized for her achievements by The Root, MADE Magazine and the 40 Under 40 Young Women Professionals League.

Advice for Girls:

If I could tell my younger self anything, I would say: it's ok not to have it all figured out, the only tool that you need to carry on is courage. As Maya Angelou stated, “I am convinced that courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage you cannot practice any other virtue consistently”. You have to be constantly courageous in achieving your goals, overcoming defeat and grabbing on to your dreams for dear life."

Khalia Braswell CEO, INTech Camp for Girls

Kathryn Hodge Software Developer, Comcast NBCUniversal Media

Kathryn Hodge works with Comcast NBCUniversal as a Software Developer. She majored in Computer Science and minored in Film at Vassar College and met NBCUniversal at the Grace Hopper Women in Tech Conference in 2015. During the Summer of 2016, she interned in the NBCUniversal Media Labs Research and Development group, looking at chatbots as an emerging technology, and ultimately built a prototype for one of the NBCU brands. In January 2017, she joined NBCU full time as a MediaTech Associate, a rotational program where employees rotate through three different types of technical roles throughout NBCUniversal. Some of her most recent projects include building prototype experiences for VR/AR and for conversational interfaces (Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc).

Before graduating college, she started a YouTube channel with programming tutorials, created multiple courses for LinkedIn Learning, and worked as a Computer Science teaching assistant. Kathryn also went to 10+ hackathons, working with several different languages (C#, Swift, JavaScript, Python, Java) on different platforms (Oculus, HTC Vive, iOS, Android, web). She lived in Sugar Land, Texas most of her childhood, but is really enjoying life in the Big Apple at NBCUniversal.

Advice for Girls:

Experience as much as you can. One of my mentors once told me "Your brain is like a neural network. It's constantly trained on the things you experience and in order to innovate, you must experience new things." Try things you think you will like and things you think you will hate - what you end up growing toward might surprise you."

Kirstin H. Petersen Assistant Professor, Cornell School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Kirstin runs the Collective Embodied Intelligence Lab at Cornell University. Her research interests span design and coordination of bio-inspired robot collectives and studies of their natural counterparts. Before joining Cornell as an assistant professor in 2016, she was a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany, and completed a doctorate in Computer Science at Harvard University in 2014.

Advice for Girls:

Make the most of your education. It is a rare treat to have people devoted to feeding you knowledge. If something catches your attention, try it out. If you are excited about robots, build a robot. Not every design is going to work out, but you'll learn something new every time!"

Lili Qiu Professor, University of Texas-Austin Computer Science Department

Lili Qiu is a Professor at the Computer Science Department for UT Austin. She is an IEEE Fellow and ACM Distinguished scientist, and has also been recognized by the National Science Foundation with an NSF CAREER Award. She graduated with a Ph.D. from the Computer Science department at Cornell University in 2001 and worked as a researcher at Microsoft Research from 2001 to 2004.

Advice for Girls:

Dream big and work hard."

Mary Anne Melloy Strategic Engineer, HP and STEM Advocate & Community Resource Guru

Mary Anne came from an entrepreneurial family background and entered the corporate world as a new college hire. As a late entrant in the tech field, Mary Anne relied on her love of learning, curiosity and passion for technology to drive her career path. She has worked in project management, mobile solutions, QA and has a passion for driving organizational transformations as well as encouraging more women in the STEM fields.

Mary Anne volunteers in her local community with TedxYouth@KC and IAMCP-WIT KC. Nationally, she has donated her time to scholarship reviews with AnitaB.org and Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Mary Anne also co-chaired the Organizational Transformation committee for the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration conference . Mary Anne can be found building with Legos, researching family genealogy, and exploring her local community.

Advice for Girls:

Be persistent and patient - the right opportunity will present itself. Watch the windows as well as the doors. You never know when your next opportunity may come. Be curious, adventurous and involved. Take chances to allow yourself the opportunity to learn new things, explore new ideas, and move forward."

Maya Cakmak Assistant Professor, University of Washington's Allan School of Computer Science

Maya directs the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Washington where she aims to develop robots that can be programmed and controlled by a diverse group of users. She received her Ph.D. in Robotics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and her M.Sc. and B.Sc. degrees from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey. She is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award (2016) and a Sloan Research Fellowship (2018).

Advice for Girls:

Keep your eyes open for "problems". There are many excellent engineers who can solve any problem you give them, but the most exceptional engineers are the ones who can see the everyday problems that are worth solving."

Sahana Gururaj Software Engineer, Microsoft

Sahana Gururaj is a technologist, passionate about building great, impactful products for millions of people around the world & across different abilities. Originally from Bangalore, India, she graduated with a master's in computer science from The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to her current role as a Software Engineer at Microsoft, she immersed herself in various roles and technologies such as software testing, application/web development & even microservices. She is interested in the application of Artificial Intelligence to current technologies & is excited about its future possibilities.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoors in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is a voracious reader of non-fiction & poetry. Along with her day job, she has actively been involved with projects associated with causes close to her heart. While her technical projects focus on creating solutions for differently-abled people, her passion projects have always focused on getting more women involved in technology. For the past 6 years, she has volunteered at the Grace Hopper Celebration , the largest conference for women technologists, in varied capacities. She served as the co-chair for the conference's flagship event; the Open Source Day (OSD) code-a-thon for humanity 2017. She is part of an informal women-only mentorship circle at Microsoft and a proud member of Systers .

Advice for Girls:

Always keep learning. Computer science is a rapidly evolving field. You would have seen buzzwords like blockchain, deep learning, self-driving vehicles etc., come and go, even before you could fully grasp what each of them mean. It is inevitable that programming paradigms will shift, languages will appear and disappear, binary bits will be replaced by quantum bits and so on. Sharpen your technical skillset as often as every 6 months. Take a class, watch online videos or even work on a pet project that helps you learn something new outside of your regular day job or coursework."

Savannah Maziya CEO, Bunengi Group

Savannah has experience working in finance, engineering and broadcasting. She currently runs Bunengi Group , a project development, project operating and project management company operating in the mining, infrastructure and IT sectors. She sits on various local, international listed and unlisted company boards.

Advice for Girls:

STEM represents more than 70 percent of careers of the future. This future is very near, and STEM learning will give you an opportunity to be more employable, to make on average about 33 percent more income than your non-STEM counterparts. Being involved in STEM-related careers can also give you the opportunity to solve some of the problems that women in the world are currently facing."

Selina Suarez K12 Senior Project Manager at Salesforce, Founder at PepUp Tech

Selina Suarez founded PepUp Tech to create a pathway to tech careers for underrepresented people. That same month she began her current role as Senior Product Manager for K12 Education at Salesforce where she develops applications for schools, districts and networks with the goal of improving student and organizational success. Prior to coming to Salesforce, Selina spent seven years running programs and developing Salesforce applications for K12 schools and Youth Development organizations across the country. From 2003-2011 she worked in Higher Education focusing on educational attainment for low-income, minority and international students.

Throughout her career she has been an advocate for educational equality, diversity and inclusion. She frequently performs pro-bono volunteer projects for organizations in support of social mobility for low-income and people of color. Selina received an MBA in Executive Management from St. John's University in 2009. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Monroe College in 2005 where she focused her studies in Business Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology. Selina is from New York City and attended public schools including Mark Twain JHS for the gifted and talented where she first began to unravel the complexities and varying levels of education offered to children from low-income areas in NYC. She currently resides in Florida with her family.

Advice for Girls:

Learn the technology, look for mentors and embrace opportunities to network. There is a movement today that supports women in tech so find an organization where you can build your skill set while also gaining access to mentorship. In addition to learning the technology networking will allow you to hone in on the specific roles that may be a great fit for you."

Stephanie Valentine Founding President, Wired Youth, Inc.

Stephanie Valentine is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management and in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln . She is also the founding president of Wired Youth, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to educate the community about safe social networking for children as an active prevention strategy for cyberbullying, online predation, and other cyberthreats. She also recently developed KidGab , a social network for Girl Scouts. Valentine was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, recipient of the Susan M. Arseven '75 Make-A-Difference Award, and recipient of the Mentoring Excellence Award, and completed her BA in Computer Science with a minor in Electronic Publishing from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in 2011 and PhD in Computer Science from Texas A&M University in 2016.

Advice for Girls:

There are thousands of different paths to a successful, technical career. You don't need to work as a software engineer at a huge company just because that's what your peers are doing. You can work for a non-profit organization, you can start your own company, you can do research, you can teach. You can do all of those things (and more) at the same time if you want to. Don't be scared away from computing just because the corporate programmer life isn't for you."

Dr. Vivienne Ming Founder, Professional Mad Scientist, Socos Labs

More Information on Getting Girls Started in Computer Science

For more information on getting started in computer science specifically for girls, visit the page below. It includes information on computer and tech camps, free programs and funding help specifically for girls in K-5, middle school and high school, as well as college-age young women. There are also resources for teachers, community leaders and parents who want to play a more active role in empowering young ladies to pursue computer education.

Learn More: Connecting Girl to Computer Science

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