The Intellectual Dark Web
You might say members of the Intellectual Dark Web don't fit in. They might say, "exactly."
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- The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
- The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
- This list is by no means all-encompassing. There are many more influential women in tech that you should seek out and follow.
Statistics on the number of women in tech careers reveal a hard truth: the industry is overwhelmingly dominated by one gender. In a 2018 study, women made up only about 25% of the United States' tech workforce and those women often earn less than their male colleagues.
So in celebration of the small yet powerful tribe of women who are moving tech forward, we've compiled a list of some of the top thought leaders, founders, influencers, and CEOs in the industry. This collection of innovators and entrepreneurs runs some of the world's biggest tech companies and most promising startups, but most importantly, they're propelling the kind of future we want to be a part of.
Although there are many, many more tech leaders we could have included on this list, this group was selected based on their following and sphere of influence in the world today.
10 women in tech you should be following
Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code
Reshma Saujani is a New York Times bestselling author and the brains behind the famous TED Talk, "Teach girls bravery, not perfection." The daughter of refugees graduated from Harvard University and Yale Law School. In 2010, she became the first Indian-American woman to run for Congress.
"When I lost, I wanted to continue to make a difference," Saujani told Adweek. "I figured the best way that I could do that is by creating opportunities for girls." Two years later, she started the nonprofit, Girls Who Code, aimed at increasing the number of women in the computer science field. Follow Saujani for inspiring and informational tweets geared toward women in tech.
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube
Topping virtually every list of female tech CEOs is Susan Wojcicki. Google's sixteenth employee and initial marketing manager, Wojcicki contributed to the development of Google Images and AdSense as she rose up the ranks. The Silicon Valley native and mother of five eventually suggested the acquisition of YouTube, and became its CEO in 2014.
"Tech is an incredible force that will change our world in ways we can't anticipate. If that force is only 20 to 30% women, that is a problem," Wojcicki has said. We love the bold stance she takes against gender discrimination in her op-ed pieces, which include this must-read: "How To Break up the Silicon Valley Boys' Club."
Ellen K. Pao, co-founder and CEO of Project Include
Photo by Helena Price
We couldn't create a list of the top women in tech without including Ellen K. Pao. Pao served as the CEO of Reddit prior to co-founding Project Include – a nonprofit focused on improving diversity in the tech industry. She often speaks publicly on issues like sexism in Silicon Valley.
Pao entered the public spotlight in 2012, when she filed a $16 million lawsuit against her former employer, a venture capital firm, for gender discrimination. Despite ultimately losing the case, Pao stirred up much-needed conversations in the tech world and detailed her experience in her memoir, "Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change."
Danah Boyd, founder and president of Data & Society
Source: personaldemocracy / Flickr
A nationally recognized scholar and thought leader, Danah Boyd founded her own research institute to address the ethical and legal implications of emerging technologies. She also currently serves as a partner researcher for Microsoft.
Boyd studied at Brown, MIT, and Berkeley. She attributes the fact that she survived high school to a misogynistic classmate who once told her that girls couldn't "do science." From then on, she was determined to prove him wrong. Today, her work includes countless thought-provoking publications on topics such as accountability in machine learning and media manipulation.
Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO of Black Girls Code
Source: nrkbeta / Flickr
Kimberly Bryant used her 401(k) to start Black Girls Code in 2011. The struggle to find a diverse computer programming course for her daughter in the Bay Area inspired the nonprofit, which now has the mission of teaching a million girls of color how to code by the year 2040.
Having studied electrical engineering in college, Bryant said, "I didn't want my daughter to feel culturally isolated in the pursuit of her studies as I had as a young girl. I didn't want her to give up on her passions just because she didn't see anyone else like her in the classroom."
Among a long list of other well-deserved accolades, Bryant was named a Champion of Change by the White House and received the Ingenuity Award in Social Progress from the Smithsonian Institute.
Kate Crawford, co-founder of the AI Now Institute
Source: re:publica / Flickr
Kate Crawford is an Australian author and thought leader on the social impacts of AI and machine learning – something we should all be paying more attention to. Her argument for banning the use of facial recognition technology, at least for now, is very compelling.
She wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "Today's AI is extraordinarily powerful when it comes to detecting patterns but lacks social and contextual awareness. It's a minor issue when it comes to targeted Instagram advertising but a far more serious one if AI is deciding who gets a job, what political news you read or who gets out of jail."
Crawford helped pioneer the AI Now Institute, a research institute at NYU, and serves as a senior researcher at Microsoft. Fun fact: she co-founded a record label and was previously part of an electronic music duo that released three albums.
Dr. Fei-Fei Li, co-director of Stanford's Human-Centered AI Institute
Source: ITU Pictures / Flickr
A pioneer of artificial intelligence with an impressive Twitter following, Dr. Fei-Fei Li is another one of today's most influential women in technology. Dr. Li was born in Beijing, China and moved to the U.S. with her mother when she was 16. She studied physics at Princeton and went on to receive a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Caltech.
The Stanford professor co-founded AI4ALL, a nonprofit aimed at improving diversity in the field of AI. But she's most known for her work on the ImageNet project, a database of over 15 million images. In layman's terms, the database helped "train" the first computer to recognize and understand what's in a picture. In her TED Talk on the project, Dr. Li stated, "Little by little, we're giving sight to the machines. First, we teach them to see. Then, they help us to see better."
Katie Moussouris, founder and CEO of Luta Security
Image courtesy of Threatpost Inc.
While her childhood friends played with Barbie dolls, Katie Moussouris spent most of her time learning how to program on a Commodore 64 that her mom gave her in the third grade. She was the first female in her high school to take AP Computer Science, and around that time she developed an interest in hacking.
Moussouris chose to use her hacking chops for good and eventually became a pioneer of cybersecurity. She now helps businesses and government agencies defend themselves against digital threats. Her portfolio includes work for the U.S. Department of Defense and Microsoft. But the real reason she made it on our list of the top women in tech? One of her life goals is "to help make the internet safer for everyone." For that, we thank you, Katie.
Cathy Hackl, host of Future Insiders Podcast
Image credit: Cathy Hackl
Next on our list of the top women in tech is Cathy Hackl. Hackl is best known for being one of LinkedIn's Top Tech Voices and the host of the Future Insiders podcast, where she keeps listeners in the know about emerging technologies that could change the world as we know it, such as 6G and smart contact lenses.
Hackl is also a world-renowned speaker and influencer who tweets often about all things tech, with a focus on augmented and virtual reality. As if she couldn't get any cooler, she's the brains behind the world's first holographic press release, and has worked with brands like AT&T and Porsche on how to best leverage AR and VR technologies.
Joanna Stern, senior tech columnist at The Wall Street Journal
Image credit: The Wall Street Journal
Joanna Stern is an award-winning journalist with a refreshing take on consumer technology, best known for her column at The Wall Street Journal. Stern was a founding member of The Verge who built their product review program from the ground up. You may have seen her discussing the latest tech news on Good Morning America or CBS This Morning.
Why we love her? Articles like this one that offer her bold perspective and helpful advice on the smartest ways to use modern tech. In it, she advises consumers to ditch Google Chrome, calling the popular web browser: "RAM hoovering, battery draining and privacy disregarding." Follow Stern on Twitter to stay informed (and entertained – she's quite hilarious).
After combing through the top tech companies, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations, we've selected each of these female powerhouses because of their contributions to the fields of AI, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and others, as well as their work to advance the inclusion of women in tech. Above all, these uber-talented and inspiring leaders give us hope for a better tomorrow.
- The study involved 822 Americans who were in monogamous relationships at the time.
- Participants answered questions about their personalities, sexual fantasies, and intentions to act on those fantasies.
- Research suggests practicing consent, comfort, and communication makes open relationships more likely to succeed.
New research suggests one-third of Americans in monogamous relationships fantasize about being in a sexually open relationship. Of that one-third, most want to act out their desire. Someday, at least.
If you search Google for "open relationships" — or polyamory, polyfidelity, monogamish, etc. — you'll find no shortage of articles describing how unconventional relationship styles are becoming increasingly popular. That seems true, if measured by Google searches.
A 2016 study found that searches related to polyamory and open relationships rose significantly from 2006 to 2015. Other data on consensual non-monogamous relationships (CNMRs) — which include open relationships, polyamory and cuckolding — show:
- An estimated 4 to 5 percent of Americans are in a CNMR.
- More than 20 percent of Americans have tried some kind of CNMR in their lifetime.
- Only half of millennials said they wanted a "completely monogamous" relationship, according to a 2016 YouGov study.
Consensual non-monogamy fantasies
For the new study, published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers asked 822 people in monogamous relationships to:
- Describe their favorite sexual fantasy, defined as "mental images you have while you are awake that you find to be sexually arousing or erotic."
- Select which themes apply to that fantasy, such as having sex with multiple people at the same time, experimenting with taboos, or engaging in a sexually open relationship.
- Answer whether they intended to carry out these fantasies, and discuss them with their partner.
- Complete assessments on relationship satisfaction, erotophilia and personality, as measured by the Big Five Personality inventory.
The results showed that 32.6 percent of participants said being part of a sexually open relationship was "part of their favorite sexual fantasy of all time." More surprising is that, of that one-third, 80 percent said they want to act on this fantasy in the future.
Pretzelpaws via Wikipedia Commons
"The present research confirms the important distinction between sexual fantasy and sexual desire in that not everyone wanted to act on their favorite sexual fantasy of all time," study author Justin J. Lehmiller told PsyPost. "This suggests that fantasies may serve different functions for different people."
Even though most participants said they want to act out their fantasy in the future, far fewer reported acting out sexual fantasies in the past. Other findings included:
- Men were more likely to fantasize about CNMRs.
- So were people who scored high in erotophilia and sociosexual orientation.
- The psychological predictors of fantasizing about CNMRs differed from predictors about infidelity fantasies.
Do open relationships work?
A 2019 study from psychologists at the University of Rochester suggests it is possible, but especially when both partners practice a trio of behaviors: consent, communication, and comfort — or, the Triple-C Model.
- A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life.
- This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s.
- There are several ways you can attempt to stay active and socially connected while battling depression, according to experts.
The study suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rated of depression later on in life.
A 2020 Michigan State University study examined the link between teen social networks and the levels of depression later in life. The results of this study suggested teens who have a larger number of friends in adolescent years may be less likely to suffer from depression later in life. These findings were especially prominent in women.
This study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, specifically targeting social network data. This data asks students to select up to 5 male and 5 female friends and indicate how often they felt depressive symptoms.
MSU Sociology Assistant Professor Molly Copeland and lead author Christina Kamis (Sociology doctoral candidate at Duke University) published the study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in September.
Female teenagers may struggle more with depression during their teen years but show fewer depressive symptoms later in life.
For female adolescents, popularity can lead to increased depression during their teen years. However, this ultimately may lead to lasting benefits of fewer depressive symptoms later in life. "Adolescence (is) a sensitive period of early life when structural facets of social relationships can have lasting mental health consequences," Copeland wrote, adding that "compared to boys, girls face additional risks from how others view their social position in adolescence."
Throughout this study, men showed no association between popularity and depressive symptoms, however, they did show benefits from naming more friends. As for why this is, Copeland has a theory: perhaps the expectations on young girls (compared to young boys) as well as the roles that lead to popularity can create a kind of stress and strain felt more prominently by girls than boys.
While this does create more difficult teen years for young girls, the stress and strain may lead to giving these girls a psychological skillset that benefits them later in life, allowing them to deal with stressful situations more easily.
The study also suggested that teenagers who have a smaller social circle showed higher rates of depression later on in life.
Results from both men and women followed a U-shaped trajectory of depressive symptoms.
The results showed depressive symptoms being highest in adolescence and declining in early adulthood, then climbing back up again into one's early 30s. This was particularly more noticeable in women, who showed a steeper decline in symptoms between the ages of 18-26, followed by a more rapid increase in symptoms in their early 30s.
How to stay social while battling depression
Attending support groups, planning activities with family or even just a weekly phone call to a friend can help alleviate depression.
Credit: Mascha Tace/Shutterstock
Although maintaining relationships can help you cope, it can also be one of the most difficult things to do when you're experiencing depression.
As Dr. Jennifer L. Payne (an assistant professor/co-director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore) tells Everyday Health: "One of the common symptoms of depression is social isolation."
Payne goes on to explain that you can "soak up some energy" by simply being around other people, moving around, and staying active.
Creating a daily schedule and planning activities ensures action.
While it may be easy to turn down last-minute plans, it's more difficult to cancel plans you've already committed to with friends and family. While it's important not to overwhelm yourself with a packed schedule, creating a minimal daily schedule that involves seeing friends and family or doing activities that you've previously enjoyed can ensure you stay active and often makes you feel more accomplished at the end of each day.
Support groups and social networking with people who understand.
While depression can very easily make you feel isolated and alone, surrounding yourself with others who may be struggling with depression as well can help in multiple ways. You will have peer support from people who relate to how you're feeling plus the added benefit of being around people, which can raise your spirits.
Keeping a journal (and setting goals) can help you feel accomplished.
Keep a thought journal and detail certain daily or weekly goals (such as a plan to call a friend on Monday or to visit your local coffee shop for a change of scenery on Thursday). These small, achievable goals not only get you out of the house and/or interacting with others, but they also provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction once they are complete.
Random acts of kindness, such as volunteering, will make you feel good.
Being kind is good for your health in many different ways. Doing something nice for others can boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Similar to exercise, kindness, and altruism can also release endorphins, creating a temporary sense of euphoria that can help combat depressive symptoms.
Scientists entangled two large quantum objects, both at different locations from each other, in a quantum mechanics first. The feat is a step towards practical application of a rather counterintuitive phenomenon and was accomplished by a team from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.
Entanglement is the magical-sounding concept, dubbed "spooky action at a distance" by Einstein. It involves a link is made between two objects that can make them behave like one. This technique is of paramount importance to quantum communication and quantum sensing, explained the University's press release.
The researchers, led by Professor Eugene Polzik, used light particles photons to create an entanglement between a mechanical oscillator ("a vibrating dielectric membrane") and a cloud of atoms, with each acting like a tiny magnet or "spin". They picked these particular objects because atoms can be made to process quantum information while the membrane can store that information.
"With this new technique, we are on route to pushing the boundaries of the possibilities of entanglement," stated professor Polzik. "The bigger the objects, the further apart they are, the more disparate they are, the more interesting entanglement becomes from both fundamental and applied perspectives. With the new result, entanglement between very different objects has become possible."
By entangling the systems, the scientists made them move in correlation with each other. If one object went left, so did the other.
The achievement can pave the way to new sensing technologies. One example would be getting rid of noisy fluctuations currently affecting the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), which detects gravity waves. If the researchers were able to take information from one system and apply it in another, they could get more precise readings.
While the new technology is promising, research into creating useable devices based on quantum mechanics is very challenging, as explained by Ph.D. student Christoffer Østfeldt:
"Imagine the different ways of realizing quantum states as a kind of zoo of different realities or situations with very different qualities and potentials," he shared.
If one was to try to make a device using quantum states that would all have different functions, "it will be necessary to invent a language they are all able to speak. The quantum states need to be able to communicate, for us to use the full potential of the device. That's what this entanglement between two elements in the zoo has shown we are now capable of," Østfeldt added.
Check out the new study in Nature Physics.
- An open letter, signed by 50 ambassadors and NGO leaders, asked the Polish government to respect LGBT rights.
- The Polish Government responded by denying the implied discrimination exists.
- Poland has been deemed the "worst place to be gay" in the EU in spite of this.
Of all the countries in Europe to have a right-wing, authoritarian turn over the last few years, one would have thought Poland to be one of the least likely candidates.
After enduring a brutal invasion by Nazi Germany, suffering under the military regime imposed on them, and seeing millions of their countrymen die, Poland experienced fifty years of soviet-style dictatorship which ended only with the revolutions of 1989. Few nations have endured so much in living memory.
Despite these hard-won lessons, Poland has taken a turn towards authoritarianism over the last few years. As with all such turns, an enemy is designated as the implausible source of potential national decline and a threat to a decent way of life. In this case, it is LGBT+ individuals.
The stigmatization of LGBT+ individuals in Poland has been increasingly vicious, with several provinces, covering nearly a third of the country, having declared themselves "LGBT Free Zones." While of dubious legality and mostly unenforceable, the declarations seek to limit things such as pride parades by declaring the polity in opposition to "LGBT ideology." Despite the limited legal ramifications of these declarations, life for LGBT people in these zones can be unpleasant.
In response to this, more than 50 signatories, consisting primarily of ambassadors to Poland, have endorsed an open letter speaking to the need for all people to be able to enjoy their rights and the duties of governments to protect them.
Strongly worded letters, the weapon of champions.
Organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Poland, the open letter was signed by the Ambassadors of 43 nations representing most of Europe and all of continental North America, as well as several countries from Asia, Africa, and South America. Representatives of various international organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also signed.
The letter pays tribute to those working for LGBT+ rights in Poland and affirms the dignity found in each person "as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It goes on to remind the reader that "respect for these fundamental rights, which are also enshrined in OSCE commitments and the obligations and standards of the Council of Europe and the European Union as communities of rights and values, obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and discrimination and to ensure they enjoy equal opportunities."
It ends with the declaration, "Human rights are universal and everyone, including LGBT+ persons, are entitled to their full enjoyment. This is something that everyone should support."
The American Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, retweeted the letter and added, "Human Rights are not an ideology - they are universal. 50 Ambassadors and Representatives agree."
The Response of the Polish Government
The Polish Government was less than pleased with the letter and its implications.
The Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, rejected the letter and its implications, saying "nobody needs to teach us tolerance, because we are a nation that has learned such tolerance for centuries and we have given many testimonies to the history of such tolerance."
This sort of rebuttal is nothing new; just last week, when American Presidential Candidate Joe Biden tweeted that "LGBT-free zones' have no place in the European Union or anywhere in the world," the Polish Embassy in the United States was quick to say the tweet was based on inaccurate information, to reassure the world that there are no such zones, and to restate their belief there is no place for discrimination in society.
A quick fact check demonstrates otherwise. Several places in Poland have declared themselves to be "LGBT free zones," violence inspired by anti-LGBT+ propaganda has taken place, leading government figures have declared homosexuality to be a "threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state," and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda has declared the LGBT movement to be more dangerous than Communism. Surveys show nearly a third of Poland's people believe in a grand conspiracy against them involving "gender ideology."
It is also worth repeating that Poland has been declared the worst place in the European Union for gay rights. Same-sex unions of any kind, including civil unions, are still illegal, and gay couples have no right to adopt children. Laws against hate crimes and conversion therapy are also notoriously lacking. Though to their credit, gay men and bisexuals can donate blood in Poland with greater ease then they can in the United States.
Despite having a first-hand understanding of the dangers of authoritarianism and intolerance than most nations, some in Poland continue to use the LGBT+ community as a boogeyman. While it is not the first time such things have been done, perhaps it will be one of the last.