Women in Tech: Female leaders to watch in 2020

May 13, 2020 / AIhBMIoTMegaTrends SeriesSCaaSTechnology

In the 21st century, the tech we use defines a great deal of our lives, no matter our gender. So it’s heartening to see many of today’s top female innovators following the example of tech like Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson — women who charged ahead and made their mark on the world of technology, says Katherine A. Began of Polycase, we’ll look at six of the most important and exciting names to know.

This list isn’t a definitive power ranking that tracks the rise and fall of women in tech. Rather, it’s a collection of powerful women innovators that you should be aware of as they continue to build and invest in the technologies of the future. If you keep up with tech news, you’ll see a few familiar faces here — but you also might get to know a couple of new women who are moving fearlessly forward with new visions.

Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM

Legacy tech giant IBM is going through one of its most critical periods in recent memory, and CEO Ginni Rometty has taken the helm to guide the company to the future. Rometty, a 36-year IBM employee who worked her way up, has positioned the company to compete in the cloud against giants like Amazon and Microsoft by making big investments in IT cloud architecture.

How big? Try US$34 billion — that’s what IBM just paid to acquire open source enterprise software company Red Hat. Time will tell if Rometty’s strategies succeed, but in the meantime, she’s working hard to create culture change in IBM’s workplace by increasing paid maternity and paternity leave, as well as offering options for women employees to ship their breast milk home to their babies while travelling.

Elina Berglund, co-founder, Natural Cycles

Natural Cycles, an app that allows women to easily track their fertility, has been a smashing success thanks to the hard work of its creator, Elina Berglund. Berglund began her career as a particle physics researcher at CERN before switching her focus to family life. But it wasn’t long before her curious mind was working again, and she began investigating alternatives to hormonal birth control for family planning.

Natural Cycles was the result, and it’s now a bona fide tech success story — albeit one with a few caveats. Nearly a million women worldwide now use the app, which allows women to track their basal body temperatures and then feed the data into an algorithm that uses it to predict fertility. The app has raised more than $37 million in funding from investors to date, but it’s now facing backlash from some women who see its marketing as misleading and have experienced unwanted pregnancies. No matter what ultimately becomes of Natural Cycles, however, it’s clear that Berglund has helped establish the connection between your body and your tech.

Karen Dolva, co-founder, No Isolation

The world is grappling with an epidemic of loneliness, and groups such as seniors and children with long-term illnesses are especially vulnerable. Norwegian engineer, Karen Dolva is doing something about it through her start-up, No Isolation, which creates tech that fosters social connection for vulnerable people.

No Isolation offers two main products. One, AV1, is a robotic avatar that allows chronically ill children to participate in the classroom, complete with emotive expressions and an integrated phone and tablet app. Another, KOMP, is an ultra-simple video chat device designed to be easily operable for seniors. Inside KOMP’s clean and simple plastic enclosure is the technology to connect seniors with their loved ones at any time of day, plus widget functions like weather reports.

Both devices share Dolva’s goal of using technology to reach out to the most vulnerable in society and ensure that they have the social support they need.

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