From Rocket Scientists to Siblings: Women in Technology Who Inspire the Next Generation
By Cecily Kellogg
The history of technology is filled with inspiring women. From revealing discoveries that made the Internet possible, to captaining corporate tech giants like YouTube, women continue to inspire today’s girls to choose technology as a career.
We asked members of the CompTIA Spark TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board (TAB) to identify a woman in technology they admire, and to explain how that person has influenced their interest in tech. These are some of their answers.
Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician
If you’ve seen the film Hidden Figures, you know part of Katherine Johnson’s story. She was among the first African American women to work as a scientist for NASA, and it was her mathematics skills that helped NASA calculate a safe re-entry course for the Apollo 11 astronauts returning to Earth from the moon.
“She refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach. Realizing that she was capable of reaching these accomplishments regardless of her gender helped me learn that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”
– Sanjana Ananth, New Jersey
Padmasree Warrior, C-Level Leader
Padramsee Warrior has a power resume that includes chief technology officer roles at Motorola and Cisco, as well as her current role as CEO of Fable, a platform for social reading and book clubs. She has also championed diversity in the workplace and continues to encourage young women to seek leadership roles.
“Women like Padmasree are true warriors in showing young girls they too can make their dreams a reality. Seeing how Warrior has used technology to make a difference has inspired me to explore ways that I too can use technology to create a positive change in my community.”
– Sahithy Pratttipati, Michigan
Grace Hopper, Computer Scientist
Grace Hopper was an American computer scientist, mathematician, and US Navy Rear Admiral. She was among the first women to work on the Harvard Mark 1 (IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator) and was lead scientist on the UNIVAC computer development and is a member of the IT Hall of Fame.
“She has influenced my interest in STEM by proving that perfect is never the goal, even when as a woman in STEM you feel you have to always be giving 110% to not be seen as unqualified as she is said to have coined the phrase, “it is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” She has proved that to break boundaries you must break the norms, something inspiring for aspiring women in STEM everywhere.”
– Kylie Cameron, Ohio
“She inspires me because she surmounted challenges to establish herself as a trailblazing woman in technology. She was initially turned down, but she ultimately enlisted in the US Naval Reserve. She also left a job at Harvard because there were no open permanent jobs for women there. Hopper encourages me to carve out a niche for myself in the industry rather than letting gender norms determine where I go in my tech career.”
– Alysia Davis, North Carolina
My Sister, A Tech Trailblazer at Home
You needn’t be famous to be inspiring to others. Sometimes that spark can come from within your own family.
“My sister Pritika Gulati entered the tech industry early in her college career. Her entry into the technology sector was unorthodox in our family of doctors. On campus, she participated in a number of clubs and organizations that support spreading knowledge of technology to the incoming generation. This is admirable as she decided to take a non-traditional career path. My sister serves as a mentor to me, so I get the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of her daily contributions to the technology industry.”
– Serena Gulati, New Jersey
Technology holds a wealth of possibility, for our world and for each of us. The girls who choose tech careers today are on their way to being the tech leaders of tomorrow. That’s why at TechGirlz we believe it’s essential that we nurture that ember and encourage these young women to reach for the stars.
About CompTIA Spark
CompTIA Spark operates as the social innovation and impact arm of CompTIA, a global voice, advocate and leading provider of training and certifications for IT professionals. CompTIA Spark aims to bring high quality tech education to youth — whatever their background — making tech exciting, accessible and inclusive, and building skills and confidence for life. Formerly known as Creating IT Futures, CompTIA Spark is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.
With support from CompTIA and many organizations that drive the tech industry, we’re building free programs inspired by real-world work that spark students’ interest in technology.
The TechGirlz program consists of free, fun, hands-on technology workshops designed to inspire middle school girls' interest in tech, confidence and leadership. This program is dedicated to closing gender equity in tech.
Our Middle School Tech Education program provides engaging and dynamic tech lessons that simulate a collaborative workplace-like setting. This curriculum expands access to high-quality tech ed, builds confidence, and cultivates durable skills in the classroom.
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