5 Women Who Changed The Tech Game

If you couldn’t live a day without relying on Wi-Fi or your GPS, you’re not alone. Some of technology’s coolest and sometimes taken-for-granted inventions have women to thank for its creation. Celebrate Women’s History Month by taking a look back at some of the revolutionary women technologists who weren’t afraid to break boundaries in the tech scene and help pave the way for our future generations.

Are you a woman in or looking to get into the tech industry? Check out these technology jobs from our job board. 


1. Hedy Lamarr: Hedy created a secret communications system during WWII which eventually laid the foundation for Wi-Fi to GPS. She also just so happens to be a world famous actress.



2. Dr. Grace Murray Hopper: Dr. Grace Hopper created the system that translates English commands into computer codes. She is also known as the “Mother of Computers”.






3. Chieko Asakawa: Being blind since the age of 14, Chieko developed a voice-recognition web browser, which opened up the doors to the Internet for the blind.



4. Radia Perman: Much of modern day Internet would be different if it weren’t for Radia Perman. Begrudgingly answering to the title “Mother of the Internet,” Perman invented the “Spanning Tree Protocol” that lead to the creation of large networks.






5. Susan Kare: If you’ve followed Apple’s journey from Steve Jobs’ garage to one of the most prominent companies in the world, you’ve come across the designs of Susan Kare. One of Apple’s original user interface designers responsible for many of its early desktop icons, she will always have a page in Apple’s history books.


The next time you go to pull up your email on-the-go, be sure to extend your gratitude to the women technologists who broke the mold of this male-dominated industry.

Meet some amazing women and tech, plus other IT professionals and industry game-changers, at a Tech in Motion event near you. 

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First Female Winner of “Best Technology Manager” at Inaugural Chicago Timmy Awards

First Annual Chicago Timmy Awards Recognizes The Region’s Best Technology Employers and Managers

timmy awards female manager winner Photo Credit: Greg Rothstein; 1871/Cloudspotter

At the First Annual Timmy Awards in Chicago, Tech in Motion acknowledged the region’s top employers for technology professionals with a ceremony crowning the best work culture, technology managers, and startup leaders from a field of 30 impressive local finalists. Local community members submitted more than 200 nominations, and the finalists racked up 11,000 votes altogether. The winners included the first female “Best Technology Manager” in Timmy Awards history: Litha Ramirez, Director of Experience Strategy and Design at Breakthrough Technologies.

Read about the finalists for the upcoming LA Timmy Awards and vote!

“I want places and people to be the best they can. That’s my job. It’s also my job to provide my team with vision and goals to help the business drive forward, while making it fun,” said Litha, in an article published on PRNewsire. “I work with an awesome group of people. When you work in the right environment, it makes a huge difference…”

The Timmy Awards strive to highlight IT managers, great work places and tech startups that contribute to the community in a meaningful way like Litha does. The hope is to continue to grow the community and help create a robust environment for technology companies (and professionals) to move, expand and choose to stay in Chicago.

Find a Timmy Awards or other Tech in Motion event nearby to attend on this list.

“These awards play a vital role in showcasing Chicago to graduates from top local schools like University of Chicago, Northwestern, or University of Illinois, who for so long would have moved to Boston, New York or the West Coast for technology jobs,” said Mandy Walker, Senior Marketing Manager of Tech in Motion. “We have amazing opportunities in Chicago, and these awards are so important because they recognize that. To build a great community, we have to keep our community.”

The 2015 Chicago Timmy Award Winners:

  • Chicago’s Best Technology Manager: Litha Ramirez, Director of Experience Strategy and Design at Breakthrough Technologies.
  • Chicago’s Best Technology Work Culture: InContext Solutions
  • Chicago’s Best Tech Startup: ShipBob

In addition to the aforementioned winners, many noteworthy finalists were recognized, including cars.com, Sprout Social, eSpark Learning and the Sun Times, to name a few. Produced by IT recruiting firms Workbridge Associates and Jobspring Partners, Tech in Motion aims to honor the best technology employers in Chicago on an annual basis at the Timmy Awards.

“We’re delighted to host the first annual Timmy Awards honoring Chicago’s best technology employers and managers of some of the most locally renowned companies,” said David Belsky, Chicago Regional Director of Tech in Motion producers Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates. “It is an honor to be involved in the first ever community event that honors the most attractive workplaces for technology professionals.”

The Timmy Awards first debuted in Boston in February 2015 and are being presented in tech hub cities across North America, including New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Winners have include innovators such as Venmo, Trip Advisor, Gilt, Constant Contact, Casper, and Instacart. Please visit techinmotionevents.com/awards for more information.

Looking for a job in the tech industry? Find the perfect position for you by checking out our job board. 

12 Great Pieces Of Advice From Female Software Engineers

Here are the top 12 golden pieces of forward-thinking, action-oriented advice from female software engineers that have been shared on the Hackbright Academy blog this year:

#1 – How To Detect Female-Friendliness In A Company / Engineering Team

Thumbtack software engineer and Hackbright alumna Katie Thomas suggests 5 questions to ask an interviewer to detect how female-friendly a company or engineering team is. Asking “how do people ask questions” or “Are any engineers involved in programs aimed at supporting women in the industry? (e.g. PyLadies, Women Who Code, Hackbright, etc.)” will help you figure out if this workplace is right for you.



#2 – How To Not Suffer From Imposter Syndrome

Hackbright alumna and software engineer Gulnara Mirzakarimova shares 5 lessons on beating imposter syndrome. Our favorite is #5 – “Accept the fact that there are things that you do not know, there are things that you will never know and there are things that You Can Decide To Learn.”


#3 – Focus

Flixster software engineer and Hackbright alumna Aimee Morgan blogged about focus. She shares that “being a beginner at something in your mid-thirties is alternately terrifying / humbling / awesome.” Agreed.


#4 – Self Care Strategies For The Job Search

Hackbright software engineer and alumna Meggie Mahnken shares self care strategies for the software engineer job search. She crowdsourced advice from Hackbright alumnae, from not letting an interview outfit go to waste (go out with friends to dinner after an interview!) to “set a mini-goal for yourself to have something more achievable and within your control as a measure of success, rather than just ‘did you get an offer or not’ from the interview.”

Find your next role on the Tech in Motion job board here.


#5 – Learn Git and GitHub

Self-taught web developer Jenn Wong shares her story about learning to code and working at Zillow. Her advice? “Learn Git and use GitHub to keep a record of the work you’re doing.” Now she’s working on becoming a full-stack engineer.


#6 – Read It Three Times If You Have To

Self-taught engineer and Spitfire entrepreneur Erin Parker shares her story of learning to code: “I started going through the Michael Hartl Ruby on Rails tutorial and I ended up going through it 3x before things really started to click. In tech, you learn that you can teach yourself anything by googling stuff, finding a book, reading documentation.”


#7 – Have Confidence But More Importantly, Perseverance

Skybox Imaging software engineer and Hackbright alumna Danielle Levi shares advice about perseverance and confidence: “It’s easy to compare yourself to others in the industry and find yourself lacking. However, its often not a fair comparison. In my case, I found my interest in technology and computer science at a later point in life. I’ve had less time to learn as much. Everyone has their own unique obstacles. It’s better to compare yourself to yourself. Think about your progress, how much you’ve accomplished, and exercise self-compassion. Stay passionate and keep learning.”


#8 – Find Your Local Programming Resources and Meetups

Rachel Ann Werner went to Nashville Software School and learned to program – she’s now a back-end developer at iostudio. She recommends “getting out there and meeting people at programming user groups.” Rachel also founded the Nashville chapter of Girl Geek Dinners, an organization that encourages young women into technology careers. And on Meetup.com, she met the ladies of Nashville Women Programmers (pictured, below).

Find a local Tech in Motion event happening near your city.


#9 – Ask For Help

Uber software engineer and Hackbright mentor Martha Girdler shared advice on “politely and unobtrusively asking for help”. She advises mentees to “don’t be afraid to politely and unobtrusively email someone you admire in your field and ask for mentorship. It’s best to ask for a small amount of their time (a phone call once every few months, a few emails here and there). Always take notes, and research your potential mentor thoughtfully and thoroughly. If they say yes, your first priority is to ask thoughtful questions!”


#10 – It’s OK To Not Know Everything

Medium software engineer Jean Hsu assures new programmers: “it’s OK not to know everything.” She continues that “it’s impossible to know everything, but sometimes, especially at the beginning, it’s easy to think that everyone else knows it all. There’s plenty of time to learn. You are not an imposter. It is incredibly unlikely that you got lucky over and over and over again. It’s much much more likely that you got where you are through hard work and your accomplishments.”


#11 – Remember, This Too Shall Pass

Presidential Innovation Fellow and software engineer Sarah Allen was a young mom when someone told her “this too shall pass”. Sarah reminds us that “when things really suck, remember that this too shall pass, and when things are really great, remember that this too shall pass.”


#12 – Do The Hardest Thing

Femgineer founder and software engineer Poornima Vijayashanker urges women to “do the hardest thing”. Instead of doing what’s easiest – that will bring her the maximum benefit – Poornima always chose to pursue the hard path. She’s programmed herself to do the hardest things in life, but they’ve also brought her the greatest joy.



By Angie Chang (VP Strategic Partnerships, Hackbright Academy – shown left)

Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley is recognizing Women’s History Month with a Women of Influence panel event. These women are taking the lead head on in the technology industry. Through courage, compassion, and conviction they have built their way up to represent the top in their class. Please join Tech in Motion: Silicon Valley for this educational and inspiring panel discussion on March 26, 2015 at Microsoft (Bldg 1) located at 1065 La Avenida Street, Mountain View, CA. RSVP here.

Company Culture in Tech: More Important Than Money?

With Tech in Motion’s upcoming Women in Tech panels across the country, company culture and treatment of employees in the technology industry has been a big topic of conversation. Taylor Aldredge, Grasshopper’s Ambassador of Buzz, dove further into these topics with a Q & A discussing the importance of a company’s culture and how culture has shaped Grasshopper and its employees.

Why is company culture so important in the tech industry?

Company culture is vital because things move at lightning speed in tech.  Bad culture or none at all can exacerbate issues in a heartbeat.  If you’re growing without structure and goals, then you’re just growing for the sake of growing.  It helps the entire organization when everyone is on the same page and those people are aligned in how to help their customers as well as their colleagues to solve problems.  This will reduce employee churn and morale will be higher.

View More: http://davidsalafiaphotography.pass.us/grasshopper2

Speaking of morale, in light of Women’s History Month (March), what can tech startups do to help women employees feel more comfortable in the office culture?

First and foremost, hire more women. Plain and simple.  From a culture perspective, make everything more inviting and gender neutral.  Immediately saying that this perk is for women and this perk is for men, and thinking of things separately is counter-intuitive.  That’s not going to improve anything.  Instead, do things and create things that everyone can believe in and buy into.  That will go a lot further in creating an environment that everyone wants to be a part of regardless of whether they’re men or women.  Ultimately, there are bros everywhere.  The hope would be to filter those bros out in the hiring process and bring in people that understand how your culture operates.

Just why should companies take note of Grasshopper’s view of culture?

Companies should take note because it shows there are other ways to build a sustainable company that lasts over a decade; plus, we’re revenue positive (and profitable), and we did it without constantly raising rounds of funding.  We’ve shown that if you hustle hard, work hard, and build a great company with shared beliefs, then anything is possible.  So many companies get wrapped up in raising too much money too fast and fall flat on their face without figuring out what they believe in first and how they should build revenue.  The feeling of understanding our customers and building a great company has permeated into our decision-making – and our customers would tell you it’s reflected everywhere they interact with us if you ask them.

So what does Grasshopper offer its employees that makes it different from other companies?

The more important thing – beyond the benefits and perks that we offer – is that our culture operates from top to bottom.  Top to bottom means that every interaction we have internally and externally with customers reflects our brand promise and core values.  Sure, we have the standard benefits like Health and Dental as well as a PTO policy and various other perks to working here, but that’s not culture.  Culture is the shared belief structure that we all operate within here.  It helps us make decisions about how to grow our company, help our customers, add new features, and create new perks for employees.  Our brand promise is to empower entrepreneurs to succeed and our core values are:

  1. Go Above and Beyond
  2. Always Entrepreneurial
  3. Radically Passionate
  4. Your Team

This structure has helped us grow as a bootstrapped company without taking any VC funding and to do things our way.  That’s one of the greatest perks about working here.  It’s very free and loose to try things and be creative.

View More: http://davidsalafiaphotography.pass.us/grasshopper2

Well, what are some of the results Grasshopper has seen from its benefits and perks?

Everything has improved because we’ve done a better job hiring the right people based on the core values, making decisions about the product, reducing employee turnover, and increasing revenue each year. Since 2008, employee turnover has reduced from 25% to 10%.  That’s huge.  We’re a small company, and if we have turnover at 25%, we’re constantly in flux.  We need to hire the right people and keep them here.  In turn, that’s enabled us to keep revenue goals on track with over 20% YoY growth the last two years.  Additionally, the marketing team has been together at its core for more than two years now.  I don’t know a lot of marketing teams that can say the same thing in the tech world.

About the Author

taylor a grasshopperTaylor Alredge is the Ambassador of Buzz for Grasshopper, a virtual phone system for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Founded by two entrepreneurs in 2003, Grasshopper is dedicated to making it easier to start and grow small businesses. Grasshopper set out to empower entrepreneurs with a product that enables businesses to sound more professional and stay connected from anywhere in the world. Grasshopper also offers resources and guides to help small business owners succeed. To date, Grasshopper has served over 150,000 entrepreneurs—and the company continues to grow.