Technology Leadership and Women in Silicon Valley

Founding mothers of the silicon valley. An overview on the women leadership in the tech industry.

Women in Silicon Valley

The southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, located in California is commonly known as “The Silicon Valley” that is home to most of the world’s largest high-tech corporations and thousands of startup companies. The Valley serves as a leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and development.

There are high-tech businesses flourishing in the area, which is now generally used as a synecdoche for the American high-technology economic sector. The word “silicon” in the name “Silicon Valley” originally referred to a large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers in the region. While the word “Valley” refers to the Santa Clara Valley where the region has traditionally been centered, which includes the city of San Jose and the surrounding cities and towns.

silicon valley
Silicon Valley – USA

Silicon Valley today, has thousands of high-tech companies headquartered in its region, some of the Fortune 1000 include; eBay, Facebook, Cisco Systems, Apple Inc., Google, Intel, HP Inc., Netflix, Yahoo!, Telsa Motors, LSI Logic and many others. Despite their hard and commendable efforts in the success of the Silicon Valley, we can still observe that at the top of the industry and government, the faces remain stubbornly male and so is the case with the high-tech world as we see personalities like Mark Zuckerburg (born May 14, 1984, is the founder of today’s most popular social networking site Facebook), Bill Gates(born 28 October 1955 is the founder of the Microsoft software), Steve Jobs(born 24 February 1955 is the founder of the world famous Apple Incorporation) and many others as the defining faces of the Silicon Valley because of the sexism present in the society, and women even in a modern industrial society of today have a shamefully negligible recognition for the efforts that they have made.

No doubt that women are better off today, but still far from being  equal with men because of a lack of recognition and appreciation. The list below gives a short history of such “Founding Mothers Of The Silicon Valley”.

JUDY ESTRIN

 

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Judi Estrin – Silicon Valley

Judy Estrin was born in the year 1954 is an American business executive. Estrin is recognized for her contribution to the networking protocols that form the basic frame of the internet. She was born to a family of high-techs with both her parents, Thelma and Gerald Estrin being Computer Scientists at UCLA. She has a sister Deborah Estrin who is also a professor of Computer Science. Her son David Carrico is a tech entrepreneur is the founder of EvntLive.

Judy studied math and computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles and later in her life got a masters degree in mechanical engineering at Stanford. While at Stanford Judy worked with a research group led by Vint Craft also known as the “Father of the Internet”. The group developed the TCP/IP specification which forms the underlying technology of the internet. She is now the CEO of JLabs, a private company focused on further innovation in business, government, and non-profit organizations.

She’s been awarded amongst the 50 most powerful women in American business in the year 1998 and was also awarded a the EY entrepreneur of the year in the northern California region in the year 1987.  In 2002 she won the “Women in Technology International Hall of Fame award and in the year 2010 she was awarded GIL Award from Frost and Sullivan. It is also rather ironic that she is not given much recognition for laying down the very foundation (the internet) as compared to others who developed Google, Facebook etc which are all based upon it when even for the fact that the idea of having a search engine to search without the internet seems ludicrous.

DONNA DUBINSKY

 

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Donna Dubinsky

Donna Dubinsky is an American businesswoman who played a crucial role in the development of the Personal Digital Assistants or the PDAs serving as the CEO of Palm Inc. and co-founding Handspring with Jeff Hawkins in the year 1995. She was the daughter of Alfred Dubinsky who worked as a scrap metal broker. She attended the Yale university and got her bachelor’s from Jonathan Edwards College with history as her major in the year 1977. She got her MBA from the Harvard Business School in the year 1981. She is the current acting CEO and board chair of Numenta. In the year 2007, she was also awarded the “Alumni Achievement Award” at Harvard Business School. Donna was also the founding member of the Palm Pilot which was a handheld computer manufactured by Palm Inc. In the year 2005, she along with her technical partner got to work at Numenta.

 

DIANA GREENE

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Diana Greene

Diana Greene is yet another wonderful woman who is counted on the list of the “Founding Mothers of the Silicon Valley” born in the year 1955 in Rochester, New York. She is serving as the current senior vice president for Google’s cloud business. She is an American investor and has also served as the founder and CEO of VMware, the company that marked the advent of virtualization industry from 1998 till 2008.

Diana received her  bachelor’s degree in the field of mechanical engineering from the University of Vermont  in 1976 and her masters in Naval Architecture from MIT in the year 1978. She also has a second masters degree in the field of Computer Science from the University of California in the year 1988. Last year in the month of November  Google paid her an amount of $380 million for the company and gave her one of most influential jobs in tech: as the senior vice president of Google’s enterprise business, she is in charge of figuring out how to grow the company’s cloud computing business to a size that the company posts could eclipse the ad business within five years. She has also worked on enterprise startup software called Bebop.

LYNN CONWAY

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Lynn Conway

Lynn Conway was born on 2 January 1938 and is recognized for her numerous achievements including the Mead and Conway Revolution in VLSI design which induced an emerging electronic design automation industry. She is an American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor and transgender activist. Conway was brought up in White Plains, New York and suffered from gender dysphoria as a child. She earned her B.S and M.S.E.E degrees in the year 1962 and 1973 from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. She was inducted by IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, New York in the year 1964. And soon joined an architecture team that designed an advanced supercomputer, working along with other renowned personalities which include  John Cocke, Ed Sussenguth, Fran Allen and much more on the ACS project inventing multiple-issue-out-of-order dynamic scheduling while working there. She was however fired in 1968 because she revealed her intention of gender transition to a female. She has won numerous awards for her achievements throughout her life. Some of the include; the 2002 Electronic Design Hall of Fame, National Achievement Award: Society of Women Engineers 1990, Magil Lecture in Science, Technology and the Arts, Columbia University 2016.

SANDY LERNER

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Sandy Lerner

Sandy Lerner was born in the year 1995 and is an American businesswoman and philanthropist. She is also the co-founder and the CEO of the Cisco Systems. She used the profit from selling this company and invested it into animal welfare and women’s writings. Her most renowned work includes the historically accurate sequel to “Pride and Prejudice”. She also founded a cosmetics company which she late sold to Moet-Hennessy Louis Vuitton. She later moved to an organic farm in Virginia.

SANDY KURTZIG

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Sandy Kurtzig

Sandy Kurtzig is an American business woman and  Silicon Valley’s first  female technology entrepreneur. Kurtzig received her bachelor’s in math from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her masters in the field of aeronautical engineering at the Stanford University.Acting as the founder and the CEO of the ASK Group (a business and software manufacturing software producer) as a part time job in the year 1972, she was the first woman to take a Silicon Valley technology to the public and was the first software entrepreneur to become a multimillionaire. She also founded Kenandy, the enterprise management software company in the year 2010 where she served as the CEO up to 2015 and is now the chairman of the board.

There are many more marvelous women who have put in their efforts, Ann Bowers who was the Apple’s human resource director and den mother in the early 1980s,Ann Winblad, co-founder of the venture firm Hummer Winblad in 1989, Adele Goldberg, the PARC computer scientist, Roberta Williams who designed the video games and many more whose stories have not yet been unfolded here. Although women have made great strides in gaining access to education and employment, to this day they continue to face significant hurdles that men generally do not confront too. To envision a future having an extensive multitude of people contributing their efforts for the success and evolution of the high technology world, we must not succumb to the ease of shortening the stories of its past.

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Written by Syed Anwer Ali

Ali Anwer is a veteran journalist having worked in Asia’s leading English daily newspaper for almost a decade. A prolific writer, he has contributed articles to different newspapers and established websites. He has also engaged in sports reporting for a brief period.

Having traveled the world extensively, he is a repository of information on world history, current affairs, political events and the entertainment industry. Being a movie buff he is an encyclopedia on Hollywood movies and actors.

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