According to Catalyze Seattle, the Emerald City is a hotbed for tech companies. Yet just 17 percent of all tech companies in Seattle are led by women. While organizations like TechStars Seattle are trying to fix this imbalance, there are women who are leading by example. And there’s no better time than Women’s History Month to celebrate how the city’s tech women are defying all odds.
Arry Yu - Founder and CEO of 500 Startups
In case you’re not “in” with the tech scene, 500 Startups is one of the biggest and most well-known venture capital funds on the planet. But it doesn’t just make investments. The fund founded by Arry sets the trends that the tech world follows, and with it, the technologies we use every day. Arry’s 500 Startups also hosts a Diversity summit to promote inclusiveness in the tech industry.
The lesson? Arry teaches us that bringing change usually comes by helping others bring change as well.
Valerie Trask – Co-Founder of Sansair
Let’s do lunch! And with the help of Sansair, the company founded by Valerie Trask, cooking sous vide is the easiest it’s ever been. Most people would be satisfied by disrupting the field of the culinary arts, but not Valerie, who also coaches and consults other startup and company leaders to shake up other industries as well. She also admits that she will “close out any Karaoke bar,” though through her trademark tenacity instead of her singing ability.
The lesson? Valerie shows us that a technological disruption can happen to any industry, no matter how traditional.
Candace Faber - Seattle’s Civic Technology Advocate
So you want to build a better world? We all do, but where do you start? For Candace, the answer is simple. You start by connecting the city of Seattle, the civic agenda, and the technology sector. As the first ever Civic-Technology Advocate for the city of Seattle, Candace is working hard with people from across the tech industry to make a better Seattle.
The lesson? Candace shows us that sometimes the best way to change the world is from within the system.
Ruchika Tulshyan - Author of “The Diversity Advantage”
Ruchika is a well-known and established writer for publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. With degrees in both journalism and economics (from Columbia and the London School of Economics respectively), she is uniquely positioned to tackle topics of economics in an engaging, informative way. The Diversity Advantage looks at how companies all over the world benefit from diversity and inclusion across all departments and operations. Most importantly, it shows that these changes can help the bottom line and a highly recommended read.
The lesson? Ruchika teaches us that to make people change their ways, the most surefire way is to show how it helps them and, most of the time, their pocketbooks.
Valentina Vitos - Angel Investor at Pipeline Angels
Valentina is truly a renaissance woman. The Caracas native is the CEO of Gratitude Interactive, a former lawyer for the Venezuelan Supreme Court, and a professional photographer. But her main focus comes from Pipeline Angels, a network of angel investors dedicated to helping women build amazing innovative companies.
The lesson? Valentina teaches us that when you find success in your life, the best way to create change might be to help others find it in theirs.
Avni Patel Thompson- Founder and CEO of Poppy
Avni’s motto is “Living forwards, connecting the dots backwards.” This motto rings especially true with the story of her very interesting startup, Poppy. When the mother of two was tired of getting anxious whenever a trustworthy caretaker wasn’t available for her children, she decided to build Poppy - creating a roster of trusted carers who are “only a text away”.
The lesson? Avni teaches us a simple, but often forgotten lesson in business - see a need, fill a need. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.
Martha Burwell - Founder of EqualiSea
We all know there’s a problem with gender and race equality in this country. Well, Martha’s EqualiSea is dedicated to tackling the hard questions and finding actionable solutions to these problems in Seattle. The organization is dedicated to finding facts and using them to create conversations, discussions, and hopefully- change.
The lesson? Martha teaches us that the first step to fixing a problem is understanding it and talking about it.
Claire Horner-Devine - Mentor at Counterspace Consulting
Claire started her career as a scientist, a profession that aims to learn the truth about our universe. Not being able to sit in one place, she moved on to various disciplines, perfectly positioning her to help anyone in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) professions find their true passion and better understand their career.
The lesson? Claire teaches us that it doesn’t matter where you start your career, you can always change your perspective to help yourself, and more importantly, others.
Melinda Gates - Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
And last but certainly not least, Melinda Gates, whose foundation is directly linked to helping reduce infant mortality and childhood illness, illiteracy, and far too many other things to mention. Melinda takes an active role in understanding where and how to help communities around the world tackle a wide array of problems.
The lesson? A simple one. Success is not the target, it’s the arrow. The target is leaving behind a better world than you entered.
All of these women are stirring the pot and changing something. And that’s exactly what Seattle needs - change. We need to tackle inequality and close the gaps, and some, if not all of these women are taking an active or passive role in bringing on this change. Together, this amazing, innovative and vibrant city can be a truly equal place - for everyone.