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Influential women in tech: 5 leaders shaping current and future generations

image of female technology professional

Women make up more than half the total workforce, yet only 25% work in the tech industry—this is despite the fact that the growth of STEM jobs has outpaced the growth of overall employment in the United States.

Read Authority Magazine's interview with Brightspot Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer Lisa Beaudoin about her accomplished career in technology.

Research also shows that the lack of women in leadership roles has long-term consequences across every industry, and negatively impacts business outcomes, work cultures and levels of innovation required for greater financial performance.

This doesn’t add up. 

Women across all industries bring valuable skill sets to their teams, leading them to success and driving innovation. Their journeys should be supported by peers and partners, their efforts should be applauded and uplifted, and their successes should be regularly celebrated. At Brightspot, this has always been core to our beliefs.

headshot of Linda Thomas, Director of Global Owned Content and Channels at Amazon
Q&A Spotlight: Linda Thomas, Director of Global Owned Content and Channels at Amazon
Brightspot has the opportunity to learn from influential women first-hand through valued partner and customer relationships. We connected with Linda Thomas, an award-winning broadcast, print and digital journalist for 25 years, who first established the Starbucks Newsroom, and then developed Amazon’s owned storytelling strategy where she currently serves as director. Linda shared details on her journey, and what advice she has for others coming up in the tech industry.

What has your path been to your career in technology?
My work has always lived at the intersection of technology and content. I’m a lifelong storyteller with a 20-year career in journalism before stepping into the corporate world six years ago. I’m still wired to discover and create emotional, meaningful stories with the hope that they’ll change the way someone thinks about the world around them.

That passion is only possible with technology. Technology continues to evolve and provide new ways for anyone to shed light on the darkness, expose wrongdoings and inspire others. Unfortunately, anyone can also deceive, exploit and use technology like a sniper to target and bully others. I’ve always viewed access to technology, and how I use it, as a responsibility—whether running a personal blog or podcast, a corporate website or social channels, or experimenting with TikTok (yes, I know I shouldn’t part my hair on the side) and Clubhouse for fun. I’m dedicated to finding ways to combine technology and content as a force for good.

What are you most excited about for the future of technology?
I’m excited and optimistic about the growing number of women and people of color who are in high-visibility leadership roles. I see the pathways Amazon is creating to help those who are underrepresented learn tech skills and some of the ways we’re supporting communities around the world include making sure more young people learn about STEM and computer science through Amazon Future Engineer.

I’m also surrounded by incredibly smart women in tech who are solving huge problems, such as figuring out how to use Amazon logistics to deliver 12 million meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to continue mentoring other women and sharing great ideas across companies, again as we all share the responsibility of ensuring the best future for those creating and benefiting from technology.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in the tech industry?
Embrace change and ambiguity. Although I’ve always admired people who held one job or career for decades, that’s not me. I love change. Fortunately, at Amazon, we are constantly evolving as we push ourselves and innovate for customers, employees, and its communities. For some, the pace of change is exciting, for others it’s unnerving. Learn to enjoy each moment of your career, whether it’s in technology or another field, and always be open to new possibilities.

What do you wish you had known?
I wish I’d known failure is a good thing. I spent most of the early years of my career, and life for that matter, trying to be “perfect.” Looking back on my career path from journalism, a few job side steps along the way and now my corporate roles, I’ve discovered I learned a lot more from failure and mistakes than I did from success. Things that didn’t work out forced me to find a new strategy, think bigger, think bolder and ultimately led me to a better place.

4 more inspiring women in tech who go above and beyond

Brightspot employees and leaders are continuously in awe of women in the tech industry, and those who are paving the way for others.

We asked our own influential women in tech at Brightspot who came to mind in the industry for going above and beyond what their job responsibilities are to inspire and make a difference in their workplaces—and in their communities. Here are a few who standout:
Woolley-Wilson is a 20-year veteran edtech pioneer, driven by the belief that all children need and deserve high-quality learning opportunities, regardless of who they are or where they live. Backed by her team at DreamBox Learning, she advocates for future generations, and doesn’t “see technology as a replacement for teachers (or learning guardians) but as a complementary tool.”
Wojcicki has overseen the release of major products, including YouTube Gaming, YouTube Music, YouTube Premium and YouTube TV, and has grown YouTube to 1.8 billion monthly users. She’s also an advocate for working mothers, championing the value of paid maternity leave and support needed for women and new mothers no matter their role or position within a company.
image of Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX
Gwynne Shotwell: President and COO of SpaceX
As SpaceX's president and COO, Shotwell manages the operations of the commercial space exploration company founded by Elon Musk. She has also been a clarifying voice for the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. In an email to employees, she said that “we are the world’s leader in Spaceflight. We should absolutely be the world’s leader in creating and maintaining a workplace free from bias and injustice where everyone can do their best work so that we can accelerate our goal of making humanity multi-planetary.”

Image credit: By NASA/Bill Ingalls (Flickr)
In addition to serving as Alphabet and Google’s CFO, Porat is leading Google’s efforts to help get America’s ravaged small businesses and economy back on track as we adjust to life with (and after) the pandemic. As part of Google’s programs to support small businesses and community development initiatives, Porat said in a September 2020 article with Forbes, “Systemic inequities, like the racial wealth gap create significant disadvantages for minority communities, which is why we’re so focused on providing Black, Latinx and other underserved communities with more equitable access to capital through our partnership.”

The future of women in tech

Brightspot believes in the importance of closing the gender gap and giving women the opportunity to lead, thrive and continue inspiring those around them. The list above is just a handful of the many inspiring leaders paving the way for women in tech today.

Join us at 1:00 pm ET on February 25th for a live webinar on ‘The Future of Women in Tech: Exceeding Expectations and Inspiring Change.’ You’ll hear from three Brightspot panelists as they share their stories across different roles and stages of their careers to give advice for current and future generations of women in the tech industry.

Women make up more than half the total workforce, yet only 25% work in the tech industry. Join us on February 25th for a discussion with our panelists about their paths to a career in technology, their experiences and skills, where they find inspiration and advice they have for others on entering or growing in the tech industry.

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