Most media reports would have you believe that testosterone is the fuel of technological innovation, and recent data seems to back that perception. While women account for 47% of the U.S. workforce, in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), women hold a mere 25% of the jobs. There are a handful of ‘golden girls’ who are regularly trotted out by the tech media. Superstars like Marissa Mayer and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg have each blazed a trail in the headline department.
Sandberg is a passionate advocate for women in the workplace, and she recently made history when she joined Facebook’s all-male board of directors. Mayer’s career began at Google, where she was the first female engineer and quickly rose in the tech giant’s ranks. Last month Mayer rocked the tech world when she left Google to take the reigns as Yahoo’s CEO. And these women aren’t alone -- Xerox’s Ursula Burns is the first African American woman to head a major tech company, and Jane McGonigal has shown the world that women are gamers too. But the fact remains, in the world of tech innovation and entrepreneurship, women have a very low profile -- however, the Female Founders Series is out to change that perception.
With support from American Express, the Female Founders Series highlights women in the workplace, with a special focus on women who are going the risky route of entrepreneurship. The series highlights 41 women who are successfully carving out their own turf in the world that fuses innovation with technology. Meet a few of the Fabulous Founding Femmes:
- Alexa von Tobel, CEO and Founder, LearnVest. Gates and Zuckerberg move over! There’s another Harvard drop-out on the rise. Von Tobel left Harvard Business School to launch LearnVest, a personal finance platform that offers tools, content and financial planning for women, when she won an Astia business plan competition. In 2009, she raised $1.1 million in seed money and launched her ‘baby’. Since then, she has raised over $24 million to finance future development.
- Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Founder and Chairman, Joyus. A veteran of Google, Amazon, Jodlee and News Corporation, Singh Cassidy founded Joyus, an e-commerce site that connects consumers with their new favorite things in apparel, beauty and lifestyle.
- Laura Fitton, Founder, oneforty. Fitton is a true Twitter pioneer and tech trend- spotter. She authored Twitter for Dummies, and was in the vanguard of understanding how Tweets could be harnessed and used for marketing potential. Her idea for a Twitter app store - oneforty - became such a success that it was bought out by Hubspot in 2011.
- Kass Lazerow, Co-Founder & COO, Buddy Media. Kass and her husband her husband, Mike Lazerow, work together, but this is not a typical mom and pop shop. Kass self describes herself as the most competitive person she knows, and her history bears this out. The couple sold their first venture, GOLF.com, to Time Inc. in 2006. Next, they brought the social media management software Buddy Media into the market, which was recently acquired by Salesforce for a hefty $689 million.
- Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, Co-Founders, Rent the Runway. The team of Jenn and Jenny dreamed up this idea while classmates at Harvard Business School. The concept? A on-line rental service for high end designer duds. The results? As of 2012, Rent the Runway has $30 million in funding, a team of 140, 2.5 million customers and more than 25,000 outfits available for rental.
The list of ventures span everything from the world of pop culture to philanthropic causes -- all with the common thread of being founded by enterprising, risk-taking women. The ‘boys’ had better take notice.