March 8 was International Women’s Day, and an opportunity for people around the world to celebrate the many contributions made by women in all walks of life, including IT. Below are five inspiring women in tech that have, through perseverance, hard work and dedication, shattered the glass ceiling.
Safra Catz, CEO, Oracle
Safra Catz started with Oracle in 1999 and was named Co-President and CFO in 2011. In 2014, she was named Co-CEO alongside Mark Hurd after Oracle Founder Larry Ellison stepped down. And then in 2019, after Hurd passed away, Catz was named the company’s sole CEO. Catz is routinely ranked among the most powerful women in business by Forbes and Fortune, and she was elected to the Board of Directors for the Walt Disney Company in 2017. Here is her advice to aspiring women leaders: “The most significant barrier to female leadership is the actual lack of females in leadership. The best advice I can give to women is to go out and start something, ideally their own businesses. If you can’t see a path for leadership within your own company, go blaze a trail of your own.”
Ruth Porat, CFO, Alphabet and Google
After working as CFO at Morgan Stanley between 2010 and 2015, Porat joined Google as CFO, and was later named CFO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. In 2018, Forbes named her the 21st most powerful woman in the world, and Fortune ranked her the 9th most powerful woman in the world. It is also notable that Porat was diagnosed with and overcame breast cancer in both 2001 and 2004. These difficult experiences have inspired her to support health-care initiatives at Google and Alphabet.
Amy Hood, CFO, Microsoft
Amy Hood joined Microsoft in 2002. After a successful tenure with the company’s investor relations group, she led the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, and also ran the business development team in the business division. She was named the company’s first female CFO in 2013, and in the subsequent five years played a key role in Microsoft’s stock surging nearly 300 percent. Hood is currently ranked by Forbes as the 28th most powerful woman in the world, and in 2017 was named to 3M’s Board of Directors.
Hooi Ling Tan, COO, Grab Holdings Inc.
While attending Harvard Business School, Hooi Ling Tan worked with a classmate, Anthony Tan, on a business plan for a groundbreaking mobile app that would connect taxis and customers at a location that was mutually closest to both of them. This vision would later become GrabTaxi (a.k.a. “Grab”), which is currently valued at around $14 billion and operates in more than 335 countries. In an interview, Tan highlighted three key lessons that she believes are pivotal to success: you must care deeply about what you’re doing; you must be willing to put in the time and effort to see your vision come to life; and you must be ready and willing to celebrate success when it happens — because there will be many setbacks and challenges along the way.
Ginni Rometty, Chair, CEO and President of IBM (until April)
Virginia (“Ginni”) Rometty is the first woman to head IBM. She joined the company in 1981 as a systems engineer, and worked her way up into executive sales, marketing and strategy roles. Rometty has received many awards, including being named to Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, TIME Magazine’s 20 Most Important People in Tech, and Forbes’ Top 50 Women in U.S. Tech. She also spearheaded one of the largest deals in history: the $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat.
In January 2020, we found out Ginni Rometty stepped down as CEO of IBM. She will remain IBM's executive chairwoman until the end of the year.
She has been an influential woman for many years and will continue to be after her retirement. We also wanted to pay tribute to all the work she has done for IBM over the years. Her story is so inspiring and she will stay among the most powerful women in the world.
The good news is that there are more women executives in tech than ever before. But there is still plenty of work to do — and attitudes to evolve — before the playing field is level, and leadership is based on one’s ability, knowledge and work ethic, rather than gender. Although we have a long way to go, the growing number of women in tech makes me very hopeful for the future!