6 Women Using Tech to Change the World

6 Women Using Tech to Change the World


7 seems to be the unlucky number. Only 7% of all investor money goes to women-led startups, and women only accounted for 7% of the 100 richest tech billionaires.

But regardless of whose getting money or who already has it, when someone's really accomplished something good, they deserve the recognition.

The following 6 women are really using tech for social good, and are in the middle of changing the world:

Vanessa Hurst, Founder & CEO of CodeMontage and Girl Develop It

Hurst said that at the age of four, she made a promise to try to help people at all times. By the time she reached college, she thought she had to be a teacher or doctor to do so – until she discovered computer programming.

Hurst says,

Computers are the single best resource we have next to the human mind, and computing has incredible potential to improve the human experience.

In 2010, she started Developers for Good to connect with other technologists and help social causes with our skills.

Hurst founded Girl Develop It, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable programs for adult women interested in learning web and software development in a judgment-free environment.

With CodeMontage, Hurst aims to provide similar possibilities for advancement and fulfillment to coders everywhere. Whether you're a self-taught coder, a recent grad looking for experience, or an experienced developer getting comfortable in a new language, CodeMontage can empower you. Together, they're building a movement of continuous learning that improves the world.

Ayah Bdeir, Founder & CEO of littleBits

littleBits is an award-winning platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that is empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small. Bdeir is an engineer, interactive artist and one of the leaders of the open source hardware movement.

littleBits' mission is to put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone. That's why littleBits is gender-neutral, age agnostic, and independent of country, language, experience, technical ability, or taste in music.

Bdeir’s career and education have centered on advancing open source hardware to make education and innovation more accessible to people around the world. She is a co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit, a TED Senior Fellow and an alumna of the MIT Media Lab.

Rebecca Garcia, CoFounder of CoderDojo NYC

Around 14 Garcia started teaching herself to code and she let her love of learning and sharing turn it into a career. She says that she's been a 'Jill of all trades', having done full-stack (front-end, backend, servers) and have been able to teach kids to code through her nonprofit CoderDojo NYC.

CoderDojo NYC is a volunteer organization which provides open access for exploring, developing, and teaching web, game, and app development skills to youth ages 7 to 17.

Their mission is to create a fun, collaborative environment to explore STEM. Through play, youth can build memorable experiences with mentors to ignite passion for technology at an early age. They've grown to host monthly workshops with dozens of youth, and reach over 1,200 families across the Greater New York area.

Desiree Vargas Wrigley, CoFounder of GiveForward

GiveForward is one of the top online fundraising websites and easiest ways to help a loved one in need. While many online fundraising websites cater towards more general fundraising efforts, GiveForward specializes in and is the premier online platform for medical fundraising.

Since August of 2008, they've helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars online for things like general medical expenses, cancer treatment, transplants, funeral costs and disaster-relief. Whether you or a loved one is in need, GiveForward's committed to helping users bring their fundraising plans to life and supporting them all throughout their fundraising experience.

Heather McGhee, President of Demos

Heather McGhee develops and executes strategy for increasing Demos' impact on federal policy debates in Washington. Previously, she was the Deputy Policy Director, Domestic and Economic Policy, for the John Edwards for President 2008 campaign, and a Program Associate in Demos' Economic Opportunity Program.

Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy.

The name Demos means “the people.” It is the root word of democracy, and it reminds us that in America, the true source of our greatness is the diversity of our people. Our nation’s highest challenge is to create a democracy that truly empowers people of all backgrounds, so that we all have a say in setting the policies that shape opportunity and provide for our common future. To help America meet that challenge, Demos is working to reduce both political and economic inequality, deploying original research, advocacy, litigation, and strategic communications to create the America the people deserve.

Debra Cleaver, Founder and Executive Director of Long Distance Voter

Debra Cleaver has over a decade of experience using web-based technologies to increase voter engagement. In 2004, Cleaver acted as a national director for Swing the State, an online resource that matched volunteers with voter mobilization efforts in swing states. Swing the State was one of the first groups to translate online engagement into on-the-ground action, and was recognized for its ground breaking approach to online/offline organizing. Cleaver started Long Distance Voter in January 2008 with the goal of providing resources for groups of voters that were both motivated and underserved. She raised $5000, recruited a small team of volunteers, and launched longdistancevoter.org on April 21, 2008.

Long Distance Voter served 500,000 visitors within six months, hit 1 million visitors within 18 months, and celebrated its 3 millionth visitor by the end of 2012. Under Cleaver's leadership, Long Distance Voter emerged as a voting powerhouse during the 2012 election season: 129 million Americans voted in 2012; 2 million of them visited longdistancevoter.org first. Debra became LDV's first full-time staff member in June 2014. She's since then spearheaded the development of several voting tools, including the vote-by-mail tool, the check your registration status tool, and their partner portal.  Debra graduated from Pomona College, loves to garden, and lives and works in San Francisco.


There are so many more people who deserve to be on this list, as well. It's always difficult to choose just a few. Who would you like to see on the next version of this list?





Craig, you are missing Elisabeth Stock!

I know you know about her work with CFY (Now called "Power My Learning") because I met you at a CFY fundraiser!

Elisabeth Stock is an MIT-trained Engineer who founded Power My Learning 17 years ago and manages a team of about 60 people. They produce a website (powermylearning.org) that reaches 500,000 people across the United States with digital learning tools that support low-income students.

They are worth checking out. And she is certainly using technology to change education nationally.


You are also missing Elizabeth Holmes!!! Though her use of technology is not internet-based.

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato


Thank you for this! More change makers for your next piece:
Noramay Cardenas, MIT grad and aerospace engineer, now turned into co-founder of "Make in LA" Los Angeles' first hardware accelerator. They had their ribbon cutting last week so if you hurry you can be one of the first to report on this new accelerator!

Then, look at Latinas in STEM Foundation…where Noramay and 5 other women, all graduates of MIT engineering schools, have come together to stand as prominent role models in schools around the country.

Keep the spotlight on these WOMEN!

Then, later on if you are curious, check back in with me and I'll refer you to women veterans like myself who are also changing corners of our world with our innovative works.

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato
Award-winning Publisher, Speaker, Author – "Latinnovating" & "Good Night Captain Mama"

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