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8 Female Techies Don't count the women out. They're making a difference in technology, too.

By Lena West

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Looking at the speaker's rosters at most technology conferences, the photos from technology networking events and the board of director lists of some of the most powerful technology companies, one might think the technology industry were completely ruled by men. Not so.

Loads of women are leading tech companies to the forefront. Here are profiles of just a few of the women who are shaking up the status quo and making a noticeable difference in today's technology landscape.

Lucinda Sanders: Who she is
Co-founder and CEO of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), along with Robert Schnabel and Telle Whitney

What she does
NCWIT is a not-for-profit coalition of more than 100 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies and nonprofits dedicated to increasing women's participation in technology--not only as users, but as inventors. Her job as CEO is to make sure that happens. She helps chart the strategy, manage the operations, plan national events, reach out to members and take out the trash. (She's a startup CEO, after all.)

How she's making a difference
NCWIT is active with the national press and in Washington, DC, advocating and supporting innovative work force development programs. The organization also provides community, research, workshops and other resources to its members.

Why she's making a difference
"I care about the overall success of women in technology because I think women can--and must--play a role in inventing the technology upon which society increasingly depends. Women bring different life experiences to the technology design table, and these will most certainly be reflected in the technical design," Sanders says.

Through her research and experience, Sanders knows that diversity of thought spurs innovation. In fact, a 2007 patent study done by NCWIT showed that, within the U.S., information technology patents with at least one man and one woman on the team were more frequently cited than teams with just men or just women.

Someone she thinks is making a difference
Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, is at the forefront of the dialogue to interest more women in computing.

Dina Kaplan: Who she is
Co-founder and COO of

What she does is a leader in providing video sharing with a focus on video blogging and podcasting services. Kaplan oversees operations and the business side of, with a particular focus on managing sponsorship sales. For example, she matches top shows with brands and shares revenues from these deals with content creators. She's also involved in PR, marketing and managing the company's operating budget.

How she's making a difference
Kaplan believes that women in technology (and she believes there are far too few of them) should help each other and also mentor young women beginning careers in new media.

She organized a New York event called "TechBrunch" for women in digital media, and she enjoys spending her off hours meeting with young women seeking to further their careers in digital media.

She also recommends fellow female entrepreneurs for speaking slots at conferences and connects them with people at traditional media companies who could be helpful to their companies or their careers.

Why she's making a difference
"There are so few women working in technology, and there are a particularly small number of women entrepreneurs. We need to work to understand why that is and then help change those dynamics," Kaplan says.

Another reason she is committed to helping women in technology is because of the experiences she had raising money for the first round of funding at "I'm not sure would be where it is without the help of Gerry Laybourne from Oxygen, who gave us our first revenue deal, or Allison Goldberg at Time Warner, who connected us to CNN/Turner for's first significant revenue deal," she says. She wants to pay their generosity forward "for many female entrepreneurs to come."

Her vision for the future includes "a great group of women angel investors" that future female entrepreneurs could approach to invest in the next generation of female-led tech companies.

Women she thinks are making a difference
Some women who are making a difference in technology are: Esther Dyson, an investor in IT startups; Gerry Laybourne, chairman and CEO of Oxygen Media; and Gina Bianchini, CEO and co-founder of Ning, a social-networking platform.

Kate Thorp: Who she is
Founder and CEO of Real Girls Media

What she does
Real Girls Media is a media and advertising network for women made up of unique websites targeting different age groups. Thorp's main role is to direct the strategic vision and strategy of Real Girls Media.

The realities of being a startup entrepreneur find her working closely on product development, marketing programs, revenue generation, business expansion plans and quality assurance testing. She's also been known to throw a party or two in celebration of her team's successes.

How she's making a difference
Real Girls Media allows women to reach the masses with their wisdom, musing and stories. community strives to reflect and engage the whole woman, not just a stage or event in her life.

Why she's making a difference
"I've worked very hard most of my life to advance communications, whether it was as a journalist, advertising executive, publisher or through founding a trade organization. I feel compelled to use this new medium to allow women to have their voices heard," Thorp says.

Women she thinks are making a difference
Every woman is making a change in technology. Just by using technology they are making a difference. The fact is, more women are being drawn to iPods and digital games than ever expected. Women are changing technology.

Sabrina Parsons: Who She Is
CEO, Palo Alto Software

What she does
Parsons runs Eugene, Oregon-based Palo Alto Software. Palo Alto Software provides tools, services and content for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

It has two main products, Business Plan Pro and Marketing Plan Pro, and has just launched its first software-as-a-service product, Email Center Pro.

Parsons was recently named CEO of Palo Alto Software, taking the reins from her super-successful father, Tim Berry. Being the founder's daughter has created additional challenges for Parsons, she says: "Even before taking over as CEO last year, since joining Palo Alto Software I have had to contend with many people who think that I am only in this position because of my dad."

How she's making a difference
Parsons blogs about women's business issues on her Mommy CEO blog; she attends women's leadership conferences, helps women start companies and tries to be available to women who face similar business challenges.

Why she's making a difference
Parsons often is the only woman in business meetings. She is well aware that before most people meet her, there are questions about whether she is qualified. So she makes sure she's well-prepared, ready to respond to any question, a top contributor and extremely professional. When people see her in action, they understand that she's where she is because she's qualified and smart.

Parsons also believes that it's important for people to see that anyone can be a top technology leader. "It is important that other women see me as a confident, happy person in technology," she says. "I don't believe in looking at the negatives, or wallowing in the inequalitiesWe can do anything we want, and we don't have to apologize for it."

Someone she thinks is making a difference
Mena Trott of Six Apart has blazed a great trail in the Web 2.0 world and is a well-respected technology entrepreneur.

Karen Wickre: Who she is
Senior manager of global communications and public affairs at Google Inc.

What she does
Wickre oversees the entire network of Google's corporate blogs--about 115 of them. Since 2004, she has also served as editor of the original Google Blog. Since then she and her team have established the request process, best practices, content training and collaboration with PR colleagues for all the rest of the Google blogs.

How she's making a difference
Wickre is making a difference by being herself. As a two-time liberal arts degree holder, she hopes to demonstrate that it's not necessarily formal education that gets you in the door. Rather, a love of what technology can do and wanting to work smarter, collaborate and communicate are what really matter.

Why she's making a difference
"The old saying is 'women hold up half the sky.' That's true, and so is the fact that women's affinities and experiences shape, and should shape, technology development.

Women she thinks are making a difference
Mary Lou Jepsen, founder and CEO of Pixel Qi; Joy Mountford, who designs and manages interface design efforts; Anna Patterson, president of co-founder of a startup called Cuill, was the architect of Google's TeraGoogle search index; and Nancy Frishberg, an expert in usability engineering.

Elisa Camahort Page, Jory Des Jardins, Lisa Stone: Who they are
Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer co-founder and COO
Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer co-founder and president of strategic alliances
Lisa Stone, BlogHer co-founder and CEO

What they do
Blog Her is a web network, a series of annual conferences and an advertising network of more than 1,400 qualified blog affiliates.

Camahort Page manages all BlogHer events, marketing, public relations, general administration and operations. Des Jardins manages conference sponsorships and strategic alliances and partnerships. Stone manages all product and editorial, including and

How they're making a difference
BlogHer's mission has been consistent since 2005: To create opportunities for education, exposure, community and economic empowerment for women bloggers. That mission drove the development of the four main things that BlogHer does:

  1. Conferences
    BlogHer was born in 2005 with its first conference. Events deliver educational and community-driven programming across all blogging interests and disciplines. BlogHer provides exposure to new and diverse women bloggers as speakers at its events.
    The web community and news hub features more than 50 contributing editors covering what's hot in the blogosphere across more than 20 topics. Last year the trio gave every community member the ability to blog on the site.
  3. BlogHer ads
    When a segment of the BlogHer community expressed interest in finding a better business model for doing something it loves and is good at, BlogHer launched the BlogHer Ad Network. The network acts as a publisher for more than 1,500 bloggers by selling and serving ads on their sites.
  4. Activist initiatives
    From BlogHers Act, an initiative to save women's lives across the world, to the omnipartisan 2008 election coverage, BlogHer has proved its dedication to creating opportunities for women bloggers to raise their voices and take action.

Why they're making a difference
"Three years ago there was this meme; a question that we knew had to die, namely: 'Where are the women?' We decided that instead of talking (or even blogging) about it, we would just do something," Camahort Page says.

The BlogHer founders believe that each time they address the where-are-the-women question before it is asked, they are serving their mission.

Women they think are making a difference
As bloggers, we can't help but mention the women who co-developed some of the applications we use every day: Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr; Marissa Mayer , vice president of search products and user experience at Google; and Mena Trott, co-founder and president of Six Apart.

Lena West is the CEO and Chief Strategist of xynoMedia Technology, a New York-based firm that helps high-growth companies leverage the power of social media, blogs, podcasts and online communities.

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