March is Women’s History Month, and while it’s important to look back and honor those women from the past who paved the way for gender equality, here at New Relic we also wanted to acknowledge some amazing women who are doing important work in our world today.
So I asked my fellow female Relics to name a woman they each admire, someone who serves as an inspiration for their own life and career. In an industry where female leaders are too often under-represented, these seven remarkable women shine as examples of tremendous resolve, creativity, and leadership:
Amy Wibowo, programmer and ’zine writer
Suggested by Paige Bernier, Software Engineer
Formerly an engineer at Airbnb, Amy Wibowo writes amazingly creative zines about computer science topics—demonstrating that these topics can be introduced in a non-traditional way. I admire her because she is living proof that you can like playful and fun things like pastels and hearts and still be super smart. I haven’t met many super-feminine women engineers and it’s awesome to see that representation.
Coco Brown, CEO of The Athena Alliance
Suggested by Yvonne Wassenaar, CIO
Coco is founder and CEO of The Athena Alliance, an organization focused on getting more qualified women on public and private company boards. Having often found herself one of the few women (or only woman) in the room, her passion in taking action to drive gender equality at the highest levels is continually inspiring.
Mary Poppendieck, software development author
Suggested by Nadya Duke Boone, Product Manager
Mary Poppendieck’s books on lean software development were instrumental in helping me bridge the design and manufacturing quality principles I’d learned in electrical engineering to the world of agile software development. Her teachings in this field, which use some of the same concepts I’d learned in engineering grad school, accelerated my understanding and appreciation of agile software practices and helped give me the confidence to apply what I’d learned in a related field to leading software development teams. My model of how to build good software is still influenced by her work.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
Suggested by Danielle Cohen, Account Manager
It is inspiring to see someone like Sheryl Sandberg assume key leadership roles at companies like Google and Facebook. Beyond that, Sheryl has leveraged her role and influence in tech into a platform to help other women support one another, especially through Lean In. She is the definition of leading by example and I feel grateful to have someone like her to look up to in such a male-dominated field. Her influence at Facebook is helping change outdated policies at companies around the country.
Erica Joy Baker, Senior Engineer at Slack
Suggested by Rebecca Holzschuh, Software Engineer
What I admire most about Erica Baker is her commitment to being an outspoken voice for those who need her. She became a spokesperson for diversity and inclusion in the workplace when she created and shared a spreadsheet at Google that exposed pay inequity among genders and ethnicities. Even though she’s shy and introverted and doesn’t enjoy public speaking, she does it anyway because she doesn’t feel comfortable staying silent. Her Twitter feed has helped me become a better citizen of the tech industry. Erica Joy Baker for President!
(We can’t say enough good things about Erica. In fact, we included her in our February list of 6 Young Black Women Making a Difference in Tech.)
Stephanie Shirley, IT pioneer and philanthropist
Suggested by Amie Guidry, Web Manager
“Dame” Stephanie Shirley was a problem solver from the start. She took big risks: starting her own company with little to no capital, hiring women with dependents, and changing her name to “Steve” to fit in the male-dominated tech industry. After she became wealthy, she launched a new career as a prominent philanthropist. She built something of her own and along the way gave big opportunities to those who might have been overlooked. She worked to help break through the glass ceiling limiting women’s career growth, and never quit when things became difficult. I admire her courage and her honesty in sharing her story and her accomplishments with the world.
Megan Smith, former CTO of the United States
Suggested by Tori Wieldt, Developer Advocate
Megan Smith is a high-tech leader using her knowledge and abilities for good. She has helped improve the way the U.S. government uses and interacts with computer technology. She serves as a role model as she stresses the importance of bringing everyone to the table to create workable solutions.
Megan Smith photo credit: