30 For 30: The 30 Most Important Women Under 30 In Tech
Women are (relatively) few and far between in the tech industry.
They make up less than 10% of venture capitalists, and they leave the industry at twice the rate of men, according to a recent study by the Kauffman Foundation.
There’s also a shortage of women pursuing engineering, particularly software engineering.
But the women who do choose to enter the tech industry in one way or another are doing incredibly important work.
Over the last couple of weeks, Business Insider accepted nominations for the most important women 30 years old or under in tech. We combined those nominations with our own research to give our readers a definitive list.
We were truly blown away by the number of young, successful women in the tech industry. These women hold a variety of roles in the industry: founder, CEO, engineer, venture capitalist — you name it.
30. Ruzwana Bashir
About: Ruzwana Bashir is a rising star in the startup industry. Her startup Peek attracted investments from two top-notch tech execs: Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square, and Google chairman Eric Schmidt.
Bashir started her career at Goldman Sachs, and then went over to Blackstone. She got her first taste of the startup world when she joined Gilt Groupe, working under Kevin Ryan. She later went to Artsy where she was a member of the founding team.
29. Samantha John
Courtesy of Samantha John
About: Samantha John founded Hopscotch Technologies in 2011. The startup recently launched its flagship app, where kids program their own games and animations. Before Hopscotch, John worked as a developer at Pivotal Labs.
What people are saying about her: Samantha John is “a generally badass programmer and advocate for people of all ages learning to program.”
28. Callie Schweitzer
Director of Marketing and Communications, Vox Media
About: Callie Schweitzer oversees corporate brand management and awareness, and audience growth for SB Nation, The Verge, and Polygon. Prior to joining Vox Media, Schweitzer worked as deputy publisher at Talking Points Memo. While at Talking Points Memo, Schweitzer played a key role in the company’s efforts to increase traffic through distribution deals with Google and Yahoo. Last month, Time magazine named her Twitter feed one of the world’s best last month.
What people are saying about her: “I don’t think I’m overstating things when I say Callie will likely be running the media world by the time she is thirty (or whatever the ‘media world’ looks like by that point). She is literally the future of media.”
27. Stacy-Marie Ishmael
Product Manager, Percolate
About: Stacy-Marie Ishmael is the former founder and editor at market news service FT Tilt. Since the FT shut down FT Tilt in 2011, Ishamel has gone on to work as a product manager at Percolate where she helps brands create, promote, and manage social media content. Ishamel is also an active blogger over on her site Galavant Media, and works as a part-time visiting lecturer at the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.
What people are saying about her: “The reason I’m nominating Stacy is that she is that most unusual person – a woman of color in tech who is brilliant at explaining why it’s so important that we design technology for everyone, and not just women, but women who do not live in the middle-class world of most of us who read publications like Business Insider. She spoke at WNYC’s recent Women in Tech panel at the Greene Space – she always makes me look at things in a new light. That day she pointed out that we are leaving out a huge number of poor women who could be hugely helped by technology, if only developers would design something for them.”
26. Morgan Missen
About: Morgan Missen has made quite the name for herself in the tech industry. When Missen first came to Silicon Valley, she quickly realized that she was a step behind because she lacked an engineering degree. Instead, Missen took the consulting route.
She became a recruiter and has helped bring top-notch engineering talent to companies like Yahoo, EA, and Cisco. Since getting her start, Missen eventually became an in-house consultant at Google. Twitter later poached Missen from Google to become its first recruiter. Her next stop: Foursquare.
Missen left Foursquare in May 2012 to try her own startup, Main, where she helps startups grow and develop their team.
25. Soraya Darabi
About: Soraya Darabi is a two-time entrepreneur working on her latest venture, Zady. Zady is still in stealth mode, but has already raised a $1.35 million round led by NEA.
Prior to starting Zady, Darabi founded Foodspotting, a geo-local guide for finding quality eats around you. Earlier this year, OpenTable acquired the startup for $10 million.
24. Julia Kaganskiy
Editor-at-Large, The Creators Project
During her time at The Creators Project, Kaganskiy has sparked collaborations between Vice Magazine, technologists, and cultural institutions in New York including the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Academy of Science, and the Museum of Modern Art.
23. Courtney Boyd Myers
Courtesy of Courtney Boyd Myers
Founder, Stealth startup
About: Courtney Boyd Myers began her career in journalism, but is gearing up to launch her first startup next month.
Most recently, Myers ran General Assembly’s operations in London, where she helped organize classes, workshops, and events in technology, business, and design. In 2010, Myers became responsible for launching The Next Web in New York City.
This year, Myers co-founded 3460 Miles, a bi-weekly newsletter aimed at connecting the tech scenes in London and New York.
She’s currently a member of 10 Downing and Tech City’s Advisory Board and a mentor at Seedcamp, Ignite100, and BBCWorldWideLabs.
What people are saying about her: “She has tremendous positive energy, and is the kind of person that is always happy to help – whether you are “somebody” in the tech community or not. No ego. Since moving to London, she’s done a fantastic job replicating the goodwill that she’d developed in NYC previously. Her fan club is massive.”
22. Sara Haider
Age: Under 30
About: Sara Haider used to work for Google, but left to become an early engineer at Twitter. She specifically works on Twitter’s Android presence.
What people are saying about her: “When she’s not working tirelessly on both coasts, she runs Twitter’s Women in Engineering group. Largely responsible for getting Silicon Valley on board with initiatives to get more women in tech, including an advisor to Girls Who Code.”
21. Natalia Oberti Noguera
Founder and CEO, The Pipeline Fellowship
About: Natalia founded the Pipeline Fellowship to train women how to become angel investors. The six-month program is essentially a boot camp where women receive mentoring and practical advice on venture funding. Her ultimate goal is to increase the number of women in the world of venture capital.
Before founding Pipeline, Oberti Noguera built a network of female social entrepreneurs in New York City. Within two years, Oberti Noguera grew the network from roughly six women to over 1,200 members.
What people are saying about her: “She is a tireless advocate for women and minorities in the tech space. Natalia is doing really important work!”
20. Kellee Khalil
Age: Under 30
About: When Kellee Khalil was about a week out from launching Loverly, a network of wedding blogs, a big wedding site tried to scare her. A business strategist from a competing company told her that it has $70 million to buy competitors just so it can shut them down. But that didn’t deter Khalil.
Today, Loverly is doing quite well. It indexes photos for 35 wedding blogs and its members view 30 million images on the site every month.
What people are saying about her: “She has more determination than any other person in the world. She kicks ass every single day and has a relentless pursuit to achieve.”
19. Heather Payne
Founder, Ladies Learning Code and HackerYou
About: Heather Payne has set out to make learning computer programming more accessible to women and young girls. In addition to Ladies Learning Code and HackerYou, Payne and her team also run Girls Learning Code, an all girls technology camp in Toronto.
Payne is also the founding director of Hive, the Mozilla-backed youth digital literacy initiative in Toronto. In her “spare time,” Payne angel invests in early stage startups.
What people are saying about her: Heather is “a true force for inspiring women in technology and trying to bring coding into schools.”
18. Amanda Spann and Kat Calvin
CMO and CEO, Blerdology
Ages: 26 and 29
About Spann: Amanda Spann has played an instrumental role in the formation of Blerdology, a social enterprise dedicated to increasing the number of African-Americans in tech. Blerdology, formerly known as Black Girls Hack, is the company behind the signature hackathon series #BlackHack.
In addition to her media and marketing work at Blerdology, Spann is also the founder at Brandspan Consulting, and interactive PR and branding firm. The entrepreneur and media strategist has worked for and with big-name companies including Atlantic Records, Sean John, and Ciroc, and startups including Mobli and Hinge.
About Calvin: Kat Calvin is a serial entrepreneur with a background in law. Her company, Blerdology produced the country’s first all black female hackathon last year, and continues to host events throughout the country to help African-Americans become fluent in computer programming.
Calvin’s other startup, Character’s Closet, helps fans find and purchase outfits they see on TV and in movies.
17. Kristen Titus
Executive Director, Girls Who Code
About: Kristen Titus is the executive of Girls Who Code, an organization working to , inspire and equip 13- to 17-year-old girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in technology and engineering.
Prior to joining Girls Who Code, Titus served as the managing director of, the social network for connecting people to non-profits and social causes.
What people are saying about her: “Kristen is a total powerhouse. In just a year she grew Girls Who Code from a pilot program in NY to launching their summer program in 5 different cities. I can attest to the fact that these programs have been a huge success. The girls came into it basically not knowing what programming was and left inspired to major in computer science in college.”
16. Kathryn Parsons
About: Kathryn Parsons founded Decoded in 2011 to help people become digitally literate and learn how to code in just one day. To date, Decoded has taught more than 2,000 U.K.-based professionals basic skills and knowledge to understand what’s happening on their computer.
15. Meredith Perry
About: Meredith Perry is a first-time entrepreneur who recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in astrobiology. Her first startup, uBeam, hasn’t launched yet but the idea alone has made a lot of people really excited.
uBeam is a wireless charging device that can charge multiple devices at once. Within moments of meeting Perry, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer decided to invest in the company. Other investors in uBeam include FF Angel, Andreessen Horowitz, Tony Hsieh, CrunchFund, and Ellen Levy.
What people are saying about her: “She is just brilliant. And the fact that she is creating a technology that could change our lives every day is inspiring.”
14. Parisa Tabriz
“Security Princess” (aka Chrome Security Engineering Manager), Google
About: Parisa Tabriz is in charge of Google’s information security engineering team, which focuses on improving security in Google’s array of products. She leads the team of “hired hackers” in conducting security design and code reviews, and trains engineers how to secure products.
13. Sarah Kunst
Courtesy of Sarah Kunst
Retail Innovations Investor, Mohr Davidow Ventures
About: Sarah Kunst got her start in the tech industry working at Apple under Path founder Dave Morin. Before becoming a retail innovations investor at Mohr Davidow Ventures, Kunst ran business development & product at fashion app Kaleidoscope, a startup backed by Y Combinator, 500 Startups, SV Angel and Start Fund backed.
What people are saying about her: “Sarah is the woman in tech you want to know. She’s got valuable connections and a pulse on the startup scene only folks who are deeply integrated seem to have. She has a background in tech, commerce and media … In short – Sarah has deep roots to the startup community and she’s an “idea” person for the big brands – good combo.”
12. Angie Chang
Co-Founder and Editor in Chief, Founder, Director of Growth, of Women 2.0, Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, Hackbright Academy
About: Angie Chang is a force to be reckoned with in the tech industry, having mobilized women in entrepreneurship, technology, and business through various events with Women 2.0 and Girl Geek Dinners.
In 2006, Chang founded Women 2.0, a media company and place for female entrepreneurs to connect with and learn from each other. Chang also works at Hackbright Academy, a ten-week program where women receive training to become software engineers and guidance for finding jobs.
11. Tracy Chou
Software engineer, Pinterest
Age: Under 30
About: Tracy Chou is one of the most senior software engineers at Pinterest. When Chou left Quora back in 2011, the question-and-answer site lost a very coveted engineer. Before Quora, Chou interned at both Facebook and Google.
What people are saying about her: “She is THE woman under 30 in tech in Silicon Valley.”
10. Amanda Peyton
Co-Founder, Grand St.
Age: Under 30 (29/30)
About: Before co-founding Grand St., an invite-only, flash-sales site that curates the best gadgets, Amanda Peyton co-founded location-based site and app, MessageParty in 2010. But the service, which let users leave messages about a specific place, is now in the dead pool.
Prior to entering the entrepreneurial world, Peyton held an internship at New Atlantic Ventures where she researched potential investments in mobile, new media, and e-commerce.
What people are saying about her: “We think that Amanda rocks and should be part of this list.”
9. Alexa von Tobel
About: Alexa von Tobel made a bold move in her early 20s. She dropped out of Harvard Business School to start her own company.
Since founding LearnVest, the company has raised over $25 million in funding and has helped millions of people get savvier about their finances.
What people are saying about her: “Alexa has taken the finance world by storm. She had the courage to drop out of Harvard to pursue her idea and has turned it into a multimillion dollar company in 3 years. She’s built an impressive team around her and has managed to get attention and respect in an industry that’s nearly impenetrable by those outside the old boys’ club.”
8. Kathryn Minshew, Alex Cavoulacos, Melissa McCreery
Co-Founders and CEO, The Muse
Age: 28, 27, 27
About: Kathryn Minshew and her team at The Muse are leading the way in the online content and career opportunity space.
Before founding the Muse, Minshew worked on vaccine introduction in Rwanda and Malawi with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. McCreery worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Co. Cavoulacos also worked as a management consultant, helping solve strategic and operational questions for firms throughout the world.
What people are saying about Minshew: “Not only has she honed her McKinsey-trained business acumen, she has also become a national expert on career, job search and entrepreneurship, appearing regularly on Bloomberg, Fox, CNN and in the Wall Street Journal. She’s also become the ultimate connector and networking pro while single handily bringing on clients like Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, Mashable, Gucci, TED, Aol, and many more.”
What people are saying about Cavaoulacos: “I feel like as COO, [Alex Cavaoulacos] gets less credit, but she is SUCH a mover and shaker and I really appreciate her insights. Just more behind the scenes.”
What people are saying about McCreery: “A Harvard physics major, Melissa taught herself to code in Python last summer, and now builds features daily.”
7. Adda Birnir
Founder and CEO, Skillcrush
About: Adda Birnir first made a name for herself while working as an associate producer at MTV. She later went on to build a tablet publishing business called Balance Media, with clients including MTV, WNYC, ProPublica, and Audible. Now, she’s working on Skillcrush, an online platform for teaching digital literacy.
What people are saying about her: “Adda is everything you want the future of technology, startups, innovators to be. She’s smart. She’s got tremendous experience. And with Skillcrush, she is doing more than just her own interests – she’s teaching the next generation of programmers and entrepreneurs. She’s re-shaping the whole discussion about how you learn to code and what you do with it. That’s a big deal and its all Adda.”
6. Roxanne Varza
Startup Evangelist, Microsoft
Age: Under 30
About: Roxanne Varza currently runs some of Microsoft’s startup-related initiatives in Europe, specifically its BizSpark and Spark programs. Prior to joining Microsoft, Varza worked as the editor of TechCrunch France. She is also VP of Business Development and Partnerships for Girls in Tech Global and started and leads the French and British chapters of the organization.
What people are saying about her: “I once tried to hire Roxanne, but she was too savvy and entrepreneurial to allow me to lure her into a full-time job with free food. She subsequently worked as an editor at TechCrunch, bringing her swagger to the French tech scene. Throughout her brief years in the industry, she’s been a tireless advocate for entrepreneurship and women in technology, having co-founded Girls in Tech France, and blazed a path across Europe’s startup scene. She’s now getting a solid education in the history of technology at Microsoft, where she continues to battle for underdog as part of the BizSpark and Spark programs.”
5. Naomi Gleit
Senior Director of Growth, Facebook
About: Naomi has worked at Facebook since nearly the very beginning. Joining the social network in July 2005, Gleit became Facebook’s 29th employee. Under Gleit’s leadership, Facebook has grown from 1 million users to over 1 billion users. Gleit is also responsible for Facebook’s “People You May Know” feature.
What people are saying about her: “She is a key part of the Facebook team and has and continues to play an important role in realizing Facebook’s vision.”
4. Lisa Falzone
Lisa Falzone//Revel Systems
Co-Founder and CEO, Revel Systems
About: Lisa Falzone is the genius behind the award-winning Revel Systems point-of-sale system for the iPad. Revel Systems is considered to be a leader in iPad POS solutions, with major retailers, restaurants, and grocery stores using Revel.
Last year, Revel signed on Goodwill and Belkin as retail partners. Under Falzone’s leadership, Revel reached profitability after being available on the market for just one year.
Prior to founding Revel Systems, Falzone worked in venture capital in the U.K.
3. Rachel Haot
NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment
Chief Digital Officer, City of New York
About: Rachel Haot is New York City’s first-ever chief digital officer. That means it’s Haot’s job to bring technology adoption to the city, and lead the charge behind the We Are Made in NY initiative to support and fuel tech growth in the city.
Before taking up the role of CDO of NYC, Haot founded and led GroundReport, a crowdsourced news startup. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, where she has taught social media and entrepreneurship.
What people are saying about her: “Rachel is just a ground breaker. She’s the first CDO in NYC history. She’s doing things with data in relation to city services and similar that most couldn’t even imagine. I’ve known her for years and she has always impressed, and more.”
2. Anastasia Leng
Courtesy of Nick Heller
About: Anastasia Leng is a former long-time Googler turned entrepreneur. While at Google, Leng was responsible for driving the company’s social initiatives. She’s also the brainchild behind Google Campus, a co-working space in East London’s Tech City.
When Leng told Google she was leaving, the company tried everything it could to get her to stay. Management offered her highly coveted positions that had not previously been open
Now, Leng is working on her own startup. Makeably is a marketplace for one-of-a-kind handmade products.
What people are saying about her: “I used to manage Anastasia at Google. Those were the good old days, when I didn’t have to manage. Life was good and business was booming. She was a shooting star across the primary colored Google sky, briefly illuminating the hallowed halls of the g-plex with a deft touch for marketing and new business development. She subsequently left the Google orbit for the nearby founders universe, where she’s now helping surface talented creators, opening up new markets for niche businesses, and delighting users by making bespoke items easily accessible. As proof of her genius, I’ve attached a picture. The bright, phosphorescent glow above her head in the image is not light distortion, that’s her intellect, prowess and angelic qualities emanating beyond her being.”
1. Libby Leffler
About: Libby Leffler served as Facebook COO Sheryl Sanberg’s business lead for three years before becoming the social network’s strategic partner manager.
Currently, she’s leading a division of partnerships at Facebook with an emphasis on causes, non-profits, advocacy groups, and public figures.
Prior to Facebook, Leffler worked at Google as a strategist in the Online Sales and Operations group, which Sandberg ran at the time.
What people are saying about her: “Libby is a rising star in the Silicon Valley…There is no question that Libby is one of the most important women under 30 in tech — she is a complete rock star. I also find her to be hilarious and a very cool person.”