Women in technology rarely ever get the credit or recognition they deserve. It’s also unfortunate that there is a shortage of female talent in the mobile space. The lack of women in the fields of science and technology has always been a controversial issue, but we’re not here to speculate on those matters today. Instead, we’d like to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day by recognizing some of the most important women in mobile technology.
We’ve chosen five women who are shaping and driving the world of mobile technology today and listed them below. It was a bit difficult to compile this list, but not because there are so many to choose from – quite the opposite. Hopefully, more women will be encouraged to step up to the men in this business, and that next year we can confidently put together a list of 10 or maybe even 20.
Although Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Marissa Mayer has quickly become the face of the search giant. She was even chosen as Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 2009. Mayer joined the Google team in its early days after graduating from Stanford University. Now Mayer is VP of consumer products, which means no products or services are released to the public before she approves.
Now that location-based services are becoming huge for Android, Mayer’s role in the mobile space will be bigger than ever. Last fall, she took on the role of overseeing local and location services for Google, and Android applications that take advantage of local business deals are steadily growing. Additionally, Google Navigation, which falls under the local and location services business for Google, is becoming more popular as the Android platform begins to dominate the mobile operating system space.
Although the tech world has followed Mayer’s work at Google closely, those in the mobile space ought to keep a close eye on what she’s doing for Android, too.
Christy Wyatt is the Corporate VP of Software & Services Product Management for Motorola. She is in charge of planning software platforms, services, applications and experiences for Motorola. She also happens to be responsible for MOTOBLUR, the custom user-interface and cloud service that Motorola has been using for its Android devices. In addition to managing platform direction and its products and services, Wyatt also oversees Motorola’s developers, or the MOTODEV community.
Given Motorola’s huge comeback in the mobile space with the Droid in November 2009, and the ultimate expansion of the Droid smartphone line, we can expect to see even bigger things in Motorola’s future thanks to Wyatt and her team.
Wyatt came to Motorola in 2005 from Apple, and prior to Apple she was at PalmSource for licensing PalmOS.
We’ve come to think of CEO Peter Chou when we think of HTC, but Cher Wang is the chairman and co-founder of the popular Taiwanese manufacturer. Wang and her team at HTC created the predecessor to smartphones as we know them today back in 1997. Today, HTC is responsible for the first ever Android device, the T-Mobile G1, and makes some of our favorite Android handsets, like the EVO 4G for Sprint and the upcoming Thunderbolt for Verizon.
Wang was listed by Forbes as the fifth richest person in Taiwan in 2008, and though she comes from a very wealthy family, it was her hard work at HTC that really pushed her success. Wang graduated from UC Berkeley in 1981 with a master’s degree in economics.
Robin Bienfait is the CIO at Research In Motion, or RIM, maker of arguably the most popular smartphone of all time. Over the last ten years, BlackBerry has penetrated the corporate world and trickled down to younger users who are a tremendous fan of its BlackBerry Messenger service. Bienfait has been overseeing all of RIM’s operations and corporate IT since January 2007.
Surprisingly, Bienfait retired with a full pension from AT&T after 22 years with the company. She could have spent her days enjoying the fruits of her labor without having to work, but was far too driven and so she ended up being in charge of the BlackBerry network and infrastructure.
Bienfait received a BS in engineering from Central Missouri State University, and a master’s in Management of Technology from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Mary T. McDowell
Mary McDowell is the EVP of Mobile Phone for Nokia, the world’s largest and leading mobile phone manufacturer. In terms of sheer numbers, Nokia is still number one globally for mobile phone market share. McDowell has been on Nokia’s leadership team since 2004 and oversees business and product development of Nokia’s global mobile phone operations, according to her profile on the company’s website.
McDowell reports directly to Stephen Elop, Nokia’s new CEO and former Microsoft exec, so she will be a huge part of the company’s future efforts in propagating Windows Phone 7. Nokia is really putting a lot of eggs into the WP7 basket, and there have been talks about the uncertainty of Nokia’s future since last year’s exodus of executives. Given McDowell’s history – she was with HP-Compaq starting as a systems engineer for 17 years – she is definitely strong enough to fulfill her role in Nokia’s global efforts.
McDowell received a BS in computer science from the University of Illinois and is a member of the Board of Visitors of the College of Engineering there.
There are many other women who are driving the mobile industry forward as feature phone and smartphone adoption continues to grow worldwide. They are key to the development of new software and applications, and also help evangelize new products and services. So to the women mentioned above, and the countless others who are working hard and innovating in this rapidly evolving industry, we want to say thank you and give you recognition for all your efforts.