SAN FRANCISCO (WOMENSENEWS)–In a rare event designed to call attention to women who are high-profile in the high-tech world, 25 women activists, scientists, educators, programmers, venture capitalists and writers were honored here as movers, shakers and shapers of the Internet and of U.S. technology.
The 25 serve as models and mentors and were chosen from 200 nominations by San Francisco Women on the Web, a four-year-old networking, development and support group for women in Internet and new-media professions.
"There were lots of top-200 lists and awards for people in technology, but there weren’t many women represented," said Lara Thurman, executive director of San Francisco Women on the Web, organizer of the celebration.
She added that she hopes that the necessity of such gender-specific awards will one day disappear as completely as rotary phones.
At the recent ceremony at a Civic Center performance space, many honorees grabbed their moment to tell a bit of their personal stories and what their motivations were.
Activist Evelyn Pine helps nonprofit groups build community by assisting them in the effective use of technology. In her 20-year career as an activist, she’s seen numerous technologies that were supposed to change the world, she said.
"Public access cable TV was supposed to bring community interest to the fore," she said. "It’s laughable. Technology never liberated anybody. People, gathering in groups, liberate themselves."
Carol Muller peered into the future when she founded MentorNet. In 1998, she paired industry professionals with 200 women studying science or engineering at undergrad or graduate levels. Next year, Muller anticipates 3,500 participants.
"There is a high rate of satisfaction with MentorNet. Students report that self-confidence increased," she said. Women make up half of the work force but only 9 percent of the engineers and 6 percent of all aerospace engineers. Muller said that the women who drop out of engineering programs do so with better grades than the men who stay. Confidence can make a difference, she said.
"Some women love being pioneers. Others look around and wonder, ‘What’s wrong with me?’"
Honoree Louise Kirkbride, a member of the first class that included women at the California Institute of Technology, is now the chief executive officer of Broad Daylight. She has started three companies and holds the first patent for problem resolution technology.
"I recommend that women look for positions where the rubber hits the road, like sales or hard-core technology," she said.
Top 25 Are a Who’s Who of Internet and Information Technology Genius
Bonnie Bracey, a former classroom teacher who is now a Lucas Foundation fellow and consultant, says everyone wants to wire classrooms but no one wants to teach the teachers.
"Only 3 percent of all the tech money goes into teacher training," Bracey says, adding that teachers have to be taught technology by a peer if they are going to incorporate it into their classrooms.
When President Clinton and Vice President Gore wired classrooms for the Internet, teacher Bonnie Bracey was captured on the official B roll.
Pioneer is a comfortable label for Janette Bradley, director and executive producer of AvidProNet. Avid is the industry standard for digital media creation professionals, from news teams to animators. She was the only girl in the computer club at her school in El Paso, Texas.
"I was on BITNET (the technology that preceded modern e-mail), the only girl playing Dungeons and Dragons on a computer I soldered together," she said. She also believes in mentoring. "Mentor human beings. Let men and boys see that women can be managers, soccer players, anything," she said. "Let boys know that talent is not female or male."
Authors, Creative Directors, and at Least One Genius
Monika Henzinger heads research for Google.com, one of the Internet’s most effective search engines.
Ann Navarro is the chief executive officer of WebGeek and had a hand in creating the language XHTM, a popular Web design software. Her best-selling books include "Effective Web Design" and "Mastering XML."
Patricia Beckmann, founder of Bunsella Films creates computer graphic special effects for major motion picture studios and most recently created a pilot for Oxygen Media. Tiffany Shlain is founder and director of the Webby Awards and can be seen on "Good Morning America."
Karan Eriksson is a vice president at CP Software Group. She is expanding "world of web masters" certification to high-school students at every income level. The certification program helps young adults find technology jobs.
Doreen Galli is the e-business global facilitator for IBM’s integration technology services. Mie-Yun Lee is founder and vice president for strategic services of BuyerZone.com, an e-marketplace for small-business purchasing. She also writes a syndicated column, Savvy Business Shopper.
Figures in Web Design, Women’s Studies and Nonprofits
The awards also recognized programmers such as Mala Chandra, vice president of platform engineering at Zaplet.
Dr. Tracey Wilen has written numerous books about women and business, she teaches seminars and is an adjunct professor for Masters in Business Administration programs at San Francisco Bay-area universities.
The list included teachers and professors. Joan Korenman directs the Center for Women and Information Technology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. She is also a professor of English and women’s studies and took part in the 1995 United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing.
Barbara Simons is an educator with the Association of Computing Machinery. An Internet inventor, she holds several patents and has authored numerous technical papers. She has been featured in "Science" magazine and serves on the president’s Export Council’s subcommittee on encryption.
Ruann Ernst is chairman and chief executive officer of Digital Island. She spent 10 years at Hewlett-Packard, and at Ohio State University she served as director of medical computing services and assistant professor of medicine and computer science.
Others honored were Roberta Furger, author of "Does Jane Compute? Preserving Our Daughters’ Place in the Cyber Revolution," Katharine Mieszkowski, writer for Salon.com, and Ardith Ibanez Rigby, creative director of Akimbo Design. Others from the nonprofit world were Tracey Pettengill of 4charity, Sharron Rush, co-founder of Knowbility, and Jane Cravens, webmaster of Virtual Volunteering.
Mari Matsunaga, who designed the I-phone, was honored in absentia. Netochka Nezvanova, an art director and computer artist working in Europe, was also one of the 25.
Nancy Schaadt is a free-lance writer based in Dallas.
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