Since the beginning of time, women have found ways to change the status quo.
The list of historical examples is long, increasingly widely taught and beloved by women and girls — enthralled by the influencers who have stood before them. Being a female leader in any industry involves a strong set of skills and traits - particularly leadership skills.
In this blog, we look at the women leading digital disruption — the ones penetrating the distinctly male-dominated tech and digital marketing industries with a special type of courage, imagination, and strength.
While these historical and modern women influencers have taken over different industries and skillsets across time, there’s one underlying similarity between all of them: They are warriors, shaking things up.
In its essence, digital disruption is when an industry undergoes a fundamental transformation in traditional processes and practices. This transformation is invariably caused by emerging business models and new digital technologies.
You only need to look at the digital marketing trends in 2022 and beyond to see the pace of change digital brings. These new, innovative models and technologies impact the value of existing services and products on the market, which usually unsettles once-dominant companies, effectively forcing change upon the rest of the market.
Hence the term, ‘disruption’.
Digital disruption is everywhere. Where you find an innovative mind, you’ll find industry and society disruption. While the word, ‘disruption’ may come with a sense of negativity, the purpose of digital disruption is very different.
It’s about molding opportunities to make our world a more effective, prosperous, and often beautiful, place. And that brings us to the rising role of women influencers...
While more women are earning STEM degrees and going into technology roles, 72 percent are regularly outnumbered by men in business meetings by a 2:1 ratio according to the ‘2021 Women in Tech Report’. In addition, women in tech are four times more likely to see gender bias as an obstacle to promotion.
Thankfully, things are changing.
The mere act of changing the demographics of tech employment is a disruption in itself, but this is more than some modern-day balancing of the scales.
Tech and marketing are perfect industries for women looking to make waves and impact society in a big way. They demand forward-thinkers who care about social issues and our society’s future, which is why more women are finding their place in these careers.
In this list, you’ll find women influencers in digital marketing and tech, creating inspiration and showing pure passion in everything they do.
As most people know, Uber has been one of the most impressive disruptive companies we’ve seen so far. However, Jean Liu is giving the world’s most popular rideshare app a run for its money.
When Jean Liu joined China’s largest mobile transportation platform, Didi Chuxing rideshare, in 2014, she wasted no time in making waves.
Didi is available in 400 Chinese cities and 16 other countries, with a value of $50 billion. Much of this is thanks to the turf war Liu won with Uber, forcing the latter to sell its China operation.
On average, 156 million people a month used Didi in China in the first quarter of 2021, compared with 98 million for Uber worldwide, so you can see the scale of the company’s success. (However, in 2022 the situation in China is changing as the new Communist Party ruler Xi Jinping, is scrutinizing global tech companies like Didi for privacy, data security, and worker protections.)
On top of all this joy, Liu ensures that Didi provides opportunities to women by educating and training women in their local language with the help of licensing, marketing and technology.
Lui offers inspiration for women to be part of the thriving industry in China as companies sign up to recruit and give more opportunities to women.
Dara Treseder has an impressive resume for a young woman and mother.
An alumnus of Apple, CMO of GE Ventures and GE Business Innovations and the first-ever CMO for the innovative 3D printing company, Carbon, she is now Global Head of Marketing, Communications & Membership at fitness platform innovator Peloton Interactive.
In this position, she’s not only in charge of building Peleton’s brand and its rider community for international expansion. Since joining, Peloton partnered with longtime member Beyoncé and launched its #MyPelotonReason campaign which celebrates members' stories.
As a black woman in a competitive industry, she’s always been driven to succeed, inspired by her mother. In an interview with Marie Claire she expanded on her life principles.
“My mother used to say two things to me: “One, Ìwà l'ẹwà, which means "character is beauty" in my Yoruba language. She always talked about the importance of your character and who you are and how you show up. The second is "ambition with contentment." I'm not someone who's ambitious [for the sake of it]. My ambition is grounded in positively impacting others. I seek impact, not glory.”
Dara’s key reason for joining Peloton is that it is committed to being an antiracist organization pledging $100 million to fight racial injustice and inequality.
A self-made success story, Dara wants to inspire other women and so deserves spot #2 on our list. “While other people are going to be given opportunities, I have to create them for myself. I'm not doing it just because of myself; I'm doing it because it's important that young Black women see me and think, I can be this too.”
With a passion for education, Sabba Quidwai has a mission to create a culture of innovation for young people.
In 2019 she founded Designing Schools, with a simple mission: “To design schools that give young people the mindset and skills they need to thrive in workplaces and as global citizens.”
She started her career as a science teacher and moved into the role of Director of Innovative Learning at the University of Southern California and Education Leadership Executive at Apple have given her experience in the higher education and technology sector.
But it was her nephew that inspired her to design schools that “spark wonder, curiosity and creativity”. In cooperation with Design39 in San Diego Sabba will release a documentary to reveal Sabba’s approach to designing and defining a new grammar school.
With Sabba at the helm, the education sector is set for a shake-up! She asks:
“How do we move away from these traditional structures that are keeping people and learning in isolation?”
When you think of the stereotypical computer programmer, you probably don’t imagine somebody like Kimberly Bryant.
As the CEO and founder of Black Girls Code, she’s all about changing perceptions. Her company is a non-profit organization that is “changing the face of technology”, making it a personal mission to introduce young girls of color to the tech and computer science fields.
Specifically, it aims to train young black women in these in-demand skills such as web design, virtual reality, blockchain and artificial intelligence and then facilitate their transition into entrepreneurial ventures.
And why is this needed?
The tech industry has been leaving women of color behind for a while now, with few signs of improving, despite the illustrious history of black women in computing as highlighted in the movie Hidden Figures.
According to the Women of Color in Computing Collaborative, 80% of all new female-run American businesses are managed by women of color. However, in technology, it’s only 4%.
When asked about her wish for girls in the Black Girls Code programs, Kimberly said:
“I want them to graduate, have skill sets to do things in the tech space, and the support that they need to go out and chase their dreams, whatever that may be. That's what I think is power — having that freedom to be able to actually go out and follow your inspiration.”
In the digital age, there is no shortage of apps, tools or websites to explore. For newcomers who want to get into the industry, it can be a little overwhelming to know just where to start.
Former LA Times, CNN and CNBC journalist, Jessica Naziri recognized this problem and set about solving it. As the founder of TechSesh.co, Naziri heads up a technology and lifestyle brand on a mission to empower women and digital resources to elevate their lives with the latest technology.
She wants to make tech more accessible to other women, and through her company, she empowers other female entrepreneurs by providing them with everything they need in one location.
“TechSesh was born out of my passion for creating a platform that celebrates incredibly dynamic females in the tech space and a place where women can talk candidly about their journeys and share actionable advice. Our goal is to inspire girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers,” says Naziri.
The brand has partnered with digital giants like Dell, Intel and Samsung, using video marketing and social media campaigns to make technology relatable and fun for young, aspiring millennial women around the world.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt
From groundbreaking designers to space explorers, artists to political activists, women have done something exceptional for humanity, and in the process, have stolen our hearts and inspired us. The future of digital-disrupting women is its own era of inspiration. While women still need to fight for equality, respect and positions, this battle makes them that much stronger. The future of digital marketing industry leaders is safe in their hands.
The best way to compete and succeed in today’s digital world is to have relevant and in-demand digital skills. Follow in the footsteps of these warrior women by becoming a skilled digital marketer that can build strategies from scratch. With DMI’s Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing, you will learn all you need to know about social media, email, PPC, SEO, display and video advertising, strategy, and much more.