By Kelsey Fox
It is estimated that less than 20% of bachelor degrees awarded in the field of engineering are awarded to women. Even more surprising, less than 12% of the United States engineering workforce is female. Surviving, let alone succeeding, in a male-dominated industry can be a difficult task for any woman.
And yet these 30 women have done just that. The engineers on this list represent some of the most impressive female engineers alive today. These women have been chosen and ranked based upon their individual successes in various fields of engineering — projects, awards, publications, job titles and companies, education, and ambition are all factors that have been considered.
30. Erica Lockheimer
Erica Lockheimer is currently the director of growth engineering at LinkedIn, one of the fastest growing networking websites in the world of social media. In just one year under Lockheimer’s leadership, LinkedIn saw its member sign-up rate double and its total member count triple. Lockheimer has also established herself as a role model for other women interested in careers in engineering and technology. She is a board member of the Anita Borg Institute and also heads up LinkedIn’s Technical Women Leaders initiative, a special group just for the company’s female employees.
29. Lisa Earnhardt
Not only is Lisa Earnhardt one of the most impressive female engineers in the world, she’s also proven that she is quite the leader. After graduating from Stanford University in 1991, Earnhardt made a name for herself as president of Boston Scientific’s Cardiac Surgery division, during which time she led a staff of more than 450. In 2008, she left Boston Scientific to become the president and CEO of Intersect ENT. Intersect ENT has recently been making waves for its unique biotech device that has improved the lives of millions of people suffering from chronic ear and sinus infections by delivering small, yet constant, doses of medication throughout the body. Earnhardt led Intersect ENT through a successful IPO in summer of 2014.
28. Amanda Stiles
Amanda Stiles is proving rocket science isn’t just for men. After a short stint at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where she tested software for a certain lunar aircraft, Stiles found her current home at SpaceX. There, Stiles works as a training and simulation engineer for the company’s various commercial operations. She is also actively involved in the Google Lunar X Prize, for which Google is offering $30 million in prizes to people who can build robots to send to the moon.
27. Mauri Whalen
Having started her career as a quality assurance software engineer at Intel, Mauri Whalen has now been with the company for most of her nearly two decade-long career. In fact, Whalen has worked her way up to the role of Vice President of the company’s software and services group. She helped to found the Open Source Technology Center team which is now responsible for most of Intel’s open-source projects, including the work it does with Linux. Throughout her Intel career, Whalen has twice been awarded the Intel Achievement Award, the most recent of which was the 2014 award for leadership of the Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager, which makes Android apps run faster on Intel devices.
26. Aicha Evans
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from The George Washington University, Aicha Evans began what has become an impressive career in software and wireless engineering. She spent ten years working all over the world with companies such as Rockwell Semiconductors, Conexant, Skyworks, and Mobile Wireless Group before joining Intel in 2006. Evans is currently a corporate vice president and a general manager of Intel’s Wireless Platform Research and Development Group. In that position, she is responsible for wireless engineering for products such as modems, WiFi, Bluetooth, and more. According to Intel’s employee profiles, Evans is a vital part of emerging wireless technologies, and the future of Intel and the industry.
25. Jeannette Wing
Jeannette Wing is newer to the world of engineering than most of the women on this list. Until 2013, she was the President’s Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, during which time she also served as assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation. Two years ago, the MIT-educated Wing became Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Research. She oversees Microsoft Research Connections, as well as the company’s core research laboratories worldwide. Additionally, Wing serves on the editorial board of a number of engineering-related journals, including “Formal Aspects of Computing,” “International Journal of Software and Informatics,” and “Journal of the ACM.”
24. Christina Chen
Christina Chen has spent the majority of her career working for Microsoft. She accepted a position with the tech giant straight out of college, worked there for a decade before leaving for Google, and then was wooed back to the company five years later. In 2014, Chen was promoted to general manager of Microsoft’s Chief Experiences Office, Applications and Services Group, and has been given the mighty task of improving the morale of Microsoft’s entire engineering organization as part of the company’s goal of making its products easier and more intuitive to use.
23. Ann Kelleher
County Cork native Ann Kelleher is the first Irish woman to be appointed the title of vice president at Intel. Before joining the tech giant in 1996, Kelleher ran plants for a smaller chip company, Fab 11X, in New Mexico and County Kildare, Ireland. As vice president of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group, Kelleher is responsible for over-seeing a whopping seven Intel plants throughout the United States, Ireland, China, and Israel, which all together produce 10 billion sub-microscopic transistors per second.
22. Yanbing Li
Yanbing Li is poised to take on Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Li joined VMware as an engineering manager in China, where she successfully climbed the corporate ladder. After five years spent running the company’s corporate R&D center, Li earned yet another promotion that brought her stateside and put her in charge of VMware facilities globally. In that position, Li led the central engineering organization of more than 1,000 people spread over five countries. Currently, Li is working on creating a public data storing cloud capable of challenging Microsoft, Google, and Amazon’s massive S3 cloud.
21. Tracy Chou
Tracy Chou is not yet 30 years old, but has already worked for some of the most famous names in business. As a student at Stanford University, the California-based daughter of computer scientists built up an impressive resume with internships at Google, Facebook, and Rocket Fuel. Despite plans to obtain a doctorate in quantitative market research, Chou was wooed into a job with then start-up Quora. Less than a year later, Chou traded Q&As for scrapbooking social media, and became one of the first 15 employees of Pinterest. Most recently, Chou has been making headlines as a powerful advocate for increasing the number of women in technology. As a result of her hard work, more and more companies have publicly released statistics about the make-up of their companies, a positive first step for women interested in technology careers. Chou and her successful career have been the subject of a number of media profiles ranging from Vogue to Wired Magazine.
20. Cathy Polinsky
After working in engineering roles at both Yahoo and Oracle, Cathy Polinsky found herself joining Salesforce, a global cloud computing company, as a senior engineer in 2009. Today, Polinsky is Vice President of Engineering for enterprise search. In this role, Polinsky is leading the charge towards the company’s goal of creating its own search engine, a necessary step to achieving the even larger goal of becoming a major player in the world of big data. Interestingly, Polinsky is a graduate of Swarthmore, a liberal arts college, where she graduated in 1999 with a special major in computer science.
19. Lisa Su
Lisa Su graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in electrical engineering. Initial success came in 1994, when she worked in the Semiconductor Process and Device Center at Texas Instruments. Less than a year later, Su found herself at IBM in both engineering and management positions. She is currently the CEO and President of Advanced Micro Devices, a worldwide semiconductor company that develops computer processors and other related technologies. Su joined the company in 2012 as Senior Vice President and corporate director.
18. Tal Rabin
With a celebrated computer scientist for a father, it is no wonder that Israeli-born Tal Rabin has become one of the most celebrated women in the worlds of engineering and technology. Her father was an early influence for Rabin, and the two co-authored a paper on computability and cryptography together. In fact, Rabin’s expertise in cryptography as it relates to security networks won her the role of head of the cryptography research group at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center. A wonderful role model for young female engineers, Rabin was named the 2014 Woman of Vision for innovation by the Anita Borg Institute.
17. Diane Greene
Hailed as one of the “smartest” female tech founders ever, Diane Greene is best known as a member of Google’s Board of Directors — an odd association considering Greene, an investor, is responsible for some of the biggest successes in Silicon Valley, including Cloudera, Cumulus Networks, and Nicira. Greene is also the co-founder of VMware, and acted as its CEO before the company was acquired by EMC. Rumor has it that Greene is currently working on another company that is sure to take the Valley and the worldwide tech industry by storm.
16. Tamar Yehoshua
Tamar Yehoshua currently holds the position of vice president of product management at Google, which she joined in August 2010. In a 2013 article, she explained the goal of her job is to “[provide] the answers before we even ask the questions” — a daunting task for just about anyone. In order to accomplish this goal, the engineer leads Google’s efforts to bring Google Search to a variety of devices in a variety of languages. Under Yehoshua’s careful handling, Google’s voice-activated search function has evolved into multiple other projects, including Google Now and Android Auto.
15. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson
Brooklyn native Aprille Ericsson-Jackson was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Howard University. A few years later, she became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Continuing her career with NASA and the U.S. government, she currently holds the position of instrument manager of a proposed mission to bring dust from the Martian lower atmosphere back to Earth. Over the course of her career, Ericsson-Jackson has won a number of awards, including the 1997 “Women in Science and Engineering” award for the best female engineer working in the federal government.
14. Alba Colon
As the first female of color to work as an engineer on NASCAR vehicles, Alba Colon is in a lane of her own. The Puerto Rico native graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in mechanical engineering. She began her career as a data acquisition engineer for GM’s Oval Track Group, which includes NASCAR Winston Cup, Craftsman Truck, ASA, and Busch Grand National. A few years later, she served a two-year stint as program manager of NHRA Pro Stock Trucks before she was placed in charge of all of GM Racing’s NHRA drag-racing programs. Today, she is the Sprint Cup program manager for Team Chevrolet, and has become the first female engineer of color at NASCAR. Interestingly, Colon credits Dale Earnhardt Sr. with being her main motivation. The racing legend was one of the first men Colon met in the sport, and allegedly told her, “You’re not gonna make it. I don’t give you more than a year.”
13. Lisette Titre
Nearly two decades after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Miami International University for Art and Design, Lisette Titre has been at the forefront of video game design. She began her career as a consultant in the gaming world, and since then has left her mark on such major companies as EA Sports and Ubisoft. Over the years, Titre has established herself as a strong role model for both women and African-Americans, an honor solidified when Black Enterprise magazine chose her for a cover. Recently, Titre teamed up with Soledad O’Brien to encourage more young women to consider careers in STEM fields. She is also a member of Blacks in Gaming, which seeks to involve more African-Americans in the growing world of game design. Titre is currently the Art Manager at Ubisoft, the gaming company responsible for developing the hit Assassin’s Creed series.
12. Jen Fitzpatrick
Jen Fitzpatrick is currently the Vice President of Engineering for Google’s geo-local mobile technology, the area of innovation led by Marissa Meyer before she left Google for Yahoo!. Fitzpatrick’s promotion was a long time coming — she joined Google in 1999 as one of its earliest employees. Her first responsibilities included improving Google’s search results, while later projects included Google’s user interface, its Web Directory search service, and Google Maps, among others.
11. Ayanna Howard
Ayanna Howard began her “dream career” as a summer intern at NASA. That internship led to a job with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she successfully developed a Mars rover with artificial intelligence enough to explore Martian terrain, and collect and analyze data. More recently, Howard has been working to combine her interests in robotics and artificial intelligence to design and create robots that can help children with disabilities — a goal she’s had since she watched “The Bionic Woman” at age eleven. Her unique accomplishments have been documented in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, 12 featured articles, a mention in TIME magazine’s “Rise of the Machines” article (2004), and a spot on the prestigious MIT Technology Review journal’s list of the world’s top young innovators (2003). Howard is currently teaching and researching at Georgia Tech.
10. Deb Kilpatrick
Since graduating from Georgia Tech with a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D in mechanical engineering and bioengineering, Deborah “Deb” Kilpatrick has built up quite the resume. She began her career in roles that includes Director of Research and Development at Guidant Corporation, and Chief Commercial Officer of genomic diagnostics at CardioDx, the latter of which won both an Edison Award and a Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award. Kilpatrick is currently the CEO of Evidation Health, a digital health company that analyzes behavior analytics and health outcomes in order to help health care purchasers demonstrate the value of digital health solutions. She also serves on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board and is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. Not only has she been named one of the Top Women in Biotech by FierceBiotech, but she was also ranked as one of the top 100 Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
9. Jayshree Ullal
Born in London, raised in New Delhi, and educated in San Francisco, Jayshree Ullal began her career working for a number of smaller Silicon Valley companies. In 1993, one of these companies, Crescendo Communications, was acquired by Cisco Systems. Ullal ended up spending more than 15 years with Cisco, ultimately climbing to the position of Senior Vice President of Data Center & Switching. She is currently the CEO and President of Arista Networks, a cloud networking company that she successfully led to an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. Best known for her successful work with Arista Networks, Ullal was recently named by Forbes as “one of the top five most influential people in the networking industry today.”
8. Kate Bergeron
It wasn’t easy for Kate Bergeron to stick with engineering in school, but stick with it she did, and to great success. After writing her thesis on designing prosthetic hand motors for children, the MIT grad began her career working for Ohmeda Medical Systems in Colorado. Shortly after following her husband out to California in 1997, Bergeron found a spot at Apple, where she worked as a mechanical engineer on the design teams for products such as the Mac and AppleTV. Today, Bergeron is a Vice President of Apple. She also teaches at MIT’s D-Lab, which is designing technologies to help pull people out of poverty.
7. Carolyn Duran
Not only is Carolyn Duran changing the world of engineering for women, she is positively impacting the world for those often victimized by large consumer industries. Duran, a program manager and supply chain director for Intel, has successfully led her company’s effort to cease the use of “conflict minerals,” materials similar to “blood diamonds” that are produced by mines often run by warlords. To date, Duran and her team have met with more than 85 smelters in 21 countries in order to develop better mining practices and ensure that the minerals used by Intel are conflict-free. Her hard work and dedicated has led to a global Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative that has been accepted by a number of other major tech companies.
6. Delfina Eberly
Delfina Eberly is the vice president of infrastructure data center operations at Facebook. There, she leads the team responsible for worldwide installation and maintenance of Facebook’s networks. This is an important job, as it is must constantly increase the size of the company’s systems to ensure that it could handle the photos, videos, chats, and status updates of more than a billion users. Before coming to Facebook, Eberly worked as the CIO of Critical Path, an email service provider, and ran consulting teams for Exodus Communications.
5. Yoelle Maarek
Yoelle Maarek was educated in the fields of engineering and computer science at the Ecole National des Ponts et Chaussees, the Pierre and Marie Curie University, and the Israel Institute of Technology. She began her career as a distinguished engineer at IBM before she moved to Google and founded the Google Haifa Engineering Center in Israel. There, one of Maarek’s biggest accomplishments included autocompletion for Google and YouTube queries. Today, Maarek is a vice president of research at Yahoo!, where she heads the company’s research labs in Israel and India.
4. Merline Saintil
Merline Saintil is not only on the forefront of cloud computing, mobile and online payments, and commerce, she is also a leader in the business sense and has acted in roles of international technology executive, business advisor, and operations expert. She is currently the Head of Global Engineering Operations at Yahoo!, but her resume includes companies such as Sun Microsystems, Adobe, PayPal, and Joyent, Inc., companies with which she has created software and managed a number of global teams. A natural-born mentor, Saintil is currently advising Congresswoman Anna Eshoo on a mobile app challenge for high schoolers.
3. Gwynne Shotwell
Gwynne Shotwell spent her childhood helping her father with hands-on projects around the house and reading books about engines that her mother would buy her. This early fascination with the way things worked led to Shotwell earning her degree in mechanical engineering. She began her career at Aerospace Corps., a think tank focusing on military space research and development, but an overwhelming desire to build spacecraft led her to rocket manufacturing company Microcosm Inc. In 2002, Shotwell met Elon Musk and joined SpaceX as the company’s seventh ever employee. Today, she is President of SpaceX. Shotwell won the 2011 World Technology Award for Individual Achievement, and in 2012 was appointed into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame.
2. Ginni Rometty
As the current Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM, Virginia “Ginni” Rometty is the first woman to head the massive tech company. A graduate of Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Rometty began her career with General Motors shortly before joining IBM’s Detroit-based office as a systems engineer. Rometty is easily one of the best-known names, male or female, in the entire engineering world. Fortune magazine has named her one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” for ten consecutive years (she ranked #1 in 2012, 2013, and 2014), while Forbes included her among the “World’s 100 Most Powerful People” in 2014. Bloomberg Markets magazine called her one of the “50 Most Influential” people in the world, while the 2012 edition of the “Time 100” also included Rometty.
1. Samantha Cristoforetti
At 18 years old, Milan native Samantha Cristoforetti’s world changed when she was given the opportunity to attend Space Camp through a U.S. foreign exchange program. She went on to study various types of engineering at the Technical University of Munich; the Ecole nationale superieure de l’aeronautique in Toulouse, France; and the Mendeleev Russian University of Chemistry and Technology. Though she is best known as an Italian European Space Agency astronaut, she is also a pilot and engineer for the Italian Air Force. Cristoforetti holds records for the longest single space flight by a woman and for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight of any European astronaut. Additionally, she was the first Italian woman in space and the first person of any nationality to brew espresso coffee in space.