Gina Mei
April 22, 2015 1:30 pm

It’s no secret that Silicon Valley has a diversity problem. As Bloomberg reported last year, four of the biggest tech companies — Apple, Google, Twitter, and Facebook — each have shockingly low numbers when it comes to women employed in their tech departments (all lower than 20%). While there are exceptions to the gender disparity, they are few and far between: these companies are not outliers, and these statistics are reflective of a much bigger problem when it comes to the gender gap in STEM. But one woman has a brilliant idea to help change things once and for all.

Frustrated by the sexism towards woman in tech that she’d experienced firsthand, Lea Coligado created Women of Silicon Valley, a website that features precisely what its title suggests: the unsung female heroines of the tech world. The site is essentially Humans of New York for women in tech (which makes sense, as it was part of Coligado’s inspiration for the site) — and it is all kinds of rad.

“I’m starting Women of Silicon Valley because I want to celebrate these living — and thriving — examples of female success, these rebels against the numbers and the gender norms,” she says in a video for the site. “I want women who are sitting on the fence about Computer Science to get as inspired as I was by these role models, and hopefully, to see that at its heart, tech is exciting, immensely powerful, and so, so worth it.”

The site, in partnership with Medium, features an incredibly diverse, multi-cultural group of women — which is heartening, particular considering women of color are often even more underrepresented in Silicon Valley. Along with a photograph, each woman gives a brief interview on how she got her start in tech, and offers some glorious words of wisdom for any girl struggling with inequality in the workplace. It’s basically a celebration of smart, hardworking, and kickass women — and we can’t get enough of it.

“Over the past couple years, I’ve come into contact with some awesome women in tech through Stanford or work, and I kept thinking to myself, why have I never heard of them before?” Coligado told BuzzFeed. “Knowing that these women who are now in positions of immense power have faced the same demeaning comments I have, or felt the same crappy feelings I felt, has given me more optimism for Silicon Valley than I could have expected.”

Coligado perfectly explains just how essential diverse representation is in all facets of life — and it’s only in giving a face to these dismal statistics that we can both see what a huge problem it’s become and find inspiration to fix it. For any young woman dissuaded from pursuing tech because they feel there isn’t a place for them in the industry, sites like Women of Silicon Valley could make all the difference.

“As a woman who’s worked in almost entirely male environments, I know being able to look up to someone is crucial for getting through rough patches, for feeling a sense of belonging to your work,” she continued.

And women should feel like we belong. In order to foster accepting work environments and work culture, we have to begin to normalize diversity of all kinds in the workplace. Women are just as capable of doing amazing things in tech as the boys are, and Women in Silicon Valley is the perfect ode to just a few of those ladies.

Here are a couple of the featured women below — and check out Women in Silicon Valley and their Facebook (which already has 11k likes!) for the rest.

(Images via Medium/Women of Silicon Valley)

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