How do disadvantaged groups climb up the social ladder? When you are in a position of disadvantage due to socio-economic reasons, it seems difficult to be able to achieve as much as someone from a privileged background. Thankfully, we have compiled a list of the top 10 social ladder influencers that are working to make the tech industry more diverse through activism!

1. Barbara H. Whye

Intel’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer is a truly inspiring character. Barbara’s approach teaches business experts that not only is diversity a morally good thing to promote; it’s most certainly useful for business. In fact, she notes that diversity drives innovation. A feminist icon, a voice for racial equality and a leader ahead of her time. Thanks, Mrs. Whye!

2. Brenda Darden Wilkerson

Wilkerson is the President and CEO of Anita Borg; an Institute for Women and Technology. Dedicated to improving interests of women and underrepresented groups in tech, Wilkerson is the definition of an activist. While she came into computer science accidentally, Wilkerson is certainly an important voice of activism in tech communities.

3. Angelica Ross

Angelica Ross is a leader for equality on all fronts. An advocate for the LGBTQ+ community in tech, Ross founded TransTech Social Enterprises in 2014. Need graphic design work, app development or social media management? Want to support the LGBTQ+ community? TransTech Social Enterprises is probably the company for you.

4. Sue Black

With a PhD in Computer Science in one hand and a dedication to social issues in the other, Black is the social ladder influencer of tomorrow. Her fascinating book “Saving Bletchley Park” celebrates the thousands of women who accelerated computer science at Bletchley Park. Furthermore, it celebrates the people that secured Bletchley Park as a heritage site.

5. Noah Addy

CEO of Fireburn, Addy tells a fascinating story of adapting to American culture after immigrating from Ghana. Because he had to maintain a job and full time education, Addy consequently was working 60 hour weeks. Furthermore, he was the only person from his family to go to the USA and was supporting some of his family from back home at the same time. He is now one of the leaders in promoting diversity in tech and a strong supporter of the cause. A humbling success story!

6. Kat Holmes

Holmes’s philosophy is interesting: the idea that inclusion shapes design. What does she mean by this? It seems like that she believes that by including all sorts of people, design is actually benefitted. Her emphasis is on “with” instead of “for” excluded minorities. A truly egalitarian message!

7. Brady Kriss

Who is Brady Kriss? Perhaps one of the most important activists of our generation. She is the Founder and ED of Ragtag; a company that is dedicated to training volunteers in order to “amplify progressive organizing in innovative and high-impact ways.” Certainly dedicated to providing equal opportunities, Kriss is consequently making a large difference. Because of her impact, Kriss is one of our top 10 social ladder influencers.

8. Jen Cotton

What you probably knew about Jen Cotton is that she is the Lead UX Designer on the Alexa team at Amazon. What you probably didn’t know is that she led Twitter‘s Diversity in UX group and is therefore a social ladder badass. Realistic, pragmatic and a true voice of activism, Cotton was perhaps an obvious choice for this top 10.

9. Rosalind Hudnell

Who would you like to be the Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer at your organisation? Would it be an industry expert or would you prefer someone passionate about the cause? Luckily for Intel, Hudnell was both. Hudnell helped to launch Intel’s Diversity in Technology initiative; a $1 billion investment which focused on accelerating diversity. Her activism at Intel will be everlasting.

10. Sheryl Sandberg

COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg is more than just a technological genius; she’s an activist. She’s the founder of Leanin.org which is focused on providing women with support to achieve their goals. With books on how to navigate the industry, statistics on who faces the most difficulties and an overall message of change, Sandberg is one of the most important social ladder influencers of the 21st century.

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