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Inspirational Women in Tech: Leaders of Today, Pt. 2

While the tech industry has historically been dominated by men, many women have overcome gender stereotypes and challenges to make significant contributions to the industry. Last week, we looked at the career of Sheryl Sandberg and today, we will be looking at another inspirational woman who is at the forefront of the industry today.

Susan Wojcicki was born in Santa Clara County, California on July 5, 1968. At age 11, she started her first business with her best friend, selling homemade “spice ropes” door-to-door. She went to Harvard University to study History and Literature and graduated with honors in 1990. At Harvard, she took her first Computer Science class and discovered the power of technology. Instead of pursuing a Ph.D. in the humanities and a career in academia, she decided to change her career path and go into business. She received her M.S. in Economics in 1993 from the University of California, Santa Cruz and worked for a short time in marketing at Intel and as a management consultant at Bain and R.B. Webber & Company.

After receiving her MBA in 1998 from UCLA, she became Google’s first Marketing Manager, working on various marketing projects including the first Google Doodles. She also helped develop Google Image Search and Google Books. In 2002, Wojcicki helped come up with Adsense, a groundbreaking advertising product. After that, she was promoted to senior vice president of Advertising and Commerce, overseeing all of the company’s advertising products such as AdSense and Google Analytics. One of the products she oversaw was Google’s Google Video service, which was competing with a small start-up called YouTube. Wojcicki recognized its potential when she stumbled on a video of two young boys lip syncing to the Backstreet Boys. She recommended that Google buy it and in 2006, Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion dollars.

In February 2014, Wojcicki became the CEO of YouTube. Under her leadership, the company reached 2 billion logged-in users a month. YouTube also developed monetization methods for creators, paying more than $30 billion dollars to media companies and content creators on the site. Wojcicki also oversaw the launch of Youtube Premium and Youtube Shorts (which bring in over 50 billion daily views). Through her reach, she has advocated for a wide spread of causes from the expansion of paid family leave to countering gender discrimination in tech and getting more young girls interested in Computer Science. Wojcicki announced her resignation from YouTube in 2023 to focus on family, health, and personal projects, transferring to an advisory role for Google.

Wojcicki was ranked as one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” by Forbes twice and #1 on Adweek’s “Top 50 Execs'.' Like Sandberg, she shattered barriers for women in tech, holding a top leadership role at Google and playing a pivotal role in Google's acquisition of YouTube and its subsequent meteoric growth.

Sandberg and Wojcicki were two of the first women to obtain prominent leadership roles in the modern tech industry and serve as role models and inspirations for young girls who want to follow in their footsteps. Through their stories, we can see the innovative, creative, and diverse thinking women bring to the table and are reminded of the enormous impact women can have in tech.


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