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The Most Influential Women in Technology

Women who have succeeded in technology deserve recognition: They are an inspiration for everyone, demonstrating what can be achieved through creativity and hard work.

We inadvertently ignited a firestorm late last year when we posted a story on fastcompany.com called "The Most Influential Women in Web 2.0." The post became the subject of heated debate on the user-recommendation site Digg, as well as on our own site. While some comments focused on the accomplishments of the women chosen, or suggested others we might have named, many were graphic, sexist, and nasty. Two dozen of the posters were eventually thrown off of Digg by the site's administrators.

It wasn't exactly the conversation about women in technology we'd hoped for. But it wasn't just a flamefest, either. Among the arguments put forward was that a women-only list was in itself sexist. We certainly wish the need for such a list had long passed, but women in tech remain at a distinct disadvantage by any metric: average salary, top-management representation, board memberships. Silicon Valley, in particular, remains largely a boys' club. In May 2007, Women in Technology International published a survey of 2,000 working women, about half of whom reported gender-based workplace inequality or said their opinions were less respected or sought out than those of male counterparts. There are now dozens of "women in tech" organizations and Web sites. All sexist?

The fact is, women who have succeeded in technology deserve recognition; they are an inspiration for everyone, male or female, demonstrating what can be achieved through creativity and hard work. And so we present this expanded list: "The Most Influential Women in Tech." We candidly acknowledge it is subjective and incomplete. Among other shortcuts, we focused on only a few sectors (we left off medical researchers and pure academics, for instance). We also favored established firms over early-phase startups.

Even within those constraints, we no doubt have left off deserving women. So, as always, we invite you to visit FastCompany.com and add your reactions -- or Digg the story and post your comments there. Or Tweet us. Or visit our page on Facebook. We're optimists, so we hope the conversation will be more fruitful this time around. These successful businesspeople have certainly earned that measure of respect.


The Executives

The Entrepreneurs

The Gamers

The Evangelists

The Activists


The Bloggers


The Brainiacs