Lovelace Day and Women Tech Leaders of the Future

Last week, the world celebrated Ada Lovelace Day.
Most people have never heard of Lovelace and many still don’t know who she is. Yet, every time you turn on your computer, you owe her a debt.

Pearl Chan, Associate, Investments, Omidyar Network

Alissa Black, Investment Principal, Omidyar Network

Stacy Donohue, Investment Partner, Omidyar Network


Last week, the world celebrated Ada Lovelace Day.

Most people have never heard of Lovelace and many still don’t know who she is. Yet, every time you turn on your computer, you owe her a debt.

After years of languishing in obscurity (or being known solely as the daughter of the poet Lord Byron), Lovelace is experiencing a well-justified 21st century renaissance. She is increasingly being recognized as one of the foundational masterminds of the digital revolution.

Two books debuting in October 2014 focus on her substantial contributions. Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, pinpoints Lovelace’s “Notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine” as the genesis of digital creation. And James Essinger’s recent Lovelace biography, Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age details how her notes on the early mechanical general-purpose computer are recognized as one of the first algorithms intended to be carried out by a machine.

Although much improved since Lovelace’s era, the world has yet to reach gender equity – including in Silicon Valley. The gender wage gap in the US remains stuck, with women earning, on average, 24 cents less for every dollar earned by a man.

Women are sparsely represented in the technology industry, with Microsoft’s and Google’s tech departments both comprised of just 17 percent women. In addition, women are systematically under-represented in leadership positions in technology. Microsoft, for instance, cites female leadership at less than 20 percent. And, of course, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella’s recent gaffe that women should trust “karma” instead of asking for raises does not help matters much (although his heartfelt and substantive apology is encouraging).

This chronic under-representation is problematic for a number of reasons. Women today, like Lovelace so many years ago, have massive contributions to make to the industry. Women make up more than half of tech users and have valuable insights on the demands products should serve. Technology entrepreneur Audrey MacLean argues that women are naturally more collaborative. This fosters a diversity of perspectives, which is well documented as leading to better ideas. Perhaps most compelling – in an early-stage tech context – is the finding that female-operated, venture-backed startups average12 percent higher annual revenues and use a third less capital than male-operated startups.

In remembrance of Lovelace, we think it is just as important to celebrate the pioneering women technology leaders and companies that are working to promote diversity, mentorship, and equitable promotion paths for women. We are especially inspired by the women technology leaders in our US portfolio. We learn from each and every one of them every day, and are honored to be part of what they are building – we are confident that each of them will continue to change the world.


Keya Dannenbaum, Founder and CEO, Versa

Dannenbaum is the founder of Versa, a technology network for sponsored op-eds that aims to elevate the public dialogue around the most salient issues. Previously, Dannenbaum worked internationally as a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia and a Melman Fellow in India, nationally in the 2008 Presidential election, and locally as campaign manager for the Mayor of New Haven, CT.


Jen Dulski, COO,

Dulski is the president & COO of, the largest Web platform for creating change in the world, with more than 75 million users globally. Previously, Dulski was one of the first 500 employees at Yahoo! and served as group vice president and general manager of local and commerce, where she led a $500 million portfolio of businesses and a 500+ person team. Additionally, she was co-founder and CEO of The Dealmap, which was acquired in 2011 by Google.


Lea Endres, Chief of Staff, NationBuilder

Endres is currently chief of staff of NationBuilder, an all-in-one SaaS (“software-as-a-service”) platform for communities to organize for change. A writer, educator, and human rights advocate, Lea has spent the last two decades developing programs, curricula, and media that engage people in the process of social change. Previously, Lea served as the chief of staff for Green for All.


Julie Lein and Clara Brenner, Co-Founders, Tumml

Lein and Brenner are the co-founders of Tumml, an accelerator for companies solving urban challenges. Prior to Tumml, Brenner worked as an associate with West Mill Capital, a real estate investment startup, and Lein worked as an Education Pioneers Fellow with Revolution Foods.


Nancy Lublin, Founder and CEO,

Lublin is the founder of, the largest organization in the world engaging teens for social change both on and offline. Prior to, Lublin founded Dress for Success, a not-for-profit organization in over 80 cities that provides interview suits and confidence boosts.


Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America

Pahlka is the founder of Code for America, a platform providing “civic hacking” and allowing governments to work more like the Internet. Earlier this year Pahlka served as the Deputy CTO of the United States under President Obama. Previously, Pahlka was co-chair of the Web 2.0 conferences.


With contributions from Sara Eshelman and Chris Bishko.