The tech world may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are exceptional women changing the green tech landscape in big ways.
Whilst statistics reveal a hard truth – only 5 percent of women in tech are in a leadership position –
there is a growing and powerful group of forward-thinking female leaders, founders, and CEOs determined to do good for people and planet.
As UN Secretary General, António Gutteres, points out, “It is proved that tech companies that have more women in leadership positions deliver better returns and outperform companies with less diverse teams. As a matter of fact, Fortune 500 companies, with at least three women in a leadership position, recognized an increase of 66% in ROI.”
From food waste to investment, code-creating to crop-creating, biking to breast-feeding, these trailblazers give us hope for a better tomorrow.
Women Leaders in Green Tech
1. Dr. Ruihong Zhang
Dr. Ruihong Zhang is a researcher at UC Davis and a bioenvironmental engineer. Her work has included the treatment of food wastes for pollution prevention and resource utilization, air quality control, and the study of biological, physical, and chemical processing techniques for organic waste conversion. In fact, Zhang invented the Renewable Energy Anaerobic Digester, which captures methane (biogas) and turns it into electricity. As a result, she has won multiple awards in the fields of clean technology and bioenergy. Plus, her technology is now worth millions of dollars and is used by startups that want to tackle waste production problems.
2 & 3. Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One
These green tech wizards loved food but hate waste. So they came up with Olio. This sustainability supporting app “connects neighbours with each other and with local shops and cafes so surplus food and other items can be shared, not thrown away.” For example, you’re moving house and can’t eat or relocate all your store cupboard tins. Snap some photos, pop them onto Olio and they can be shared. All food is either free or for donation to charity rather than heading to landfill. Olio’s stats? To date, 16,830,484 portions of food shared, 3,490,643 users, and 2,514,122,027 litres of water saved.
4. Sarah Kearney
Kearney is the founder of Prime Coalition. This non-profit helps private companies invest in energy-related startups. Having served on several energy boards at MIT and other companies, Kearney saw an opportunity to guide philanthropists towards investment opportunities that address climate change. Prime’s assessment of emissions reduction potential (ERP) for early-stage companies is one of its core underwriting criteria as a climate-impact-first organization. Plus, since 2019, Prime has been developing an online software tool that makes climate impact assessment less labor-intensive, as well as more data-driven, transparent, and standardized. In a nutshell, Kearney is using tech to turn philanthropy into green venture capital.
5. Lisa Jackson
A green tech heavy-hitter, Lisa Jackson is VP of environmental initiatives for Apple. Determined that Apple will achieve its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030, she has ensured the company has run on 100% renewable energy for the past two years. Plus, she has committed to making its products more sustainable. “Every product that you buy will have a zero carbon footprint and also the use of that product will be zero carbon footprint. We’re working around the world to transition to this clean energy fuel future quicker, so every customer can run their devices on clean energy,” Jackson said in a recent interview with Hello. The Apple VP is proud that the company currently leads the sector in the circular economy and hopes to rally other tech giants to follow suit.
6. Emily Brooke
Bike app Beryl is all about getting bums on bikes. And making the world a greener place. Tech whizz and city-dweller Brooke wanted to develop an easy-to-use urban bike sharing service. Plus, she wanted to create innovative products to make cycling easier and better for all. A bike believer, she thinks two wheels is the “cleanest, simplest, most sustainable way.” Now, Brooke’s start-up is certified B Corporation in recognition of its exceptional standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
7. Anastasia Volkova
Ukrainian entrepreneur Volkova is a green agricultural innovator, who uses science and technology to tackle issues of food security. In 2016 she founded FluroSat, a company that uses drone and satellite data, along with algorithms and other tools, to help farmers optimise crop production. From a farming family, Volkova has created user-centred software that helps agronomists and farmers make informed decisions that support profitability and sustainability. As she explains on the Flurosat website, “We believe that deep science is vital to sustainable food and fibre production.
Find out more about female activists fighting for equality and our planet here.