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Cracking the Boys Club: 10 Pioneers in Tech and Web 2.0

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Every week it seems like a popular blogger, Tech Evangelist, or Web 2.0 guru releases their "Top 10" list of people who are breaking new ground in the technology world. These Top 10 lists are usually filled with some of the brightest minds in our sector yet strangely don't often include women.

More and more women are starting their own companies (including tech and web 2.0 ventures). Women make up at least 50% of the Web 2.0 market from a user and consumer perspective. According to TechCrunch, 60% of US Facebook users are women. And 61% of Open Social users are women according to Rapleaf. In major cities like DC and Philadelphia women account for approximately 30% of the IT workforce, cites the US Census Bureau.

Just last week Tech Evangelist Robert Scoble wrote a column about his favorite tech experts on Friend Feed. He featured everyone from Michael Arrington founder of TechCrunch to Steve Rubel, Director of Insights for Edelman Digital. Great choices, but sadly not a single woman made Scoble's list.

While there are plenty of successful women who have cracked the tech boys club, here is my list of Top 10 Pioneers in Tech and Web 2.0 that should make experts' future lists.

1. Gina Bianchini, CEO and Founder of Ning:
Bianchini started Ning, one of the leading online social networking platforms with a very simple premise: what if everyone had the opportunity to create their own social experiences online? "This simple mission has been incredibly motivating, especially watching how people have created over 585,000 social networks on Ning in less than 20 months across an incredibly diverse array of topics, interests, locations and languages," says Bianchini. Currently she is working on expanding the number of features for Ning's Network Creators and providing members of networks more ways to discover and manage their networks.

Website: http://www.ning.com
Blog: http://blog.ning.com

2. Mary Hodder, Founder of Dabble.com and VP of Product Development, Apisphere:
Hodder is one of the leading innovators behind online video sharing and started Dabble.com, a social search site organizing video metadata from across the web to help people discover and playlist media they like. Dabble partnered with 1200 sites to indexed 50 million web videos, created a preference engine and prototyped unique advertising matching softwares. Hodder is now the VP of Product Development at Apisphere, which delivers location-specific mobile content, to virtually any mobile handset. Hodder also continues to work with companies in media, MMG gaming, open source, photo sharing and blog aggregation.

Blog: http://napsterization.org/stories

3. Tara Hunt, Co-Founder Citizen Agency and Citizen Space:
Hunt is "the" expert on Social Capital. In April 2009 Random House will be publishing her book The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business which discusses the culmination of reputation, influence, bridging and bonding capital, saved up favors, accomplishments and the Whuffie of those you have relationships with. Aside from running her own agency, writing, and speaking all over the country, Hunt runs a variety of BarCamp style of events ranging from HeroCamp to TransitCamp.

Website: http://www.citizenagency.com
Blog: http://www.horsepigcow.com

4. Sandy Jen, Co-Founder of Meebo:
Jen helped changed the world of IM (Instant Messaging) through her software Meebo, which lets users log into their IM networks such as Yahoo! Messanger, AIM and Google Talk from any computer with an Internet connection with no firewall issues to deal with. In July of 2007, Nielsen/NetRatings named Meebo the fastest-growing IM destination in the US - ahead of Google Talk and Skype Messenger. Just last week Meebo launched Community IM. Jen says, "The technical challenges involved in scaling out a distributed system of IM networks for a lot of social communities have been pretty hairy at times, but also a lot of fun. Meebo's always trying to push the envelope and Community IM is just another step we're taking."

Website: http://www.meebo.com
Blog: http://www.blog.meebo.com

5. Lynne D. Johnson, Director of Social Media, Fast Company:
As a 15 year veteran in the publishing industry, Johnson has melded her skills in writing about tech, Web 2.0, marketing, politics, and hip-hop for SPIN, VIBE, techPresident, and Fast Company to name a few. Check out her popular technology blog Digital Media Diva following web, media, and consumer trends for FastCompany.com. She also wrote the foreward for the recently published Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media To Maximize Value And Build Their Brand.

Johnson is one of the most in-demand speakers in the Web 2.0 and technology conference circuit and presents to packed rooms of people at SXSW Interactive, Personal Democracy Forum, and BlogHer Business. In December Johnson will be teaching a class along with Craig Newmark, founder of Craig's List and others on "The Customer is the Company: How Social Media is Changing Business."

Website: http://www.fastcompany.com
Blog: Digital Media Diva and http://lynnedjohnson.com/

6. Beth Kanter: Blogger:
As the "go to" guru on everything Web 2.0 in non-profit sector, Beth Kanter hosts workshops all over the world and blogs about how to integrate social media and harness its power to impact social change. Beth was also one of a handful of renowned women in social media to speak at the Graphing Social Patterns conference. Currently Beth is curating the NTEN WeAreMedia project, a community-driven curriculum development for workshops for nonprofits on how to integrate social media into the communications mix. In 2009 she will be the scholar in residence at the Packard Foundation on social media and nonprofits.

Website and Blog: beth.typepad.com/

7. Charlene Li, Consultant and Blogger:
Li is one of the most sought after experts on emerging technologies, with a specific focus on social technologies, interactive media, and marketing. She is the co-author of the business bestseller, Groundswell: Winning In A World Transformed By Social Technologies, published in 2008. Prior to going out on her own, Li was a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. These days Li is busy delivering speeches and discussing social media at major conferences. During the Defrag conference in early November she discussed how the open social web is developing. "It started with the Facebook Platform launching in May 2007, an expanded OpenSocial in October 2007, and has blossomed into an "open stack" of technology platforms and standards that make it easier (not necessary easy) for sites and companies to share social data with each other," says Li.

Website and Blog: http://blog.altimetergroup.com

8. Susan Mernit, Co-Founder, People's Software:
Mernit is a tech leader known for getting things done. She has started her own companies, headed up Yahoo Personals, and served as a VP for AOL and Netscape. Mernit's latest venture is People's Software, a Web 2.0 social media startup devoted to making it easier for people to plan and schedule on the go. It's currently in beta on Facebook.

Currently Mernit and her business partner Lisa Williams are also working on a cool tech product focused on women. But she's not giving away the juicy details just yet. Mernit also advises the Knight Foundation on the Knight News Challenge, an annual program that gives away $5MM per year for innovative, open source online news and digital media projects. Outside of People's Software and consulting, Mernit is a frequent speaker at conferences discussing topics ranging from social media to entrepreneurship.

Website: http://peoplessoftware.com/
Blog: http://www.Susanmernit.com

9. Rebecca Moore, Director of Outreach, Google Earth:
Google Maps is one of the most innovative and powerful web tools thanks to Moore's vision who conceived and now manages the Google Earth Outreach program, which supports nonprofits, communities and indigenous peoples around the world in applying Google's mapping tools to the world's pressing problems in areas such as environmental conservation, human rights, cultural preservation and creating a sustainable society. Her personal work using Google Earth was recently instrumental in stopping a plan to log more than a thousand acres of redwoods in her Santa Cruz Mountain community.

Moore is currently working with a number of Amazon Indian tribes who want to use Google Earth and Maps to protect their rain forest land from illegal logging and mining, and create a "cultural map" of their important sites, such as where they hunt and fish, where they gather medicinal plants, and sites of historical battles. She's also working with organizations using Google Earth/Maps to illustrate Climate Change impacts, and solutions. "It's very cool that these tools can show not only problems and issues, but also to map alternative future scenarios, showing concrete, achievable plans to address these issues."

Website: http://earth.google.com/outreach

10. Rashmi Sinha, Co-Founder SlideShare
Sinha is the CEO for SlideShare, the world's largest community for sharing presentations and allows users to comment, rate, and download them. SlideShare is growing rapidly at more than 9 million monthly unique monthly visits letting everyone from teachers to marketers to conference speakers share presentations and connect with others. When Sinha is not working on enhancing SlideShare she discusses social software and running startups at conferences such as Webvisions and the Future of Web Apps.

Website: http://rashmisinha.com
Blog: http://www.slideshare.com

To read about more Web 2.0 innovators check out Fast Company's article this week on The Most Influential Women In Web 2.0 featuring Arianna Huffington.

*Thanks to the Anita Borg Institute on Women and Technology for the stats.