First Female CTO Of The U.S. Megan Smith Hopes Tech's History Can Repeat Itself

First Female CTO Of The U.S. Megan Smith Hopes Tech's History Can Repeat Itself 960 548 C-Suite Network
Megan Smith addressing a gathering of residents of Cheyenne, WY to discuss job opportunities in tech.

American talent is ubiquitous, with entrepreneurial wunderkinds as likely to be born in our heartlands as on our coasts. The problem has been that we’ve done a really unequal job of scouting and scaling it. There are 6 million young people not in school or working, 12 million experienced skilled workers who need to re-train, and 1.5 million veterans who are unemployed or reentering the civilian workforce, all at a time when we have 500,000 open American tech and programming jobs. This matters for more than just the tech sector; who fills these jobs will dictate who sits at the table for many of our key cultural and political decisions over the next generation.

Enter Megan Smith and the Tech Jobs Tour. Smith is a former Vice President at Google and the 3rd and first female Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Despite her ever-changing and ever-more-impressive titles, Smith would be the first to tell you she has the same job now she’s always had: evangelist. To watch her work a room is magic, instilling in anyone within earshot both that technology is a large part of our future and that there are no barriers to participation.

Most central to her message, however, is the key insight that is most often lost: not only is inclusivity a part of technology’s future, it was also a seminal part of its past. Ada Lovelace, for example, an English woman born in 1812, was the first computer programmer; Katherine G. Johnson, an African-American woman featured in the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, helped put NASA astronauts on the moon and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015; Grace Hopper invented coding itself; in President Obama’s words: “If Edison is light and Wright is flight, Hopper is code”.

History books often overlook and under-tell these stories, opting instead to lionize male inventors; for all the stereotypes of the “brogrammer,” we forget that technology – like most things – was birthed by remarkable women. They forgot to teach you all this in 11th grade. As Smith tells it: “So much of my work…

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