21 Technical Women Speakers for your Next Conference, or Manel!

Angie Chang
Girl Geek X
Published in
9 min readApr 11, 2018


In 2018, Girl Geek X: Elevate conference boasts over 60% women of color as expert speakers. Looking to diversify your conference or panel discussion? Here’s our list of 21 technical women in tech who speak — brilliantly:


Currently Director of Engineering at Slack.

Former CNET and Google manager Arquay Harris is a knowledgeable speaker on engineering management. She talks about advocacy and how to empower ownership of career trajectories on many levels (how to advocate for yourself, your team, AND to teach your team to advocate for themselves). Listen to her speak on about the importance of self-advocacy!


Currently Founder at Gixo.

After starting Evite out of her college dorm room (where she was VP Engineering), Selina Tobaccowala grew her career at Ticketmaster before joining SurveyMonkey to lead engineering as CTO. Selina sits on the board of directors at Redfin, the Seattle-based real estate brokerage. Most recently, she launched Gixo to provide online fitness classes anytime.


Currently CTO at STITCH FIX.

Before blazing a trail into the public markets with Stitch Fix as CTO, Cathy Polinsky cut her teeth at companies like Salesforce, Yahoo!, Oracle and Amazon. She frequently speaks about scaling teams and hiring top talent while maintaining high EQ, engineering leadership practices, and provides a ton of practical advice from the battlefield.


Currently VP of Engineering at Skillz.

Before joining mobile eSports company Skillz, Miriam Aguirre worked as an engineer and architect for companies including HubAnalytics, Krush, Financial Engines and HP. A gaming enthusiast, she speaks frequently about importance of diversity in industries like tech, gaming and eSports.


Currently VP Product Management at Optimizely.

Claire Vo joined Optimizely after the company acquired her marketing optimization startup Experiment Engine. Prior to founding Experiment Engine, she led product management and user experience teams at several eCommerce and tech companies. She sits on the board of directors for non-profit Techtonica, and advocates for women in tech.


Currently Senior Director of Developer Evangelism at Salesforce.

Leah McGowen-Hare has decades of experience as developer, manager and tech trainer. Her career reflects the evolution of computing — having worked in mainframe, personal computing, client-server and cloud computing. She enjoys making tech accessible to youth, girls, communities of color and Vets.


Currently Senior Director of Engineering at Mozilla.

At Mozilla, Laura Thomson leads engineering teams responsible for development, data, operations, and security of services, systems and tools to support Firefox, plus release engineering and automation and developer tools. Laura is also the author of PHP and MySQL Web Development (now in 5/e) and MySQL Tutorial.


Currently Senior Director of Engineering at Wealthfront.

The Toronto-educated software engineer worked at IBM, Research in Motion and Zynga out of college before joining automated investment service firm Wealthfront when the company had only 30 employees. Rija Javed is Senior Director of Engineering at Wealthfront. She enjoys mentoring girls in STEM topics and helping them gain confidence.


Currently Director of Product Management and Strategy / Operations at US Digital Service.

Julie Meloni builds things, and builds teams, and builds teams who build things (the last one is her favorite) at the United States Digital Service in WashiShe has authored numerous books on programming, most recently Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL, and JavaScript All-in-One.


Currently Director of Product Management at Oath.

Previously a product manager at Silicon Valley tech companies including eBay, IBM and Yahoo!, Sophia Perl is now a Director of Product Management at Oath, working on native and search ads (ad formats, ad targeting, pricing). She began her early career as a software engineer at IBM. In her spare time, she attends hackathons and builds toy projects.


Currently Principal Design Researcher at Microsoft.

Cindy Alvarez is the author of Lean Customer Development and is a regular speaker at conferences and events. She gives private workshops to select clients. She is a Principal Design Researcher at Microsoft, and is passionate about diversity & inclusion: supporting women, Black and Latinx people, and girls in tech.


Currently Engineering Manager at Google.

Sarah Allen has been contributing to open source software for over 15 years. She founded Blazing Cloud and Bridge Foundry. An early engineer on After Effects, Shockwave, and Flash video, Sarah now leads Google Cloud Platform infrastructure teams working on server-side events and security policy.


Currently Senior Data Scientist at GitHub.

Omoju Miller is a Data Scientist with over a decade of experience in computational intelligence. She earned her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and is a frequently invited to speak at conferences and universities like World Economic Forum and MIT.


Currently Security Partner at Facebook.

A developer and security expert focused on improving security with minimal impact to users, Kate McKinley has worked on security at Silicon Valley companies including Mozilla, Netflix, Artemis, Visa and iSEC Partners. She is currently a security sorceress at Facebook, and is speaking at Elevate about how mitigations are not working, and how memory-safe languages like Rust offer performance and compatibility.


Currently Senior Software Security Engineer at Netflix.

An experienced software engineer specialized in security, Nicole Grinstead focuses on corporate identity and access, applying user behavior analytics to threat detection, and user focused security. She is speaking at Elevate on using statistics for security: modeling user behavior to detect account compromise.


Currently Senior Engineering Manager at Salesforce.

Sukrutha Bhadouria is a Senior Engineering Manager at Salesforce. She is also CTO and co-founder of Girl Geek X in her spare time. She speaks about her passion for tech, gender diversity and engineering leadership.


Currently NLP Manager at Tableau Software.

Vidya Setlur manages the Natural Language Team at Tableau Software. She works on natural language interfaces to help enable analytical conversations with data. Previously, Vidya was a staff research scientist at Tableau, and principal research scientist at the Nokia Research Center. Her interests are at the intersection of NLP and computer graphics, around semantics and visual interfaces.


Currently Staff Software Engineer in Machine Learning at LinkedIn.

Nadia Fawaz is tech lead for the job recommendation team at LinkedIn. She speaks about machine learning for personalization, fairness and data privacy. Her work leverages techniques from AI including deep learning, information theory, random matrix theory, statistics and privacy theory.


Currently Senior Software Engineer in Machine Learning at SurveyMonkey.

Jessica Mong is a Senior Software Engineer on the machine learning engineering team at SurveyMonkey. She oversees the technical talks program, runs the engineering internship program, and co-leads the Women in Engineering group. Jessica is a member of /dev/color, and a graduate of Code2040 and Hackbright.


Currently Senior Technical Product Manager at eBay.

Prior to eBay, Shanea King-Roberson was a Program Manager at Google managing the tech entrepreneurship nanodegree program teaching students to build sustainable, revenue-generating businesses. Shanea enjoys speaking about entrepreneurship, having started her own company.


Currently Product Designer at Lyft.

Samihah Azim is a Product Designer at Lyft where she sits at the intersection of business goals and designing experiences impacting local communities. Prior to Lyft, she designed for local commerce at Postmates and patient-facing healthcare experiences at One Medical. In her spare time, Samihah learned to code at CodePath and Railsbridge (BridgeFoundry).

Yes it’s FREE to get a conference pass at elevate.girlgeek.io — see you then!

Of course, Girl Geek X: Elevate has some terrific mission-aligned sponsors who actively are looking to recruit women to their company ranks:

41% of tech jobs in DC are held by women (as compared to 26% in the rest of the country). Founded under President Barack Obama to disrupt the government from within and has continued to work for all Americans in 2018, USDS employs over 50% women, and 60% of leadership roles are held by women.

The United States Digital Service (USDS) 🏆 is looking for candidates with the hands-on skills and leadership ability to work with a diverse group of teammates to improve our Nation’s most critical digital services. We’re looking for the most tenacious software engineers, product managers, designers and more — who are committed to untangling, rewiring and redesigning critical government services. You’ll join a team of the most talented technologists from across the private sector and government. Our staff comes from all corners of the technology industry and government to serve time-limited tours of duty, helping to solve some of our nation’s most important problems. Apply today!

Mozilla 🏆is a non-profit with one mission: defend the free and open web.

Mozilla exists to build the Internet as a public resource accessible to all because we believe that open and free is better than closed and controlled.

Join Mozilla and become part of our mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity online. Mozilla is hiring:

Silver sponsors for Girl Geek X: Elevate include Clever, Intel AI, Salesforce:

Clever is hiring in San Francisco for:

Join Girl Geeks at Intel’s AI DevCon — Complimentary Passes!

Be our guest at AI DevCon 2018 (May 23-24 at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco)— Connect with top minds in data science, machine and deep learning, application development, and research.

Get your complimentary ticket at intel.com/aidevcon using complimentary code “GFCVIP”

You can join fellow girl geeks at Intel AI DevCon in May — it’s FREE!

Salesforce is hiring for:

Bronze sponsor Quantcast is hiring:

Check out their opportunities for girl geeks at elevate.girlgeek.io/opportunities — elevate your career this year!



Angie Chang
Girl Geek X

She co-founded Girl Geek X & Women 2.0 to connect & inspire women in tech and entrepreneurship.