Although Apple’s last diversity report was more transparent than most, it still fell short for women. Out of their global employee base, only 31 percent are female. And when you narrow it down to leadership roles, that percentage decreases to 28 percent. For “tech” positions? That number dwindles even further to 22 percent. Women are steadily making their mark in male-dominated industries such as finance, gaming, and more. By becoming glass ceiling breakers, they’re slowly but surely changing the landscape of these industries for good. So next time, when you’re surrounded by your colleagues in a meeting and see everyone wearing business formal attire, try to remember their names.
1. Carrie Mantha, Founder/CEO at Indira, Former Surgeon and Investor
Mantha is an accomplished woman: She’s been a surgeon, run healthcare investments, founded two tech companies, and consulted for biotech companies. Growing up, Indira loved math and science, so studying biomedical engineering, researching molecular biology, and going to medical school seemed like obvious decisions. However, after graduation, she decided to jump into the startup world with her own customized bridesmaid and wedding gown business. Mantha was first attracted to the challenge and excitement of surgery, but soon realized she wanted to have a bigger impact than she could make by treating individual patients. So she left medicine, got an MBA, joined a hedge fund, and invested in innovative biotech companies. For Mantha, success is a moving target—so who knows where the former Miss Florida USA will be after her current project. In the meantime, she’s taking advantage of every opportunity that comes her way to create solutions for others.
Her secret: “I’ve always followed my heart, and focused on where I felt I could make the biggest difference. If you don’t look, walk, talk, or dress like people who’ve succeeded before you, people won’t assume you’re going to be successful yourself. That means you have to prove it to them.”
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2. Michelle DeFeo, President of Champagne Laurent-Perrier US
DeFeo’s family has a long history of working in coal mines, but she chose a different path for herself: champagne. She started out as a French translator with the goal of eventually working for the U.N. Her aspirations shifted when she started to learn more about champagne and wine while working for Clicquot, a luxury champagne label. Although DeFeo has predominately worked with men in the alcoholic beverage industry, she is optimistic about the shift towards more women in management roles. In the last 5 years, she’s not only seen an increase in female execs, but has also advanced further into her own career.
Her secret: “I’ve never resented having to prove that I could do this. I accepted and continue to accept the challenge, and I’ve been delivering.”
3. Pocket Sun and Elizabeth Galbut, Co-Founders of SoGal Ventures
Sun (left) and Galbut (right), both only 26, created the first-ever female-led Millennial venture capital fund in the United States and Asia. According to Sun, meeting these young ambitious women at the Stanford + 500 Startups Venture Capital Investor Course was both serendipitous and predestined. They shared a common goal of wanting to make a difference, so they partnered up and started a company that supports young women entrepreneurs. SoGal Ventures strives to invest in companies and technologies that solve prominent consumer or healthcare issues in the U.S. and Asia, as well as promote females who wish to break new ground. As female venture capitalists in an industry dominated by men, Sun and Galbut hope to increase diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship.
Pocket’s Secret: “My father often told me, ‘You are going to create jobs for people some day. Don’t worry about getting one.’”
Ellie’s Secret: “I knew I wanted to play a leading role in redesigning the future of our nation’s health.”
4. Sande Chen, Video Game Creator and Teacher
Although the video game industry is male-dominated, with men earning on average $15,000 more than women, Chen has managed to write an award-winning video game and launch a non-profit geared towards helping female entrants into the field. Chen had never touched a gaming console by the time she graduated college, but after attending film school, Chen wanted to explore writing for video games–a field with few employment opportunities. Next Generation magazine has since profiled her as one of the game industry’s top 100 most influential women. She co-authored a book on video gaming and spoke at conferences worldwide. Chen enjoys working with the latest technology and being creative, where people design games for smartwatches and dabble in virtual reality. She thinks that women can do well in the gaming industry without being pulled in by harmful publicity and can clear the invisible hurdle placed before them.
Her secret: “I had to be really persistent and keep at my goal. There were times when I felt like I was clawing my way up. To know that so many people cherish a game that’s occupied my life for months, that is success to me.”
5. Erin Coscarelli, Host on the NFL Network
Since she was young, Coscarelli has been exposed to sports and competition. Every Saturday morning, she would watch WWE and then go to her soccer and volleyball tournaments. This eventually led her to have a career in sports. She says, “Working in a male-dominated industry just means you have to be even more prepared than your male colleagues.” She has been inspired by Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL, and Beth Mowins, who recently became a play-by-play announcer for the Raiders – a rare gig and shining moment for women in the sports industry. Coscarelli is hopeful for the prevalence of female sports figures in the future and wants to be a part of paving the way for young girls.
Her secret: “I love what I do. I love covering sports. I’m such a competitive person. It’s fun for me to interview these talented athletes who compete their entire lives to achieve their ultimate dreams. It’s inspiring.”
Photos Courtesy of Carrie Mantha, Michelle DeFeo, Pocket Sun, Sande Chen, Erin Coscarelli