Women in Technology: Juliana Rotich


This year ELLE honors nine women who are educating, rebuilding, doctoring, employing, and sustaining the world.

Juliana Rotich, 33

Cofounder and executive director of Ushahidi.com

The Problem:  The 2007 election violence in Kenya caused a media blackout; no one knew where it was safe to travel, where food was available, or whether banks were open.

Big Idea:  Through it all, cell phones worked. With other Kenyans, Rotich created Ushahidi.com, an interactive, open-source map that pooled user-generated data about conflict zones, texted by phone, to a central online platform. You could text: “Violent mob at such and such corner,” and the report popped up as a coded dot on the map. “The moment the map went up, we knew we were making a difference. It gave us a chance to do something positive for our country. Frankly, entering data into a site gave us a purpose.”

Top Black American Women in Technology

  • Wanda M. Austin
    Courtesy of NASA

    President and CEO
    The Aerospace Corp.

    Wherever there’s a federal eye in the sky, Austin [11] knows about it. It’s her job as head of Aerospace [12], “a leading architect for the nation’s national security space programs” — that and managing 4,000 employees and garnering about $850 million in annual revenues. The native New Yorker [13] has a B.S. in math and a master’s and a doctorate in systems engineering.

  • Ursula Burns
    Courtesy of Xerox

    Chairman and CEO

    Burns [14] was named head of the $15 billion computer and office equipment company in 2007. After leading key business units at Xerox and helping her predecessor Ann Mulcahy remake the company, she was a natural choice to succeed Mulcahy. Burns, who earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York and a master’s in engineering from Columbia, was an intern at Xerox in 1980. Thirty years later, President Obama appointed her vice chair [15] of his Export Council.

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