Noteworthy Women

Encouraging and Empowering Remarkable Women

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Inspiring Women in Tech: Alaina Percival, CEO, Women Who Code

Surprisingly, Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code, did not begin her professional career in the tech industry. Her career actually began in the footwear industry when she worked at Puma running their niche products division. After deciding how important education was to her, she decided to go back to school to earn her MBA at Georgia State University. Then, she worked as a corporate brand manager at a smaller women’s performance shoe company, but later decided that she wanted to live in San Francisco, the major hub of the tech industry.

“It was a struggle because I’d always worked with footwear, but I felt like I needed to switch gears and start over and find my path.”

Taking a risk and changing your career path like Percival did is not easy, and people like her need to be acknowledged more for their bravery and commitment to success in a new field. She started getting involved in the tech industry by joining Women Who Code when it was still in its early phases and she placed herself in positions of leadership after teaching herself how to code. She found that her experience in community development allowed her to successfully organize events and find sponsors, and quickly became passionate about the projects she worked on.

At her day job, she mentions, “I was working with a lot of engineering executives, but fewer than 5 percent of them were women. I saw the experiences and opportunities they had and started bringing those into Women Who Code’s programs. That is where Women Who Code’s mission of inspiring women to excel in their careers was formed and how I knew we could make a difference.”


Percival did not waste any time and within a few months had filed for non-profit status and a trademark. Once she realized how big this organization was becoming, she quit her day job and made Women Who Code the center of her attention.

“The most exciting part is that the Women Who Code leaders whom we are helping empower are women who are dedicated to seeing other women excel. Their influence will impact the industry exponentially,” Percival says.

Percival mentions that she is proud of the influence her organization has had on inspiring women to enter the tech industry, however women are not staying in the industry for long periods of time. She adds that women need to have more mentors in the field so they can develop a sense of belonging and get career planning advise. The goal is not to simply get more women in the tech industry, but to have them stay and become future leaders that are equally represented.

Percival advises everyone to learn at least the basics of coding because it is becoming an integral part of every business. Having these skills will be essential for seeing numbers grow in the amount of women in tech because experience is crucial in the industry.

“Lay out that goal and work toward it; you can always change your mind later,” she says. This is a great piece of advise for young women who are still unsure what they want to do for a career. Percival is a prime example of someone who was not exactly sure what she wanted to do at first, but she made a decision and went for it with hard work, passion, and dedication.

Now, Women Who Code has more than 50,000 members in over 20 countries and has offered over 3,000 free events around the world. The non-profit offers free study groups and career development events, but also provides free and discounted conference tickets and scholarships to its members, totaling $100,000 in 2015.

Percival acknowledged a problem in the tech industry and found a way to help diminish that problem while impacting several lives along the way. She hopes that one day Women Who Code will no longer exist because that means there will be no disparity between men and women in tech and women will be equally represented, especially in positions of leadership.


For more information, visit these articles:

Alaina Percival: Twitter | LinkedIn

Women Who Code: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Model Adwoa Aboah is the founder on the Instagram account @gurlstalk which later became a website and is receiving a lot of praise for her posts that are getting girls to talk about feminism. Vogue’s article interviewing Aboah says that using the hashtag #letsgetgurlstalking as a call to arms, Aboah spreads a larger message of honesty and openness for young women, a message she also plans on taking into local schools via an upcoming workshop.

The About Me section on the website states:

“Gurls Talk is a movement that strives to create a platform where girls can openly share their experiences and feelings in a safe and trusting environment.  We are working together to create a community of girls from all different backgrounds, looking beyond external differences, and focusing on the essence of what it means to be a girl in the 21st century.  We strive to show girls that you are not alone, and that by opening up and sharing your personal stories, you too can discover that many others are going through the same things.  Gurls Talk is about working together, empowering, and taking the time to listen…”


By using her platform to boast a freedom of ideals and a breaking with the norms has helped her evolve into a star to follow. She says in her interview with Teen Vogue that her inspiration came from “the women who came into her life when she needed them the most — the women who actually saved her life”. With Gurls Talk Aboah wants to create a space wherein girls can have honest conversations about everything. It’s weekly program to educate girls on mental health and addiction and eating disorders, but instead of it being a lecture coming from a teacher or a woman twice their age, it will be from women these girls can relate to, women who are speaking from experience.

Vice Magazine comments  that with 35k Instagram followers and growing, and a website that launch last October, Gurls Talk is the best friend you wish you had growing up, a voice to speak out on body image, feminism, self-perception, and empowerment. Frank, intelligent, and deeply personal, it documents everything from Adwoa’s road to a personal recovery, to calling out the Kardashians for their use of social media (“Between you, you have 45 million followers, and this is what you use your platform for?” she asks incredulously), to insights into inspirational feminist artists and writers such as Gloria Steinem and Lena Dunham, to simple feel-good mantras (‘Be you and be proud’).

The most important message she would like girls to take away from Gurls Talk is, “be vulnerable, be open, and be true to yourself. I found when I was trying to be someone else everything was so much harder. But when I was true to myself, I felt so much freer,” she says, with a wisdom far beyond her years. “Give out positive energy and things will come back to you in ways you can’t even begin to believe.” Last year’s Italian Vogue cover shot by Tim Walker was a huge turning point for the model, who has since starred in advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Roberto Cavalli, and H&M. “The Italian Vogue cover meant so much to me, not so much because I was on the cover,” Adwoa says, “but because I saw a different light in my eyes. There was nothing behind them for so long. I had completely shut away from my family, my friends, my sister, but now my spark is back.”

Vice continues with pointing out that Adwoa’s spark is more than back, it’s dazzling, and the future looks bright for the her. Next year she will make her movie debut, starring in Rupert Sanders’ adaptation of Japanese manga classic Ghost in the Shell, opposite Scarlett Johannson. “It was a dream come true to act alongside Scarlett!” she beams. “She is one of the coolest and most down-to-earth women I’ve ever met.”

“In these turbulent times, an intelligent, passionate, and emotionally attuned role model is exactly what we need. Let’s get girls talking.”

“I call myself a feminist and I’m proud to say that, but I think the modern-day feminist can be anyone. It can be a model on the cover of a magazine, it can be a mother of five, it can be a working woman, a woman who chooses to stay at home, a woman who decides not to shave her armpits in protest—it really can be anyone drawn to the idea of equality. I really think it is about doing things for yourself and not being held back by what society views as appropriate.”


Backlash on Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair Shoot: Feminism or Hypocrisy?

This week, BuzzFeed posted on its Snapchat story? an article about Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair shoot. While the article focuses on Watson who opens up about her metamorphosis from child star to leading woman, critics were more focused on her breasts and disputed on how a feminist could do such a thing. Was it hypocritical of Watson to reveal herself in such a way? BuzzFeed comments, “Since then, several articled have been published objectifying Watson. The Sun published an article with the headline “Beauty and the breasts.”

The Telegraph writes about Daily Mail columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer who tweeted a picture of the page, writing: “Feminism, feminism… gender wage gap… why oh why am I not taken seriously… feminism… oh, and here are my tits!” According to CNN She later defended her tweet, saying Watson “complains that women are sexualised and then sexualises herself in her own work. Hypocrisy.”

Emma Watson, as featured in the March 2017 issue of Vanity Fair

Talking about how important her role is in the upcoming film Beauty and the Beast, Watson emphasized how important the approval of her mother Jacqueline and Gloria Steinem’s is.

“I couldn’t care less if I won an Oscar or not if the movie didn’t say something that I felt was important for people to hear.”

Emma Watson

As we all know about how Watson feels about empowering young girls, the type of backlash she received on her picture featured in the magazine was a bit surprising to the Beauty and the Beast star. Watson later comments to CNN saying, “The more I have spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. … For the record, feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” On a lighter note, although she received a lot of criticism for her picture, she gained a lot of support as well.

In an interview with Reuters, Watson, responded to the controversy by clarifying the definition of feminism to critics:9

“It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is,” she said. “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it.”

So what does Gloria Steinem, arguably the most high-profile feminist, think about this controversy? According to CNN once more,

Steinem laughed at the notion that Watson was a “bad feminist” because she appeared in a revealing photo.

“Feminists can wear anything they f****** want,” Steinem told TMZ. “They should be able to walk down the street nude and be safe.”

Feature Friday: Malala Yousafzai

As one of the most famous and influential Pakistani activists for female education, Malala Yousafzai, has changed the game in feminism. In 2009, Malala wrote an anonymous blog that described the lifestyle under the Taliban. Later that year, she was discovered as the one behind the blog posts that became a documentary. This also put a target on Malala by the Taliban and she’s still targeted today.

Malala attended a school that her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, had founded. After the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools, she gave a speech in September 2008 titled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” According to BBC’s article, Malala was only 11 years old when her anonymous diary captivated audiences. She wrote under a pseudonym – Gul Makai, the name of a heroine from a Pashtun folk tale. Malala was able to document the chaos that her and her friends underwent while they saw students from their class dropping those classes due to the fear of being targeted by the militants. Malala and her family were then forced to flee the valley when a government military operation attempted to clear the region of militancy. Seen as a passionate campaigner, Malala consistently received support and encouragement in her activism from her parents. Her father was even the one who had the idea of starting a blog.

“For my brothers it was easy to think about the future,” Malala tells me when we meet in Birmingham. “They can be anything they want. But for me it was hard and for that reason I wanted to become educated and empower myself with knowledge.”

Once targeted by the Taliban, Malala was shot in the head in 2012, but survived and went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at age 18! BBC writes, “The bullet hit Malala’s left brow and instead of penetrating her skull it travelled underneath the skin, the length of the side of her head and into her shoulder”.

Malala’s diary: 3 January 2009:

“I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat.

My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools

Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taliban’s edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.”

“I didn’t want my future to be imprisoned in my four walls and just cooking and giving birth” – Malala

In 2009, a documentary was produced about Malala.  The Guardian reviews this film as, “No squeamish cultural relativism: women’s education is a must in Muslim countries, non-Muslim countries, everywhere, non-negotiable. Guggenheim’s film is inspiring.”

A fund has been set up in her name to help children in education around the world.

“She is an extraordinary young woman, wise beyond her years, sensible, sensitive and focused. She has experienced the worst of humanity, and the best of humanity – both from the medics who cared for her and the messages from many thousands of well-wishers.”

Ms, Mrs & Miss— let’s talk feminism

Throughout history, countless numbers of brave women have helped pave the way for the women of today.  It is through their dedication and commitment that modern women have the ability to vote, work and stand up for their beliefs. There’s no denying the United States is currently facing a period of extreme division across its borders. Yet, regardless of the causes we fight for, we must remember the women who forged the way before us; they’ve handed the baton over to us. We are responsible for continuing their legacy, empowering others and engaging in actions that bring great change to the world.  We must be our own support system— a source of inspiration to each other and continue blazing the trail as women in history.

Noteworthy Women is a platform dedicated to featuring such personalities— women of the past, women of today and the women of tomorrow. For many years, feminist ideals have been misunderstood and taken for granted. In order to reverse this stigma associated with feminism, it is important to help people see the true values that feminism stands for. 

Noteworthy Women is the product of four female Undergrad students from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. These women, who come from different states/countries, backgrounds and ideals, understood the power their unique experiences could have when united with one goal of de-stigmatizing the ideals of feminism. With this blog, they hope to serve as an example to other women, that any woman can make a difference be it small or large by taking a stand.

“Strong women aren’t simply born. We are forged through the challenges of life. With each challenge we grow mentally and emotionally. We move forward with our head held high and a strength that cannot be denied. A woman who’s been through the storm and survived. We are warriors!” – unknown

The blog’s content will focus on showcasing women who have done remarkable things over their lifetime, made sacrifices for causes dear to them and stand proudly for who they are. The gallery will feature visual components to help readers feel as connected as humanly possible to women they may never have the chance to meet face to face. Feel free to connect using the contact information available. If there are women you want to have featured, shoot us an email and we’ll happily create a post. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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