5 leading female technologists in Philly you might not know yet - Technical.ly Philly

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Feb. 18, 2015 8:27 am

5 leading female technologists in Philly you might not know yet

They're emerging voices in the Philadelphia tech community. They're photographers and biologists and, yes, moms.

The Philly chapter of Girl Develop It has played a key role in cultivating tech talent. Here, Mark Headd teaches an "Intro to Open Source Software" class.

(Photo by Erin Allen)

We’re so bored by the cliche of a male-dominated IT sector. Proportionally there’s still a heavy male influence, but too much progress has been made in recent years to highlight how plainly normal it is to have strong gender parity in a city’s tech community.

So with all due respect for those concerned that calling out female technologists reinforces the misconception that they’re rare, we just recently noticed a handful of developers with outsized reputations in Philadelphia who deserve more credit — and, oh, they all happened to be women.

The following five women are notable members of the city’s technology scene — a few directly touch to the local and very active Girl Develop It chapter. They have achieved success at their respective companies doing front-end web development, software engineering or design. Knowing there are many, many more in Philadelphia, here are five leading female devs you might not know yet.

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Elise Wei, Monetate
elise wei

Elise Wei is a software engineer at Monetate. (Photo by Marcus McCarthy)

Elise Wei, a software engineer at Conshohocken-based ecommerce optimization firm Monetate, started her career with a degree in photography from Drexel University and a job in underwriting insurance before she moved into the technology scene. She has been working in technology for close to a decade and has been at Monetate since 2012 — she’s managed lots of men there and hasn’t faced tension.

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Wei said she is proudest of the projects she learns the most from and enjoys the variety to her work.

“Clients always have different goals that we’re trying to meet,” Wei said. “[It’s like] ‘make this square peg fit this round hole.’”

Additionally, Wei is a web development instructor for Girl Develop It.

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Stephanie Liu, RJMetrics

Stephanie Liu of RJ Metrics. (Photo by Marcus McCarthy)

Stephanie Liu graduated from Villanova University two years ago with a degree in biology but decided that software was her true passion. After interning at a web design and marketing firm for six months, Liu was hired at business analytics firm RJMetrics in Center City as a front-end developer.

She said she has seen the company quickly grow in size since arriving and is excited to be a part of an expanding organization.

Liu said she is looking forward to getting more involved in the Philadelphia technology community by attending more events.

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Sarah Gray, Neat Company

Sarah Gray of the Neat Company. (Photo by Marcus McCarthy)

As a full-stack engineer at Neat Company, Sarah Gray works with a team of developers distributed throughout the globe to create new features and enhance the performance of Neat’s cloud application.

“One of the things I love most about software development is that you are never bored,” Gray said. “There is always something new to learn and it’s satisfying to know that your work will directly impact the users’ experience with the product.”

Gray attributes her interest in technology through groups like Girl Develop It and the Philly Python User Group.

“Philadelphia is a great place to be a developer,”Gray said. “[It is] a vibrant technology scene that is supportive of women, and it’s encouraging to see the groundswell of interest among women to get involved.”

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Yesenia Perez-Cruz, Intuitive

Yesenia Perez-Cruz. (Photo by Michael McAghon)

Yesenia Perez-Cruz is a designer with Intuitive Company in Manayunk and has worked with companies like Zappos and MTV. She previously worked with creative agency Happy Cog and received a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Drexel University. Though her focus is in design, her user experience work requires some familiarity with front-end development.

She also participates in Girl Develop It as a typography teacher. Perez said she came up with the course curriculum on typography — the art of making words and letters aesthetically pleasing — which has since been replicated at other chapters of Girl Develop It.

Perez said that although many students come expecting the subject to be cut-and-dry, typography is more creative than most expect. Her advice to students is to “trust your intuition and let things flow.”

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Zoe Rooney, freelance

Zoe Rooney in her home office. (Photo by Marcus McCarthy)

Zoe Rooney is a front-end developer who has run her own small business for nearly three years.

Working from her home, Rooney doesn’t have the average workday. She starts in the morning with getting her two children to school then gets to work before everyone gets home later that day.

“It took getting used to being alone all the time,” Rooney said.

However, she’s found methods in order to stay focused while programming, like playing a TV show in the background. She added that because of this fact, she’s been able to watch six seasons of the show “Gilmore Girls” all while getting work done.

She has also been involved with Girl Develop It and TechGirlz as a teacher in web design and development.

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