An animated graphic that reads It's Her

Ever wonder who’s shaping society today?
Creating, innovating, leading …
And bringing the world forward.
It’s her.
Where women rise, everyone benefits.
And when it’s her, it’s all of us.

A portrait of Letta J.

“Gaming saved my life as a kid. My goal was to create a world that embraces the weird. It’s about building a community where everyone is welcome and everyone has the opportunity to grow.”

This is Letta J. and she’s changing the game for women and gamers from underrepresented communities. As the co-founder of COEXIST, the largest gaming community in Brooklyn, she’s on a mission to turn players into creators—with development tools and classes for coding, sound design, and music composition.

A portrait of Ana Arriola

“I have a responsibility as a creator of tech to protect the people who use it. If you aren’t leading with a lens of empathy and vulnerability, you aren’t going to see the full picture. Representation matters, it’s imperative to cultivate a diverse network across disciplines, and challenge barriers and institutional inequities across our communities. It’s the only way for us to move forward. That’s what I fight for every day.”

Meet Ana Arriola, Microsoft’s Director of Product Design for Cloud + AI Studios. As a source for intersectional and authentic design, they’re creating human-centric product experiences – ensuring thoughtful approaches that extend and empower human curiosity.

A portrait of Florence Phillips

“I know firsthand how limiting a language barrier can be. Using technology, I’m able to teach people English and give them the opportunity to achieve their dreams. And I started all of this at 75. You can do anything, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.”

When you think grit, think Florence Phillips. When most people retire, she opted for reinvention—and volunteered with the Peace Corps before launching her own nonprofit. At 90 years old, she’s still running the English Language Learners In-Home Program to help more than 5000 immigrants and refugees learn English.

a movement

A portrait of Beverly Bond
Meet Beverly Bond →

“Of the many hats I wear, I really cherish my role as a mentor. I am truly blessed, honored and immensely grateful to help nurture precocious ‘RAD’ teen-aged ‘brown skin girls’ at a critical growth period and time of transition in their lives.”

— Beverly Bond, DJ and founder of BLACK GIRLS ROCK!

An image of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! book cover

Join us for the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Book Club, a new initiative created in partnership with Microsoft to build community and promote girls’ empowerment, literacy, and leadership. Each month, the book club will highlight a thought-provoking book for the community to read and discuss, and a live virtual event featuring the author in conversation with a BGR! alumna. There’ll also be interactive workshops for students based on themes in the books.

the norms

A portrait of Esther Cheebos
Meet Esther Cheebos →

Photo credit USAID – Irene Angwenyi

“I witnessed my mother enduring a life of domestic violence, my sister being forced into marriage, and I saw my girlfriends lose their childhood overnight. I know my purpose is to create a safe environment for all women.”

— Esther Cheebos, Clincal Officer at Ampath Plus

A portrait of Meet Kal Viswanathan
Meet Kal Viswanathan →

“I tell [my students], ‘I’ve been in the place you’ve been, and this is what it took to get out of it and find success… And that’s exactly what I am going to teach you here.’”

— Kal Viswanathan, founder of Kal Academy

the norms

A portrait of Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu
Meet Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu →

“Grown women come up to me and say, ‘Where have you been all our lives? Do you know what it would have done for my self-esteem if I had grown up with a doll that looked like me?”

— Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu, founder of the Sibahle Collection

A portrait of Natassia Katopodis
Meet Natassia Katopodis →

“If we can empower just one young woman to become self-sufficient, then she can go on to empower her community.”

— Natassia Katopodis, Business Applications Manager

Invest in

A portrait of Sandee Kastrul
Meet Sandee Kastrul →

“As women, we're really good at setting the table for other people to eat—we feed ourselves last. We take care of everybody else, and then if there's something left over we take care of ourselves.”

— Sandee Kastrul, founder and CEO of i.c.stars

A portrait of Donna Hylton
Meet Donna Hylton →

“I couldn’t have influenced my daughters the same way if I didn’t first take advantage of the things I was asking them to take advantage of. You have to be the first partaker. I think my daughters have graduate degrees because they saw mommy get two master’s degrees.”

— Donna Hylton, professor and founder of STEAM Train

A portrait of Sarah Krasley
Meet Sarah Krasley →

“When I think about workers who've benefited from our training program, it makes the sacrifices worth it ... We see this workforce not as a labor pool, but as real people who have skills and potential.”

— Sarah Krasley, founder and CEO of Shimmy Technologies

our legacy

A portrait of Meet Mikaela Jade
Meet Meet Mikaela Jade →

“For me culturally, we talk about legacy as our obligations to the next generations. But that’s a really important thing for all humans to think about—what kind of ancestors do we all want to be to our descendants?”

— Mikaela Jade, founder of Indigital

our legacy
A portrait of Kriti Sharma
Meet Kriti Sharma →

“If you're building a new product, don't just think about the majority of the population. Think about the outliers or people who may be most at risk of being disadvantaged from the tech. That's something we all can do.”

—Kriti Sharma, founder of AI for Good

Give back to organizations that empower her

Donate to nonprofits that support women leaders, working mothers, and others around the world simply by searching with Microsoft Bing.

Start giving →
A portrait of Beverly Bond

Beverly Bond, smashing stereotypes for Black girls

As a model, Beverly Bond spent much of her early career facing stereotypes, tokenism, and racism. She’d walk into casting rooms and hear, “We already have our Black model, we don't need any more.” Feeling invisible, she took matters into her own hands, launching a DJ career where she controlled her gigs and her destiny. But that feeling of invisibility is what drove Beverly to launch BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, a global women’s empowerment movement and multi-faceted media, entertainment, philanthropic, and lifestyle brand committed to the empowerment of Black and African American women and girls. Her annual BLACK GIRLS LEAD conference—with speakers like Michelle Obama, Misty Copeland, and Missy Elliott—shows the next generation of girls that if they see it, they can be it.

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An image of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK logo

Mentoring Black girls to feel valued—and value themselves

Part of what made Beverly so passionate about mentoring is the way she saw Black women portrayed in the media. She wanted to foster a generation of Black girls who valued themselves and believed they could be leaders. “I started BLACK GIRLS LEAD as a support system to encourage our girls to explore their innate creative power and ingenuity, in order to help to guide their vision, turn their passions to purpose and tap into the essence of who they are ‘becoming’! The BLACK GIRLS LEAD program provides an auspicious safe space to affirm and motivate our girls to step up to their challenges, to stare down their fears, to become more genuine ,and to be more courageous and unapologetic in their ambitions, despite the naysayers and those who may be uncomfortable with their ascension.”

Learn more about BLACK GIRLS ROCK! →
A portrait of Esther Cheebos

Photo credit USAID – Irene Angwenyi

Esther Cheebos, challenging norms and changing futures

As a girl in West Pokot, Kenya, Esther Cheebos knew about the realities of child brides and female genital mutilation (FGM) in her community. But her mother found a way to change the course of her fate by arranging for a social worker to take her to a secondary school that had a 'Rescue Center' for at-risk girls being subjected to harmful cultural practices. After graduation, the nonprofit Global Give Back Circle paired Esther with a mentor—Robyn McKoy of Microsoft— who sponsored her college education, by volunteering through Microsoft's Give Program. Robyn was her ally as she developed the confidence needed to grow into a leader and role model in her community. Today, Esther is a Clinical Officer for Ampath Plus, a USAID partner. Her role is 'Gender Violence Lead for West Pokot County'.

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A portrait of Esther Cheebos

Photo credit USAID – Irene Angwenyi

Sparking meaningful change in her own community

Helping to Eradicate the worst form of gender violence in today's world, Esther’s passion is driven by love for family and friends, who faced very different fates: “Listening to these stories about my friends broke my heart. I wished I were able to do something to help girls from my community. This motivated me to work extra hard and be a participant in the fight against FGM and forced early marriage.” Her work is making history in West Pokot, growing a movement of resiliency, one by one—with 50 local women now volunteering alongside her to help win the war against gender violence.

Learn more about Global Give Back Circle →
A portrait of Natassia Katopodis

Natassia Katopodis, helping young women see their own futures

Natassia shares how her own family’s story motivated her to help young women go after the future they want with DreamGirls Academy, which offers mentorship and access to resources to economically empower women.

Read her story →
A portrait of Kal Vilakazi-Ofosu

Kal Viswanathan, teaching women to code with confidence

Growing up in India, Kal Viswanathan dreamt of a career built on helping others. “My parents bred teaching into my DNA, along with the lesson that I needed to give back to my community,” she says. That love for teaching has been a thread throughout Kal’s career. While working at Microsoft, Kal was also teaching at University of Washington, where she found that women students were often approaching her for mentoring and small group support. This led her to found Kal Academy, a non-profit coding school that “puts women on a path to greatness.”

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Looking beyond coding to careers in tech

For Kal, it isn’t enough to just teach coding. She also wants her students to land successful careers in tech, which means helping them build confidence and a set of strategies to thrive in job interviews. Because once they have their foot in the door, Kal knows her students—and women more broadly—have the grit that it takes to make it in the industry: “Women get to know how to face work every day, and they get to know how to learn new things if they’re just thrown at them, because ambiguity is one thing that we all have to get used to.”

Learn more about Kal Academy →
A portrait of Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu

Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu, redefining beauty with diverse dolls

“Mommy, please make my hair flowy.” When Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu’s three-year-old daughter asked the seemingly innocent question on her way home from preschool, it struck a nerve: “I thought, my goodness, she’s so young, and she’s already wishing for something that she is not.” This set Khulile, who works for Microsoft in Dublin, Ireland, on the path to creating the Sibahle Collection, a line of dolls that celebrates and reflects the beauty of diversity. The word “sibahle” comes from the Zulu language and means “We are beautiful.”

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Changing the way Black dolls are made

Changing the way Black dolls are made

When Khulile and her business partner Caroline set out to actually make their vision for Black dolls a reality, they had to challenge the very way dolls had been made in the past: “It’s not that there haven’t been Black dolls in the market. But those were white dolls with European features, painted Black. I found no dolls with flatter noses or more pronounced foreheads like my daughter’s.” But Sibahle has always been about more than making dolls: “We are redefining the meaning of beauty to help kids grow up being comfortable in their own skin.”

Learn more about Sibahle Collection →
A portrait of Sandee Kastrul

Sandee Kastrul, helping the underserved become leaders

During her time training teachers and developing curriculum across the US, Sandee Kastrul made a powerful observation: young adults who faced the most adversity were often the most resilient, yet seen as the least prepared for the workforce. Sandee set out to change that narrative by founding i.c.stars, which provides low-income students with tech training and employment opportunities (now virtually due to Covid-19) to “develop leaders who are solving the problems and building the solutions that we see in our community every day.”

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Choosing visibility

Sandee believes in the power of young people seeing leaders who look like them. But in the early days of i.c.stars, she struggled with being the face of the organization—that is, until a woman pulled her aside and told her that she needed to be visible before her students could believe that they deserved to be visible, too. “She said to me, ‘How dare you be invisible to the students who don't see a Black woman leading this organization?’ This was the most powerful advice I’d gotten in 10 years. So I mulled it over, ‘How do I become more visible?’ As women, we need to talk about what we accomplish—then spotlight others.”

Learn more about i.c.stars →
A portrait of Donna Hylton

Donna Hylton, paving the way for women of color in STEM

When Professor Donna Hylton was researching how many Black and African-American students had earned a degree in her department, Computer Information Technology and Management Information Systems at Middlesex Community College, the answer stunned her. “One person who looked like me in 40-something years,” she says. This led Donna to the realization that Black and African American women weren’t really represented in STEM at all—a fact that she wanted to change for her daughters and for future generations. So when Donna took a sabbatical in 2017, she didn’t go on vacation. She founded STEAM Train, which trains girls, women, and underrepresented populations in STEM disciplines.

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A portrait of Donna Hylton

Address what gets in the way

Donna has seen how hard it is for women to really invest in their careers first when their families’ needs aren’t being met. “The first barrier was, ‘I don't even have technology.’ So we gave them computers that kids at our camp had refurbished. The second thing they said was, ‘We don't have childcare.’ So we paid for babysitting. Another barrier was transportation. So we can carpool. If there's food insecurity, STEAM Train shows up at your house with a gift card to the local supermarket. If you say, I just can't make it because of whatever, we will come help.”

Learn more about STEAM Train →
A portrait of Sarah Krasley

Sarah Krasley, reskilling women for new possibilities

When people think AI and automation, they often imagine humans being pushed out of the workforce. But Sarah Krasley has seen firsthand how this technology can make work safer and even create better jobs. That’s the premise behind her company Shimmy Technologies, which is using AI and data to make the sewn products industry more sustainable, efficient, and equitable. It’s not just about modernizing an industry. It’s also about giving garment workers, primarily women who lack formal education, access to digital skills training that opens their world to new possibilities.

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Sarah Krasley with garment workers

What’s her dream?

Through her work with Shimmy, Sarah has observed how adopting new technologies and giving garment workers the digital and technical skills they need to stay in the workforce can have a profound effect: “I learned on my first trip to Bangladesh that a lot of these garment workers don't have long-term goals. I remember asking, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ And very few of them had an answer… But now when I ask that question, I get a lot of responses: ‘I want to be a supervisor, I want to work with computers, I want to have my own company.’ It gives me so much hope.

Learn more about Shimmy Technologies →
A portrait of Mikaela Jade

Mikaela Jade, closing the digital skills gap for indigenous communities

Growing up in Australia’s Sydney Basin, Mikaela Jade didn’t know about her Aboriginal heritage or history. It was a fact she uncovered as a young adult working as a park ranger that led her down a lifelong path of discovery. Today, she’s founder of Indigital, Australia’s first indigenous edu-tech company. Her mission is to close the digital skills gap for indigenous communities, while using innovative technology to preserve ancient knowledge and bring cultural sites to life for new generations.

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Mikaela Jade working with students

Empowering indigenous people to control their legacy

“Instead of us making content for people, we realized it's much more impactful to teach people how to make their own content. So we made a platform that facilitates teaching augmented reality production to other first peoples in Australia. But a problem that we had in getting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into the tech sector is that they can't see their culture and things that are important to them in the technology. So we shifted that on its head and said, ‘What if it's all about culture, and you happen to use technology to express that?’”

Learn more more about Indigital →
A portrait of Kriti Sharma

Kriti Sharma, using artificial intelligence as a force for social good

Kriti started building robots at the age of 15. She knew she wanted to change the world with technology. But as she entered the tech sector and specialized in AI, she found that the biases that pervade our daily lives were making their way into our technology. She questioned why voice assistants were largely gendered to be female. She questioned why AI wasn’t being used to solve some of humanity’s biggest crises that primarily affect women. And then, she did something about it, founding AI for Good and taking on problems ranging from domestic violence to global health.

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On the importance of diversity in problem-solving

One of Kriti’s most ambitious projects is rAInbow, a digital tool for women facing domestic violence in South Africa, which required collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds and looking beyond technology as a be-all and end-all solution. “rAInbow is not just a technology-driven product created by technologists. It's created by people who are experts in their fields—who are anthropologists, who are brilliant writers and storytellers—who all come together. To me, it was less about gender or my background. It was more people who have different experiences in life who can come together to solve problems.

Learn more about AI for Good →