Our 2011 Small Business Week coverage featured the Tech 25, a list of the people propelling the growth of technology entrepreneurship in Chicago. Howard Tullman was there, as CEO of his Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, since this was before he would go on to help create the 1871 Chicago startup hub. So were Sam Yagan, then co-founder of OKCupid, as well as Obama for America veteran Harper Reed and Lightbank partner Paul Lee, to name a few.
We've since expanded the feature to an annual list of the 50 tech people you need to know now, and we've embraced founders of large companies as well as small ones while sprinkling in more financiers, heavyweights, connectors, dreamers, gurus and coders. Over the years, Crain's technology reporter John Pletz, thanks to his deep and wide knowledge of the sector, has done an incredible job of producing each year's list, keeping it fresh with new, diverse names while burnishing readers' understanding of the perennial power players who have remained relevant year in, year out.
This year, however, the editors threw John a curveball. With our ongoing Woman Up Project in mind, we asked him to create an all-female Tech 50 for 2018.
We knew this might be a tall order. That first Tech 25 highlighted only two women. Despite efforts to make subsequent lists more inclusive, women never made up anything even approaching half of the Tech 50. No surprise. The tech industry is famously male-centric. The word "brogrammer" was coined for a reason. Could a credible Tech 50 be assembled with only female names? Setting aside our niggling worry that male power players' noses might be put out of joint—we figured they'd live—we forged ahead and started casting a very wide net for women shaking things up and making their mark in Chicago tech.