Famous athletes, actors, and social media stars aren’t the only guests on the list at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The lists extend to CEOs and senators, and even, in the case of The Washington Post’s guest list, some of the White House’s own. The woman who brought the Silicon Valley startup mentality into the White House as Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith, made the VIP list at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. While Smith might not star on a sitcom or appear on the silver screen, she’s a seriously big deal in the tech world.
The 50-year-old mechanical engineer, Silicon Valley veteran, and entrepreneur earned her engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before heading to the White House, she was vice president of Google X, the Google division that created the ideas for Google Glass and the driverless car. She helped design some of the first smartphone technologies at General Magic, and she’s worked on multimedia products at Apple Japan.
When Obama named Smith the third-ever United States Chief Technology Officer in September 2014, Smith became the first woman to hold the title. And she’s using that power for some serious good. In December, Smith created a page on the White House website to celebrate the “untold history of women in science and technology." One of the stories she included is that of the world’s first programmer — a woman named Ada Lovelace.
Moreover, Smith has briefed Obama on how to recruit top technologists — namely, women — to work for the White House. At this point, women head four of the five divisions of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, according to The New York Times.
Outside of the White House, Smith has been pushing women as a whole to get more involved in science and technology fields. When she kicked off a documentary screening in Washington, D.C., she told the audience of middle school and high school students:
It will be interesting for you guys to see the media talk about the women scientists versus the men scientists, how they hyper-focused on what they looked [like], what they wore. All this sort of gender bias — I want you guys to notice that and observe that, because it's an important thing.
While Smith’s role at the White House is still loosely defined, as the position was just created on Obama's first day in office, she will undoubtedly make as much of a mark on the White House as she already has in championing gender equality in the tech world.
Images: WhiteHouse.gov (1); Getty Images (1)