The Women 2.0 Awards recognized innovators and those funding innovation.

By Arianna Simpson (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

In front of a sold-out audience of 400 innovators, founders and technologists from Silicon Valley and beyond, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States stepped to the stage, struck a power pose and accepted the Unstoppable Award.

Megan Smith Women 2.0

The Women 2.0 Awards were on February 12 at Hotel Kabuki, where a lively and primarily female audience celebrated the accomplishments of many innovators across the industry. U.S. CTO Megan Smith was one of nearly 30 honorees who accepted awards in the categories of Icons, Change Agents and Game Changers.

Women 2.0 has come a long way since founder and CEO Shaherose Charania started an informing networking group in her apartment with friends Angie Chang, Shivani Sopory and Wen-Wen Lam in their apartments in 2006.

Charania discussed that Women 2.0 has several key tenets that drive the organization, and those include:

  •  Giving attendees the ability to learn through others
  •  Providing inspiration
  •  Offering networking opportunities

The awards ceremony itself reflected those themes, as it was clear that useful connections were being made across the board. Inspiration certainly wasn’t lacking either, as recipients of each award had the chance to share a few words of wisdom with the audience. Upon receiving the Impact Builder award, CEO and cofounder of Data Gravity Paula Long asked the audience, “Worried about the glass ceiling? Build your own house. You can make the ceiling out of whatever you want.”

Advice from Long and other award recipients was not lost on the attendees, who walked away  more determined than ever to move the needle for women in the technology industry. “It’s not about hating men or giving women preferential treatment,” said Katie Slattery of KPMG. “Women should simply have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.”

Building a support base is crucial in generating those opportunities, particularly in the world of entrepreneurship. “It’s incredible to be surrounded by so many brilliant women, working hard not just for themselves but also for the next generation,” said Kathryn Minshew, CEO and cofounder of The Muse. “We are truly living in game-changing times.”

Minshew wasn’t the only one looking to generations past and future — inspirational mothers were front and center in the awards ceremony. Esther Wojcicki, herself an accomplished educator, journalist and Vice Chair of the Creative Commons Board of Directors, accepted the Trailblazer award on behalf of her daughter Anne Wojcicki, CEO and founder of 23andMe.

Dave McClure and his partner Christine Tsai received the Accelerant Award for their accelerator 500 Startups. McClure mentioned his mother as a key role model in his life. “She was a female entrepreneur, and having her as an example shaped my vision and made me comfortable with the idea of women running the show.”

The Women 2.0 Awards brought together women from all walks of tech, ultimately reminding attendees to keep pushing and to look for inspiration wherever it lives. The ceremony offered more than just a chance to celebrate together — it also united a group of strong women through a collective vision, and the vision of women running the show is one we can all get behind.

More on the Women 2.0 Awards:

Photos by Elvina Beck.