The Influencers

Adriana Gascoigne


Adriana Gascoigne, 38, sees the innovation in technology. It’s a type of innovation not limited to her roles in technology, which have spanned both global brands and start-up spaces. Wishing to further the visibility of women in the technology industry, Adriana founded the non-profit organization, Girls in Tech, in 2007. Established with the mission to empower women with professional aspirations in technology, Girls in Tech mentors women across 47 international chapters with Adriana at the headquarters’ helm in San Francisco.

Your professional timeline has led you through an assortment of titles as well as offices around the world. What has been the unifying element or passion in your career?

There are a few things, but one thing I’m most definitely grateful for is the exposure and impact I’ve had through international relations with people all across the globe. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore my creativity and apply all of my skills and talents through building my company, mentorship activities within my organization, and program development—all of which I’m passionate about.

One of the components of Girls in Tech is identifying which areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are most appealing to young women. Which areas of STEM enabled you to envision a career for yourself in technology as a young woman?

I’d say I primarily fall on the tech side. The design and illustration coupled with product development and product marketing have all played a role in how I have been able to envision my career as a young woman. What falls into an overarching category in all of this, I would say, is the psychology behind user behaviors, which is a general asset that I’ve been able to improve on as I’ve strengthened my career 

Can you remember an event or phenomenon that showed you your idea for Girls in Tech had a valuable place in
modern society?

There are a couple of instances that stand out for me. One of which is when 200 women in the tech industry came out of the woodwork for our first event in San Francisco. Another memorable instance was when I received a letter from a young high school girl, saying “thank goodness for Girls in Tech,” stating it changed her, “life, schooling, future career, and livelihood.”

What type of support or foresight does Girls in Tech offer that you might have benefitted from during the start of your own career? 

I wish I had access to 90 percent of what I’m building when I was starting my own career! We offer some amazing resources under pillars in education, mentorship, professional growth opportunities, and team building.

The diverse programs offered by Girls in Tech cover everything from social learning to tech lab workshops. In what way would you like to grow the curriculum or influence of your organization in the future?

I would like to continue to focus on the five trademark programs which we’ve created: Catalyst Conference, Lady Pitch Night, Bootcamps, Hackathons, XChange. I would also like to develop a platform to showcase female entrepreneurs and their products. Eventually, it would be great to build a Girls in Tech Fund to help fund women-run start-ups 

What products, interactions or realizations from your work with Girls in Tech that have surprised you most?

It’s always great to see how women everywhere are hungry to learn, grow, and share stories. You learn how similar all women are when you take away the layers, and we are pretty strong, focused, and driven!

What humbles me the most is that a lot of people have heard of Girls in Tech, love the concept, and want to help us. I find that all I have to do is ask for the help!

Who are the women who have had the most formative impacts on your life—professionally and personally?

My mom, who has amazing values consisting of fortitude, integrity, and resourcefulness. My best friend, who’s an Engineer at Tesla. Her work ethic and passion are unmatched. Aung San Suu Kyi, because she’s a fearless and selfless leader! Two mentors during my college internships. They were Latina women who always looked after me and genuinely wanted me to succeed. I loved that they challenged my thinking and held me accountable. This taught me the concept of “no excuses in the workplace.”

Text by Kyle Thornburg
Photography by Ziv Gillat