Chayes earned her Ph.D. in mathematical physics from Princeton and has taught at UCLA and the University of Washington, in addition to doing cutting-edge research on how the Internet works.
You read that right. Using her background in mathematical physics, Chayes models and analyzes how people use technological and social networks. Thanks to her research, she shares no less than 25 different patents, and has coauthored over 110 scientific papers. She was the first woman to lead one of Microsoft’s research labs.
But just as impressive as Chayes’ professional accomplishments is her commitment to supporting women in her field, for which she was awarded the 2012 Women of Vision Award for Leadership from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. (Check out her acceptance speech here.) When she started teaching at UCLA in the 1980s, she realized that many female students suffered from a lack of confidence in their abilities. She now works with DigiGirlz, a Microsoft initiative to encourage female high school students to consider careers in technology. Women make up 44 percent of the researchers at her lab in Cambridge. She is also an advisory board member of WomenLEAD, Inc.
Chayes believes that young women need role models and greater self-confidence, but she is also working to combat inaccurate stereotypes of science work that discourage many women from participating. As she told Mass High Tech in 2012,
“We lose most girls in middle school. They don’t necessarily realize that careers in math, science and technology can be really collaborative. They have these images of working in a solitary mode. [...] Any of these young girls can help to envision the future. They should realize there is tremendous creativity in this field. It’s not a solitary endeavor.”
We have no doubt that many young women now will someday say that Chayes and her work inspired them to pursue careers in technology, and we commend her commitment to improving work conditions for women in her own lab while continuing to shatter stereotypes about what women can do. Jennifer Chayes is a true trailblazer for women in technology, and we are pleased to recognize her as a Woman Who LEADS In Technology.
To learn more about how the revolutionary WomenLEAD platform supports women’s development as leaders individually and within organizations, please check out our main page at www.womenleadinc.com and consider supporting our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Follow us on Twitter @WomenLEADInc.