March 8 marks International Women’s Day. It’s an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and increase their visibility in social, economic, political, cultural, and of course, professional spheres.
This collection of inspiring women in product is by no means exhaustive — we had a hard time narrowing it down to just 25! But we hope that you’ll discover at least a few new thought leaders to add to your feeds.
Erin is the Director of Product Management at YouTube and previously held product roles at Yahoo and Twitter. She has earned numerous accolades, including the 2019 B.E.T. Her Tech Maven Award, Glamour Magazine’s “35 Women Under 35 Who Are Changing the Tech Industry,” and Business Insider’s “Silicon Valley Top 100.” Erin frequently speaks at events like Women in Product to share her experiences and insights with the broader product community.
AdobeXD senior product manager Elaine Chao describes herself as a maker of things, including music, black belts (she’s a martial artist), and products. She writes about XD, product management, and career mentorship on her Medium blog.
“It’s hard to think of growth when you’re in the middle of chaos. However, the martial way relies on growing with intention. That means consistently asking: what do I need to practice? What do I need to learn? Where are my gap areas? Do I know what I don’t know? What foundation do I need today in order to push toward my goals for tomorrow? What can I ask for that will help me toward my goals? In which direction do I want to grow? I had a surprising number of opportunities this year to push the conversation in this direction, and had some new paths open to me as a result.”
The founder of Dark and Boldstart Ventures and a former VP Product at Lola, Ellen “likes building experiences and interfaces.” She shares her wisdom and experience on these topics via her recently launched newsletter and Twitter.
“We don’t celebrate women going into product management. Instead, we couch it as ‘well women don’t feel comfortable going into pure technology.’ We emphasize that ‘the role is full of soft skills.’ We discuss how it’s ‘non-threatening’ for developers to have female PMs. Then we assert that ‘pure technologists are the ones with all the respect.’ We never say ‘PMs are like mini-CEOs’ while talking about women in PM.”
4. Hope Gurion – @hopegrrr
A former SVP Product, Hope is the founder of Fearless Product, where she coaches and advises leaders and teams on product management best practices. She also makes the Fearless Product Leadership podcast and actively shares her thoughts and experiences on Medium.
JJ Rorie is the CEO of Great Product Management, host of Product Voices podcast, and author of the forthcoming book, Immutable: The 5 Truths of Great Product Managers. JJ has spent over 15 years as a product manager, product leader, and product management advisor and trainer, working with some of the world’s largest companies and high-growth startups.
“Relationships in product management are based on confidence. Successful PMs have 1) earned the trust and confidence of their team and 2) inspired a widespread confidence in the product and its future. When these two things are solid, relationships are usually strong. When one is absent, things get shaky.”
Bo Ren is an investor, product manager, and writer. She previously worked at Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr, shaping the way these companies think about and launch new products. Now, she advises early stage startups at Silicon Valley Bank. Bo is a vocal leader in the effort to build a more diverse and inclusive tech industry.
7. Jackie Bavaro – @jackiebo
Jackie held product roles at Microsoft and Google before becoming Head of Product Management at Asana. She’s the co-author of two books, Cracking the PM Interview and Cracking the PM Career, and she writes product-related articles on Medium.
“I don’t think mindsets and what types of information you notice can be picked up quickly on the job. A person could develop these over time if they wanted to, but as a hiring manager I wouldn’t count on them improving quickly if they don’t already have them. On this list I put: customer empathy, awareness of good design, product intuition, product mindset, learning mindset, perseverance, collaborating well with people, effective communication, detail-oriented, and grasping complex concepts quickly.”
8. Julie Zhuo – @joulee
Author of The Making of a Manager, founder, investor, and former VP of Design at Facebook, Julie Zhuo frequently shares her thoughts on people (especially leadership and management) and products via Twitter and her newsletter.
9. Kate Leto – @kleto
Kate is an organizational design consultant, coach, product advisor, and author of Hiring Product Managers. She regularly creates and shares resources for product leaders to use with their teams.
“Product people select from a variety of tools that live in our virtual toolbox to solve a problem. Given the technologies we’re working with are often new, there’s no sure way to solve that problem, so there’s a lot of experimentation and trial and error.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t — but teams of product people won’t know for sure until they try. It takes a lot of practice, and it takes a special set of skills to be that person and team that can continually experiment in times of stress and pressure. It also requires a unique type of leadership and culture to empower teams to do just that.”
Once an Olympic speed skater, Maggie is now Head of Product at Charlie Health. Her podcast, Build, offers super-practical tips and tricks for PMs and features some genuinely interesting guests from across the product world.
“With all the processes, rituals, frameworks, goals, methods, systems, shapes, milestones, maps, and prioritization math, it’s a miracle there’s time left to actually get anything done.”
11. Melissa Perri – @lissijean
Melissa is the founder of Produx Labs and Product Institute, a senior lecturer on product management at Harvard, and the author of Escaping The Build Trap. She has a vast amount of experience and insights around the challenges that teams must overcome to build great products and regularly interviews other product thought leaders on the Product Thinking podcast.
12. Christina Wodtke – @cwodtke
Stanford instructor, speaker, and consultant Christina Wodtke is the author of several books including Radical Focus, The Team That Managed Itself, and Pencil Me In. She covers topics ranging from creating high-performing teams and design thinking to communication and storytelling.
“We all design, but we are not all designers. We all cook, but we are not all chefs. We all take photographs, we are not all photographers. We all draw (you really do, even if it’s only lines on a whiteboard while you complain about your drawing skills) but we are not all illustrators. To design well, you must study a number of topics, all worthy of a lifetime of practice, from graphic design to ergonomics. It is human to design, but it is a profession to be a designer.”
13. Merci Victoria Grace – @merci
Merci is an investor, product leader, and founder of Women in Product — an international community of female product managers, founders, designers, and researchers. She shares her thoughts about growth, engagement, and design on Medium and Twitter.
14. Michele Hansen – @mjwhansen
Co-founder of Geocodio and co-host of the Software Social podcast, Michele Hansen is also the author of Deploy Empathy: A Practical Guide to Interviewing Customers. If you’re committing to becoming more customer-focused, be sure to follow Michele.
“I try not to harp on “bad” questions (like “Would you pay for this?” “Is this a good idea?” and whatnot) because it’s cognitively more effective to hear repetition of the things you should do rather than what you shouldn’t.”
15. Mina Radhakrishnan – @minarad
The co-founder of property management company Different, a former Head of Product at Uber, and a current advisor at Airtasker and Antler, Mina is passionate about helping startups build better products. Follow her on Twitter and check out her website for valuable insights into startups, entrepreneurship, and product leadership.
16. Petra Wille – @loomista
Petra is a product leadership coach and the author of Strong Product People, designed to help product leaders empower and support product managers to realize their full potential. She has a lot to say about the people skills of product management, like how to cultivate successful PMs and build great teams. She writes and regularly shares resources on her website.
“Here’s an important lesson: If we are not giving feedback to our product folks, chances are that the people on our team won’t get any better. It’s hard to get better if you don’t know what better looks like. So your team needs your feedback and input to achieve mastery, gain autonomy, and find their purpose.”
17. Soumeya Benghanem – @soumeya
Soumeya is a product management executive at VMware and the creator and curator of a thriving product manager and builders community on Clubhouse.
“You get good at one thing, and then you have another thing to pick up on — it’s never done.”
The author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups, Laura has over 20 years of experience in the tech industry, specializing in lean and agile approaches. She’s the co-host of the What’s Wrong with UX podcast series, which, as the name suggests, aims to answer that very question.
Product leadership coach Stephanie Leue is committed to helping product managers cross the chasm into leadership roles and product leaders develop the skills they need to excel. She’s created several valuable resources for product people, like the Product Process Playbook.
“Asking for help might feel like a threat, as if we are weak. But, in reality, showing this weakness is a tremendous strength. Do not be afraid to ask for help. It makes you stronger than you believe and contributes to your growth. (I just tested it, it works!)”
Shelley Perry is a product leader focused on training and empowering product managers to assume CPO and Board Director roles, especially women. The CPO role has exploded in recent years, and it’s a universal playing field ripe with opportunities for women to step in. From becoming fluent in financials to mastering the art of influence without authority, Shelley has a wealth of advice to offer ambitious women looking to take the next step in their product careers.
21. Tanya Cordrey – @tcordrey
Formerly the Chief Digital Officer at the Guardian, Tanya is a board member at several companies and the founder of Granary Square, a product consultancy agency. Follow her on Twitter for news and views on product, tech, and innovation.
“At its heart, a product-centric approach focuses on outcomes, not outputs. The success of a great product team can easily be measured through the value it creates for the company. This is very different from a project-led approach which is based on outputs (stuff being built) which as an approach is often more expensive and less successful.”
22. Teresa Torres – @ttorres
As a product discovery coach and author, Teresa helps product teams adopt best practices around continuous product discovery. Her book, Continuous Discovery Habits, offers clear and actionable advice on making discovery part of your everyday work. Teresa’s Twitter profile is full of snippets of wisdom and insights relating to this topic, and her Product Talk blog is a fantastic resource for any PM wanting to improve the way they do discovery.
“When a product team develops a weekly habit of customer interviews, they don’t just get the benefit of interviewing more often, they also start rapid prototyping and experimenting more often. They do a better job of connecting what they are learning from their research activities with the product decisions they are making. I believe continuous interviewing is a keystone habit for continuous discovery.”
Besides being Senior Growth Product Manager at Flutterwave, Tobi is the inspirational founder of Product Dive — a community and training center for aspiring PMs in Africa. Give her a follow on Twitter to stay up to date with her latest ideas, news, podcast appearances, and more.
“Product decks serve different purposes and so the outline will always vary. In creating a product deck, here are questions you want to ask yourself: What’s the goal of the product deck? What story are you trying to tell? Who is the audience?”
Yana is the CEO and co-founder of Kraftful and co-leader of the San Francisco chapter of Women in Product. She’s a seasoned product leader who led teams at IFTTT, Carbon, and Wikipedia, and a fierce advocate for more diversity in product management.
Women in Product Australia co-founder Amanda Ralph curates a newsletter, That Product Chick Daily, with all of the latest product management and design news. It’s incredibly useful if you’re looking for a quick overview of the latest product news and views.
“As product managers, we need to work both broadly and deeply within our organizations to find innovative and compelling solutions to customer problems. Innovating and developing breakthrough propositions does not and cannot happen when we have a singular perspective and when we fail to constructively challenge and probe different ideas.”