Quantum technology is the future. The industry is also expected to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years, which means more job opportunities for everyone involved. But what about gender diversity?
Apple chief executive Tim Cook says there are still “not enough women at the table” at the world’s tech firms – including his own. He said the technology “will not achieve nearly what it could achieve” without a more diverse workforce.
The good news is that the trend is gradually changing. Women were underrepresented in STEM, but they comprise 46% of the STEM workforce. Can this growth transcend into quantum technology? We look at women changing the narrative and spearheading research and development in the field.
Women in Quantum
Patty Lee is the Chief Scientist of Honeywell Quantum Solutions, a US-based quantum computing company. She is in charge of developing the technological roadmap for scaling up trapped ion quantum computers.
Before joining Honeywell, she worked as an experimental physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology NIST, the US Army Research Laboratory, ARL, and Lockheed Martin. She was part of the team at NIST that developed the first entangling gate using ultracold atomic qubits in an optical lattice.
At ARL, she researched cold atoms as quantum memory for a quantum network. Her research has been concentrated on the quantum charge-coupled device (QCCD) architecture for trapped ion quantum computers.
Denise Ruffner is the Chief Business Officer at Atom Computing, a fast-growing startup that creates quantum computers from optically trapped neutral atoms. She oversees the company’s strategic customer and partner ecosystem and business development activities.
Her expertise in innovation and sales leadership in quantum computing earned her the role of Chief Business Office at IonQ and Cambridge Quantum Computing, now Quantinuum. She was also a member of the IBM Systems Quantum computing team, where she designed and directed the IBM Q Startup Program and oversaw the global IBM Quantum Ambassador team.
Denise is the founder of Women in Quantum, a global non-profit organization. The platform enables female quantum academics, students, entrepreneurs, investors, and government representatives to interact and network.
Hannah North is a Quantum R&D Engineer at ColdQuanta. She is the owner of Albert, the first-ever design platform for quantum sensing and network applications. With Albert, users can design Quantum Accelerometers, Quantum Signal Processors, and other quantum devices with Bose-Einstein Condensate.
Before joining ColdQuanta, Hannah worked as a Research Engineer at KickView Corporation. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics from the Colorado School of Mines. While at the University, she worked as a Research Assistant.
Si-Hui Tan is the Chief Science Officer at Horizon Computing, a Singaporean quantum company. Her research focuses on Gaussian states, optimum and near-optimal optical measurements and receivers, bi-photon states, non-classical measures, and quantum interferometry.
Si-Hui worked as a research scientist at A*STAR’s Data Storage Institute, a Singapore-based research institute focusing on digital data storage technologies, and then at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and the Centre for Quantum Technologies.
Cristina Escoda is the Co-founder and Advisor at Orca Computing, a UK-based quantum computing company. She began her career as a derivative structurer on HSBC’s emerging markets trading desk in New York and has over ten years of expertise as an early-stage deep tech investor and operator.
Cristina worked as the Chief Data Scientist at Revon, a digital health startup, and the CEO of Polymaze. She also founded Tachyon Ventures, an early-stage bio sciences fund.
Rebecca Krauthamer is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Quantum Thought, a company that develops corporate software for quantum computing. She previously established and served as CTO of Neural Sales, an artificial intelligence platform for sales enablement.
Rebecca is an ardent proponent of developing ethical AI and now serves on the AI Ethics Board of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the AI Ethics Journal advisory board. She is also the founder and chief product officer at QuSecure.
In recognition of her achievements, Rebecca was selected to the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in Science in 2020 and named one of the world’s 12 Women Shaping Quantum Computing.
Iris Schwenk is the co-founder and COO of HQS Quantum Simulations, a German startup that develops software for material scientists in the chemical industry and academia. She controls everything that keeps the company functioning and handles customer-facing software development at HQS.
Iris was a finalist at the German Startup Awards 2020 in the Best Newcomer category and won the Young Women Leadership Scholarship of the SYNK group.
Ilana Wisby is the CEO of Oxford Quantum Circuits and a deep tech entrepreneur. At OQC, she is responsible for developing the company’s strategy and direction, defining and modeling its culture and values, and allocating resources according to its priorities.
Ilana has prior experience developing startups from the ground up and working on deep-tech projects closely related to academia. She is deeply committed to diversity, ethics, and reimagining leadership via emotional intelligence and fractal management.
Kitty Yeung is a scientist, musician, fashion designer, and artist. She oversees the Bay Area Microsoft Garage, a program that fosters an innovative culture within Microsoft. Her role at Microsoft Garage is to promote experimental synergies among staff and the local ecosystem.
Kitty’s early career included condensed matter physics research and artistic interests like painting, music, and graphic book development. She is passionate about enabling the digital transformation of the fashion sector through the Microsoft cloud platform and driving quantum computing education.
Andrea Rodriguez Blanco
Andrea Rodriguez Blanco is the founder of Q-Lion, Spain’s first startup in the quantum computing space. She’s focused on developing quantum error-correcting codes for hardware systems that use trapped-ion architecture. In addition to scaling up quantum computers, the scientist aims to advance other quantum technologies, including quantum sensors and clocks.
Andrea is especially interested in creating fault-tolerant quantum error-correcting codes that use flag qubits and entanglement witnesses to test the efficient functioning of QEC codes.
Gaby Slavcheva is the Co-founder, CSO, and President of Quantopticon. She designed, developed, and executed the methodology behind Quantillion, the world’s first quantum-enabled simulation suite for quantum photonics.
Her research interests include the theory and modeling of light-matter interactions in semiconductor nanostructures, as well as applications in quantum technology. She is a Senior Member of both the Institute of Physics and the Optical Society of America.
Mirella Koleva is the Co-founder, CEO, and Vice President of Quantopticon, a British-American quantum company designing the world’s first design software platform for quantum photonics devices. She received the Most Influential CEO Award in 2021 from the CEO Monthly Magazine in recognition of her work at Quantopticon Ltd.
Mirella also served as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Optics at the University of Oxford, where she designed and partially built a STED microscope. She is the Duality Accelerator at the Inaugural Cohort venture Lead in the US.
Will We Have More Women In Quantum Technology?
The likes of Denise Ruffer are contributing significantly to the inclusion of women in the field through her platform, Women in Quantum. It is the largest Women in Quantum community globally, with more than 9,000 members in over 40+ countries. Companies like Oxford Quantum Circuit, Orca Computing, and Atom Computing are taking steps to speed progress.
But the figure is almost insignificant compared to the number of men dominating the field.
According to a 2020 analysis by Interference Advisors, women make up 10% of women in quantum startups as opposed to 46% in STEM. This may be because there is more gender bias against women than men when they enter STEM or quantum fields.
If more women are to embrace quantum, society has to overcome obstacles affecting gender equality in science and related fields. Leading quantum companies must employ more women in leadership roles to encourage those starting out as well as women who want to switch to the sector.