About

Born out of the mission of Cornell Tech, we work at the intersection of education, impact, innovation, and industry collaboration to achieve gender equality in tech.

Building more inclusive tech ecosystems from the university to the workplace.

You already know there’s a gender gap in tech. The question is: What are we going to do about it? 

Fostering girls’ interest in computer science and tech during their K-12 years is critically important, but we can’t stop there. We need to continue enabling and empowering women and other underrepresented groups in tech through their university years. 

Today, 58% of all college degrees are awarded to women, but less than 2% of these women are studying computer and related tech disciplines. Based on current estimates, by 2026, the United States will only be producing 17% of the graduates needed to meet the nation’s tech workforce needs by 2026. Let’s change those numbers.

By working in emerging tech hubs across the country, we can activate and align both sides of a city’s supply chain—connecting university partners with industry partners. Together, let’s create new opportunities that bring the kind of large-scale transformation we all want to see.

This is gender equality.

We raise our hands.

We ask questions, we solve problems, and we collaborate. This is how we accelerate change and create a movement of support for women and others lacking opportunities for equitable participation in tech.

We raise expectations.

We demand more of ourselves and others. We challenge universities and workplaces to do better. We speak up because we know that innovation in the digital age requires doing things differently. It requires us.

We raise each other up.

We show up as a team, together, to cheer loudly on the sidelines, to pick each other up if we fall, to learn from our mistakes, and to celebrate all of our wins — big and small.

Our Leadership

a woman smiling

Judith Spitz, PhD

Executive Director

A technology and communications leader, Judy is a sought-after public speaker, and she has been recognized with numerous honors and awards. She founded Break Through Tech, a national initiative launched at Cornell Tech with support from Pivotal Ventures, Cognizant U.S. Foundation, and Verizon. The initiative originated in 2016 with a program known as Women in Tech New York (WiTNY), created in partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY) and a broad set of industry partners. Prior to founding Break Through Tech and WiTNY, Judy was a chief information officer at Verizon.

a woman smiling at the camera

Debbie Marcus

Senior Director of Programs

Before joining Break Through Tech, Debbie served as the executive director of computer science education at the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), where she founded and led the city’s CS4All initiative, a 10-year, $80 million public-private partnership to bring computer science instruction to all NYC public school students. Prior to that, she developed educational technology innovations at several organizations, including Columbia University, Fathom.com, WNET, and The New York Times.

Advisory Committee

Carla Brodley
Dean, Khoury College of Computer Science, Professor, and Executive Director of the Center for Inclusive Computing

Martha Delehanty
Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Verizon

Zach Dodds
Computer Science Professor, Harvey Mudd College

Carrie Freeman
Managing Partner, Second Muse

Angie Kamath
University Dean for Continuing Education and Workforce Development, City University of New York

Ann Kirschner
University Professor, The City University of New York

Colleen Lewis
McGregor-Girand Associate Professor of Computer Science, Harvey Mudd College

Debbie Marcus
Senior Director of Programs, Break Through Tech

Lynn McMahon
New York Metro – Office Managing Director and North America Media & Entertainment Lead, Accenture

Nicola Palmer
Senior Vice President of Technology and Product Development, Verizon

William Sakas 
Associate Professor and Chair of Computer Science, Hunter College

Judith Spitz, PhD 
Executive Director, Break Through Tech

Eva Tardos 
Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Science, Cornell University

We need to remember that tech is built by and for people. So the question is: Who do we want our future builders to be, and how do we invest in them?

Judith Spitz, PhDExecutive Director, Break Through Tech

Supporters