White House CTO Megan Smith on the Value of Tech Diversity

AS CHIEF TECHNOLOGY officer of the United States, Megan Smith often uses her public stage to point out that women have always been coders—and crucial to the evolution of computer science. “They’ve just been written out of history,” she says.

Eight months into her new job at the White House, Smith, 50, is determined to tell the broader story, and in so doing, persuade young women and minorities to enter the field. Smith is a formidable techie herself. She studied at the MIT Media Lab just after it launched and worked for Apple in Japan as well as the early smartphone maker General Magic back in 1990, when most phones still had cords, not keyboards. She arrived at Google when the company had just 1,200 employees.

Smith is on this month’s WIRED cover. As part of an intimate event hosted by WIRED and AOL’s MAKERS series, I recently spoke with her about her personal history and goals for her time in Washington.