Harvard undergraduate Amy Yin ’14 and Zipcar founder and former CEO Robin Chase were honored as the 2014 recipients of the annual Harvard College Women’s Leadership Awards.
Faculty, students, and staff gathered at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge April 24 to recognize the women for their achievements.
The award, in its 17th year and coordinated by the Harvard College Women’s Center, promotes awareness of women’s and gender issues, and each year recognizes an undergraduate who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and made a meaningful impact on fellow students. The award also acknowledges a woman outside of the College who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and distinguished herself in her profession, public service, or the arts.
Yin was chosen for blazing a trail through the sciences, a field in which women often have been underrepresented. She joined the Harvard Financial Analysts Club and eventually went on to become its president. She became a concentrator in computer science and co-founded Harvard Women in Computer Science (WiCS), which seeks to build a network of women in computer science across schools and industries and promote the importance of a technical education for girls.
Yin told the crowd that as a young girl she thought the “gender war” was over and men and women were on equal footing in the workplace and across society. She said as she got older and became more involved in different groups, she found that wasn’t necessarily the case. This inspired her to be a role model for other women and for young girls.
“There is one big theme that drives my life and my stories: If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” she said. “I hope that you as my audience will join me in my crusade to grow the number of technical female leaders in the world by encouraging them to gain hard skills from an early age, like my dad always did, and by surrounding them with women that rock so that your friends, sisters, and daughters can truly feel that ‘the sky is the limit’ and so that they can be the greatness they see.”
After graduation Yin will join Facebook as an engineer, working on a project to bring data access to developing nations.
In accepting the professional award, Chase told the crowd, “I challenge you to go to your highest and best use. It may change from time to time in your life, but always go to your best.”
In addition to founding Zipcar, the largest car-sharing company in the world, Chase is the founder and CEO of Buzzcar and GoLoco, an online ride-sharing community. She was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2005, and has received many awards for innovation, design, and environment. She has been named to Time’s 100 Most Influential People, Fast Company’s Fast 50 Innovators, and BusinessWeek’s Top 10 Designers.
Kate Meakem ’14 was recognized with an honorable mention. Interim Dean of the College Donald Pfister also made remarks at the ceremony and congratulated the winners.
The awards are made possible by support from Terrie Fried Bloom ’75 and have a legacy of distinguished past recipients, including astronaut Stephanie Wilson ’88; Tina Tchen ’78, chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama; and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.