Isabelle Ringnes: Visionary Tech Goddess
She’s inspiring women and girls to use technology to shape our world’s future.
You may not have noticed it but in 1988 the God of Technology slammed his hammer down in the midst of the Norwegian fjords, sparking a new era for the goddesses of Earth. This is the year Isabelle Ringnes was born in the land of Vikings, and her role for the future would be to put women in their place.
Daughter of a Powerful Magnate
Ringnes is no stranger to a powerful presence. Her father is the flamboyant restaurateur and real estate king of Norway. He is also a famous art collector, donating millions of Norwegian kroner to build installations around the country. Perhaps it is his confident, forward-thinking habits that rubbed off on Isabelle at a young age. Or perhaps her longing for change and betterment of society developed while observing her father. Whatever the reason, Ringnes was about to shake up the world of men.
Self-Discovery in Oslo
Never afraid to test her burgeoning talents, Ringnes began discovering her innate skills and putting them to use, pushing boundaries of Old Boy’s Clubs and shoving her foot in the door on behalf of all women. She gained experience as a journalist, a marketing consultant, and event planner before becoming restless for more. The conqueror DNA of Vikings was beginning to take hold.
- I wanted to see the world, learn and experience as much as I could. I didn’t know exactly what my passion was yet, but I knew I was curious to learn and hopefully find out.
Tasting the Big Apple
In 2012, after a perfect childhood in Scandinavia, Ringnes graduated from Handelshøyskolen BI with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
- I started studying business because everyone told me it was the smart thing to do. But even though I tried, I didn’t find my calling in economics. I finished my studies, but I knew I wouldn’t end up in finance.
Ever thirsting for knowledge, she then traveled abroad to New York City where she learned about nutrition and coaching at the Institute of Integrated Nutrition while studying psychology at Columbia University. She later earned a master’s degree in media management at The New School in New York. Once there she was confronted with technology, which ignited such a passion in her she decided to devote her life in pursuit of its development.
- I was inspired by Alan Kay- the best way to predict the future is to invent it.
The God of technology had wielded his hammer once again.
Bitten by Bytes
Her early years in Norway had been spent dreaming of an executive position, becoming a force in the business world. But once she discovered the possibilities of technology to affect great global change there was only tech in her sights.
Now finished with school, Ringnes dove into working with the technology she’d become so passionate about. She produced content marketing and website management plans for New York International before she became a management trainee at Norway’s leading media and marketplace company, Schibsted. During her time at Schibsted she tackled a tough position at Sweden’s biggest media presence Aftonbladet. Here she was responsible for testing and implementing 360 and virtual reality technologies to improve viewership and user experience.
- I loved the opportunity to introduce and implement emerging technologies to the consumer market. It was still a bit early at the time, but ideating and testing its possibilities was incredibly exciting.
Tech-ing on the World
Lamenting the lack of women in top-notch tech development places like Silicon Valley, Ringnes co-founded a movement called #ShesGotThis (#Hunspanderer in Norwegian) with her co-founder Marie Louise Sunde in 2015. With the core cause of gender equality in business and technology fields, Ringnes fights for the empowerment of women not only in tech jobs but all jobs.
- Our future will be shaped by technology. It’s important that women are part of shaping that future.
The duo later went on to found EqualityCheck.it, a platform for crowdsourced, anonymous reviews from employees about perceived equality at their job. Their goal is to catalyze equality and diversity in the workplace through radical transparency and accountability.
- We wanted to shift the power dynamics from the top to the ground. We want to encourage everyone to use their voice to create change.
They also published a best-selling book on the topic of unconscious bias “Hvem Spanderer”.
TENK for Yourself
Pushing this advocacy further, Ringnes founded TENK (“Think” in Norwegian), a technology network for women in 2014. She traveled through Norway and spoke to thousands of young girls about the wonderful opportunities in technology, and set up several code-camps for young girls to inspire them to choose the field.
- I want girls to know that technology is for everyone, not just skinny guys in hoodies as the media has portrayed. Tech is fun, exciting and world-changing. I want to give them the chance to see that.
Assembling a network of female leaders and would-be executives in the tech world, TENK acts as a bulwark of support to boost participation and entrance into the STEM-related fields and most notably technological innovation.
Fairy Godmother of Tech
Ringnes didn’t stop there with her mission to expand the female presence in tech fields. During Oslo’s Innovation Week in 2015, Ringnes and TENK teamed up with the Oslo Library and ODA Nettverk and founded Girl Tech Fest. Ringnes enjoyed watching over 400 young girls and future tech leaders design with iPads and write code. It was especially satisfying to begin a project with young girls.
- Seeing the stars in the girls eyes as they enter the techie-library with their pink iPads is just magical. It gives me hope that we can inspire real change.
As she told The Explorer after the event, “Today we’re seeing girls who decide at a young age not to go into technology, and that’s a bit of a crisis. If we are going to successfully combat the stereotypes we’re seeing in the raising of young girls, we have to begin early.”
Expanding Her Influence
In addition to the projects of gender equality in the workplace and support of women in innovative fields, Ringnes padded her expert repertoire by doing weekly podcasts for Future Forecast; a program about our changing world in the face of technological development.
- Producing my second podcast has been wonderful. I get to fully exploit my curiosity and dig into some of the smartest brains in the world every week. It’s an incredible privilege.
She also became a public speaker on the subject of possible global futures and how they might come about.
Now with her sights on the future of humanity, Ringnes entered and won the Global Impact Challenge in 2016, securing a place at Singularity University.
- Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would win. I didn’t even think it was worth entering the contest. But the experience changed my life, and I am forever grateful that I did.
Unlike other universities, this is a collaborative think tank empowering global learning toward solutions of mankind’s most dire problems. Using artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital biology to innovate answers to the overarching challenges of our world, people from all over the globe unite to brainstorm and share ideas.
It’s not surprising that this brilliant tech-savvy visionary and human advocate now teaches at Singularity University. From her birth in the land of the Viking spirit to a digital presence as instructor to the world, Ringnes has shared her innate talents for the global good. We can’t wait to see what visions will come.
Learn more about Isabelle Ringnes and her work at isabellekringnes.com. Click here for our exclusive interview with Isabelle.