March 3rd, 2009 | 6:00 am

Top Women to Follow on Twitter

filed under Extraordinary Lives

iStock_000006561903XSmall_1_.jpgby Elizabeth Harrin (London)

Do you tweet? Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that allows you to ‘tweet’ anything – as long as it fits within 140 characters, which is the length of a standard text message. That is what has made it so popular, as you can send and receive messages by phone, or if you prefer via instant messaging or a website. People use it to update their friends with how they are and what they are doing. On the receiving end, you can choose people to receive updates from – your family, celebrities or interesting commentators.

Curious? Once you have a Twitter account you can both update your own status and receive updates from other people whom you have chosen to ‘follow’. Yes, Twitter comes with a whole new language. Since logging on for the first time recently I have learnt about following, tweeting and retweeting, hashtags, @ responses, direct messages. There isn’t space here to explain how to use Twitter to its full advantage, but there are plenty of websites dedicated to just that.

There is a lot of noise on Twitter. People send updates about their last cup of coffee, and British comedian and presenter Stephen Fry made headlines recently when he tweeted about being stuck in a lift. The information comes to you in real time format, but that doesn’t make it interesting. So how do you know who to follow? The best advice is to choose people who interest you and whom you have come across from another source. Bloggers, for example, may blog once or twice a week (like me) but tweet on a daily basis. Using Twitter you will get instant notification of new blog posts but also useful, short titbits more regularly: things that aren’t shared on the blog. I have wasted many an evening reading the profiles of the people being followed by someone I am following. If you follow my meaning.

Even so, there are millions of users on Twitter – no one seems to know exactly how many – so it can be time consuming to sift through profiles in the hope of finding someone noteworthy to follow. Don’t worry: The Glass Hammer has done it for you. Here is our guide to the top women to follow on Twitter.

Padmasree Warrior: CTO of Cisco. Warrior’s use of Twitter is a good example of how you can use the tool to promote your business, but she also shares interesting links and talks about workplace collaboration. There’s a good mix of the personal and professional to give you a real sense of what she feels is important.

Marti Barletta: President and CEO of the TrendSight Group. Barletta has a lot of C-level experience. Her consultancy firm specialises in helping companies recognise and communicate with women through marketing, sales, recruiting and retention effectiveness. She tweets about research and women in the workplace and her comments are always insightful.

Hillary Clinton: This is the official news feed (although it’s an unofficial Twitter site) of the US Secretary of State and former First Lady. Interesting if you want an insight into how foreign policy ends up shaping the business world.

If you’re not keen on news from Mrs Clinton you could follow Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives instead. Or find your own Congress representative on TweetCongress. UK politicians have been slow to take up Twitter. Harriet Harman, Leader of the House and Minister for Women and Equality has recently joined, although there isn’t much of note on her profile yet.

Sarah Blow: Founder of Girl Geek Dinners, which was created in London after Blow attended a networking event for IT professionals at which she was one of about 10 women in a group of 150, and was assumed to be someone’s girlfriend. Girl Geek Dinners are now held all over the world and you can get the latest news about women in IT and the dinners from Blow.

Gina Madsen: a Las Vegas-based lawyer, combines tweeting about legal topics with a love of Italian cookery.

Jessica Faye Carter: Previously a corporate lawyer on Wall Street, Carter is now CEO of Nĕtte Media. She is a member of the New York Bar and an expert on cultural and gender diversity, so she frequently tweets about legal and diversity issues.

And of course, you can follow The Glass Hammer, to get all the breaking news of updates to this site.

These are a few of our favorite women to follow, but in the grand scheme of things there are very few senior women Twittering on business, finance and the law. The tool is reaching what the technical commentators critical mass, and there is very much the expectation that soon organisations who want to capitalise on being cutting-edge will need a Twitter presence, just as 10 years ago they needed a website and in the last few years they have set up corporate blogs. With any luck that means that the women at the top of these organisations will soon start tweeting, which in turn means more insights for us about how to get their ourselves.

Follow the author on Twitter at @pm4girls.

11 comments

  1. Buck Field

    I have to question 2 of the US political choices:

    Hillary Clinton – The same Hillary who advocates nuclear first-strike, even against non-nuclear nations? Since even some neo-cons are less enthusiastic about using WMD’s for mass murder, this seems an odd choice.

    Nancy Pelosi? Isn’t she the one who used her first day as speaker to declare that Bush Admin criminals (not that there were any, you understand), but if citizens generally believed it appropriate censure someone via impea…”impeachment is off the table”.

    I believe they both agree, as did McCain and Obama, the the U.S. should to everything it can to support Israeli “defense” as well, despite the differing assessments by overwhelming majorities internationally, international law, and contrary to recommendations of human rights organizations.

    Following their tweets seems inconsistent with views one might expect most of your readers would consider worth following…

  2. nicki

    better to know whats going on than not? if you can spot inconsistencies then you yourself can decide who to respect.
    respecting any leader regardless of gender is abit how i think you have to tackle relgion- a mixture of faith and cynicism
    thank you for the comment Buck, you do make a good point
    Nicki

  3. Elizabeth

    Buck

    Thanks for the comment – I hadn’t taken into account the political opinion or positioning of the women I included in this piece as I was focusing on women in senior roles, not whether or not they may have views that some find objectionable. However, that is a valid point.

    I do feel that it’s better to know what’s going on than to just ignore them. At least that way you can have a point of view on their opinions.

    And if you really don’t like what they have to say, you can always click ‘Unfollow’!

  4. Elizabeth

    If you are interested in following more UK politicians, the UK equivalent of TweetCongress is TweetMinster.co.uk.

  5. Will Paccione

    Nice. I personally know Gina Madsen. She definitely deserves to be on this list. Good call.

  6. Simone Brummelhuis

    Would have been great to know their twitter names?

    Same time another article was published on top 15 women with a community who twitter, check out: http://www.themoderatorcommunity.com/blog/women-leading-womens-communities-who-twitter

    We were happy to be mentioned as number 15; always good to read this on a Friday night just before weekend starts..

    if you want to add us to your blogroll, which i really like, thanks.
    http://www.thenextwomen.com

    I would love to have some guest post of you on our magazine, as I think that news on women in law and business could be really cool for our audience (having started as an attorney for first 10 years of my carreer)

  7. Red

    Heard about this article from Will Paccione on Twitter – he knows how to pick ‘em – interesting info!

  8. Rochelle Robinson » Blog Archive » Twitter Tools, Tutorials, and People to Follow

    [...] Top Women to Follow on Twitter [...]

  9. Elizabeth

    Simone, the links go to their Twitter pages, so you can pick up their names either from the links (the final part of the link is their Twitter name without the ‘@’) or from clicking to go to their page and then picking up the name from there.
    Thanks for pointing this out though, next time I’ll include Twitter names in the article to save you the effort of working them out for yourselves!

  10. PM News Round-up | A Girl's Guide to Project Management

    [...] to be included in a list of the 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter.  I wrote an article about top women to follow on Twitter this time last year, and I’m well aware of how subjective such lists are, but I was still very [...]

  11. Alex

    I love @PrtyYoungPro as well, a new online resource for young professional women. They’ve got great articles and useful advice (which has been a lifesaver since I started my first job)

    http://www.prettyyoungprofessional.com