9 Awesome Women-Led Apps
From coding to mental health to breaking news and beyond.
Here’s a look at a few apps that uplift us all—and the remarkable creators who made them possible.
By setting up touch points that encourage you to reflect on topics that really matter, this well-being app re-creates the experience of talking to a wise and caring friend. Shine is there for you every step of the way, starting with the Daily Shine—a morning meditation to help you prepare for the day ahead—and ending with quirky sleep stories to help you doze off.
Transformative power: Rather than approaching mental health in a vacuum—separate from work, relationships, and world events—Shine takes into account how life experiences, your identity, and even geopolitics might be affecting you. And the app responds to the moment: It was a pioneer in the field with its meditations for Black well-being.
Meet the creators: When founders Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi met, they were the only senior-level women of color at their workplace. Their regular check-ins with each other over coffee or lunch helped them work through their concerns. “A lot of people we talked to said, ‘I wish I had that—a person who was checking in on me and how I was feeling,’” says Lidey. They launched Shine in 2017.
Shine: Calm Anxiety & Stress
Meditation & motivation
This dating app tailored to lesbian, bisexual, and queer women does more than help you find a soul mate—it also connects you with wider communities of individuals who share your experiences and interests.
Transformative power: With millions of LGBTQ+ people on the platform, HER is a place to feel at home, be yourself, and engage with other queer women—something that isn’t always easy in the real world. “Letting our users know that there’s always another person out there, online, that you can talk to and connect with and fall in love with, in a safe and diverse space, is hugely empowering,” says HER founder Robyn Exton.
Meet the creator: Exton released HER in 2015 because she didn’t feel like any of the dating apps available at the time spoke to her. “I was tired of using the same apps that were clearly built for gay men but had been rebranded pink or purple and published as ‘the lesbian version,’” she says.
HER:Lesbians LGBTQ Dating App
Meet Queer, Lesbian LGBT Woman
Clue tracks and predicts your period and ovulation, then analyzes that data to share insights about your health and help you understand patterns unique to your body.
Transformative power: Making it OK to talk about menstruation. “By making cycle tracking a routine part of the day for someone who has periods, and by encouraging them to tune in to their cycle and really understand what each stage means, we are creating more space in our culture for the experiences,” says cofounder Ida Tin.
Meet the creator: When Tin began working on Clue, apps for women’s health—and fertility in particular—were few and far between. “I couldn’t understand how human beings had managed to walk on the moon, but had not managed to support women in finding out which days they can or can’t get pregnant.” She launched Clue in 2013.
Clue Period & Cycle Tracker
Ovulation, Pregnancy Calendar
Hopscotch helps kids program their own games and stories, share them with friends, and play what others have created—all while learning the fundamentals of coding.
Transformative power: Hopscotch is teaching the next generation that coding doesn’t have to be a solitary pursuit—it can also be a way to flex your creativity and connect with others. “I hope that spreading the culture of coding as a way to express yourself will lead to a future where different types of people will be making the software we use every day,” says creator Samantha John.
Meet the creator: John wasn’t interested in tech as a kid. “Computers were a boy thing,” she recalls. But in her last year of college, she took a class that explored coding through creating a massive photo mosaic. “It was so creative and so meaningful. I was like, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me that this was what programming was about?’” In 2013, she launched Hopscotch—an app that does just that.
Hopscotch-Programming for kids
A bite-sized intro to coding
You can find recipes everywhere these days, but Kitchen Stories’ mix of inspiration and know-how will actually get you cooking. With engaging instructional videos and step-by-step photos, its thousands of recipes are especially easy to put into action.
Transformative power: Kitchen Stories is all about encouraging home cooks to broaden their culinary horizons—and maybe even publish their own recipes to the app, contributing to a catalog of dinner inspiration from around the globe. “By combining everyday recipes, intuitive technology, and a truly international food community, we want to inspire and help users to try new dishes on a regular basis,” says cofounder Mengting Gao.
Meet the creators: Gao and Verena Hubertz met while pursuing their master’s degrees in business administration. Gao found cooking videos inspiring but lacking in specifics; Hubertz was often thrown by the technical terms she came across in recipes. “We decided that, with the iPad, there must be a better way,” says Gao. They launched Kitchen Stories in 2014.
Kitchen Stories Recipes
Thousands of dishes to enjoy
This news aggregator keeps you up to date on breaking headlines and helps you see how media outlets around the world and the political spectrum are covering—or ignoring—a topic.
Transformative power: Helping us understand how each news story fits into the bigger picture. “We created Ground News to empower consumers who may not have the media training or media literacy to understand the bias and misinformation in the news they are reading,” says cofounder and CEO Harleen Kaur. “It’s hard to think critically when we only have one opinion.”
Meet the creator: Kaur began her career at NASA, engineering Earth observation satellites, when she got her inspiration for Ground News: a tool that also lets you easily see what’s transpiring anywhere in the world from wherever you are. She launched Ground News in 2017.
Compare Multiple News Sources
Preparing for a job interview? Going through a breakup? Toddler having a meltdown? We can all use a pep talk from time to time. Marigold is full of quick, confidence-boosting audio coaching sessions that encourage you to tap into the power of your own self-worth.
Transformative power: Helping women conquer impostor syndrome and overcome the fears that are holding them back. “If we can help women have the confidence to ask for that raise, go on that first date, or pursue a passion, then we’ve done our part,” says cofounder Jennifer Greenberg. “As you change your mindset and in turn accomplish your goals, big or small, you’ll trust yourself and build the confidence to do even more.”
Meet the creators: While working in TV production, Greenberg and Sarah Stefanski noticed how self-doubt could hold women back in their careers and personal lives; they teamed up in 2019 to create Marigold.
Marigold: Self Confidence
Self-Help Coach for Women
Lake: Coloring Books
This lush digital coloring book for adults commissions work by indie artists from around the world. Bring those illustrations to life with a broad palette of colors and soothing brush sounds that’ll scratch that ASMR itch.
Transformative power: More than 8 million Lake fans agree: Digital coloring is a great way to unwind. “Especially during the past year, we received numerous heartwarming messages from people telling us that Lake was a safe space they turned to when they needed to relieve anxiety,” says cofounder Anja Renko.
Meet the creator: Renko studied psychology before joining the small team of mostly women about eight years ago. At the time, the company was making kids’ apps but pivoted to create Lake in 2016 when they saw parents and grandparents diving in too.
Lake: Coloring Books
Relax & paint the stress away
Let Houzz’s seemingly endless supply of gorgeous decor photos spark ideas for your home renovation projects—and get practical design advice and find local pros to turn your dreams into reality.
Transformative power: As our homes became offices, virtual schools, gyms, and more, Houzz offers an accessible way to make the most of the spaces we have.
Meet the creator: When Houzz CEO and cofounder Adi Tatarko and her husband were remodeling their home, they couldn’t find the resources they needed to execute their vision. So Tatarko, who worked at a financial-planning firm at the time, started Houzz as a side project in 2009. “As soon as Apple announced the iPad, it sounded like our content—beautiful photos of professionally designed home interiors and exteriors—would be perfect for the device,” she says.